Sunday, January 05, 2014

A Country For The Old

Stephen Harper has always been up front about one of his political objectives -- the destruction of the Liberal Party. Recent polls suggest that he hasn't succeeded on that front. But, if Frank Graves' latest numbers are correct, he may well have gone along way to obtaining his second objective -- the destruction of the middle class.

Harper bought into the touchstone of the American Right -- Ayn Rand's dictum that selfishness is a virtue. Graves writes that, in both countries, the results have been the same. The middle class is in decline:

A comparison of poll tracking in Canada and the United States shows just how recent and clear this decline has been. This tracking covers a little over a decade and corresponds with one of the longest periods of tepid growth in Canadian and American economic history. What Tyler Cowan called the ‘Age of the Great Stagnation’ is working in depressing lockstep in Canada and the United States. And while the U.S. is more advanced on the inequality curve, both economies are seeing a much larger share of a much smaller pie go to a very small portion of the ├╝ber-wealthy. 

Graves' numbers indicate that Canadians are deeply concerned about something that Mr. Harper cares nothing about -- income inequality:

This has made the issue of income inequality a pinnacle political concern for the Canadian public. This isn’t about the perennial divide between rich and poor — this is a political split between those at the very top of the pyramid and everyone else.

It is an odd, slow-building sort of crisis. Labour market confidence is stronger than it was in the 1990s and most citizens are still faring pretty well. But the trendlines are disturbing and describe deepening public pessimism: Only around 10 per cent of Canadians and Americans think the next generation will enjoy a better quality of life. Once we disentangle the issue of intergenerational mobility by generational cohort, we see that this gloomy long-term outlook may be unfolding now.

What  this means, writes Graves, is that now is "a dismal time to be young." It didn't used to be that way:

Seniors born before the end of the Second World War inherited a much more prosperous life than their fathers (over three-to-one upward mobility). The swollen baby boom cohort enjoyed a similar, if much less dramatic, pattern of upward mobility, with a plurality of 40 to 34 moving up versus down.

Young Canadians live in a country which has ditched the concept of social mobility:

Now consider the plight of generations X and Y. They’re considerably less likely to be moving upward compared to their fathers and the incidence of upward mobility is literally three times lower than for the oldest senior cohort. This result for the millennial cohort is not conclusive — there are a lot of students in the mix, they belong to generations that enter the workforce relatively later — so it’s early days yet in terms of nailing down what all of this means.

But here’s what we can say: Vertical intergenerational mobility seems to be collapsing for young Canada (and in the U.S., we suspect). It looks an awful lot like the flattening and reversal of progress may already be well underway.

In the end, Stephen Harper has built a gerontocracy. John Kenneth Galbraith wrote that his adopted country rewards senility. Canada now apes its southern neighbour.



Lorne said...

One can only hope that the generation most affected by this disturbing trend, the young, decide to take a much more active role in the next election, Owen. A good start would be to demand that Justin Trudeau articulate specifically how he will champion the cause of the middle class if his party forms the next government.

Owen Gray said...

Trudeau claims to be the champion of the middle class, Lorne. If he's to have any credibility, he'll have to start to explain exactly how he is going to change the fate of the people he claims are being forgotten.

the salamander said...

.. the entire Potemkin facade of Stephen Harper, is supported & propped up by the cultivation, promotion and rewards for ignorance, bizarre (and hidden) Christian Alliance evangelism, narcissism, omnipotence.. and noteworthy willingness to be completely loyal and complicit.

A healthy dose of obsessive manipulation, thinly obscured fraud, unlimited legal & propaganda budget on Canada's dime and astounding obstruction, secrecy and delay.. certainly help.

Tony Clement? Baird, Fantino, Barb Shea, Poilievre? All over achievers in these kind of activities. & witness Chuck Strahl and his recent revelations.. Kelly Leitch, another, Arthur Porter, Senator Gerstein? How does he stay out of prison?

Ray Novak, Stephen Lecce, Jenni Byrne et al .. and all the Harper jackals.. What exactly do they stand for? A higher order? Can anyone claim they actually care a whit about this country or its citizens? Or are they simply deadhearted creatures orbiting & servicing Stephen Harper?

We need answers re Check Strahl, re our science libraries, re unmandated omnibus bills, PMO fraud & coverups, Canada Pension meddling, procurement incompetence, environmental destruction, electoral fraud, secrecy, spying, lying & denial.. foreign policy in support of Israeli apartheid, muzzling of science .. etc etc etc

The list of Harper failure and falsehoods is growing endless ..
and Mainstream Media must tackle these political jackals
or proclaim their impotence & distorted loyalty

All 'classes' of Canadians deserve truth, care and total responsibility
from those elected as public servants

Owen Gray said...

The list of Harper's enablers is long -- and frankly -- astounding, salamander.

They are a testament to group think -- which always enables stupidity.

e.a.f. said...

things are not good for the thirty/twenty somethings today. not like when the aging babyboomers were at those ages. we owned cars, homes, some had enough income to stay home with their children, and take vacations.

The baby boomers were further bolster and kept afloat by the inheritances from their parents, especially if they lived in major centres where the cost of realestate increased dramaticially. Some of this money from the "blessed ones" will be enough to sustain the grandchildren of the babyboomers. However, some of the babyboomers didn't do as well as others. For those there will be no handing down of the "GENERATIONAL WEALTH".

Not only did the parents of the baby booomers, have much higher incomes than those before them, they used the money wisely and thus for the first time, there was generational wealth for the working./middle
Generation "X,Y, milleniualls aren't lucky.

The money from the "blessed ones" has run out. the agin baby boomers, don't have as much to hand down. We will now begin to see the back sliding of the middle/working class and return to how things once were, i.e. late 1800 up to the mid 1900s .

This is the world stevie wants because it ensures everything is back in order from the perspective of the ultra rich. the past 80 yrs or so has simply been a blip on the radar ad now it is going away.

Owen Gray said...

Harper was one of those baby boomers who benefited from the intergenerational transfer of wealth, e.a.f.

But he's worked very hard to make sure that the next generation won't have the same opportunities he had.