A phony class war

Andrew Coyne on why the Occupy Wall Street movement has it wrong

A Phony Class War

Photographs by Carlo Allegri

Was there ever a more ersatz political movement than that which purported to “occupy” Canadian cities over the last week? The Occupy Wall Street protest on which it was modelled may betray the same cartoonish understanding of the world, but it at least reflects the genuine despair felt by many people in a country with a number of deep and serious problems: a housing collapse that left millions with homes worth less than their mortgages; a financial sector that, having lent the money to buy these homes to people who couldn’t afford them, then resold the bad loans via opaquely bundled securities to others—then had to be bailed out when the whole house of cards collapsed; high and seemingly intractable levels of unemployment, poverty at a 17-year record, declining social mobility, and a general stalling in income growth. The reasons for these may be debated, but if you lived in the United States, you would have good reason to be ticked.

By contrast, well, let’s just run down the list, shall we? Canada did not have a housing bubble, hence had no housing collapse, nor the resulting epidemic of mortgage failures. Our banks did not get overextended, did not have to be bailed out, and are lending, again unlike the U.S. banks, at a good clip. Unemployment is not rising in Canada, but has been falling steadily for more than two years: at 7.1 per cent, it is still above its pre-recession lows, but remains lower than at virtually any other time since the 1960s. Ditto for poverty: even when measured against a moving target like Statistics Canada’s low income cut-off, it is just off its 40-year low, at 9.6 per cent, from a peak of 15 per cent in the mid 1990s.

The observed stagnation of income growth in recent decades is more a phenomenon of periodic recessions, and associated spikes in unemployment, than a generalized inability to get ahead. Outside of recession years, median incomes have in fact grown steadily. In the long boom from 1993 to 2008, for example, median family income grew by 21.5 per cent after inflation. Indeed, it is hard to reconcile the supposed stalling of living standards with the spread in ownership of a wide range of household appliances that were once affordable only to the few. Since 1980, the percentage of Canadian homes with a dishwasher, for example, has more than doubled, from less than 30 per cent to 60 per cent. Fewer than one in 10 homes had a microwave oven in 1980; today it is upwards of 90 per cent. Washing machines, colour televisions, computers, cellphones and so on: the trend is the same.

The one and only point on which the Canadian protesters could conceivably share a grievance with their U.S. counterparts is indeed the issue that seemed most to exercise both groups: the runaway growth in incomes in recent decades among those at the very top of the heap, the fabled “one per cent,” otherwise known as the “super-rich.” In Canada, that means anyone earning more than about $170,000 in 2007 (not counting capital gains), versus about $400,000 in the U.S.

There is no doubt this is occurring, though again the phenomenon is rather less pronounced in Canada than in the U.S. South of the border, the share of all income going to the top one per cent climbed from about 8.5 per cent in 1980 to a peak of 23 per cent in 2007, dropping back to 20 per cent in the recession. Here, the top one per cent’s share rose from eight per cent in 1980 to 14 per cent in 2007, and 11 per cent in 2009—about where it was in 1945.

The question is what this means. The figures are repeated over and over in tones of escalating indignation, as if it were self-evident what an outrage it is that people should be making so much money—so much more money, that is, than others. But it isn’t self-evident. What exactly is the harm to others if a few people get obscenely rich?

Aren’t we obliged to ask, at a minimum, how they got the money? If executives of public corporations are taking advantage of lax oversight by boards of directors to feather their own nests, that’s one thing. Similarly, it would be fair to object if they were bailed out, or subsidized, or otherwise enjoyed the undue favour of the state. But if shareholders willingly choose to pay their employees so handsomely out of their own money, what business is it of ours?

Likewise, before we condemn people for accepting such exorbitant salaries, should we not also inquire as to what they do with the money? Suppose, like Bill Gates, they give most of it away to charity. Or suppose they invest it in companies that make useful products, creating good jobs in the bargain. Does that not put things in rather different a light than if they spent it all on themselves?

This isn’t to say that the distribution of income is irrelevant. There is, for starters, the question of how to pay for the costs of government, or rather who. Most would agree the rich should bear, not only a proportionate share, but a disproportionate share of the burden, on the grounds that they feel it less (the further you get away from subsistence, the less you need each additional dollar, and the less sacrifice is involved in giving it up). And, in fact, they do. The top one per cent in the U.S. pays 38 per cent of all income taxes; in Canada, the figure would be roughly 25 per cent. If that strikes you as too little, how much should it be? On what principle?

Inequality is a legitimate concern in its own right, of course, quite apart from the costs of government. A society without a middle class, but only rich and poor staring at each other across an unbridgeable divide, is ripe for conflict, among other ills. But that is not in fact what is happening.

Statisticians looking at these questions typically divide the population up into quintiles—the top 20 per cent, next 20 per cent, and so on. Over the last 30 years, to be sure, the share going to the top quintile has increased: from about 45 per cent in the late 1970s, it rose to about 52 per cent by the end of the last decade, where it has remained. That’s pre-tax income, note: factor in the effects of taxes and transfers, and the growth in the top quintile’s share is tempered, from 41 per cent to 44 per cent. The system has indeed become more redistributive over time. Thirty years ago those in the top quintile earned on average 33 times what the bottom quintile did, before tax—a ratio that has since widened to 44. Yet after taxes and transfers the gap between top and bottom quintiles is about the same now as it was then: a multiple of 9.1, versus 8.3.

As I say, that’s looking at the top quintile. But drill deeper into the numbers, and you find something quite remarkable. It turns out it isn’t the top 20 per cent of the population whose share of the income pie has grown. It’s all in the top one per cent: the bottom 19 per cent of the top 20 per cent, that is those in the 81st through 99th percentiles, have seen no increase in their share.

