“To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle” George Orwell
In a previous blog post: Choice in Present Times I suggested that one possible way we could move towards a focus on community, cooperation and relationship as the basis of society rather than the current sole focus on economy would be to provide a living wage. I also made the bizarre suggestion that with a minor reduction in the salaries of the CEO’s of major companies it would be possible to provide this living wage. Maybe a better way to say the same thing is “what if we redistributed the wealth and closed the gap between the very rich and the poor?”. This seems to be something we hear about but do not seem to do much to address.
I have thought more about this suggestion and more importantly have come across some interesting data that perhaps makes that outlandish suggestion not so weird after all. Here are some interesting facts to ponder.
“The richest Americans tripled their incomes between 1979 and 2007, Bloomberg reports. The top one percent saw their incomes increase by 275 percent during that time. In contrast, those with incomes in the bottom 20 percent only saw an 18 percent increase over the same 28 years. The average increase was 62 percent.”
Vancouver Sun: October 28th: Digits
“In 2005, 21.2 percent of US national income accrued to just 1 percent of earners. Contrast 1968, when the CEO of General Motors took home, in pay and benefits, about sixty-six times the amount paid to a typical GM worker. Today the CEO of Wal-Mart earns nine hundred times the wages of his average employee. Indeed, the wealth of the Wal-Mart founders’ family that year was estimated at about the same ($90 billion) as that of the bottom 40 percent of the US population: 120 million people.”
Tony Judt, Ill Fares the Land (London, UK, The Penguin Press 2010) page 14
“Canada’s richest 1% are taking more of the gains from economic growth than ever before in recorded history, says a report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).
The Rise in Canada’s Richest 1% looks at income trends over the past 90 years and reveals the 246,000 privileged few who rank among the country’s richest 1% took almost a third (32%) of all growth in incomes between 1997 and 2007”.
Richest 1% income shares at historic high; Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives; December 1, 2010
“Three provinces were hit hard by the global economic crisis in 2008 and 2009 – Ontario, Alberta and B.C. In these bust provinces, both average and median incomes dropped since the recession hit……
In each jurisdiction, the shares of the richest quintile are at or near peak highs.
In Ontario, the distribution of shares of income has barely budged since 1998, despite rapid growth in the number of jobs. The richest 20% of Ontarians enjoy 44.3% of total after-tax incomes, the poorest 20% take home just 4.7% of the pie.
In Alberta, there has been a steady redistribution of income to the richest income quintile since 1998, primarily at the expense of the upper middle class and middle income quintile. The poorest income quintile saw the largest drop in their share of incomes of any jurisdiction since the recession hit in 2008. By 2009, the poorest 20% had 4.3% of total after-tax income, compared to 44.3% for the richest 20%.
In B.C. the share of the richest quintile just keeps on increasing, experiencing only two set-backs since 1976, one in 1981 and one in 2001. The big losers in this redistribution have been the lower middle class and middle quintile. The richest 20% held the biggest share of total after-tax income of any jurisdiction in 2009, at 44.8%. The poorest 20% had, correspondingly, the smallest share, at 4.5%………
Overall we are told that the average Canadian had $31,500 to play with after-tax in 2009, same as in 2008. Median after-tax income was $25,400 in 2009, $200 higher than the previous year. It’s worth pausing on that fact alone: half of Canadians were living on less than $25,400 in 2009.”
Incomes in Canada: Booming and Busted; Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, June 15, 2011
Makes you think doesn’t it??