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Opinion: Bill Walton, Too Big

An Oshawa Chevrolet? Could be a keepsake.
20181129 chev walton

Harkening back to the mini-depression or financial crisis of almost a decade ago some of those businesses in trouble convinced us that they were too big to fail. The consequences would be catastrophic in jobs lost, stock market investments losses, and confidence in our capitalistic system. Leading the charge were the Banks, the Brokers in the US, and the automobile industry.

The Banks foreclosed on those faulty mortgages, the stock market manipulators did very well, thank you, and the auto industry (GM and Chrysler), walked away with billions of government (our) money. Yes, we saved a few jobs. The banks have recovered very well, folks tossed out of their homes in the US found shelter, and the Canadian GM and Chrysler workers held onto their jobs for a while. Times are changing. Banks are doing okay with the fees for plastic transactions; the stock market continues buying and selling, but the auto industry is under siege.

GM rightly sees that the future is in smaller electric/hybrid vehicles with a few die-hards still looking for half-ton trucks. The demand for large passenger cars is fading away. So GM is shifting gears (couldn’t resist) and heading out of town. Out of the country. And that bailout money? Forget it. Write it off as we did for Chrysler-Fiat or whoever they are now. Too big to fail isn’t too big to pick up and leave.

There are other problems with being too big. Take that Saudi prince who knows darn well he is too big to worry about international condemnations. We need his oil and his arms deals. What’s a journalist here or there, a few skirmishes in Yemen and anywhere else that he feels like supporting what we think of as terrorism? There are also countries that are too big for their britches who can do as they please simply because there is no one to say them nay.

Adding to the problems of largeness are the politicians who receive a majority in the polls and take that as a ticket to do whatever they wish – and really we have no one to blame but ourselves because we support them by our indifference and silence.  Justin may have thought he was doing a great thing by bailing out Kinder-Morgan and their hopeless dream to build a pipeline to the Pacific, but like Keystone, it may end up being a pipeline to nowhere. Surely we (and Alberta) get some tax revenues but the winners are private companies who use public money to make a profit. We are bailing them out to keep jobs. However, like GM, they too can fold their tents and steal away into the night.

While Alberta and Southern Ontario struggle with job losses, we may be fortunate here in small-town Northern Ontario. We are not a one-industry town but a town of many smaller businesses. If one fails another will sprout up to take its place. As long as our politicians do not bailout some private business we’ll do okay. Well, forget about bailing out CP when they were leaving town - that was a long time ago.

There is, however, another problem with being too big: getting a pair of jeans to fit. I take a size 42 waist (actually a 41-inch but we got stuck on even numbers – odd numbers are evil in men’s wear) with what I think are normal length legs. A 32-inch inseam drags on the ground. Try to find a quality pair of 502s in 42 /30! Either I’m too big or there are a number of men my size who bought up all the 42s. Maybe Costco has some . . . just saying.