Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Enough Talk About Inequality. It's Time Our Government Acted.

I don't expect Stephen Harper to take any effective action on inequality.   That's a problem facing the Canadian people, not the oil barons of Calgary or his chums in the Beijing politburo.  That said, I do expect our opposition leaders, Muclair and Trudeau to come up with some coherent and credible policies and well prior to the 2015 election.

Fixing this problem begins with acknowledging the problem - the full problem, inequality of wealth, inequality of income and inequality of opportunity.  Equally essential is acknowledgment of the fundamental role government plays in creating and empowering inequality.

The truth is that most inequality is legislated.  It arises out of enactments that create wealth - for a few - from grants, deferrals, tax breaks, subsidies and the transfer of rights to public property at far below fair value and sometimes free of charge.

The infamous "1%" we hear so much about?  It wouldn't be sitting anywhere near as fat and sassy if it wasn't for the political classes serving as its handmaiden.  Read Stiglitz, "The Price of Inequality", to see how Western governments have fallen into service of these elites at the direct expense of the electorates they're sworn to serve and protect.

This screed is brought to you courtesy of The Toronto Star and outgoing TD Bank chief, Ed Clark.  In his farewell speech, Clark referred to inequality in Canada as a "corrosive thing."  Clark also fingered regulators, central bankers, and politicians for helping to create the financial collapse of 2008.

The inequality problem is only going to deepen if the next prime minister plays it safe and seeks political cover in the status quo.  We need a leader who will change Canada's course economically, environmentally and socially.  That sort of change might have the appearance of being revolutionary but that has nothing to do with the imperative merit of change and everything to do with how far Canada has listed to the right.  We're heeled over so far now that the gunwales are kissing the water.

So, let's hear it Tom, let's hear it Justin.  Are you going to be Bay Street bumboys or are you actually going to lead this country to an even keel?


Anonymous said...

Who would this 1% choose, to be the front man for their Global government? It has to be someone that is totally a sociopath, who only loves himself? This so called human is desperate, to be a big shot on the International scene. This person is rabid for his power and glory.

That person even sold our country to Communist China. So, that person couldn't care less about equality nor for his peoples human rights.

The Mound of Sound said...

I believe Harper has been their man all along, Anon. What worries me is whether Trudeau or Mulcair have the guts to undo the damage Harper has done to the Canadian public. Moaning about Harper is a waste of time. It won't change anything. The question is, will we?

Ron Waller said...

The only way to tackle inequality is to cancel tax cuts for the rich. Then the government will have money to spend on social programs, infrastructure investment (which creates jobs and spin off), job training and tuition grants.

The problem is that we have been continuously cutting taxes for the rich over the past 30 years: corporate taxes cut by 50%, huge RRSP limits, TFSA tax haven, big income tax cuts (before Mulroney the highest income tax bracket was 70%), 0% estate tax.

Harper has cut taxes by $45B/yr according to his 2009 budget. The purpose of these cuts is to put a future government in a fiscal straight jacket.

Unfortunately, Justin Trudeau has vowed to put it on. He has ruled out reversing any of Harper's tax cuts: "Ottawa is taking in enough money."

Trudeau's idea of tackling inequality and creating middle class jobs is increasing Chinese foreign investment in the tar sands and digging more holes in the ground.

His post-secondary education plan is pathetic. All he plans on doing is raising RESP limits. So the little kiddies better start saving up their allowances and learn how to play the stock market if they don't want to be saddled with huge student debt and oppressive unwarranted interest charges.

Ron Waller said...

BTW, Trudeau supports FIPA. He actually criticized Harper for putting limits on Chinese foreign investment. His entire economic plan rests on exporting resources (read tar) to China. In other words, the same plan Harper has.

We need an alternative to Harper, not a prettier version of Harper.

The Mound of Sound said...

If that's accurate, Ron, then the Liberals are poised to compound the damage Harper has already inflicted on Canada.

Ron Waller said...

It's definitely accurate. I have been keeping notes on what Trudeau has been saying on the economy.

He basically has two messages: one to center-left voters that talks about inequality and the shrinking middle class. The other to right-wing voters and businessmen that focuses resource exports.

Here are some links.

Resource exports to China is the future:

"Justin Trudeau disagrees with the Harper government’s new restrictions on future investments in the oil sands, saying he would want to offer a more welcoming environment to state-owned enterprises."

“Thanks to the history of Sino-Canadian friendship…there’s an opportunity for us historically, there’s an opportunity for us geographically, there’s an opportunity for us geologically, because we have so many resources China needs right now,” Trudeau says. “For me, it’s either we set the terms now and take the lead role, or 20 years down the line, we’re the poor cousins who accept any deal thrown our way.”

"We need to be more strategic about foreign direct investment and trade.

"I don't need to tell you that. You're here in BC. You're facing the Canadian economy's future.

"The US will always be important to us. But the present and future of global growth is in Asia."

[Transcript of Trudeau speech to Vancouver Board of Trade]

Hark work is hammering out agreements with First Nations to build more pipelines:

"Building partnerships between industry, First Nations and civil society as has been done with great success in the BC forest industry — well that takes hard work. It demands real courageous leadership. Pipelines and LNG [liquid natural gas] projects call for that same hard work."

[Transcript of Trudeau speech to Vancouver Board of Trade]

Trudeau on taxes:

“The federal government is taking in enough taxes”

“We are not going to be raising taxes.”

Trudeau criticizing Harper for putting limits on TFWs:

On Wednesday, he accused the Tories of mishandling the temporary foreign workers file for so long that "they're now putting in caps that are going to hurt people in Fort McMurray," a community with low unemployment and a booming economy.

"Bringing in blanket changes the way they have has even got some of the local Conservatives very, very uncomfortable with the way the government has mishandled this file."

The Conservatives mocked Trudeau's comments, noting he voted in favour of an NDP motion for a moratorium on the entire low-skilled temporary foreign worker stream in April in the House of Commons.