Tuesday, January 27, 2009


I have this friend who has the same job as I do, we make exactly the same amount. She pays exactly the same rent as I do. The only difference is, she lives with her husband... who is collecting EI (Employment Insurance).

At first I was neutral about this and just considered if I would do the same. He has a professional degree, he just doesn't want to work in his field anymore and qualified under the "spousal relocation for work" category. It's not for me, but should I really begrudge it?

Then the year went on. Then a "financial crisis" happened. He nets an extra $1500 per month for their household and acts as a personal concierge... or house husband. He purposefully applies for jobs he knows he won't get, online, two hours per week.

On a micro-scale, it's the same feeling you get when you think about executives of a company getting a huge bailout for running the company into the ground and siphoning profits. In the end, we all pay for your luxuries (they have spent the extra money this year on eating out a lot and an expensive vacation, along with a lot of conspicious consumption).

Maybe honesty and wealth just rarely coincide?

Or, maybe it doesn't matter where your income comes from. Maybe you work for a company that harvests natural resources where both the collection and use of the product are damaging, not just to the environment but to lower employees. Maybe you're overpaid for your qualifications and overbill expenses. Maybe, you cheat on your taxes.

Sometimes I worry that the biggest obstacle to wealth will be my ethics. I don't cheat on my taxes, work for unscrupulous companies, or try to dupe my employer (or insurer). But unless I'm ethically perfect, what's the point in only keeping some? I'm sure there are certain ways I freeload. Maybe I'm just a vegetarian in leather boots? If my motivations for doing the right thing aren't motivated by some future existential payoff (i.e. religion, perhaps), then why not take while the taking is good? Why must I continue to adhere to all the social contracts I didn't know I signed?

I know I'm not about to abandon team Ethics (So don't worry about talking me down from that ledge), but I can't help but turn over my grounding on that issue in my head...

GROCERY BAN UPDATE: I may have run late and picked up my first chai latte plus breakfast cookie of the month... I did bring the mexican cassarole but fridge it until tomorrow as lunch got waylaid, I ate a bunch of almonds, and we're having a birthday party (i.e. food) in an hour.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, I would be slightly peeved too if I knew someone who was doing that. You're right, it basically is freeloading. Why waste the time pretending like you're applying for new jobs, etc., if it's just that you're ok with sitting around, collecting unemployment? That's an interesting category he falls under, I've never heard of it.