Henry Ford had it right

I used to work for a lawyer for a good many years, and aside from preparing wills and dealing with corporate paperwork, my job was administering the financial details of estates.
And as such, I had regular dealings with financial institutions.
As a result of these “regular dealings,” I had a large sign on the wall of my office that clearly read in large black letters: I HATE BANKS!
The above statement may seem slightly juvenile, and perhaps less than professional, but it was not unfounded. I began most conversation with bank officials with the premise, “I’m going to try to remain calm but I can’t promise anything.”
And more often than not, my plan to remain calm quickly went awry.
Why such animosity for our beloved financial institutions? Because they claim to be governed by rules without flexibility, without common sense, without fair play, yet these so-called “rules” are as elusive as the wind.
The rules changed with every estate I was administering, and no one in the higher-up positions could justify these changes or point me in the direction so that I might identify said rules.
I wanted to play by the rules—was willing to follow them to the letter—but I had to be able to identify these rules and this is where my screaming and pulling of hair began.
My job was to protect the assets and wishes of the deceased in the most efficient and cost-saving manner possible, and banks made that mandate virtually impossible.
Just last week, I heard on the radio a story that is another nail for me in the coffin of banks. A young military man wounded in service while serving his country, discharged from the military because his body no longer is of any use to the military, was forced to sell his Ontario home and move back to New Brunswick to be closer to the support of his family.
In doing so, he had to pay out his existing mortgage with Scotiabank.
Despite securing a new Scotiabank mortgage in New Brunswick, bank officials quickly had their hands out. “Not so fast,” they said. Even though this young man could not support his family after serving his country, the bank was ready to scoop $7,000 in penalties for paying the mortgage out before the end of its term.
Why? Just because those are the rules.
The sad truth is that the Canadian military (a.k.a. the federal government) has no obligation to their men/women when discharged. And in 2012, CBC informed listeners last week, the military discontinued bearing the burden of mortgage payout penalties when Canadian service people are required to move.
This change was brought about to save money for the federal government.
Oh, well-played. It’s always good to save money on the backs of those who serve this country with their lives.
We read and hear in the news every quarter about the massive profits of financial institutions in Canada. It makes me wince. Do they pay their front-line workers well to justify these massive gains?
Not even slightly. I may have to dust off my sign and hang it back on my wall, and I may have to add a few names to the list besides banks.
I applaud this young serviceman for bringing this madness to the public’s attention and shaming Scotiabank into doing the right thing and rescinding the penalty.
Now how do we address the needs of all the ordinary, every-day citizens who pay out massive penalties when the economy and circumstances require them to move and sell their homes before their mortgage is due.
Oh, dear. I may have to dig out my soapbox and find my megaphone. Or do some meditating to calm myself.
I now remember why I left that job. It’s all coming back to me.
Henry Ford was most certainly right when he said: “It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.”
wendistewart@live.ca

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