Editorial: Keep the economy going—pay your bills

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There is an unfortunate quirk of human nature to assume that if anyone is in business, if they possess rental properties they are not only immensely wealthy and possessed of unlimited resources and reserves, but also fundamentally evil and selfish—that this assumption flies in the face of demonstrable evidence notwithstanding.

Currently there are numerous suggestions online exhorting people to not pay their rent. Moreover, many of these online posts incite hatred against landlords, attempting to justify the unjustifiable in the same manner that demagogues and totalitarians have utilized since time immemorial to destabilize and weaken their opponents—free and open democratic societies.

There is no question that we must step up to assist those suffering and in desperate need, as a just and civil society and as a caring and humanitarian group of people. Well, perhaps there are some among us who would question that sentiment, but those selfish folks thankfully remain a significant minority. 

There are, of course, large corporations that have amassed huge holdings in the rental stock, and perhaps the online vitriol is aimed at those faceless entities, but like any generalization there are many babies to be found within that bathwater—especially here on Manitoulin Island.

Small landlords, many of which are seniors that have invested their savings into rental stock and depend on the rental income to provide for their needs and those of their families—also pay taxes on that income, taxes that help to underpin the very assistance that is being provided to the most vulnerable in our society. To willfully refrain from paying rent when it is within one’s power to do so is not only unconscionable, it is wildly counterproductive.

This goes for other bills as well.

Our economy is about to take the greatest hit in the memory of two generations and any unnecessary disconnect will severely hamper governments at all levels from providing assistance and hamstring the recovery that will follow this pandemic.

It is of vital importance that we engage in physical distancing and keep our social interactions at three arms’ length or more, but it is also important that each of us does whatever we can to keep our economy afloat. Those who can work from home or who remain in the traces as essential services are able to maintain their financial commitments and should do so.

Be very cognizant that there are those who do not wish the western nations well and who seek to weaken our economies in any way that they are able. It is natural for people to resent those who possess a greater abundance and the online propaganda machines of our enemies will do everything they can to leverage those sentiments to cripple our economies.

Our economies can withstand the economic hit that will be presented by the repercussions of this global pandemic if we stand together and refuse to fall victim to the flames of division being fanned by those who wish us no weal.

Produce what you can, don’t gouge your customers, buy what you need, pay what you owe if you have the means—and yes that includes taxes—and set aside any feelings of resentment toward the owners of the place you call home.

This is not a time for partisan political sniping—even those arch-rivals Doug Ford and Justin Trudeau recognize that fundamental reality. This is a time for unity, not division and political gamesmanship.

We are all in this together and together, as caring human beings, we can and will win this war.