Drill further, as the economist Mike Veall of McMaster University has done, and the results are even more striking. Even among the top one per cent, the lion’s share of the gains are concentrated in the top 0.1 per cent, those earning more than about $620,000. Their share of total income climbed from about two per cent in 1980 to roughly 5.5 per cent, while those below them among the top one per cent saw little increase in their share. Same if you drill into that top 0.1 per cent: the gains go mostly to those in the top 0.01 per cent, those earning more than about $1.8 million. We’re not talking about a broad stratification of society into rich and poor, in other words. We are talking about a few hundred people earning exceptionally high incomes.

Who are these people? Bankers and chief executives, certainly. But also people at the top end of a good many occupations, from medicine to entertainment to sports: in Canada a number of them would be hockey players. The phenomenon is hardly unique to the U.S., or Canada. The same pattern, of rising income shares at the very top after many decades in which they were stable or falling, has been observed in a great number of developed economies, with vastly different social and economic policies: from Singapore to Spain to Sweden.

Why this is happening is not well understood, but one thing it does not appear to be about is “casino capitalism.” To be sure, a rising stock market (when stocks were rising) has fuelled some of the growth in incomes among the very rich. But for the most part what’s driving it, at least in Canada, is increases in salaries. That’s new. In the Canada of 60 or 70 years ago, Veall’s figures show, the richest of the rich derived the bulk of their income from owning capital. Today more than 70 per cent of it comes from salary.

A further clue to what might be going on is found in another of Veall’s findings. Salaries among francophone Canadians have not increased nearly as rapidly as among anglophones. Indeed, the escalation in top salaries is most pronounced in the English-speaking countries generally, whose shared language makes for a high degree of mobility between them. Could it be that what is bidding up top salaries is simply the worldwide competition for talent—and that the fiercest competition of all is in the United States, always the magnet for top talent in every field? Could it be, in other words, that what is behind all this is what we all profess to want: meritocracy?

At any rate, it’s not clear what can be done to stop it, even if we were of a mind to. Hike taxes on the rich? But we know the effects this will have on incentives, if not to earn income, then certainly to declare it. The top marginal rate was twice as high 40 years ago as it is today, and the rich paid less in taxes, not more: 20 per cent of incomes among the top quintile, versus 24 per cent in 2007. The economist Stephen Gordon has calculated that a 10-point increase in tax on incomes in excess of $500,000 a year would yield at most $4 billion, and probably half as much. Cap executive salaries, then, as the NDP leader has proposed? So long as the competition for talent dictated a higher rate, companies would simply find other ways to pay them: in stock options, or company cars, or other perks and benefits.

It’s still not clear why so many should be so upset that so few are so rich—other than the obvious reason: envy. It’s worth noting that to be in the top 10 per cent of earners in Canada you only have to make about $65,000 or so. That would include most of the media covering these events, and a good number of the protesters, or their parents. The sight of the near-rich casting covetous eyes at the rich—all in the name of denouncing “greed”—is, you’ll forgive me, a bit rich.

If inequality is our concern, I suggest we’d do better to look in the other direction. The gap that ought to trouble us is not between the top one per cent and the other 99 per cent, but between the bottom 10 per cent and the rest of us. Whatever harm may be imagined to arise from people being too rich, there is ample research on the harm that comes from being too poor, especially to children: poor, not only as a matter of absolute privation, but of relative inequality.

Across a wide range of development measures—health, behaviour, math and reading ability, participation in sports and other activities—the evidence shows consistently worse outcomes among children from poor families than others. And part of the reason appears to be a sense of being marginalized from mainstream society, from the ordinary expectations of what life has to offer. So yes, inequality matters: but inequality relative to the norm, not to the super-rich. What concerns a single mother on welfare isn’t that she can’t afford a yacht. It’s that she can’t send her kids on school field trips, or buy them a basketball, or a hundred other everyday things.

And while there’s little we can do about inequality at the top, there’s quite a lot we can do about inequality at the bottom: mostly by giving poor people more money. The National Council of Welfare has just released a report estimating the cost of lifting every Canadian out of poverty in 2007 at $12 billion. It’s not as simple as that, of course: but it gives a sense of the scale of the task. To put it in perspective, $12 billion is about what you’d get from another two percentage points on the HST.

Alas, that calls upon us to show compassion, rather than resentment; to give, rather than to take. Which may explain why there was so much talk about the rich this past week, and so little talk about the poor.




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A phony class war

  1. Great article

    • I don’t read McLeans I just come here to mock it.

      Andrew Coin sold his soul to the highest Neo-Bidder a long time ago I would suggest he leave the heavy lifting to the 99% while he continues being the 1% lap dog.

      Oh and by the way his Neo clone on the west coast Bill Good was shylocking this dribble to the other 1% this morning on his radio ‘lies all lies’ show.

      Boom two Neo cons with one comment.

      • I imagine that is just like your take on the Occupy movement. You do not care for details or facts. You just base your opinion on a whim. To just come and mock the articles without reading them shows a definite lack in intelligence. You do not care for what is right you just care about what you think should be right. It wouldnt surprise me if you said you did not care how the rich became rich but that you should be given the same without actually working for it.

        •  Well Jeff, let me swoop in here and mock it tastefully after reading it.  I find his dishwasher metaphor telling.  Let’s take an average dishwasher purchased in Canada.  Kenmore shall we say?  Kenmore is actually a distribution name, so the product is made by Whirlpool.  According to this link, (http://www.stillmadeinusa.com/appliances.html) Whirlpool an American company, still manufactures dishwashers in several states, except, lo and behold, some of them are tagged as closing, or having been closed now for several years.  We know dishwashers are still getting sold, therefore production was probably outsourced off continent.

          So, we Canadians have more dishwashers.  Dishwashers that come to us from an American country who outsourced production to maximize profits all the while destroying domestic jobs and handing out unprecedented executive bonuses like everyone else in every other industry.

          The problems with the system are so pervasive that even the humble dishwasher is a metaphor for our frustration; outsourced, under-appreciated and destined to a life of cleaning up crumbs.  Yes it is comparably better in Canada, and as a matter of fact, I am successful in comparison to my peers.  In the same way our dollar is tied to the American’s.  When their dollar takes a quick plunge, our currency is valued higher against theirs, until it settles back into it’s normal trade equilibrium just below.  If our dollar is high, then technically they are steadily sinking.

