85 people have as much wealth as the poorest half of the world

New numbers on the distribution of global wealth




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85 people have as much wealth as the poorest half of the world

  1. Check your headline, it makes no sense. Not the top 85 per cent, it’s the top 85 people.

    • Maclean’s is still crowdsourcing its proofreading.

      • That correction was fairly quick. But it’s still wrong on the “More Blogs” list page.

        • And now that’s fixed.

          • Thanks for clearing that up before I came by.

  2. Capitalism doesn’t work any better than socialism or communism….which is why all 3 systems are obsolete.

    • So you would replace it with…?

      • Not sure what to replace it with, but we can try thinking outside the box. We’re intelligent beings after all and surely there might be alternatives we haven’t figured out or experimented with yet.

        • I agree. The new economy…the knowledge economy….is forming as we speak….we won’t get to choose it….. and it’s going to be tres different as it depends on abundance not scarcity….a 180 from the capitalist economy.

          • Voodoo economics at its finest!

          • Part of the problem with capitalism is that someone gave what has always existed a name. “Knowledge based economy” is another term that is as dumb as taking bacon to a Bar Mitzvah.
            Capitalism is what’s always been done. When the flint knapper on the Siberian steppe exchange his superior tool making skill for meat and fur, he was being a capitalist engaged in the knowledge-based economy. The best hunters, those who were best at knowing where the game would be, always had extra meat, fur, and bone to exchange for tools with which to harvest game. The guy who was most knowledgeable about wind and snow, could trade his ability to establish a winter camp for food and fur.
            Sounds a lot like capitalism and a knowledge based economy to me. The currency and the valued knowledge changes, but the underlying principle remains the same.
            Some people make the erroneous assumption that “capitalism” is an economic system that was invented at some point in time, in the same fashion that communism and socialism are invented systems. (That would be people such as Emily) Thus they think it can be replaced with something else.
            Wrong. Just as God didn’t just invent a walrus, we didn’t just invent capitalism. It evolved.
            That’s why the most socialist and communistic countries are the ones with the most stark and most pronounced disparities of wealth.
            In countries like ours, anyone can participate in the free economy. Therefore, while some can amass enormous wealth, even the poorest have the basics, and everyone has the opportunity to improve their economic situation.
            But, contrast Canada with a country like Cuba. This “model” socialist country has a few billionaires and millionaires, who are all, not coincidentally, members of the Communist Party. Those who might be considered “middle class” are also members of the Communist Party. There are precious few of them.
            The remainder of the Cuban people, 90% or more of the population, literally live hand to mouth in the kind of squalor that makes some of our supposedly shameful Indian reserves look like the Best Western.
            In 1959 there were more cattle than people in Cuba. Now meat, milk, and cheese are as scarce as teeth on a chicken. Hell, even chickens are scarce, unless of course you’re high enough up the Commie Party totem pole to be deserving of a chicken to eat. At the same time, most of what used to be Cuba’s farmland lies unused and overgrown. There is no agriculture to speak of, beyond just barely subsistence agriculture.
            Cuba is an extreme case, but in every socialist country the free-market capitalists are squeezed out by the socialist capitalists.
            In those countries, wealth is acquired via the power of the state. How does a country like Cuba or China have billionaires? One only-ONLY- acquires any meaningful wealth in those countries via the power of the state.
            In less socialist countries, it’s still the same. The more socialism, the more that access to wealth is controlled by the state. In more free-market economies, it’s an accepted reality that one individual’s acquisition of wealth is not necessarily, or at all, at the expense of others. Socialists believe that all acquisition of wealth is at the direct expense of others. Thus, those who promote socialism and embrace it, almost universally act in the same fashion as the unfettered ‘robber baron” capitalists of old (who were actually not much different than today’s proto-socialist capitalists).
            That’s why we have multi-millionaire bureaucrats, and upper middle-class government employees who are amassing wealth with no risk, who produce nothing of value, and who strive to promote policies and laws that restrict instead of promote the access of the citizenry to the market place, and the expansion of capitalistic tendencies.

          • Emily, knowledge economy is a capitalist term. Its capitalism based on Human capital, which becomes either a business product, or a productive asset.

          • No Charles….a knowledge economy is based on knowledge and technology and 180 from capitalism and the industrial age. It will be totally different than what we have now.

        • Yeah, but Emily has a way of issuing these trite statements as if she has all the answers – so I thought I’d give her a platform so she could share her wisdom ;-)

          • She was speaking in buzzwords the second time she spoke too, but I think she has a vague understanding of what the transformation of our workforce has to look like.

