Alex Himelfarb writes that, like our neighbours to the south, Canadians are falling into The Inequality Trap. And he warns that accepting that trap as a fact will have horrendous consequences:
In an extremely unequal society the very rich and corporations gain too much influence. In the competition of ideas, money always talks – but with extreme inequality money talks even more loudly. And undoubtedly that has an impact on how we see problems and what solutions we can imagine. We start to internalize the talk. At worst, some begin to think of themselves as inferior, that others are the job and wealth creators. Many simply feel increasingly powerless and come to view government as a foreign thing, serving its own interests or the interests of the powerful few. They lose faith. And they lose hope. And the inequality trap is sprung.
That loss of faith and hope becomes endemic and everybody loses:
In a society with just a few winners and many losers, a case can be made that everybody truly loses. When he argued for higher taxes on the rich, [Warren] Buffett also said that the rich people he knows are generous and giving and want what’s best for the country and their kids. They too then pay a price when they live in gated communities, when they live in fear, when the distance between us turns us into caricatures or turns us against each other. And how do we begin to develop a sense of the common good when we are so divided?
It's that sense of the common good which holds a society together. A society where the prime directive is that it's every man and woman for him or herself becomes inherently dangerous. In the end, gated communities cannot keep out angry mobs.
The present government believes that building more prisons will ensure that those mobs won't form. It believes it is acting proactively. Like the French aristocracy in 1789, it is convinced that it can protect itself from angry mobs. Unless it has a change of heart and direction -- things which do not appear likely -- it may face a very rude awakening.