Letters to the editor: ‘In 1981, my 12-per-cent mortgage came up for renewal. The new rate was 21 per cent.’ The boomer legacy, plus other letters to the editor for June 29 (2024)

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Transatlantic translation

Re “How the Tories got washed out: A British farce in five acts” (Opinion, June 22): I’d long been skeptical that the 1993 Canadian election was the right metaphor for the looming Conservative defeat in Britain.

That year saw the Canadian Progressive Conservatives shattered by a realigning party system; the British Conservative Party is sinking under the weight of austerity, inflation and liberal parties, and is likely to be swamped by a Labour opposition no one is that excited by.

However, the rapid rise of Nigel Farage’s Reform UK party and resurgence of the Liberal Democrats among centrists, especially in Tory seats in southern England, has quietly turned what would be a catastrophic Tory defeat into a potentially existential one.

Perhaps 1993 was the right metaphor after all.

Ryan Hamilton Oxford, England

Pay up

Re “What happened when California raised minimum wage? A cautionary tale” (Report on Business, June 22): I propose a more encouraging take on California’s minimum wage increase.

An overwhelming 98 per cent of fast-food workers enjoyed a 25-per-cent raise (by my math, bumping a full-time income of US$33,000 to a more livable US$41,250). Yes, it’s terrible that 2 per cent of workers lost their jobs, but that says a lot more to me about the corporate greed of companies such as McDonald’s and Burger King, which are hugely profitable, than any wrong-headedness in giving workers a living wage.

If, as suggested, automation is inevitable, surely it’s better to pay workers well while their jobs last, so they are better positioned to retrain and find decent new jobs. Over all, I’d call California’s new minimum wage a success.

The free market excels at making rich people richer; it does poorly at making an equitable society.

Kenneth Oppel Toronto

Maybe the issue is maximum wages, not minimum wages.

McDonald’s chief executive Chris Kempczinski was paid US$19.2-million in total compensation in 2023, which was 1,212 times the median employee pay. It is maximum wages, then, not minimum wages that create an economic climate that is “out of whack” and contributes to income inequality.

Marsha Laing Toronto

Live long and prosper

Re “It’s not evil to question boomers’ legacy” (Report on Business, June 22): Intergenerational wealth transfers would be a temporary solution. What happens when that wealth is dispersed and gone?

The boomer generation was able to save and invest, mainly because there was a far better ratio of prosperity to affordability. Until we find our way back to building prosperity for future generations, we will likely remain in a downward spiral.

The past few decades have seen ever-growing government, regulations and deficit creation, not to mention vast social movements that may saddle coming generations with a lack of innovation, productivity and prosperity.

Continued handouts without consideration of how to build prosperity is not much of a recipe for the future. While it no longer seems a popular idea, wealth creation would allow the building of a better social fabric.

Chris Tworek Calgary

So boomers should thank younger people who have to deal with “oppressive mortgages.”

In 1981, my 12-per-cent mortgage came up for renewal. The new rate was 21 per cent.

Boomers don’t need lectures on oppressive mortgages.

James Hunter Toronto

Read on

Re “Reading my way through a world gone mad” (Arts & Books, June 22): The pitch-perfect pitch antidote to the angst I know many contemporaries share.

Embracing ambiguity is not a weakness, it’s a recognition that the world is a complex place. What we do does matter and our choices are not binary.

That is a powerful reminder.

Jeannette Hanna Toronto

We found this article to be an oasis in the desert of global crisis that is our current intellectual environment, just like pure and simple short stories and single chapters of quiet books.

We will be keeping the print version of this splendid article posted in the kitchen. We plan to read it at the start of each week, in order to shape our psychological space before necessarily submitting to the tyranny of everyday existence in this wonderful but mad, mad world.

Val Voight and Pete Avis Kingston

I welcome this article as I struggle to quiet my troubled mind and heart.

To reporter Ian Brown’s reading list, I’d add C.S. Richardson’s All the Colour in the World, a finalist for the 2023 Giller Prize. This novel without page numbers contains “sections” no longer than a page each. It’s a work of fiction interwoven with anecdotes from history, culture and art that surprises, remains memorable and satisfying and leaves an afterglow.

I could not put the book down, yet wanted to savour it day by day.

J.C. Sulzenko Toronto

I appreciated reporter Ian Brown’s exploration of coping methods for the stresses of the contemporary world.

Mine is to go into the garden to weed and tend to the plants. I also take time to sit and watch the bees and butterflies joyfully pollinate the flowers.

After a peaceful pause, I go back into the house and sadly read about the world aflame, and too many examples of crimes against humanity. More world leaders should learn to garden.

Alan Whitehorn Kingston

It could have been my current morning routine being written about: waking up in the early hours, pestered by the nagging uncertainties that already seem to be rushing off to meet the morning sun flooding through the blinds.

The right thing to read surely helps settle things down. Reaching for the prose that elevates everyday life is like putting one’s shoulder into moving a fridge the few inches needed to clean behind it. It doesn’t mean much in the scheme of things, but it allows the chance to know that a space one can’t see isn’t covered in dust and grime.

Not optimism, as such, but definitive at least, in a good way.

Gail Picco Toronto

I believe that I am one of many who, despite being acutely aware of global developments, have retreated to the haven of carefully chosen fiction to not get too depressed.

But there is one nagging thought that remains: Are we not gathered on our deck chairs on the Titanic as the band plays on?

Ian Szlazak Ottawa

I am delighted that reporter Ian Brown wrote of the beautiful healing experience, in our broken and uncertain world, evoked in the ritualistic daily practice of reading novellas. Wonderful writing can be expressed in this minimalist form of literature. Three to add: Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton, Hex by Jenni fa*gan and The Dry Heart by Natalia Ginzburg.

Debra Dolan West Vancouver

Letters to the Editor should be exclusive to The Globe and Mail. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. Keep letters to 150 words or fewer. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. To submit a letter by e-mail, click here: letters@globeandmail.com

Letters to the editor: ‘In 1981, my 12-per-cent mortgage came up for renewal. The new rate was 21 per cent.’ The boomer legacy, plus other letters to the editor for June 29 (2024)
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