Tuesday, January 26, 2016

How Long?


In the wake of Justin Trudeau's trip to Davos, Gerry Caplan  assembles -- you'll excuse the pun -- a wealth of data on inequality in Canada and around the world:

The average full-time Canadian worker in 2014 was paid $48,636. The average minimum wage worker got $22,010. By contrast, the average top-100 CEOs had earned the average worker’s pay by 12:18 p.m. on Jan. 4, 2016 – the second paid day of the year – and the average minimum-wage worker’s pay by 2:07 p.m. on New Year’s Day itself.

In 2008, the top 100 CEOs in Canada made on average $7.3-million – 174 times more than the average full-time wage earner. By 2014, Canada’s top 100 CEOs were taking home on average $8.96-million, or 184 times the average worker.

What has happened in Canada has happened almost everywhere:

According to An Economy for the 1 per cent: How Privilege and Power in the Economy Drive Extreme Inequality and How This Can Be Stopped, the poorest half of the world’s population have seen their wealth drop by one trillion dollars, or 41 per cent, since 2010 while the richest 62 people have seen their wealth increase by half a trillion dollars. How can they even count it?

Five years ago, 388 people owned as much wealth as the poorest half of the world’s population. Now, it’s 62 people who own as much as 3.5 billion of their fellow citizens. This tiny band could fit onto a single bus, as Oxfam says, though I’m guessing super-plutocrats don’t use buses that much.

In 2015 five Canadians held the same amount of wealth as the bottom 30 per cent of Canadians, say 11 million people. The total wealth of Canada’s top five billionaires was $55-billion, the exact same amount – $55-billion – held by the bottom 30 per cent.

The wealth of those five richest Canadians has risen by $16.9-billion since 2010 – a 44-per-cent increase. Yet the bottom 10 per cent in Canada make only $2.30 more a day than they did 25 years ago. 

One wonders why Canadians haven't taken to the streets. And one wonders how long  it will be before they do take to the streets.


thwap said...

Canadians haven't taken to the street because anywhere from 25-30% of the population absolutely believes that helping the poor and controlling the greed of the rich will hurt the economy.

Canadians who are not so deluded haven't taken to the streets because some of them are personally doing okay and they just don't think about other people's suffering.

Canadians who are actually critical of the system have told me repeatedly that taking to the streets makes you just as bad as the oppressors. That it will "alienate" the majority (who either don't care or aren't paying attention). So instead, they persist with their one-off demonstrations, their petitions, their online carping and their hopes that our psychotic, sociopathic overlords can be made to see reason.

Owen Gray said...

If that's the case, thwap, Justice will remain a long way off.

The Mound of Sound said...

I found Trudeau's performance in Davos the stuff of a lower school drama teacher. There he was, pontificating, the still very wet behind the ears statesman fooling no one with his faux gravitas. Reminded me of those child preachers in the Deep South who make the rounds of the evangelical tent circuit.

Meanwhile, back home, major problems loom, fueled by a decade of wilful neglect and Junior is off the clock in Switzerland.

Our social problems in Canada are set to worsen fairly rapidly. I read an item in a recent Aviation Week about how US defence planners are wringing their hands over the final collapse of the baby boomers as revenue generators by the early 30s. They figure the demographic slump will leave their federal government without revenues needed to meet its civil obligations much less its bloated military budget. The Great American Military Juggernaut will simply bleed out but I'm sure the poor will pay for it while it occurs.

Owen Gray said...

It seems the poor always wind up picking up the check, Mound.

Steve said...

Owen I am 57 I remember well for most my life the economy worked for me. It ended with Free Trade.

Owen Gray said...

I'm 68, Steve. I, too, remember when the economy worked for me. Back then, economists believed that it was good economic policy to share the wealth -- because it kept a virtuous cycle going.

Anonymous said...

One of the biggest reasons why Canadians haven't revolted is that they have easy access to credit. They have been able to maintain a middle class lifestyle similar to that of people decades ago, but without the income necessary to support it. They are drowning in debt but fooling themselves into thinking they are sailing on smooth waters. That fake existence can't last forever.

Owen Gray said...

I agree Anon. There are two kinds of debt -- invested debt and consumer debt. As a country, we could use some invested debt at the moment -- debt that is invested in the kind of infrastructure that improves an economy. But we have been living on debt that supports our lifestyles. Simply put, it's the wrong kind of debt.