Thomas Picketty's new book, Capital In The 21st Century, is generating a flurry of interest south of the border. Paul Krugman has praised the book's scholarship and its conclusion that we are living in a second Gilded Age. And the central theme of the book -- economic inequality -- has the president's attention. Linda McQuaig writes:
From inside the White House, President Barack Obama has made the dramatic surge in inequality his signature issue, describing it as “the defining challenge of our time.”
The book's central thesis makes eminent sense:
Modern capitalism, left to its own devices, leads to ever-rising inequality. Piketty’s argument, backed up by a vast amount of international and historical data, goes like this: Since income from ordinary labour grows slower than the return on capital (and capital is mostly held by rich people), inequality grows over time.
The United States leads the world in economic inequality. What Canadians don't seem to understand is that we're number two -- a distinction which the Harper government has worked mightily to entrench:
An OECD study released this month showed that, over the past three decades, the share of income growth going to the top one per cent was largest in the United States. But Canada grabbed the silver medal with a strong second, beating out ten other advanced countries in terms of the share of income growth being snagged by its richest citizens.
In Canada, our prime minister hopes that we continue to sleep through the drama.