Real estate and rental markets:
- I found out that, in the Greater Toronto area, zoning and building permits involve tons of red tape and take forever to process. This has helped cause a crazy surge in real estate and rental markets, hurting millions of people in the process. This, to me, is more incompetence rather than greed or malice.
- Many of us Canadians are scared to think what would happen if our real estate construction sector was small and irrelevant-our economy needs it. In the process, builders have gone ahead and built increasingly extravagant condo buildings in major Canadian cities with tons of amenities instead of mainstream affordable condo buildings with bigger units and less or no amenities. Was this greed and malice? To me, it seems that once builders realized they can sell units more easily to wealthy foreigners, they figured they can go ahead and build increasingly expensive condo buildings. It was also a perfectly natural reaction to our government making it easy-ish for foreigners to buy real estate here. Canadian cities are not the only places with foreign absentee real estate owners en masse; you can find YouTube clips on Miami being in the same boat, and probably more US cities as well.
- Toronto's rental market still has some truly spicy rental prices for condos and other types of properties. Evil, greed? More of a combination of unfortunate factors. Local, provincial and federal governments did little to regulate short term rentals such as Airbnb, allowing this rental segment to take tons of units away from the long-term rental market. That is incompetence and laziness. Then, there was no law limiting yearly rent increases for new condo buildings that were constructed past a certain year. Again, laziness and incompetence. Finally, too often I hear about people in Toronto having to leave their homes and rent elsewhere because the current landlords say that a family member wants to move in, but then they go ahead and put it up for rent at a new, higher price. Here, the incompetence, laziness and limit of ability or time is on tenants who do not challenge this on the tenant board level or in court.
- For this, I talked to a few friends who studied History and Political Science years ago (before, in their words, these programs went off the rails). Also, I talked to naturalized Canadians who came here as refugees from different past conflict zones. Both groups agree on one thing. Every unrest, every claim of systemic injustice, every boiling point that may result in a civil war is fueled not by evil and malice, or by claims of evil and malice being used against you, but by a very straightforward concept- the desire for quick, forced redistribution of wealth. Now, this is not my final opinion, and in some ways this theory may seem offensive. However, since the most extreme instances of current unrest in North America does have a strong forced wealth redistribution component, either actively happening or being announced as one of the main threats, I cannot dispute what my friends who have life experience and education on this subject conclusively tell me. The easiest solution could be to communicate and forge a plan to gradually, naturally increase everyone's wealth and to find the ways to do it faster. Let the rich get richer, let the middle class get richer, let the poor get richer. This is not Star Trek, and North America is not the Federation. We will have economic classes for a while longer, but eventually we can get to a point where the poverty has no negative connotations because it will be on the level of where upper middle class is right now. At that point, and thanks to social mobility, poverty will be called Level 1, and anyone who wants to play the game will keep leveling up (that is almost always the case even now). Everyone can be better off as economy is not a zero sum game and we can keep creating products and services out of nothing, the kind that people will want because it makes their lives better and empowers them to do more and be more.
The Stock Market:
- Often, people mistrust bankers and investment firms. We complain about bankers' greed, lack of transparency, management fees we pay on our RRSP portfolios and so on. We ascribe greed, evil and other heavy words and labels to the financial system. While often this is well-deserved, the objective truth is a little bit different. Banks and investment firms get money in their hands that they need to enlarge by predicting the next Google, the next rise, the next crash and so much more. Today, we have tons of different ways we can do this ourselves. Let us say you do not care about putting money into your RRSP, but instead you just go ahead and put your after-tax income into a TFSA and trade from it. Considering how easy it is, and the fact most of us here are blessed with at least a $100 to buy a few shares of an etf or a promising young company, why is this not being done large scale? In May 2012, Facebook stock cost $29.60 per share. Today, it is around $295. Why didn't every single person in North America who could spare $100 buy a few shares of a stock like Facebook? Is this the banking system's fault? Is this the investor class's fault? Are they hiding the ability to read and write from us peasants? :P I would say the answer is no. Again, it is about our outdated public school financial education, pure and simple. We are talking about the laziness of the ministry of education or whoever else has a part in creating the curriculum for elementary and high school systems. We graduate high school with insufficient knowledge, understanding and motivation to participate in the financial markets, to budget properly and so on.
Bottom line, as an admittedly emotional person, I have learned over the years and especially in 2020 that emotions can be healthy and emotional intelligence is very important, but ultimately emotions are like a rocking chair- they get you moving but they do not take you anywhere, or at least anywhere good. You cannot deal with any issue out there in the world until you reign in emotion and focus on analysis, constructive criticism and finally (creative) problem solving. Every problem ultimately ends with a solution, not another problem. A problem may be identified by feeling there is an imbalance, injustice or an evil out there, but it is clear, calm heads that eventually come up with solutions.