- Jeffrey Simpson has a bit of trouble recognizing that inequality applies at all rungs of the income ladder, not merely as a matter of resolving poverty. But otherwise his latest is well worth a read:
The Conference Board of Canada, hardly a bastion of far-left thinking, just reminded Canadians about the growing income inequalities in their society.- Apparently the Cons can't even hold a photo-op for their pension giveaway to the financial sector without somebody pointing out the more viable solution:
The richest group of Canadians, those in the top fifth of income earners, saw their share of national income rise from 1993 to 2008. Within that fortunate group, the biggest gainers were the super rich, the top 1 per cent. And they got even richer not so much from investments but from basic salaries of the kind paid bank presidents and company CEOs.
From 1980 to 2005, the earnings of the top group rose by 16.4 per cent, while middle-income Canadians’ incomes stagnated, and earnings for those in the bottom group slid.
So why are we a more unequal society? That’s the subject of fierce debate. Other countries’ income inequalities are also growing, albeit to varying degrees, and the inequalities in big developing countries such as China, India and Brazil are much higher than anything in Canada or Europe.
It’s argued that globalization rewards some of the highly skilled (and people who can manipulate other people’s money, as in hedge funds, banking and financial services), while leaving others behind. Clearly, the struggles of manufacturing in North America and Europe have robbed those societies of millions of good-paying, often unionized, jobs. Some of these have been replaced by better-paying service-sector jobs; most have not.
The Conference Board notes that government transfer programs flatten out some inequalities, but not as effectively as 20 years ago. Unemployment benefits go to fewer people; welfare rates haven’t always kept up with the cost of living.
Many of the Harper government’s tax cuts, for example, have disproportionately benefited those better off, since they’re not geared to income – as in all those itsy-bitsy bribes for sports equipment, the GST cut and the child benefit cheques than come through the mail every month.
Retired graphic arts worker Rene Walti, who relied on saving inside an individual Registered Retirement Savings Plan, said he would be pleased to see his four children benefit from the pooled plan option.- Dan Gardner is right to note that the Cons' dumb-on-crime strategy is neither entirely new, nor based on a direct attack on historic sentencing principles. But aside from the hope of a shift back in the longer term, is there really much value in avoiding changing the principles used in exercising discretion (in both sentencing and parole) while severely limiting the outcomes that are actually available?
“You try to instill in them that you start when they are 18, and save 10 per cent at least of every cheque. Then they have other ideas, as we had other ideas at their age, too. And, that’s the problem. People start too late in an RRSP.”
So, he said, the “the general expansion of the Canada Pension Plan should also take place, because some people don’t have the discipline to save. With a mandatory CPP deduction that is a bit higher than it is now, at least we can keep them out of poverty.”
Menzies said an expanded CPP “certainly hasn’t been taken off the radar screen,” but provincial finance ministers agreed the pooled plans would be the fastest way to offer Canadians a better savings option.
- Finally, David Sirota points out why fast food is cheaper than healthier alternatives - with a heavy emphasis on subsidies for major components of the less-healthy food.