            In the long term, automation is coming. In the short term, all unskilled and semi-skilled labour can be done more cheaply overseas. That’s why we are in fact moving into a knowledge economy. Domestic labour just doesn’t have much value anymore, so the relationship between labour and capital has broken down.

            With people no longer needed for labour (much) we have to start treating them as under-utilized data processors. In other words, to have growth we need people to think and create.

            To have our populace as a whole thinking and creating, we need to create entrepreneurs, researchers and innovators. In other words, the knowledge economy. However, to have a population of entrepreneurs, researchers and innovators we need a system in place that provides seed money and time to do so (hence a universal minimum income, and small scale loans that are easily forgiven). Finally, we need a cushion to blunt risk for people who are willing to try new things. The huge rates of return we generally get on research and innovation shows that as a society we are under-utilizing them.

            Anyway, that’s why we need not only the traditional capitalist structures of corporations and finance, and the traditional social safety net (though I think we can discard the idea of public control of the means of production as a proven failure) but also a new emphasis on empowering the everyman to be an entrepreneur.

          • Well that’s odd – on the website the name is Charles – but in my email alert it says Yanni. What’s up with that? [Edit: A refresh of the page and it says Yanni. Don't you just love Disqus?]

            As for your comment… a far better description of what “knowledge economy” means than any I’ve seen from Emily. She tosses the term around a lot but I’ve yet to be convinced she actually knows what it means.

          • Well, my name isn’t Charles, no do I have it as an alias, so I don’t know what to tell you. Though perhaps I should spread the rumour that I am Charles so people have a harder time of figuring out who I am.

        • Why don’t you just live in a box while the rest of us appreciate the fact that capitalism, also known as freedom, has done more to bring people out of poverty than anything else in human history.

          • …erm… so all of the data and facts presented in the article you are commenting on are false?

            and you base that on???

          • Capitalism is not freedom. Capitalism is an economic system where value is added to the capital to generate profit. Capitalism by itself doesn’t guaranty freedom, it only guarantees the accumulation of capital. Freedom has slowly and sometimes painfully been established in democratic societies through the passing of laws and rights, like workers rights.

      • Distributism. The third way.

        The problem after all, is not that there are too many capitalists, but too few.

        Micro-loans, minimum income, and 3 acres and a cow for everybody.

        • I have to admit, I had to look that one up. Some of the principles can certainly help to moderate the effects of capitalism, but from the little bit I read it would seem a pure distributism society would be agrarian and pretty much bring to a halt a lot of our technological and scientific pace of development. But that’s based on a quick read of the Wikipedia entry, so I’m open to suggestions as to how this could work.

          • Heh. It doesn’t get much play and was never taken seriously, but I think it is perfect for a post-industrialist economy. It was based on an agrarian model because it was invented in the depths of the industrial revolution, and the people had a romanticized view about how life was better before everyone went to work in the factories.

            However, I’ll show you how a neo-distributism would work.

            3 acres and a cow doesn’t mean exactly that everyone would have 3 acres and a cow. It just means that everyone would have enough income or property in which to draw a subsistence standard of living as a basic right. A universal basic income would work for this. So hopefully that puts the idea out of your head that this is only for an agrarian society.

            I love the idea of a universal basic income, just like Hayek and Freidman did, because I think it would encourage more economic freedom for everyone and encourage entrepreneurship. If you don’t need to work to survive, you can take more risks, especially if you know the risk won’t ruin you forever. So far from halting technological and scientific pace of development, I think you’ll find it should do the opposite.

            Another thing that a universal basic income does is encourage more education. If my bills are still going to be paid, and I’m on the lowest rung of the ladder, I have the luxury and the resources to take out student loans to go to school. Right now education is largely restricted to the young and the childless.

            Finally, for distributism to work you have to make available more credit, and more easily forgivable credit, to improve things. It is no surprise that many of the great innovators of history did so in the United States, where bankruptcy laws are extremely lenient. Crowdsource funding like kickstarter has been a private way to bring about loans to small entrepreneurs, and microloans another. Certainly it would be good to resurrect a lot of government initiatives to make more credit available to the public, since that created a lot of growth in the early part of the 20th century. We just have to make sure we manage that public debt better, and recognize that these will have a fair degree of risk (and therefore loss) since the private sector doesn’t want to take it on.

        • LOL good lord no.

          The world is moving away from subsistence farming, not towards it.

          • Well, not subsistence farming literally. Just the idea that everyone is entitled to a level of income and property that is inviolate.

