Growing inequality damaging to society

TheStar.com – opinion/letters – Re: More unequal, less complacent, Editorial Dec. 11
Published On Mon Dec 12 2011.    Eleanor Batchelder

As you say, various groups, from international to local, are sounding the alarm about the growing inequality of our societies. I’d like to mention another excellent report, “The Three Cities Within Toronto: Income Polarization Among Toronto’s Neighbourhoods, 1970-2005” by J. David Hulchanski, a publication of the Cities Centre, University of Toronto.

This booklet shows graphically that the middle-income group in Toronto has moved from 66 per cent to 29 per cent in these 35 years, and is projected to become only 9 per cent by the year 2025. A grim picture, indeed, verging on a Dickens novel.

However, a less frequently reported aspect of this growing inequality is its effect on everyone in the society, not just the poverty class. A 2009 book from the U.K., The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better, by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, “demonstrates that a whole range of social problems — from poor health to educational failure, from mental illness to obesity, from drug addiction to violence, from teenage births to the weakening of community life — share one overwhelming feature: they are all several times more common in more unequal societies” [quoted from the Toronto Public Library website].

I recently attended a lecture given by John Campey, executive director of Social Planning Toronto, at the Japan Foundation, and saw slides of some of the graphs from this book, which are quite dramatic evidence that it is not the wealth of a society that matters, but how equally the wealth is distributed among its members.

We all stand to lose if we cannot equalize our economy.

Eleanor Batchelder, Toronto

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1 Comment

  1. Dear Editor:
    In the article “Growing inequality damaging to society” posted December 13, 2013, you wrote about two specific reports concerning how inequality is deteriorating our society. I agree with your point of view and believe that our government should act immediately by updating or implementing new social policies to benefit the middle and lower classes.
    This writer feels that the reduction in household incomes are directly related to cutbacks in full-time positions, increases in part-time positions and contract positions that do not pay adequately and lack benefits. These situations force the majority of families to remain below the poverty line. Reducing inequality could begin with a minimum wage increase and minimal mandatory benefits for all part-time or full-time workers, the removal of capital gains tax on charitable donations which would aid those in need with an increase in charitable donations. It could also include an increase in affordable housing and childcare, removal of barriers within the job market allowing equal employment and fair wages for all, reduction of taxes for people below the poverty line encouraging a stronger work incentive, and a reduction in tuition for post-secondary education. Addressing some or all of these issues will notably decrease the inequality plaguing the 21st century and support the political decisions made over 20 years ago to improve our future.

    Sincerely,

    Bonnie Walsh
    Bachelor Social Work Student
    Laurentian University

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