          Occupy Canada is an important solidarity movement as we’re all affected by sloppy decision making on both sides of the border.  In a way, it’s like voting in someone else’s election that directly effects you.  In A way?  In EVERY way.  Try being the child of anyone below two incomes in the 25th percentile, and tell me getting ahead is at all probable,  The real numbers in the states are worse now than they were in the first great depression.

          I agree with the final conclusion of the article, but I balk at the initial question.  The Occupy Movement hasn’t got it wrong.  Mobilizing at all is right.  Being unfocused is the primary criticism, but how does one focus on five things at once, much less a hundred?  If the author had spent more time speaking with average occupiers, he’d find it’s not about wanting to take, it’s a call for accountability, fair practice, health care in the states, (which is and has been a travesty, how lucky we are), a chance to get educated and contribute to society in a meaningful way.  It’s not a Robin Hood scenario, we want a chance to give, really.  Radical taking has never even been suggested by our side, and would be wrong I believe, especially in Canada.  What was wrong was letting the world get to this state, where obesity is as dangerous as hunger.

          We currently have a government who was found in contempt of parliament essentially for a financial indiscretion, and then re-elected with a majority.  Harper IS a corporate stooge and they killed Jack Layton.  #notintendedtobeafactualstatement  (reference Jon Kyl via Stephen Colbert, same episode interview with Ray Kurzweil who is literally a genius)

          These are our closest allies essentially being subjugated en masse, so really this solidarity movement means more than the SPP or NAFTA ever could.

  2. Fueling a new economy is what I’m interested in.   Occupy is helping ask the questions and build awareness that  could help us make structural changes that might allow us to create a sustainable economy that doesn’t destroy the planet, while creating an economy that works for the public good of people.  

    What has globalization and the last 30 years truly wrought?   A fragile, easily damaged set of economic relationships that has enriched a few to unimaginable heights while the rest of the peons stress about their investments that will lose another 20% this year as a plaything of the elites.

      • I suggest you look at more than one source for your information. Maclean’s is not always a legitimate one. It’s good for a rightist opinion, and that’s it.

  3. Did you type this article while sipping on a latte at Cafe Doria in Rosedale?  

  4. Aren’t we obliged to ask, at a minimum, how they got the money? If executives of public corporations are taking advantage of lax oversight by boards of directors to feather their own nests, that’s one thing. Similarly, it would be fair to object if they were bailed out, or subsidized, or otherwise enjoyed the undue favour of the state.
     
    Corporate Governance is an area that should be explored further. The problem (if there is one), identified by others familiar with this area of study, is the self dealing amongst a select group of “elites”, shall we say – the people who occupy the senior executive positions, and also are directors on their acquaintance’s boards.
     
    David S.R. Leighton has written extensively about corporate governance issues. One example:
    http://books.google.ca/books?id=9YaPALpmtyMC&pg=PP4&lpg=PP4&dq=making+boards+work++david+leighton&source=bl&ots=aBKkvmRj7v&sig=edJhI40XRSFxB5XlDm9V07OuBVQ&hl=en&ei=FYqlTqjvMoLw0gH8hqydBQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBsQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

    But if shareholders willingly choose to pay their employees so handsomely out of their own money, what business is it of ours?

    It is our business if the CIT cuts that you, Stephen Gordon and others advocate go disproportionately to the Executive and are not reinvested – the justification offered so often in pursuing a continuing low tax strategy (and there is evidence in Canada over the past decade that the investment expected has not been realized).

  5. Capitalism is an economic system from the 1700s.

    Socialism is an economic system from the 1800s.

    We spent the 1900s warring over the two.

    And now in the 21st century, with globalization and the Knowledge age, all of it has to change.

    Everything.

    Instead of people working for the system, the system has to work for people.

    The poor and the middle class don’t want your compassion or your charity.

    They want access to the system.

    I realize you may not ‘get it’….but the changes were predictable and are inevitable.

    The dreamers are those who think things can go on indefinitely the way they are.

    • I don’t really understand what you’re trying to say.  Please see the article you are commenting on as an example of how to construct an argument in print.

      As for points themselves, it’s pretty clear that the economic system that won is capitalism with varying degrees of socialist wealth redistribution.   So I don’t understand why it all has to change.  What effects have globalization and the knowledge age had on our economic systems?  And what changes do you propose to the system?

      The system has to work for the people?  What is that supposed to mean?  The poor and middle class want access to the system?  Again, we live in a democracy; the poor can vote, and the middle class does that and also votes with their dollars and household decisions.  The middle class already has access to the system – they are the system. 

      And your last two points; what changes are you talking about?  And what made them inevitable and predictable?

      • Don’t mind Emily’s nonsense; she rarely has anything coherent to say, but keeps insisting that she understands the future much better than anyone else, despite being 65 and having a worldview frozen in 1969.

        • AVR…it’s long since past time that you ignore topic discussion in favor of claiming I’m a leftie, or a hippie, or senile.

          Focus.

      • I’m not constructing an ‘argument’….I’m commenting on an article.

        Capitalism didn’t ‘win’ anything….it’s in as much trouble as every other economic system.

        When a system is broken, it has to change….and all our current systems are broken.

        We have 200 countries in the world, give or take, and thus 200 different ways of operating….and because the world has been globalizing since the 90s this kind of chaos no longer works.  We need a global system, not a national one anymore. We are competing with the world, not the guy down the street, or in the next province.

