Ian Brown has a wonderful column in today’s Globe which rightfully suggests that maybe, just maybe, people should be a little upset about all the false promises of endless prosperity and perfect social harmony that were made in the leadup to the current economic and financial crisis. Maybe, just maybe, the “system” must bear some responsibility for this collapse.
But what I found most intriguing about this column is this choice quotation from David Dodge, “Canada’s best (former) civil servant ™” and the man who brought us years of budget surpluses (and deficient funding for health care, education, and social support) — because it speaks volumes about the attitudes of our economic elite who, instead of proposing serious reform, instead advocate for yet more “financial literacy.” Marie Antoinette would be proud Mr. Dodge.
Ian Brown says: “I got so angry I actually called a few business types to see if my fury was justified. I called Wendy Dobson, a professor at the Rotman School of Business at the University of Toronto, and a former deputy minister of finance in Ottawa; Peter Dey, the former chairman of the Ontario Securities Commission, now an investment banker; David Dodge, the former governor of the Bank of Canada.
They all said the same thing. Yes, there is a need for more oversight of the capital markets, but – well, let me quote Mr. Dodge, the Rooster Cogburn of central bankers, a man with a voice that sounds like five feet of chain being dragged out of a toolbox.
“Anger is understandable,” he said. “When something goes really wrong, the first thing you always do is say, well shit, somebody must have slipped up, it can’t be me.” But, he went on to say, “people are responsible for their own mistakes. And if something seems too good to be true, it is.”
That’s the establishment view, something we’re apparently supposed to grasp from birth.”