The Walrus

Peak interest


Raizel Robin’s exposé on the prevalence of debt among middle- class families (“Maxed Out,” June) repeats the standard narrative that Canadians’ financial troubles are due to profligate spending. While this is sometimes the case, the anecdotal evidence in Robin’s piece — which features three Canadian families facing such financial challenges as job loss and the cost of children’s extracurri­cular activities — shows that such woes are more often caused by hard luck and the high cost of living.

The simple reality is that our economy runs on debt. All of us, including those who are debt-free, are dependent on households, businesses, financial institutio­ns, and government­s constantly increasing their debt. So let’s not be too hard on our debtors, who are simply playing by the rules. Instead, let’s take a hard look at our flawed economic system. David Gracey

Toronto, ON

Robin’s excellent article shows that many have trouble living on a budget. Two simple changes would help people avoid this debt spiral: all loans, even small payday loans, should have achievable repayment schedules, and usury laws, which make it a crime to charge more than 60percent annual interest, should be enforced. Jason Fleming

North York, ON

Individual­s and families need to spend less than the amount of money they take in, not more. Drive your car longer— don’t trade it in for a fancy new one; live in a smaller house than what the bank says you can afford; and buy what you need, then prioritize your desires. You might not get everything you hope for, but peace of mind is worth much more than the newest iphone, largest television set, or most extravagan­t house. Imagine what would happen to the Canadian economy if everyone started living within their means.

Greg Scheelar

Winnipeg, MB

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