Monday, December 05, 2011

Inequality at 30-Year High

Inequality in wealth quickly metastasizes into other afflictions including inequality in income and inequality in opportunity.  It chokes off social mobility and nurtures the ascendancy of an oligarchy in which political and economic power is siphoned away, particularly from the middle classes, to a new ruling order.

Now the OECD reports that inequality among its membership, the developed nations, has reached a 30-year high.  Across the OECD, the richest 10% enjoys incomes nine times that of the poorest 10%.  That gap is 14-1 in the US, Turkey and Israel and, in America at least, it's growing rapidly.

As clearly shown in Wilkinson's and Pickett's, The Spirit Level, this sort of inequality rapidly undermines societies and manifests in a host of social ills including  mental health, drug use, physical health and life expectancy, obesity, educational performance, teen births, violence, imprisonment and punishment and social mobility.  It lowers the quality of life for all sectors, including the wealthy, except for the very wealthiest, what is referred to today as the 1%.   It lowers the nation, the society, the individual.  Yet for some reason, presumably anchored in ignorance, the Right persists in advancing policies that promote inequality.

Whether it's America's bought and paid for Congress or Harper's Conservative regime, the Right today is a devoutly corporatist movement.   Their interests are so at odds with the welfare of the public, including most of those who vote them in, that they must rely on a powerful corporate media to mislead, confuse and misdirect them.   The grand masters of this are the denizens of FOX News, the subject of recent studies that chillingly show that FOX viewers are more poorly informed on events than those who get no news at all.   In other words, FOX exists solely as a corporatist propaganda agency to manipulate voters through misinformation and misdirection.  To get a sickening look into the political perversion that is FOX News, just visit

This incestuous marriage of corporatist politics and corporatist media is the very outcome foreseen by those who championed in the 60s and 70s regulations to thwart concentration of ownership and cross-ownership in the media.   For a while we seemed to understand the obvious, that broad and diverse media ownership was the key to ensuring an informed voting public that was nurtured by ready access to the full range of political thought.   And that is why the key to breaking down this diabolical corporatist union and de-corporatizing our political institutions is to utterly dismember the media cartels, something the opposition is curiously leery of advocating.

Which leads to the next woe - the utter absence of opposition to the Harper regime.   Neither the Official Opposition NDP nor the Liberals are earning their parliamentary pay and Harper is grateful for their flaccid performance.  The three out of five voters who didn't support Harper are blatantly unrepresented in this Parliament.   And with that lack of representation, Parliament has lost its credibility, even its legitimacy.   Harper simply could not have bought a better opposition than the lame excuse that faces him across the aisle today.

The type of government Canada endures today - the secretive, manipulative, duplicitous and authoritarian regime in power riding herd over a gaggle of petro-pols on both sides of the aisle - should be rejected out of hand.   If we want our interests respected relying on Ottawa is counter-intuitive and self-defeating.   A perfect example is the Northern Gateway pipeline.

In late November, the Pembina Institute, the Living Oceans Society and the National Resources Defense Council released a damning report on the proposal to ship Athabasca bitumen across British Columbia for supertanker transport to Asia.   The report, in PDF format, is accessible by following the earlier link.  The 32-page report exposes Harper's scam in sickening detail.  The high point of the report is reference to a survey conducted in April, 2011 that found 80% of British Columbians solidly opposed to tanker traffic in our coastal waters.   That is why I believe if they proceed with this they will see a wave of civil disobedience previously unknown to Canada the scope of which is unforeseeable.

Any doubts about the Right's corporatist embrace are dispelled by their stated intention of fast-tracking this pipeline/tanker port project over the will of 80% of the people in the area affected.  That's about as undemocratic as it gets.  It is precisely the sort of authoritarianism that legitimizes mass civil disobedience.

We have to start dismantling  Stephen Harper's Canada limb by limb.  

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