        The average middle class person has to

        a)  get an education….creating debt

        b) get married and buy a house….creating debt

        c) get one or two vehicles…creating debt

        d have children and raise them….creating debt

        e) hopefully help them get an education…creating debt

        f)  put money aside for retirement…and people are now being told they’ll need $1M

        g) and they have to do all this on middle-class salaries, while taking lay-offs, downsizing, redundancy, and business failures into account.

        h) however, all debts must be paid off by the end, and you are supposed to leave your kids a little money so they can go out and do…. exactly the same thing. It’s a giant anthill.

        i) this isn’t possible for most people….and when it’s not, people are told they are lazy, bad money-managers, and didn’t sacrifice enough. A vacation or a big TV are considered to be wild extravagances.  Meanwhile there is a crocodile back-pack on the market selling for $39,000 ….and they can’t keep them on the shelves because there is such demand for them.

        j)  to keep this entire system going, we have created massive pollution, and been involved in endless stupid wars to grab goodies from others. Colonialism….it’s still with us even though our leaders now pretend we are spreading democracy and civilization.

        k) none of this is sustainable, and people know it….however most people don’t have the money or the clout to do anything about it. ‘Occupy’ for good or bad is an effort to change that system.

        • I’m middle class and I completely disagree with your points of things that I have to do.  I know many middle class individuals who: did not seek further education past Gr12, and are extremely successful (at the top end of the middle class bracket); are choosing to live in an apartment; and have no vehicles. In our society there is actually no pressure to get married and have children, rather it is the reverse.

          If you hate our society so much, why do you choose to live here? Why not go and live in a third world country? Or even Greece (a nice example of a Socialist society). You know…practice what you preach. You would not want to be labeled a hypocrite right? Especially after calling so many others on here hypocrites.

          • If you’re content with crumbs, while others get ahead then you’re the ideal citizen this govt is looking for.

            Enjoy.

          • so by crumbs you mean the drastic rise in the effectiveness of health care, running water and constant food supply. Or having the options of owning cars, appliances, refrigerators,  basically the stuff we need to live well. Yes we live in a time of indulgences but also great prosperity. You have the option of sending your kids to school instead of the fields or factories. Not only that but personal safety. if these are the crumbs then yes. honestly at this point you’re just making yourself look bad and this representation is why canadian occupy is becoming a joke. You are actually the ideal candidate for this government because no one would ever take your cause seriously

          • i bet you also believe that shots give you Alzheimer’s and that swine flu is made up.

          • @b55e7da2ca6487dc4d531f2b572d048e:disqus 

            Are you saying you’re lazy?  Are you saying you don’t work as hard as other people….therefore you shouldn’t have things others do?

            We can all reduce costs….never marry, never have children, never get an education, live in a cheap apartment, be a vegetarian, call a walk to the park a vacation…..

            Are these the crumbs you’re willing to live for?

            Cars and appliances aren’t ‘options’ ….they are basic requirements. We aren’t living in the bush anymore you know.

            Education isn’t an ‘option’ either…it’s a vital necessity.

            If you want to live on the frontier again, then do so….but don’t expect anyone else to do that….we’re living in th 21st century.

          • I’d like you to point out, if you can, where in my comment you got the idea that I am or would be content with crumbs.

            You continually accuse others of irrelevant responses to your comments, but you do the dame yourself. Your hypocrisy is beginning to stink.

          • @Citizen_CA:disqus 

            You mentioned one could live without education past grade 12, in an apartment, and without a vehicle.

            Since that isn’t the way most middle-class people live, it’s crumbs in comparison.

            This is covered in another post…to Ogilvie

          • Sorry, you are concerned for the environment but consider carS (emphasis intended) a necessity and/or right? If the life style described above is crumbs to you, then what kind of lifestyle do you think everyone is entitled to, and how are we going to provide, not to mention sustain, it?

          • @1stGenlmm@13b7b8a235d598afcf08fc96f51ccdb7:disqus 

            That’s just reality. Outside the core of a major city there are no streetcars, or subways or LRTs or even buses…..just cars.

            If spouses work at 2 different places that requires 2 cars. It’s not an ‘entitlement’ or a ‘right’….that doesn’t even come into it. It’s simple necessity.

            The vehicles aren’t the problem…the fuel is.

          • Your response was resonating with me until a) you claimed that there is wide-spread normative expectation for women to remain unmarried and childless, which is choke-worthy ridiculous, and b) resorted to the pathetic tactic of calling any one critical of the status quo a “hater” of their country. Please.

          • you are probably over 50 as well…..when you were out of highschool…you didn’t need anymore than that to secure a good job…now you need a masters for many fields and even that wont necessarily get you anywhere.    I am considered middle class…have chosen not to have children, vacations, own a house, but I am also not under the illusion that I will actually retire before death. 

          • I am in no way being critical, Tanya, just curious.  Where do you live and what did you study that you can’t:  get a job that will allow you as a “middle class” income earner to own a home, have children or go on any vacations.
            It may not be everyone I know but there is a global nursing shortage (just saying) and the profession does only require a Bachelors Degree (or less).  With the potential to earn $80 K a year in many provinces and work available all over the globe, you could do worse.  If social work appeals to you, you might want to consider psychiatric nursing as it is very similar to social work but pays much better and does not require the educational investment plus as a nurse you again have options to travel to other countries such as Australia if you are interested.

          • I’m in my early 30′s and have a very minimal amount of post secondary education.  I do not have a degree of any kind, let alone a Master’s.
            However rather than running off to school with the mentality of an 8 year old wanting to be an astronaut, I chose the courses and the career path that I felt would put me in the highest demand and give me the best pay possible in the long term.
            I too am what you would consider middle class, and with a little bit of restraint in my spending along with intelligent savings and investment vehicles, I hope to have enough for retirement when I reach about 60 years of age.
            My vehicle isn’t brand new, but it’s in great shape.  Fuel is expensive to be sure, so I chose to move a little closer to work to minimize my costs without having to swap my truck in favour of a compact car.I don’t own a house, but with the interest rates being so low I’m considering a purchase in the short term and feel that I can afford to do so without affecting my lifestyle too much.
            Sure, I may not be able to travel much afterwards, but sometimes you have to make sacrifices to get the things you want.
            Way too many people blame their poor choices and lack of foresight on the “system” rather than taking a long look in the mirror.

