Hot! The Wealth Paradox

TheGlobeandMail.com – Globe Debate/Letters to the Editor – THE CONVERSATION Nov. 16: This week’s Talking Point – the wealth paradox
Nov. 16 2013.   Virginia Ridley / Dianne Cooper / Sally A. Kimpson / Gary Lewis / Cheryl Sutherland / Lester P. Johnson / Hugh Jones / Joyce Fenez-Reynolds / Paul Bulas

Canada’s wealth paradox has readers, print and digital, questioning how best to tackle the growing divide between the very rich and the rest. ‘These days, people may work hard just to stay afloat. That is no way to build a healthy society,’ writes Paul Bulas

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Globalization has not caused the economic inequality chasm in Canada, but it has made it worse (How Globalization Has Benefited The 1 Per Cent – Nov. 14). It’s allowed the top earners to double their income in the past three decades while the rest of us have barely gotten by. They have not only skimmed the cream off the bottle before they handed it to us, they also drank three-quarters of the milk. The sad truth is that as we have worked harder and faster, they have gotten richer.

Those at the top have not only rewarded themselves with exorbitant salaries and gold-plated pensions, they have also taken advantage of loopholes that allow them to keep more of their money hidden from the taxman. Globalization has made it easier for them to accumulate and hold on to their massive wealth.

The real culprit has been our own governments, which have supported trade agreements to facilitate globalization and taxation policies that really do reward the rich and penalize the rest of us. We can bemoan the effects of globalization, or we can take action in Canada to address it. To deal with economic inequality, we should be thinking globally, but acting locally.

Virginia Ridley, London, Ont.

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How can we expect concern for economic fairness in our society when our decision-makers live in a world of luxury, walled off from the rest of us?

Dianne Cooper, Winnipeg

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Former prime minister Paul Martin laments societal decline engendered by income inequality. That is pretty rich coming from the man who played a direct role in the current state of income inequality in Canada. As finance minister, he systematically gutted Canada’s social security system by dismantling the Canada Assistance Program (CAP), which attached conditions to transfer payments to the provinces to administer social programs.

It is telling that countries with intact and generous social safety nets – the Nordic countries – have less inequality than Canada and thus fewer related societal problems.

Sally A. Kimpson, Victoria

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The increasingly common phenomenon of stimulus failing to energize consumers seems to be a puzzle to business writers. Could it be that the effects of income disparity are now being felt?

As the middle class continues to shrink and incomes stagnate, the purchasing power of the largest portion of society dwindles. The top 1 per cent cannot spend enough to stimulate the economy. This problem is going to worsen until our politicians summon the fortitude to take action.

Gary Lewis, Owen Sound, Ont.

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Never mind the solemn warnings that middle-class, double-income families may not “surpass their parents” in acquiring wealth.

What about the national shame of homelessness and the increasing use of food banks by families with young children?

Cheryl Sutherland, Ottawa

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The Globe’s approach to income inequality reminds me of the drunk looking for his car keys under the streetlight, rather than near the car where he dropped them, because the light is better under the streetlight. Your own editorial policy of decades has heavily promoted the entire neoliberal project of rampant austerity and deregulation.

Northern Europe with its more democratic culture (proportional representation for example), and far less attachment to the Anglo-American version of economics, consistently ranks near the top of both business competitiveness listings and indices of human development. Finland can afford free universal postsecondary education and Canada can’t. Does The Globe ever wonder why?

Lester P. Johnson, Ottawa

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Our problem is with the very rich. We motivate the rest with little raises in salary and rank. But once you are on the board, in the club, you sit around and award each other hundreds of times that which is necessary to motivate.

We have a graduated income tax. Escalate it to 100 per cent on the marginal dollar at some ridiculous level, say $20-million.

Eventually, institute a wealth tax to bring us all back closer to what we deserve.

Hugh Jones, Toronto

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My parents had two or three jobs so we kids (there were seven of us) could play sports etc. They didn’t take fancy holidays or go out to eat.

If you want something badly enough, you work for it. But minimum wage should be raised.

Joyce Fenez-Reynolds, Oakville, Ont.

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Traditionally, if you worked diligently and made efforts to improve your life, you could do it. Now, the link between hard work and advancement is no longer clear. These days, people may work hard just to stay afloat. That is no way to build a healthy society.

Paul Bulas, Toronto

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