Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Who Do You Serve?

As Toronto police cleared St. James Park this morning, one of the few remaining protesters yelled at an officer, "Excuse me! Who do you serve? That's the basic question behind the Occupy Movement. And every elected official needs to answer that question -- in the context of what the figures tell us.

Jeffrey Simpson writes that, in the United States -- where the Occupy Movement began -- the non partisan Congressional Budget Office has offered a pretty clear picture of what has happened:

The CBO looked at the years 1979 to 2007. It found that, whereas average household income after inflation grew by 62 per cent, the top 1 per cent of the population had enjoyed income growth of 275 per cent. The bottom 20-per-cent’s after-tax income had grown 18 per cent. Said the CBO: “As a result of uneven income growth, the distribution of after-tax household income in the United States was substantially more unequal in 2007 than in 1979.”

Unfortunately, no politician in the present presidential race is talking about income redistribution. And, in Canada, that phrase would never cross the lips of any member of the Harper government. They will tout the number of jobs created; but they will say nary a word about the quality of those jobs or about the income they generate. The reason is simple. That information indicates that the country is marching backwards.

Even more importantly, it's interesting to compare the government's priorities to the priorities of Canada's citizens. In a recent survey

the share concerned about poverty/income inequality was 30 per cent, behind health care (of course) at 47 per cent, unemployment/jobs at 39 per cent and taxes at 37 per cent. That ranking showed an increase in concern about poverty/income inequality, since it now ranks well above crime, immigration, environment and climate change.

But most Canadians -- as indicated by the last election results -- don't vote. Until they do, things will get worse. And the police will continue to serve their present masters.

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