Goodbye Jim

Out of all the characters in the federal government as the federal Finance minister I spent the most time following what Jim Flaherty did since it was most relevant to this blog.  So I was a bit shocked to find out he was dead after just a few short weeks from leaving his job.

On the whole I have to say from my personal point of view his record on the job was a mixed bag.  On the one hand he created the 40 year mortgage and created the huge surge in housing prices in this country, which has totally screwed over anyone who didn’t already own a home.  Yet later on this was undone and we reverted back towards 25 year mortgages as he did the hardest thing to do in life and admit you were wrong and fix something after the fact.   Yet for the average person his biggest legacy is the creation of the Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) which allows all Canadians to save money in an account that doesn’t trigger tax on investments.  While it hasn’t been well used by the average person (since the majority of people just keep their money in a savings account, sigh), it was a good step in the right direction to help encourage saving.

Yet Jim’s last lesson is likely the most notable to me.  Life is short, so don’t spend all your time working.  It doesn’t do you any good to spend you life building a retirement fund if you drop dead shortly after leaving your job.  Stress can be a killer and you have to take care of yourself now and in the future.  So I will try to recall this lesson and not spend all my time working in life.  You have to sit back and enjoy life as well.

So goodbye Jim.  Thanks for trying to make life better for people, while I don’t always agree with what you did I do appreciate you tried.  My condolences to his family in their time of grief, while I didn’t know him personally I respected his actions.

4 thoughts on “Goodbye Jim”

  1. I’m going to guess here that you haven’t had anyone in your immediate family die an untimely death at a young age? You definitely re-think your priorities on a very visceral level when that happens so close to you.
    My mother died of a heart attack (likely somewhat stress related) at 56 y.o. My sister died from a head-on with a drunk driver at 39 y.o. in the middle of the day.
    Life is so, so short and we only get one kick at that particular can. I really don’t want to spend it (or most of it) in a cube or an office doing something that doesn’t seem meaningful no matter how I try to stretch my brain to make it feel like it is or could be. Or even once was.

  2. Jacq,

    Yep, I’ve never lose anyone very close to me early. My grandparents died all from health issues in their old age. Yet oddly I spent a good part of my childhood attending funerals for great aunts and uncles. So I have a odd relationship with death. I used to the rituals surrounding it and I fully understand people die, but I lack much experience with the emotional fallout. I guess you could say I’ve been lucky in that sense. Thanks for sharing…death does help re-think things.


  3. A good thought to have and one I have already practiced. Try to give yourself some reasonable self indulgences today while still saving for a long term goal in the future. Problem is people seem to say you can’t do both. Super savers vs. the YOLO’s.

    I was surprised that you mentioned the Mortgage reference vs. the Reit changes. I don’t think you can hang any one change solely on one person. There was great pressure on both sides of the border some years back to make a home affordable to “all”, which is a fine sentiment but not reality. This was a big part of what led to our disasters in 2008/2009.

    One person a policy does not make…

  4. Yeah Tim, I hear you. Sometimes (often) I forget and think – oh, just this one year / X months spending XXXX hours of my life doing something I don’t really care to do anymore because I have a goal and a deadline.

    And then there’s this:

    “When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, some day you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “no” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” ~Stanford University, 2005

    I would really hate to spend the last day/month/year of my life doing the work that I’m doing now. OTOH, I’m done this contract in like 2 weeks, so booyah. 😛

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