        • Everything you just said im sorry to say has no merit. 
          1. Capitalism has won. 
          2. Globalization has been going on since WWII, it is only in the last 20 years with technology that it has advanced to this point. 
          3. The issue with American capitalism is its deregulation of markets and the ability to buy politicians with lobbying, that and the opening of asian markets in the 90′s with clinton. the system isn’t broke, but rather needs some fixes. 
          4. We do have 200 countries in the world, but they don’t have that many ways of operating. Because of imperialist foreign policies, Global banking (IMF, World Bank,) and development strategies, crumbling dictatorships, the world is going one way, and thats towards a global economy that runs on the basic principle of capitalism. What differentiates is the rules that the countries operate their economic system on and their social programs. For examples Canada and the U.S. We are both capitalist but have very different operating procedures when it comes to healthcare, welfare etc….
          In fact this is the issue that you are complaining about, because of this open market we now have to be more educated, and work harder to compete with overseas markets that pay far less and work much more hours. WIth the rise of third world nations being brought into the new millenium this is going to get tougher.
          5. You talk about changing the system, but how? if we look at history, there have been a lot of attempts that all failed.
          a. mercantilism, the strategy of making more than you export was tried extensively by the British and other Euro nations in the 16th and 17th centuries but failed.
          b. communism/socialism, failed is almost every place it has been applied (mostly due to human error and corruption)
          c. feudalism, worked well but is not really a economic system.
          d. etc…
          So what as a protestor of this current economic system are you trying to change? I would love to hear your theory on how to run the worlds economies. The Chinese and Japanese model is a perfect example. In the 19th century, the protected markets of the far east where being penetrated by the West after centuries of isolation. Japan chose to change and embrace the west, adopting there technologies and industry while finally making the transition to capitalism (which was started in the 16th century) in the mejhi revolution. China decided not to, and was invaded and plundered and finally pulled out of its tailspin with the demise of Japan and the rise of communism. So the point of this example is that to live in this world, you have to play by its rules. Yes capitlism in certain respects has its flaws, but you have to be really careful in making drastic changes to a system that in all fairness has worked for hundreds of years.

          j. yes that is true, but we have been doing that since the dawn of man so good luck with that one. Again do some research on this point.

          k. Nothing we do at this point is sustainable, and there will always be losers in any system. and it should that most people who have money or intelligence to do anything about it, and honestly i would not trust 95% of people protesting to run a nations policies. 

          • No, capitalism hasn’t won. It died in 1989, the same year as communism did….capitalism has been living on fumes and borrowed money ever since…..hence the massive world debt.

            International world trade has been going on for centuries…..globalization has only occurred since 1989….when world barriers came down. They are two quite different things.

            We’ve been ‘fixing’ the system for years….with bandaids. But bandaids can no longer hold the gaping wound together…..and a system breakdown with no hope of repair…. requires a new system.

            It has nothing to do with social programs as it doesn’t matter what you spend the end result on…weapons, social programs or pink bunnies….there are 200 different fiscal operating systems….regulations, taxes, overview, standards and so on. It’s a chaotic mess, and not remotely transparent. Money is used, abused, hoarded and hidden away.

            At the moment capitalism is using cheap labour and automation.  As the price of labour goes up, automation will take over completely. It has been slowly doing so for years.

            Yes, there have been many attempts to change things….and they have to some degree.  It hasn’t solved all our problems overnight, but that is no excuse to quit trying.

            I am not a protestor….I am pointing out why there ARE protests, and why they will continue.

            If you have to ‘play by the rules’….then change the rules. They aren’t engraved in stone you know.

            Capitalism has been around since the advent of the Industrial age…about 1750.  We are now a service economy, and are moving into the Knowledge age….Industrial age economics no longer work.

            Ned Ludd figured the Industrial Age would end civilization….surely we’ve learned better than the Luddites….and can enter a different age without all the shrieking and hand-wringing that happened back then.

            No, the system as it is, is not sustainable….it has been up until now, but a global system doesn’t allow for it.

            That is no reason to claim there will always be winners and losers and that’s just the way life is….it doesn’t have to be.

            Only people who think they are ‘winners’ in Life’s Lottery claim that….however there are 7 billion other people on the planet….and I’m afraid they don’t care about your lottery ‘win’.

          • Im sorry, my problem with your arguments is that they glance over so much and you make broad statements that carry no merrit. Especially the one where you say we were sustainable and that there doesn’t have to be losers and winners.
            1. Ever since the industrial revolution we haven’t been sustainable. polluting and damaging ecosystems, colonialism, etc…. It wasn’t until the development of oil products did the process really take effect, what we have today is merely an advanced form of unsustainability. Basically ever since the advent of agriculture we embarked on a path of unsustainability. We went from a nomadic hunter gatherer to a species that was able to shape his environment and adapting it our own needs, and that started our unsustainability. If we look back into our past, we can see this model but im sure you never opened a history book. But you are right, a global system would never allow this, we will find a way to trade for that. But if you looked at the 20th century, even if you want to be sustainable, the World Bank will say no, or you get invaded. 

            2. There is no way an human civilization will never have losers. It is impossible and if you want proof check out every major uprising we have ever had (guatamala is a good one). further more it is against human nature and nature itself. The drive inside to be better than your counterpart can never be taken out of the individual, it is genetic, and is the key to surviving on this earth. For this reason, no legislation or law will ever subside this urge cause law abiding citizens as well as outlaws will always have an urge to be better. Im not saying that this should not happen, I personally believe that everyone should  have an equal shot and be “winners”, but the sad fact is that it will never happen. For someone to advance it comes at the detriment of another, and this is true in every form of life on this planet.

            And as a economic development guru, Im suprised at how little you think oil can make a difference. the only reason we are at 7 billion is because of this, and the only reason we trade they way we do is because of the cheap energy we get from oil. And im sure if you know about alternative energy sources then you do realized that we have no alternative to oil that gives us the same net output of energy for what goes in. Hydrogen, nuclear, etc.. solar, all require inputs to get an output which greatly effect its total efficiency and if we were to rely on them the rates for an energy would be significantly higher making what we are going through look like a joke. Again im not hating on sustainability, i just like to understand the realities of it. If you wanna know more of what im talking about here, check out the book, “the party’s over” by heinberg it covers all of this as well as the economic aspect which you don’t get.

