If there's one message for you Gen X'ers and Millennials to be gleaned from Nobel laureate economist Joe Stiglitz' new book, The Price of Inequality, it's that you're not going to get your problems fixed at the ballot box. If you want your due, you're going to have to find other ways and you're going to have to be prepared to take it.
You don't have to delve very far into Inequality to be convinced that the ladder is being pulled up and the door is being slammed shut on you through a combination of inequality of income, inequality of wealth and inequality of opportunity. Social mobility, upon which is premised the myth of the self-made man, is being fiercely choked off. If you want to climb the social ladder you're far better off moving to "Old Europe."
Another point that Stiglitz convincingly demonstrates is that the type of inequality that plagues North American society isn't market-driven. It's mainly the creature of government policy harnessed into the service of a truly corporatist state. Governments empower the forces of inequality. By "government" I mean your government.
Stiglitz explains how his United States of America has reached levels of inequality shared only by the most dysfunctional nations and societies. Unless and until it's reversed in the U.S., the nation has no future.
The author also discusses how the "CEO culture" undermines nations. As I read his remarks I was chilled at recalling how Harper FinMin Jimbo Flaherty has just concluded his annual summer retreat for Canadian CEOs to deliver their legislative shopping lists to the government. And, worse yet, I recalled the late Liberal leader, Michael Ignatieff's "thinkers conference" where he consulted a supposed bevy of bright lights, dominated by CEOs and management consultants.
The once robust, healthy and vibrant middle class of my era is largely dismantled but the forces of its demise are far from finished yet. Canada lags behind the United States in the ravages of inequality and Canadian CEOs clamor for Ottawa to catch up. The signs suggest Ottawa is listening. No one, Conservative or Liberal, seems troubled by our growing inequality or what it holds for our younger generations and those who will follow them. And their silence reveals a political class no longer in service to their country.
If they can lull the Gen X'ers and Millennials into hapless complacency to their own fate, they will. And so, to you younger generations, all I can say is that if you want what is rightly yours, you had better figure out how you're going to take it from those who have no inclination to part with it.