            That way they have the ability to participate in the knowledge economy.

          • Ahh the guaranteed annual income idea. Well if people have that there is no guarantee they’ll go on to a knowledge economy. What they need for that is education

          • It is hard to get people to get an education if they are busy doing other things to stay alive. Education is largely for people who can afford it, so we have to make it so they can afford it.

            And yeah, the guaranteed annual income will make some people sit and do nothing. But we pretty much guarantee an annual income to people anyway to subsist on. The only difference is we try to claw back benefits as soon as people try to improve themselves by taking jobs or getting training and education.

            I’d rather pay everyone a minimum income than pay for welfare, and a bureacrat that checks to see if the person is “cheating” on welfare. In fact, with everybody getting cut a check instead of all the numerous benefit programs (unemployment, welfare, old age pension, disability) we can fire so many bureaucrats it makes me salivate.

          • Oh I agree I’d rather have a GAI than all the welfare benefits we now have. It’s a bureaucratic nightmare.

            But mostly in Canada we need education…..and I believe that should be free.

            I also believe in insisting people get off pogey as soon as possible. The UK has people with 3 and 4 generations who have never worked.

          • Yes, but the UK, like us, puts disincentives from getting off pogey or moving to where the job market is better.

            There are some cultural problems too of course, but government policy is largely to blame.

          • I agree. If there’s any way to make it more difficult than need be the govt will find it.

          • While were at it, there also needs to be a way to educate people who are not capable of learning under the present system…not all people have the same learning capabilities.

          • I don’t think I’d disagree with anything in that article for developing economies. Where there is no education and a complete lack of equity, I don’t think that adding high interest debt on top of it will really work.

            However, where you have a fairly stable situation, with people that have been given the tools to run a business through education, even a small amount of seed money can have a big effect.

            But yes, certainly corporations and governments still have a big role to play. The government can be a good source of credit, as long as they don’t make the same mistakes they did from the Clinton years until it finally exploded in 2008. Loans for people prepared to take on the risk = good. NINJ (no income, no job) loans, not so good. No matter how big or small they are.

          • Well, just for giggles – what mistakes were made during Clinton’s presidency that caused the 2008 financial meltdown?

          • Essentially? Trying to right the wrong when Americans were given access to credit to become home owners as part of the new deal, of which black people were largely left out. This partly for economic reasons (because blacks were generally poorer) but also for race reasons (because they were black). So Clinton wanted to extend credit to people who had been traditionally left out through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

            The financial sector of course, wanted to blunt the risk of these loans, so they carved up the loans and put into hedge funds. Then people realized that if you didn’t look too closely, selling all these loans was a great way to make money. After all, on paper these loans had the value of the house, and drew interest from those loans. So they started selling a lot of them, and bundled them with more and more funds because well… loans have a pretty good return. It was only when people started wondering if these loans would be paid and whether the houses were worth what the loan was that things went sour.

            But yeah, while the financial sector bears part of the blame, the government has its fingerprints all over the financial crisis too.

            Of course, what I’ve just told you is incredibly simplified and not entirely true, but I hope is at least pointing towards the truth.

          • Ok, you seem to be talking about the Community Reinvestment Act, which was designed to counteract the redlining policies of banks, who segregated lending by neighbourhood (as a proxy for race). This was a Carter initiative, predating Clinton by a generation.

            If you’re still pitching the CRA as a cause of the 2008 debacle, you need to expand your sources.To claim that CRA forced the banks into hedging their investments is just silly.

          • Yes, but Clinton expanded it.

            I’ll agree that the fault ultimately relies on people not investing wisely, followed by the banks, followed by the government. But to say that government had no role to play? No.

          • Uh, ok. In the sense that government influence via CRA led to non-zero impact on the housing crisis, I guess you’re correct. Congrats on the academic better-than-zero good point.

            If you really think that the CRA had a notable/significant impact on the financial crisis, you have more reading to do.

          • Dude, it’s your argument. If you have some earth shattering statements to make me reconsider my position, you should explain it.

            But yeah, there is no way that a government so involved in their housing market as the US had no effect on the eventual fate of the housing market. I believe that just on your word alone.

            On the other hand, our government being at arm’s length from our housing market has nothing to do with why it has been more stable than the United States for the past 30 years.

          • Ok, again, there’s probably more than a zero percent effect attributable to the CRA. Beyond the CRA it’s probably a multiple of something more than zero.

