This week, the Conference Board released a report predicting generational warfare between Canadians. Macleans has also jumped on the bandwagon. Linda McQuaig writes:
I turn to Maclean's if I want to know what idea conservatives will be pushing next. So when I saw a recent copy of Maclean's featuring a jarring photo of an old person's wrinkled hand with the middle finger raised, I realized the right is gearing up to make generational conflict the next big thing.
Along with the photo of the raised middle finger was a cover photo of a smiling, white-haired older woman holding a wad of $50 bills, with many more floating around her head, as if money were raining down on her. The cover headline: "OLD. RICH. SPOILED."
Harperian politics is all about driving wedges between people. But it's also about total misrepresentation. McQuaig writes that, while the young face miserable employment prospects as a result of Harper's phobia of deficits, the real gap is still the gap between rich and poor:
So the suggestion that seniors as a group receive too much government support is absurd. Rich seniors, who need it least, are dramatically over-subsidized by government, while poor seniors definitely need more help, but have been all but abandoned by the Harper government.
For that matter, the precarious financial situation of young people is part of the erosion of economic security of working people in general, as the increasingly powerful corporate sector has pushed governments to redesign tax and trade laws in its favour, and to weaken union and workplace protections. This has allowed corporations to scoop up an increasingly large share of national income, at the expense of labour.
This corporate-government attack on workers has been fierce, but older workers, with more seniority, have been better positioned to defend themselves.
In fact, spending on infrastructure would increase everyone's employment prospects. However,
both Maclean's and the conference board's Stewart-Patterson suggest that young people could deal with their plight by launching a tax revolt -- the right's favourite cause that would lead to further cuts to our social safety net. How convenient for the right if it could enlist young people in its anti-tax crusade.
What the right really fears is that young people will turn on them:
Above all, the right wants to ensure that the anger of disaffected youth doesn't end up directed towards the corporate elite -- as it was during Occupy Wall Street's campaign against the growing wealth and power of the 1%.
The accumulations at the top have continued to grow, and will lead to an ever-widening gap between rich and poor, as economist Thomas Piketty has documented in his widely acclaimed New York Times best-seller Capital in the Twenty-First Century.
The Harper government -- and before that the Harris government in Ontario -- has been very good at driving wedges between Canadians. They believe they have found the next big wedge.