          • @b55e7da2ca6487dc4d531f2b572d048e:disqus 

            Of course I’m making broad statements….because this isn’t a local issue….it’s a global one.

            Our system was sustainable before because there was a huge world, and a small population…it became unsustainable when those situations reversed.

            Rome produced carbon ya know….but Rome for all it’s boasting…was a tiny part of the world.

            The agricultural age was a major improvement on the hunter-gather stage….but for the majority of people it was subsistance farming….still is…which is why people moved to the cities and went to work in factories in the industrial age. We aren’t going back.

            The human race has always advanced further by cooperation, not competition…if you think otherwise you’ve been brainwashed by the divide-and-conquer crowd.

            It is not DNA, nor human nature.

            You sound like someone’s great grandfather….it’s done this way because it’s always been done this way.

            Noop, not so….and so-called tradition is no excuse for refusing to change.

            The world bank was created by humans…and can be removed by humans.

            I’m sorry, but oil is not the be-all and end-all of life….although I’m sure things would be much tidier and manageable if it was.

            The reason we have 7 billion people is because of sex.

            Has no one told you this?  LOL

            It’s math, not oil.

          • I’ve seen you make this “knowledge economy” argument a number of times, but frankly, it doesn’t entirely hold together. (This from someone who makes his living working for a knowledge company.)

            Yes, quite a few people in Canada now make their living from this growth sector. But Canada’s economic strength still largely depends on commodities. Canada may be “post-industrial” – but all that means is that the manufacturing jobs have increasingly been exported to cheaper labour markets. The world economy as a whole is more dependent on the making, distributing and selling of material goods than it has ever been.

            You are right that there are serious problems with the current system that require a global effort to correct. But most of the rest of your argument is just bafflegab.

          • @KeithBram:disqus 

            I’m not making any argument for the knowledge economy, it’s not a prediction….it’s been around for some time

            Yes, manufacturing has crashed, and those jobs aren’t coming back.  We have commodities as a back-up whereas most countries don’t….but we’re frittering that buffer away, unlike Norway that is using it as a springboard.

            Meanwhile other countries are moving right along…while we sit on our keysters and figure we’re ‘safe’.

            If you consider this reality ‘bafflegab’ you don’t understand your own job.

          • In what country did capitalism die? Just curious…

            Thanks

          • I was unaware capitalism was confined to just one country…but since the US went broke trying to fight the Cold War, you could say it was there.

          • in order.

            1, so because this is a global issue you are allowed to make dumb statements?
            2. our  system became unsustainable when our population outgrew its surroundings. yes. thanks for proving my point.
            3. Rome was actually quite a big deal, stretching from the Mediterranean, to northern Europe, Gaul and North Africa most of there known world. Building roads, developing standing armies, medicine, astronomy, engineering marvels like aquifers, buildings and art. That wasnt important at all, hmmm. Honestly, that is one of the dumbest statements ive ever heard, it would be like saying the dropping of the atom bomb didnt change the world. *and if u disagree with that statement, then you truly do not understand world history. and yes they would have had a carbon footprint.
            4. are you talking about the first agricultural revolution, where we first learned of it, the advent of the wheel, the invention of the plow, domestication of animals, or the one that happened at the turn of this century? please be specific here.
            5. And the reason why people left the fields and went to the factories was to escape feudalism.
            6. Yes the human race has advanced with cooperation, hence why i brought up the adoption of agriculture. IT allowed for the specialization of jobs in human society which allowed for the advancement we are living in now. However, as a species we must follow biologies laws and therefore when the situation warrants fight for common shared resources. Hence why tribes would fight each other for land, slaves, women, water rights etc….SO yes cooperation is required and is why we have advanced so far, but we must fight each other for finite shared resources to survive. It is in our DNA, and yes it is in nature as well. Seriously, this is biology 101, and if you dont believe then you have been brainwashed by the Bambi/peta crowd.
            6. and i dont act this way because im a grandfather, but yet a scholar who has studied world history, agriculture, science economics, and politics. I have done my research and came up with these ideas cause they are sound.
            7. i think we should change, again if you listened, but traditions should not be thrown away when they work or need minor tweaking.
            8. The World Bank was created by humans to give poorer nations the funds to create agriculture, schools, infrastructure and economies to create a better country. Yes there are issues but it does some good. and yes we can remove it, thanks tips.
            9. and finally you’re last statement, Yes sex made 7 billion people, glad you retained some science. But if you aactually knew what u were talking about i would be happy. At the begining of the 20th century, agriculture mainly consisted of large family farms and was run usually by manual labour and domesticated animals. However with the advent of oil this changed everything. Tractors were becoming common, allowing for the reduction in manpower as well as higher efficiency. This is when the exodus to cities happened by the way. Then after W.W..1, the advancement in chemical production seen in the war industry put its products into the commercial sector. These products were chemical fertilizers and pesticides. This combined with the use of tractors and mechanical farm equipment drastically changed agriculture, from family farms to modern massive farms at industrial outputs using monocrop planting and relying heavily on chemical fertilizers and pesticides to maintain this. Because of the adoption of oil, we went from a pre-oil production of food that could sustain a population of 2 billion to our current numbers today. Just as an example, it was stated by the smartest agriculturalist that if we went completely organic in our farming methods (i.e no chemical fertilizers or pesticides) we could only support 4 billion using modern practises and tractors. Also we havent even gotten into the transportation of that produce, very important for countries like canada who can only grow for a few months every year.  

            yes the reason we have 7 billion is sex, but oil is what keeps them alive. because of the cheap cost of energy that oil provides, we can afford to eat, drive, heat our homes etc…honestly have you done any research n this topic? i am for alternative energy but it has serious limitations in its net output of energy when compared to what it needs to replace. and sadly we are running out of time. 