            The CRA canard has been settled for years. I’m kinda surprised to see it out in the wild, outside its natural habitat of Fox News, GOP fundraisers and Michigan Militia meetings. I don’t care if you bother to educate yourself (again, you’re the one that claimed Clinton’s big role in the 2008 meltdown) but don’t expect to propose it here in the Real World without challenge.

            If you win an argument on the narrowest of technical, academic correctness and irrelevancy, have you won anything at all?

          • Yeah, and if you don’t believe that a government policy deliberately designed to extend home loans to people who have traditionally been denied credit had nothing to do with a lot of defaulted loans, then I can’t really talk to you.

            You want to believe that evil only comes from “corporations” and that the government’s role in the affair should be minimized and absolved. I on the other hand, place the clueless investor and the greedy financial sector as the primary causes of the financial crisis, but I am the tool of Fox News. Just because I don’t accept that the government’s role was “almost zero” based on your word alone.

            You sir, are a closed minded ideologue.

          • “Just because I don’t accept that the government’s role was “almost zero” based on your word alone.”

            Like I said, this has been settled for years. And you’re expecting me to accept your word based on the zero evidence you’ve presented.

            “You want to believe that…” “You sir, are a closed minded ideologue.:

            Grow up.

            Google this: “The CRA Was Not A Significant Factor In Subprime Lending Or The Crisis.” You’ll see that only 6% of subprime loans had any connection with the CRA, and most of the subprime lenders (non-banks) were not subject to CRA legislation.

          • Aww… you telling me I’m a stooge of Fox News and the Michigan Militia while I simply point out that you are being a closed minded ideologue and now your feelings are hurt? I’m supposed to grow up? Really? Maybe you should look at your own behavior.

            Also, I never said that the CRA specifically was the cause of the loans, but rather the government’s policies that were trying to increase home ownership. The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC) reported in 2011 that Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac “contributed to the crisis, but were not a primary cause.” Which is pretty much what I said.

            But it isn’t just Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the CRA, it is the fact that all the regulations and thrust of the government was to try to give as many people loans to buy houses as possible. That meant a lack of regulation, an unwillingness to look to closely at the non-depository banking system. It was Clinton and the GOP house that did a lot of the deregulation that made financial institutions “too big to fail”. That wasn’t just because they were stooges for big business, but because they were seeking encourage home ownership among people who had never owned homes before.

            But really, this is a tangent that started because I said “Government should give out credit, but they have to manage it better than it did from the Clinton era to 2008″. That should be a non-controversial statement. It was Clinton who signed the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act, and it was Clinton that pushed for extending the new deal mantra of home ownership on people who had no incomes and no jobs.

            Certainly, we can see that the government should watch the financial sector better than it did when it wants to allow trade in these risky loans, and that giving out loans to people with no incomes and no jobs is a pretty bad idea. We agree on that right?

          • Clinton used the CRA to blackmail banks into “lending” money to people who had no means to pay it back. If you are White and you don’t qualify for a loan then why should you automatically receive a loan if you are Black and don’t qualify? Forget about Race it’s just a big hustle. Concentrate on the economics and simple math. Why is every Western nation bankrupt since the institution of the Welfare State?

      • I think that a Basic Living Income for everyone would be a place to start. Then tack capitalistic market driven stuff on top of that. And free education, then Healthcare- IE: Train millions of doctors first, THEN make them available.

    • Capitalism has existed ever since one human traded hunted meat for some care, cloths and the like. It is the foundation of marriage. It predates all religions, and even religion capitalizes on sin for money redemption.

      Capitalism defines civilizations. It has never died. Reason we have cities, time for religion and TVs is all capitalism. You make a product I want, I make a product you want and we exchange goods and or services. Its why we have money, to monetize the process. Fiat money has no other value than to facilitate more trade in more complex ways than simple 1 on 1 barter.

      Socialism and communism is a ideology that in the purest ideal sense makes sense. But add in human greed, human corruptions, political ethical corruption and they come and go. As in fact socialism decays to corruption and in time fails when producers don’t get enough and consumers get too much.

      But capitalism will survive. Socialism, communism, governments, fiat money all come and go, but capitalism will survive. We all are capitalists as we have fiat money in our pockets. When you buy stuff, you are capitalizing on spending money for what you want.

      • Capitalism is an economic system in which trade, industry and the means of production are controlled by private owners with the goal of making profits in a market economy.[1][2]

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capitalism

  3. Considering the takeover and interference in the free markets by economically illiterate statists it is not surprising that people who do understand how economies work prosper. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel. Socialism has been dead from the shoulders up for almost 100 years but it is still the dominant ideology being programmed into students in schools and universities. Stop the brain dead Utopian experiments and elect politicians expounding traditional values of property rights and rule of law. Traditional values are what works and when they don’t work they are changed as a result of the “spontaneous extended order” of individual people making their own decisions based on their own needs and desires. Statists on the other hand propound rigid ideologies and are not amenable to change as they are enforced using the violence of the state.

