…let’s have a CLASS WAR!
On second thought, says the National Pest, maybe not. Too bad for them that Linda McQuaig, Conrad Black’s pet hate and Terence Corcoran’s nemesis, is on the case. And, unlike Corcoran, she doesn’t like to make lies and damn lies out of statistics:
So last week the Post was quick to denounce a Statistics Canada report revealing rising inequality, even accusing StatsCan of setting off a “class war”. StatsCan’s offence was to document the fact that the earnings of middle-class Canadians have stagnated since 1980. Meanwhile, earnings have risen at the top, while earnings of the poor have declined.
It’s not that the StatsCan report was inflammatory. It went out under the heading “Catalogue no. 97-563,” with the stirring title: Earnings and Incomes of Canadians Over the Past Quarter Century, 2006.
StatsCan’s knack for dull presentation perhaps explains why the venerable institution has been able to survive and assemble much important information, even though its data sometimes embarrass its political masters. (For this, retiring Canadian chief statistician Ivan Fellegi deserves considerable credit.)
But it’s easy to see why the Post is nervous about information on rising inequality getting into the hands of ordinary Canadians.
Ordinary Canadians might also be interested to learn that in the post-war years of the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s, most Canadians experienced real increases in their incomes.
Neil Brooks, a tax professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, notes that during this era the share of income received by the richest 1 percent actually declined — from about 20 percent in the early part of the century to about 7 or 8 percent by 1980. The rich didn’t like this, and have been waging a kind of class war ever since, convincing governments to impose “neo-conservative” policies like lower minimum wages, tighter monetary policy, less social insurance protection, open markets and shifting the tax burden from capital to labour.
The results have been grim for many Canadians, but spectacular for the rich, particularly the very rich. During the last quarter century, the richest 0.01 percent of Canadians saw their real incomes rise on average from $2.9 million to $5.9 million — an increase of $3 million!
Those defending the neo-conservative policy package typically argue it’s been necessitated by “globalization” — even though many European countries have avoided this path and are competing nicely in the global economy.
Yes…and among them, you can count France and Germany–two particularly singled out for bashing by the right, and not just for their refusal to take part in Operation Iraqi Looting. Was it fair? Not according to any really serious analysis, mind you, but the headlines told a different story for fucking years. (Still do, especially where multinationals smell blood in the water but aren’t able to get in on the feeding frenzy. That’s why they have pet journalists to do the savaging for them.) The fact that Germany and France are still the strongest countries economically in the European Union is due, in no small part, to the fact that they do NOT meet IMF and World Bank criteria for “tiger” status. (What good is being a tiger if you end up eating your young?)
But the countries that have escaped the worst of the savaging, like Sweden for example–are doing incredibly well. (For those who sniff, just remember where you last bought a cheap piece of furniture. IKEA, yes? Now consider why they can bring you such cheap stuff: a strong social welfare system and highly unionized workforce. Surprise!)
The sad fact is that macroeconomic “growth” usually doesn’t translate to anything meaningful on the ground, unless by meaningful you’re thinking of dog shit on the bottom of your shoes. Or bidnessman’s urine on the top of your head–the only thing that really trickles down in trickle-down economics.
Yeah, I think it IS time for that so-called class war (which ain’t nothin’ but social justice by an uglier name). The mixed economy is in danger of being yanked back to where things were before the crash of ’29. Do we really wanna go through THAT age of fools’ gold again? In Canada? Come on. We’re better than that!