            This is just one example of popultaion growth due to the impact of oil and i would suggest reading up on the other reasons. Im not sure if anyone ever told you but yes, oil is the reason why we have seen so much growth in the last few hundred years. 

            SO READ THIS! its oil, not math. 
            and for future posts see how i constructed an argument with proof and a theory, not just said some dumb statement that is irrevelant or wrong.

             

          • Population per se is not a problem…you could put the entire population of the world in Ontario, and still have room left over. The problem is we don’t clean up our garbage.

            Rome, like all empires before and after it, thought itself hot stuff…but was only a blip in history.  One that held us back actually.

            The Agricultural Age refers to the time period when humans moved from hunter-gatherers to farming settlements.
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neolithic_Revolution

            At the end of it, people moved to the cities for freedom and money. The beginning of the Industrial Age wasn’t wonderful in retrospect, but it allowed people to earn money and leave serfdom behind.

            There was never any need for fighting…there were plenty of resources. Many wars were over religion.

            No, it is not in our DNA, nor is it Biology 101

            You can power vehicles with a lot of things….steam, alcohol, electricity, hydrogen…we just went with oil because it made oil barons rich. It was not cheap for society at the time…we’ve become used to refineries and rigs and gas stations…but that all had to be put in place from scratch. And we never counted the cost of the pollution it would cause.

            No, you are not a scholar….this is just opinion from someone with a stake in the oil business.

          • I’d be really interested in studies that examined the “what if” of not having or even wanting “growth” in our economies.  It seems to me that if Canada is to have economic growth then someplace else must have economic contraction since there is only so much to go around.  Like water.  Sure, any country can print more money, but the value at least in theory, remains the same.  Which of course is the problem with the top 1% (I have no idea where Coyne got his numbers but they don’t seem to particularly match the Conference Board of Canada’s analysis that I’ve seen) having a larger share of the overall pie.  And then, of course, having a global economy where all the individual bits conform to the same rules.  As opposed to the current, still global economy, where the powerful (China, USA, Eurozone) can make up different rules to favour themselves. 

            Absolutely, let us talk about 12 billion to lift everyone in Canada out of poverty–but why discount the extra four billion, or even two, that we could get from the super-rich before divvying up that pricetag amongst us all.  And how much are those jets again?  You know, we could still get 30 or 40 of them . . .

          • And how exactly would you have us protect our sovereignty?
            With sticks and rocks?

            Perhaps you’d rather spend endless amounts of money trying to keep our current CF-18 flying for the next 30 years?

            The problem with the gripe over spending on new equipment for our brave men and women of the forces, is that no one ever seems to have a better idea.

            At least not one that makes a lick of sense in the real world.

          • Gee, I’m pretty sure I suggested just buying a few fewer.  Not eliminating the purchase altogether.  But since we can’t use them where our sovereignty needs protecting anyway, perhaps your idea of sticks and rocks is the better way to go.

          •  Hey guy, she’s right, maybe we should get some jets still.  So we can use them to protect us from the people who are selling them to us, the MIC complex down south.  That’s the biggest threat to our continued sovereignty, not some boogeyman you’re gonna be shooting guns at or firing missiles at, the calls are coming from inside the house.  It’s like a b-grade horror movie, the killer is already inside.

        • The rising debt is caused by the increase in the price of energy.  Many economists have come around to the idea that the 2008 crisis was actually an oil price shock.   With oil again at 100 bucks a barrel, you’re getting a recession again.  People have been compensating for a lower standard of living with debt, because energy costs so much more. 

          There is no solution to this problem, short of inventing some miracle energy source. 

          • No, it’s not caused by the price of energy…and we already have other sources of energy.

          • like…..and what are they adding to the net amount on energy being used. So oil prices going higher has nothing to do with higher costs?

          • @Ryan C Ogilvie@13b7b8a235d598afcf08fc96f51ccdb7:disqus 

            There are higher costs on everything…all the time.

            Blaming it on oil alone won’t solve anything.

          • I am glad you said something about a miraculous energy source..

            check this out 

            http://www.greennh3.com/   

        • I’ve done many of those things you list on my own dime: by working and paying my way through and making conscious choices about where my spend goes. Don’t choose so much debt – stop buying so much stuff instead!

          It seems everyone these days feels like they have a “right” to so much. Let’s review our real rights – a la our Constitution. Most people in the world are fighting even for basic rights. The rest is gravy.

          • Well that’s nice, but your household budget isn’t going to solve world problems.

            People can live in a log cabin in the woods if they like….it will save lots of money.

            But it won’t prevent GM and Chrysler and bank CEOs from making multi-million dollar bonuses while workers are laid off.

        • We’re an average middle class family (in our late 30′s with 2 kids)so let’s see how your arguments stack up for us:
          The average middle class person has to

          a) get an education….creating debt

          My spouse and I both did this, and paid them off in our 20′s.b) get married and buy a house….creating debt

          We didn’t go into debt to get married.  We bought a very small house 10 years ago.  It will be paid off in a couple of months and we hope to move to a larger house next year.  A house (in your price range) is smart debt.

          c) get one or two vehicles…creating debt

          We have 2 vehicles, neither one is new or fancy but they are paid off.d have children and raise them….creating debt

          Having children might use a good portion of your income but they haven’t created any debt for us. We are fortunate that we can afford to have me stay home with our kids, this saves a lot in childcare.  
          e) hopefully help them get an education…creating debt

          We hope to help, but not pay completely for, an education, just as our parents helped us.f) put money aside for retirement…and people are now being told they’ll need $1M

          We are saving for our retirement.g) and they have to do all this on middle-class salaries, while taking lay-offs, downsizing, redundancy, and business failures into account.
          This is very possible on a middle-class salary.  We don’t have all the newest and biggest toys but we make smart financial decisions and live comfortably. 
          h) however, all debts must be paid off by the end, and you are supposed to leave your kids a little money so they can go out and do…. exactly the same thing. It’s a giant anthill.