    • So, in your mind, which of the following constitute brain dead Utopian experiments:

      - Universal health care
      - Public pension
      - Old age security
      - Laws against discrimination
      - Workplace safety laws
      - Consumer protection laws

      • - Education
        - Food inspection
        - Environmental health regulations
        - Water treatment
        - Road construction
        - Snowplowing
        - Garbage Pick-up
        - Fire Protection
        - Libraries

        • Guys, you can still be upset about the statist mindset while still loving all these things. For example, there are no service that you listed that I don’t think can’t be improved by being allowed to put your own money in. The fact that Universal Health Care can’t be supplemented with private funds to relieve the shortages that a single payer system necessarily causes is an act of cruelty by the statists.

          There are also a lot of problems that statism has caused our country in small ways. For example, we had a big crop in Saskatchewan this year, and we have a lot of grain piles sitting around because of excess capacity. We would love it if the trains would move faster to move this extra grain, so we maintain quality.

          They however, have a cap on how much revenue they can get from hauling grain in a year, and any they earn above that has to go to agricultural research. Now I love research, but the way that this cap was set up, there is no incentive for the grain company to move more cars and move them faster to take more of my money. So the grain elevators are plugged and the system is bottlenecked.

          Why is there a cap on how much revenue the rail companies can earn from farmers? Because we made a statist choice in the past, and someone decided he didn’t want railway companies earning too much money at the expense of the proletariat. So now I have to live with the consequences, because it is too small an issue to get the notice of the government and not worth expending the political capital to get it fixed. That makes me have a lot of sympathy for rdlynn’s rant.

          • Why would I care about “mindset” or values? What matters in the real world is policy. As I understand it, a universal health care policy requires all citizens to be committed for best results. Otherwise, those with more money (and therefore more influence) will influence the system in their favour, to the detriment of others. I remain to be convinced otherwise.

          • Well, that’s just because you aren’t looking towards the model that most of Europe uses (including socially liberal Scandinavia), which mixes private and public healthcare and works far better than England’s and ours.

            The fact that you refuse to do research or consider other options besides Canada and the United States and follow the evidence doesn’t speak well of you.

            I notice of course that you don’t acknowledge the fact that there are a million policies put in place that were based on exactly what Rdlynn was talking about. Statist-socialist interference in the economy based on utopian socialist ideals. Just because you don’t have to live with them because you don’t run a business doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

            I think it is perfectly valid to complain about unnecessary government interference in the economy, while still valuing social programs.

          • “Well, you’re not looking at Scandanavia…”

            “The fact that you refuse to do research or consider other options besides Canada and the United States…”

            Dude. It’s YOUR argument. It’s not my job to research your point, it’s yours. If there’s some earth-shattering refutation of my understanding, feel free to tell me about it. In the meantime, there are one third of one billion Americans just south of here serving as an example of what not to do.

          • Well, here is my earth shattering statements.

            1) Rich people already jump the cue by being large donors to hospitals, having political connections to health boards, and by being able to afford to get their healthcare completely outside the system. The only people you are forcing to be “equal” are the middle class, who might need slightly more resources than the government can give.

            2) Why can’t the government give an infinite amount of healthcare? Because healthcare is an inflexible good, and we’ll always consume more as long as we are able. When you put a fixed price on an inflexible good, you necessarily create a shortage. That’s why we have such long wait times and bed shortages. You know what would relieve those shortages? If people were able to supplement public care with private care and relieve the pressure.

            3) Look at how Scandinavia’s health care system is so much better than ours and stop looking at the world through dualistic Socialist/Capitalist terms. Heck, look at Sweden who managed to save their social democratic welfare state by lowering corporate taxes.

          • 1) Duh. The question is whether you’re creating an “out” that’s achievable by a substantial amount of people, such as the middle class. That’s the kind of policy that will specifically undermine public healthcare.

            2) Duh. You know what would increase those shortages? Making public healthcare the domain of the lower-middle class, the working class, the working poor and the poor. Just as an outcome of “supplementation” by people who can afford better.

