Civil Disobedience Is A Time-Honoured Tradition

Suppose you were a wealthy person and someone in a store or business offended you. Would you buy the store so you could fire them? I would like to think that no one would do that, but I am just as sure the number who have done it is not zero. In fact I know of a similar situation.

When you can afford to fix a problem

A client owned a fine home with a pool and a tennis court. The children when learning tennis sometimes hit a tennis ball into the neighbour’s backyard. He would not give them back and often shouted at the children for being careless. The property was a small rental house.

Dad happened to be home one day when it happened and he was not pleased. So what did he do?

  1. Call his lawyer and have him check title and find the owner.
  2. Have a real estate agent approach the owner about selling the property.
  3. Make an above market offer for the property and have it accepted.
  4. Notify the tenant to leave in 60 days, because he needed the property for his personal use and under the rules can evict him.
  5. Once the tenant is gone, tear the house down and move his fence to  make the yard bigger.

Easy if you have enough money. In this case the whole thing cost about two weeks income.

There is a story that Clint Eastwood ran successfully for mayor of Carmel California because the current council had passed a bylaw against people eating ice cream on the streets. He had a business that sold ice cream. Petty? Maybe, but fighting back against petty oppression is a valid approach.

Should foolish laws imposed by power-mad politicians be tolerated.

Should we tolerate petty laws and petty tyrants? Most political philosophy says no. Thoreau and Rawl have both addressed it.

However, there is wide disagreement on what is something that should not be tolerated. Most of what we see in the moment are things that are clearly to the advantage of the complaining party. They merely wish to replace one of petty oppression with another. Principles that work cannot be that particular.

No valuable change will come until people agree on the fundamentals that matter to each of us. Liberty first among them. Some, maybe all,  may still feel oppressed about something, but to make change they must make the reasoning clear why the situation should change. And by when. And for how much. Paid for by whom? And specify what safeguards will be put in place to prevent it arising again.

The wealthy can take action to cure what for them are tiny personal problems. The rest of us rely on governments to behave in our overall best interest. We should not be envious of the wealthy because they can repair their own problems, while we must contend with corrupt and inept governments as our paladins.

That doesn’t seem to work very well. It’s is largely our own fault. We have come tolerate the politicians we have and we know anything tolerated will continue. That’s where the civil disobedience begins. Think of it as refusing to tolerate.

The takeaway

Things that continue are either tolerated or incentivized. Things change only if you do something about them.

Identify better, cheaper, or more comprehensive solutions and incentivize their adoption.

I build strategy and fact-based estate and income plans. The plans identify alternate ways and alternate timing to achieve both spending and estate distribution goals. In the past I have been a planner with a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency, a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business. I have appeared on more than 100 television shows on financial planning, have presented to organizations as varied as the Canadian Bar Association, The Ontario Institute of Chartered Accountants, The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, and Banks – from CIBC to the Business Development Bank.

Be in touch at 705-927-4770 or by email to

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