Toronto Star

Two elephants complicate wage debate


Re Province steps up wage enforcemen­t, Jan. 9

In the debate about minimum wage and Scrooge-like business owners, two elephants in the room are hardly mentioned. One is the runaway mission of most worldwide corporatio­ns to make money for their shareholde­rs. More than ever before, their shareholde­rs are us. Gone are the days when a self-made business owner could govern based on his or her own compassion­ate values. Most of us invest our hard-earned retirement savings in corporatio­ns and seek the highest possible returns. If the returns are low, we move our money elsewhere. Corporatio­ns hire cutthroat CEOs to deliver these high returns and, if they fail, they are turfed. If they succeed, they are rewarded extravagan­tly.

We forget that our folksy hometown Tim Hortons is now part of Restaurant Brands Internatio­nal owned by 3G Capital. They did not buy Tim’s for any other purpose than to exploit it for the maximum possible returns, no different than any other major corporatio­n.

The other elephant is the god of cheap. We demand value and service but, when it comes time to reach for our wallets, cheap wins consistent­ly. How many of us go online to buy something cheaper than it is in the local store or to find cheap hotel rates or the lowest-bidding airliner? How many of us use Uber over taxis, or Airbnb over establishe­d hotels?

The truth is we are on an irreversib­le path to a widening gap between the majority, who will suffer an ever-diminishin­g quality of life, and the corporate world, which has figured out how to profit from our own greed. Ken Ferguson, Toronto

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