            3) Again, I don’t know much about this “Scandinavia” you’re talking about, nor their healthcare record. What I do know is that exactly TWO (three, if I count you and GritsRock as two different people) commentors have been defining this as some sort of black vs. white extremes. Nobody else here has been describing anything in such simplistic terms.

          • 1) The middle class will always appreciate the health care system. They cannot pay for a substantial amount of it out of their own pocket without extreme financial problems. They can however, pay for small things to receive them in a more timely manner or to receive a little bit of extra comfort.

            2) No, it does not happen unless you deliberately only make public healthcare the domain of the lower-middle class and the poor like the US did. When you allow people to mix private and public healthcare, they appreciate the cost savings of the public side and use them. We have empirical proof of this, by looking at public healthcare systems in Europe.

            3) If you refuse to accept the possibility that a mixed private and public healthcare system could work better, then you are an ideologue. When I tell you, look at Scandinavian health care systems and how they’ve successfully mixed public and private healthcare systems, your natural response should be “Oh, okay, I’ll take a look at that data and become more informed”.

            Instead you would rather entrench and argue with me that the single payer is the only way, and boast about how you know nothing about alternate systems than Canada and the U.S. So you are a black and white ideologue who is proud of his ignorance.

          • I don’t know if you’ve experienced the health care system lately, but there are all kinds of things you can pay for to make things more comfortable: ambulance rides, casts, crutches, semi-private rooms… if you think Canada’s health care system could be substantially improved by further tapping the middle class, I think you’re in for a nasty shock.

            Hey, heck, maybe things could be better under a mixed private/public healthcare system. I remain ready to be convinced, presumably by this “empirical” evidence from Europe. In the meantime, what you’re talking about sounds like an excellent market opportunity to sell medical insurance to the middle class: what an excellent way to remove both their burden and their support from the public system!

            “If you refuse to accept the possibility that a mixed private and public healthcare system could work better, then you are an ideologue.”

            I haven’t rejected that possibility. I just won’t take you at your word. And I’m not boasting about my ignorance, I’m pointing out that you have done nothing to change my mind. Why, with such a fertile well of Scandinavian evidence, why have you done nothing to change my black and white pro-statism outlook already? You want to convince me? That’s YOUR job. What I DO know is that Canada has mixes private revenues into its public system and it hasn’t had a positive influence. Why would I want more?

          • Why hasn’t it had a positive influence? Would you rather people are denied those things? Do you think if people didn’t get those limited opportunities to pay for those things that the government will always come up with the tax money for them? I can assure you they will not. Taxes are a limited resource and they must be spent carefully to maximum benefit. If people can afford to pay in a bit more, then that saves resources for those that cannot.

            Also, medical insurance is a good idea in our single payer system. As insurance costs money however, and people still pay taxes, it does not replace public care. People still like having a lot of public care.

            As for the fertile well of scandinavian experience that you somehow cannot access, you must be a really old person. Which would explain why you are still a socialist and have a parochial view of the world that extends only to the US and Canada.

            Google is a search engine that can find pretty much any information you need. News articles, scholarly journals. Heck even wikipedia. You know what I can’t do? I can’t write pages and pages of data myself on a comment board because you are too lazy to be informed about things, and are pleading ignorance to try and win and win an argument.

            But here, I’ll do a web search for you. First link of “Sweden Health Care Comparisons”.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_care_compared#International_comparisons

            Oh look, they have fewer preventable deaths per 1000 people. They also have half our infant mortality rate. Oh and more doctors and nurses per 1000 people. Somehow while spending less for their healthcare than we do in total, but having more costs covered by the government than by private funds than we do. So pretty much significantly better on every metric, except a statistically insignificant deviation of life expectancy of .4 years.

            How odd. It is like they are finding a huge number of efficiencies that a single payer system doesn’t allow.

            There you go, a two minute search. If you really need convincing, you could spend a couple hours at it. If you didn’t care so damn much about winning the argument, you could have looked this information up yourself and been a better person for it.

          • If a dollar comes out of my pocket for medical insurance, how is that different than a dollar out of my pocket that goes to the medical system via tax?

            Well, one obvious difference: the infrastructure for collecting taxes already exists, so they can be collected efficiently. To add money to the system via health insurance requires that private companies scale up (this is net new business), then collect that money plus cover their costs plus make a profit.

            If I had the choice I’d rather contribute more through the tax system.

            “…you are too lazy to be informed about things, and are pleading ignorance to try and win and win an argument.”

            I’ll say it again, and listen closely this time: it is not my job to research your argument. I’m not trying to “win” anything and I’m not lazy.

