Friday, September 12, 2014

Stunning Inequality

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The Broadbent Institute has just released a study on the distribution of wealth in Canada. Rick Smith, the institute's director, writes:

While the growing income share of the richest 1 per cent often dominates the headlines, looking at the distribution of wealth as opposed to income provides a broader view of the economic resources available to an individual or family.

A family’s wealth can be thought of as the amount of money that would be left over if they sold all their assets and paid off all their debts. Assets might include such things as houses, vehicles, stocks, bonds and savings. Debts might include mortgages, student loans or consumer debt.

For example, the wealthiest 10 per cent of Canadians accounted for almost half (47.9 per cent) of all wealth in 2012, while the poorest 10 per cent held more debts than assets.

The share of wealth at the bottom is particularly disconcerting: 30 per cent of Canadians together owned less than 1 per cent of all wealth; and the bottom half of Canadians controlled less than 6 per cent of wealth combined.

It’s important to put the distribution into context. The median wealth of the richest 10 per cent — meaning half in this group own more, half own less — was more than $2 million in 2012. In contrast, the median wealth of the poorest 10 per cent was a debt of $5,100.

Moreover, when you exclude pensions, the richest 10 per cent of Canadians own an even larger share of financial assets, which include things such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, investment funds, income trusts and tax-free savings accounts. The richest 10 per cent controlled almost $6 of every $10 (59.6 per cent) of such assets in 2012, more than the bottom 90 per cent combined.

Meanwhile, the bottom half of the population combined held less than 6 per cent of financial assets and the bottom 70 per cent of the population only 16 per cent — a clear shot across the bow of the various rosy reports trumpeting post-recession financial wealth recovery for Canadians.

When the prime minister bragged that we wouldn't recognize the country after he was through with it, he wasn't kidding. He may want to be remembered as the man who was in office when one of John Franklin's ships was discovered.

But his real legacy will be -- and is -- stunning inequality.

12 comments:

Lorne said...

While I don't begrudge people their affluence, Owen, I do begrudge that far too many think that the inequality that exists is attributable to people's lack of effort, will, and character. While that may provide a boost to their egos and consciences, it does not excuse their gross disconnection from reality, nor does it excuse their support of a government whose policies seem only designed to increase those economic disparities.

Owen Gray said...

And, as a matter of basic economics, Lorne, the concentration of wealth at the top causes economies to collapse from the bottom.

The Broadbent study indicates that the prime minister, who claims to be an economist, is peddling snake oil.

Anonymous said...

Harper is peddling worse than snake oil. Harper signed his FIPA with Communist China. That means, China will be in Canada for a minimum of 31 years. We know, we will never get the Chinese out of Canada. This country will be, a wasteland of pollution. We will have dead pigs, floating down our rivers too. China has polluted much of their farmland and 40% of their water.

There is Harper's Omni Bus bill, that gives China the right to sue Canada if, anyone tries to block China's takeover of Canada. Harper is being sued by wealthy Chinese, to get into Canada. 45,000 more Chinese want in.

I signed the petition against, Harper's deals with China. We don't need to worry about the economy in Canada. All the money is leaving Canada.

Owen Gray said...

We were warned long ago that we would regret the consequences of signing FIPA, Anon.

Another in a growing list of Harperian mistakes.

Brenda Ann Simmans said...

I DO begrudge people their affluence. My work, a mother's work, everyone's work should be compensated fairly. I would never use my privledge in being able to obtain an education as an excuse to say that my work is worth MORE THAN. I will always see my education and comfortable work as a blessing to be shared with oppressed others...no matter their circumstance.

Anonymous said...

This wasn't a mistake. Harper and ex BC Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell began handing BC over to Communist China, during Campbell's reign of terror.

Fadden of CISIS warned of Communist China's huge inroads into Canada. BC was specifically mentioned because, Harper and Campbell had already given much of BC to Communist China. No-one damned well listened. I wonder if anyone listened? Harper signed a deal with, the Red Communist China Army.

Now, the Chinese are calling the shots, in the BC Teachers strike.

Premier Christy Clark is merely Harper and China's mouthpiece.

Have we noticed any of the opposition parties, doing anything about, Harper being a traitor, doing acts of treason? Not on your nelly they are.

Owen Gray said...

No, the opposition parties haven't distinguished themselves on this file, Anon.

Owen Gray said...

And that's precisely the difference between you, Brenda Ann, and the people who are currently calling the shots.

You believe bounty is to be shared. They believe it should be horded.

Brenda Ann Simmans said...

I know and it scares me...

Owen Gray said...

As Lincoln said, Brenda Ann, we have to decide whether or not we will follow the better angels of our nature.

Brenda Ann Simmans said...

I am trying, but it seems so little and so futile. I am discouraged and want to move up north and hide!

Owen Gray said...

Sometimes, Brenda Ann, all you can do is stand firm.