Tag Archives: debt

Give Forgiveness a Chance

Now that the Vatican has come out of the woodwork waving a sheaf of parchment upon which is etched a bizarre, “schizophrenic,” solution to the European economic crisis, I feel a bit more comfortable about offering my own modest proposal.

Let us be perfectly clear: I am not an economist; I know practically nothing about international money lending; I am not a member of MENSA (college dropout, truthfully, which doesn’t preclude my application to said organization); while I observe politics, sometimes with a critical eye, I am not an insider, and therefore am uninitiated in the nuances of the industry. Still, naïve and under-informed, I have an idea, let’s call it a suggestion, for world leaders, to help them recover from this global financial crisis:

Give forgiveness a chance.

…now that you’ve stopped rolling your eyes, allow me to explain.

Question: What would the consequences be, if the countries called Lenders were to forgive debts to countries called Lendees? Yes, forgive the debts, completely and without prejudice. Bearing in mind that some, perhaps many, or even most, of the Lenders are also Lendees, the forgiveness would travel in all directions. Yes, yes, I know there is an imbalance in the ledgers; I know that the proportion of Greece’s debt is higher, in comparison to it’s accounts receivables, than, say, Canada’s, but there is no room for “proportional” forgiveness; it’s all or nothing.

Next question: What will the consequences be, if the countries, both Lenders and Lendees, continue to accomplish little in the way of actually solving the problem, and in fact generate another devastating worldwide economic meltdown—something the actual experts are predicting?

Don’t look upon my suggestion as an act of charity. It’s more akin to the professional gambler’s credo: Better to cut your losses than throw good money after bad. Analyze both questions and figure out which one will hurt less. Since I’m not an expert, I’m throwing it to the public wind, in the hope than someone out there will take up the challenge. Come on, you bean counters and academics: get out the slide ruler and start crunching, or sliding, or whatever it is you do. And you, too, MENSA. You’re pretty smart cookies. Give it some thought.

To forgive can be more than divine; it can save the world. Maybe. I think. Let me know.


Casino Royale

The Nova Scotia government recently, and belatedly, released a two-year-old study on the “social impact” of gambling in the province. As one would expect, the study outlined all the negative effects any sensible person could have imagined, including addiction, debt, bankruptcy, crime, personal and professional strife, and suicide.

Presumably the NS taxpayers funded this study, which—the government said upon its release—should be cast aside and ignored because it is flawed. Well, whatever their reasons for going on the defensive, they could only be splitting hairs on the very hairy butt of these issues. Any publicly funded study on gambling is, to use a common Las Vegas phrase, “throwing good money after bad.” They might as well fund a study to see if smoking causes lung cancer. It’s really only a posture, meant to give people the impression the government cares.

They do not.

Back in the nineties, those savvy politicos realized they were sitting on a jackpot of non-tax-related revenue: the Casino. Why should Vegas have all the fun? What happens in Orillia stays in Orillia! Why give our gambling money to another country, another economy? Why not allow casinos to operate right here, on home turf, just a short drive from home? And the politicos control the whole thing. Sure, sure, throw the natives a bone; let them earn their own keep. The rest is a conveyor belt of moolah that grinds twenty-four-seven. Bingo! Citizens will happily throw their hard-earned and thrice-taxed dollars away with the gusto of any flabby-gutted and intoxicated conventioneer, without either recognizing—or else electing to ignore—the fact that, in these Canadian establishments, the “House” is the provincial government, and the House always wins.

Odds are odds, no matter where you go. And, in spite of the odds, many of us splurge for a lottery ticket once the jackpot closes in on the 50 million mark. But it doesn’t take a rocket scientist or a government study to tell us there will be problems, when casinos move into rural towns. I happen to know people from Orillia, home of one of Ontario’s most popular casinos, and there is hardly a family left in that town that has not been negatively touched by the largely unwanted gambling resort. Noise, congestion, crime, plus the powerful allure of instant wealth staring at these poor, bucolic sods. How can they resist?

Before Casino Rama, the most exciting thing ever to happen to Orillia was Stephen Leacock. Now that’s the Canada we all know and love.

I’m not suggesting the casinos should go. With this sin, my willpower is robust enough to withstand the temptation. And if some of that revenue goes to fixing the roads or educating my children, I’m for it. What I object to is a government that thinks it should spend months or years of time and manpower, plus millions of taxpayer dollars, to conduct pointless studies that supply the most obvious answers to the most obvious questions. That money would be better spent on helping gambling addicts kick their habit, or finding clever ways to reward these host communities for their hospitality and patience—for example: building a local hockey rink to keep the kiddies off the streets; throw a few extra teachers at them; subsidize local property taxes. I dunno, I don’t pretend to have all the answers.

Just, please, Mr. Government, stop pretending you care about anything other than picking our pockets. We already know the odds are stacked against us.