            Up to this point, all you’ve offered is a bunch of words, and they’ve become increasingly insulting. On both discussions here. Thanks for the link – yes, it seems Sweden gets better results for less money. If you follow the links to details on Sweden and Canada you find:

            “In 2009, the government funded about 70% of Canadians’ health care costs.”

            “The state [Sweden] pays for approximately 97% of medical costs.”

            So if we’re to follow Sweden’s model we need to significantly increase public financing of healthcare.

          • No. Sweden pays for more of the health care costs despite spending less. So no, if we were following Sweden’s model, we would not need to significantly increase public financing of healthcare. We are losing money due to inefficiency simply by following the single payer system.

            The numbers are there in black and white in the link I provided. Canada’s health care costs are 10% of GDP, Sweden’s are 8.9%. Canada spends 16.7% of government revenue on healthcare, Sweden 13.6%. So the government pays more of the medical costs, but both the private citizen and the state pay less.

            Now that’s not saying there shouldn’t be an increase in funding for healthcare, or that we might have higher expenses due to other factors (like our vast geographical size and our love of obesity) but it is not the case that Sweden’s model requires more funding of healthcare.

            As for what the difference is between insurance and taxes? With insurance you put a cost on healthcare that is borne directly by the one consuming it. When you collect taxes and have single payer, generally you have to insist that everyone gets the same amount of healthcare, which means denying people optional extras to keep costs down. If those optional extras are covered by insurance or out of pocket expenses, people can choose to pay for it themselves rather than not receiving it at all. If we try to pay for those optional extras with the public system, people would demand them and we use up a lot of resources that could be saved for essential services.

          • Again, Sweden pays for 97% of healthcare costs while Canada only covers 70%. Just click through the link you provided to the details of each country.

            To increase the role of private insurers in Canada is to make us even less similar to the Swedish model.

            ” If you refuse to accept the possibility that a mixed private and public healthcare system could work better, then you are an ideologue. When I tell you, look at Scandinavian health care systems and how they’ve successfully mixed public and private healthcare systems, your natural response should be “Oh, okay, I’ll take a look at that data and become more informed”.

            So what are you advocating again? I think you’re arguing that increased private insurance would improve our healthcare system. But the data contradicts that.

          • Just quibbling with your point number 2 about infinite health care.

            First, there’s no such thing as in “inflexible” good. Perhaps you meant “inelastic.” If you did, you’d be correct that health care is a good with inelastic demand.. that is, the demand doesn’t vary based on price. When I need a new heart, my demand for such is infinite. When I do not, my demand for such is zero. (Actually, less than zero, you couldn’t even PAY me to undergo a heart transplant if I don’t need one).

            Unfortunately, this blows the entirety of your point out of the water. The price for a good with inelastic demand is irrelevant. This really *is* a problem you could just throw money at to make it go away. Unfortunately, the question is, do we have enough money?

          • Sweden raised the pension age and are considering a further raise to 75.

          • Yes, but I agree with Yanni that too much of Canadian thinking (if you can even call it that) on health care policy is fixated on the US, and doesn’t consider other models. Too many people in Canada are fixated on a false dichotomy when it comes to health care policy (i.e., thinking that the only two possible models to consider are the “Canadian” model or the US model). There are lots of quite successful alternatives in Europe, for instance, and in many of those countries, a substantial element of private care, private delivery and private insurance is part of the mix. But in Canada, we have these douchebag demagogues who have made “private” a four-letter word in any discussion of health policy. It’s idiotic.

          • Hey Yanni – you forgot to log out of your Yanni account before posting as GritsRock. But good to know that Yanni (GritsRock) has Yanni’s (Yanni’s) back. And wow, you corrected that quickly…

          • If you read the entire thread, you’ll also see that Disquis attributed my posts to Charles. Must be something funky with the system.

            I’m an anonymous guest account. I can’t change what I write. I’m stuck with what I put up there… including the grammar and spelling mistakes I cannot change my name, or my content after it is submitted.

          • TJ, quit ceing an idiot. I’ve got nothing to do with Yanni.

          • Yes, just look at the successful model in Sweden for example.

          • I’m happy to look at ANY country — including Sweden) for good ideas on health care policy and delivery, unlike a lot of Canadian lefties and liberals, who refuse to consider any alternative other than “Canadian/virtuous vs. US/evil”. I would point out, re: Sweden, that their tax receipts as a percentage of GDP are at or near the very top of the OECD pile (somewhere around 47-53% last time I saw the numbers), while Canada is more in the middle of the OECD average (around 35% or so). Sweden has an extremely high VAT rate (their equivalent of our GST) , which brings in huge tax revenues. If you and your progressive brethren want to advocate for a GST rate in excess of 20% (Denmark’s is I belive 26%), please go ahead, I wish you luck. I have my doubts that most Canadians are willing to go there.

          • Uhhh… ok. So you agree with Yanni that we should look at other models like Sweden. But not Sweden because, no matter how successful their healthcare system, their taxes are higher than Canada’s and that’s anathema.

            Does that about sum it up?

          • No, that’s not what I meant by bringing up their taxation system. If they’ve got good ideas on health care that we can adopt, then great. I’m simply saying that it might not be possible, practically speaking, to adopt their health care system holus-bolus, or certain significant aspects of it, because that healthcare system exists within the context of a tax system that raises far more revenue than ours. There’s no point adopting a policy that you have no realistic possibility of funding (because the political will isn’t there — look how scared our politicians are of raising the GST). I didn’t say or suggest anywhere in my post that high taxes are anathema, you’re just being a douche by suggesting that that’s my view of things. I’m not some low-tax fanatic, and you’re just engaging in classic sophist strawman BS by suggesting that. In fact, I opposed Harper’s GST cut, I am a big fan of consumption taxes generally, and I have pointed that out many times on these comment boards.

          • Well, when you’re done moving those goalposts (ask Yanni for help) maybe you two can come up with better insults than “douche” and explain to me whether you think Sweden’s healthcare model is awesome or evil. Because really you two are all over the frigging map.

            …seriously, “holus-bolus,” “classic sophist strawman…” You remind me of Kevin Klein in A Fish Called Wanda.

          • Canada already has a mix of private and public, as does the United States, although in different ways. The change we need to make isn’t about whether systems are private or public, but whether there are the right incentives and disincentives for healthcare providers to drive safety and quality (access, outcomes, and patient satisfaction)

        • -Bailouts for the Big Three Auto Companies and banks
          -Government (taxpayers) carrying the burden of paying worker healthcare costs
          -The Military of any Western Country and peace dividend since WW2
          -The Space Program, NASA and everything to do with satellite and rocket technology
          -Roads and bridges that business relies on
          -Social cohesion based on shared values as trasmitted by government messages and policies
          -Social equality enjoyed by majority of people IE: Women, gay people, visible minorities, the disabled
          -International diplomacy

          The list is endless, really…

          • These lists are mindless. What do “Social Cohesion” and “Social Equality” mean Comrade? These are meaningless fluff that are an abuse of language. Notice the crap they are trying to feed us these days, “Social Licence”, “Income Inequality”, etc. The word “Social” is devoid of any substance.

      • Good collection of straw men TJ. Is there anything here that people couldn’t do for themselves? Universal health care is disastrous and just provides continuing inferior care. Hundreds of thousands of Canadians lack access to proper medical care and those that do still do not receive cutting edge treatments available in better more advanced health care systems such as in the US. I know, they saved my life but now I have a mortgage. It’s personal choice.

        • There’s been a couple dozen posts here since you last weighed in. What strawmen are you referring to?

          • Did you see the Strawman in the Wizard of Oz?

    • Your rambling post made no sense, but it was also somehow insulting to a wide generality of people. Nice job.

      • Sorry, talk back to a Statist and it’s always taken as an insult. Don’t ever visit mises.org or you will be totally insulted.

  4. Isn’t it wonderful that the west is so good at creating wealth?

    Articles like these, where they talk about income like it’s a pie to be slice up, are absurd. Viva la revolucion. Would you rather we all become economic basket-cases like Cuba?

    Wealth is generated. This is a story about the power of western countries to produce wealth. It is a success story. People who talk about income distribution are too embarrassed to admit how billions of people have been lifted out of poverty in recent times, in a scale that is unprecedented. There’s a half billion people in China whose lives have been transformed into comfortable lives, and another billion in places like Brazil and India. These same people would have been subject to abject poverty just 30 years ago. But instead, you complain that some people have done better than others – the politics of envy.

    • That is true, but that is less because western capitalism is completely awesome, and more because socialism and communism destroyed people’s economies so utterly that the only way they had to go was up.

      Capitalism does create more wealth than any other system we’ve had so far, but I think we can tweak it a little bit.

      • Yanni the marxists tweaked it and now all the western capitalistic countries are bankrupt. The drones are still blaming capitalism so we can expect Stalinist show trials sooner rather than later.

  5. Always keep in mind during shocking revelations like this that the world has also never been a safer, better place to live in for almost everyone.

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