          We told our parents to spend their money making memories with us and their grandchildren.  We’ll tell our kids the same thing when they are older.i) this isn’t possible for most people….and when it’s not, people are told they are lazy, bad money-managers, and didn’t sacrifice enough. A vacation or a big TV are considered to be wild extravagances. Meanwhile there is a crocodile back-pack on the market selling for $39,000 ….and they can’t keep them on the shelves because there is such demand for them.

          I disagree, this is possible for most people in a middle class range.  We have friends who make more money than we do (we haven’t compared salaries or anything but based on their jobs they probably do)  and they struggle but they are always buying the newest and best cars, quads, tv’s etc.  We may never be rich but we are comfortable and have everything we need, and a lot of stuff we probably don’t need. 
          It’s possible if you own stuff, not possible if stuff owns you. 

          • That’s nice, and I’m happy for you…however you aren’t being virtuous, just lucky.

            You are one job loss, or one accident or illness away from catastrophe…and life is full of surprises.

          • I gotta say, crocodile backpack that costs some people’s annual salary, isn’t that just proving the point that a bunch of people with money are freaking IDIOTS who don’t deserve it, didn’t work for it and were just networked or snaked their way in?  Doesn’t really help your point does it?  What is the demographic for that, where can I get one?  Is Wal-mart out yet?  Get real, that kind of fiscal irresponsibility is out of reach of the poor and flies in the face of your arguments.  If this protest resulted in your kids naturally being able to live say 10 000 or 20 000 dollars (inflation and price adjusted obviously) a year better than you do now, for the same amount of work, and people could work a bit less, have less, but spend more time with their families, would the world be so bad?  We’re not here to take what anyone has, except fair taxes on the rich.  Who stands against that?

      • Clearly you are not in touch with any of the ideas behind the “Occupy” movement and perhaps you would be well served to go onto youtube and watch a video on Anonymous.

        The article above makes some valid points and some invalid points. It appears to be seated in a similar position as yourself on the topic without understanding that the whole “Occupy” movements sole purpose is to open up discussion amongst the middle class as voting has lost any power it might have once held.

        I agree the middle class is the system, the system is broken as they have no real say anymore. To make a point in case, once an election is done the politicians in power do as they damn well please because “party politics” is about doing as the party does and to hell what the voters think. Their memories will not last the whole term and even if they do we will do something grandiose with their money to distract them from the fact that the whole system is there to serve them.

        With the instantaneous method of communication in the world today politics is one of the things that can be changed for the better. On major issues like the sale of large public assets, I for one would like to be consulted and cast a vote before the assets that my forebears worked to pay for via their taxes are sold by a temporary custodian (being the politicians then in power with a specific reference to the sale of BC Rail but in no way limited to just that) with no say from the owners of that property.  

        That is an example of the system working for the people.

        Technology has changed the world and the changes are both inevitable and predictable. Look for example at the overthrow of long time dictators in the world that social media had an instrumental part in making happen.

        I realize that OriginalEmily1 may not have articulated her points that well but I “get it” and hopefully this illustrates some of that for you and you can now “get it” too.

        • “Clearly you are not in touch with any of the ideas behind the “Occupy” movement.”

          I don’t even think the “Occupy movement” is in touch with the ideas behind the occupy movement.
          At the very least we’re all getting a good laugh each time one of these people tries to explain exactly what it is they’re protesting.  Some of the interviews on TV and radio have been downright hilarious.

          Considering the lower and middle class make up the largest percentage of voters I fail to see how they “have no real say anymore”.If the majority of people truly felt the way you do, that would be reflected in the polls during an election.  Independent candidates would be voted in en masse and traditional parties would lose their seats faster than a 90 year old at a musical chairs competition.

          And do you have any idea how much money it costs to hold a national vote?!
          Apparently not or you’d already realize how ridiculous your suggestion is to hold a referendum for every major business transaction.

          Lastly, while technology has indeed been a factor in the world’s recent changes and uprisings, how far do you believe it would have gotten without the involvement of the government(s) you appear to detest so much?
          In fact, regardless of how you feel about the current situation in the Middle East and North Africa, none of these vast changes would have occurred had countries like Canada, Great Britain and the USA just stayed home instead.

          I believe a little perspective is in order.

          • Hey man, if you get all your news from the television, and think you can form an objective opinion, you need to look a bit deeper.  I am an occupier.  Due to certain obligations I can’t be there, so I’m here talking to you.  Debate any of my points in my other comments, I’m in.  I’m 28 and I’m in the 25 percentile at the top, and really not overly impressed by that.  The level of success that I have been conditioned to accept and will accept for myself is gonna put me closer to the 10 percent.  That is insane, because the things I want are the things every one wants, to be comfortable, happy, have a few possessions but nice ones mind you, and to be surrounded by friends who are all as happy and comfortable as I am.  So 90% of people don’t deserve that?  I’ll go on record as saying it should be easier for a lazy person to live comfortably, cuz right now, even the most industrious of us don’t by virtue of hard work alone have that security.  Economic problems is the number one cause of divorce, and yet some people even stoop to talk of the depravity of the poor.  That’s directly insulting.

        •  The mass sale of certain natural resources like natural gas to hedge funds years ago might’ve merited some consultation too. 

    • get some education in history and foreign policy before you open your mouth please. We spent the 1900s warring over land, natural resources, and political influence, the political and economic ideals were the scapegoat. Obviously you don’t get the point of this article, that as canadians, we can not protest the same things that the U.S Occupy movement is cause we don’t have them. We should be protesting things happening in our government, such as Harpers new crime bill, but instead of bandwagoning on someone else’s cause, we should have our own. And you have to be careful of giving access to the people, they are the ones who usually blow it. The French Revolution gave birth to the jacobins and then napoleon, hardly the revolution that people were prophesying.

      • I’ve spent my life in economic development, so kindly stop talking nonsense about me as a poster and focus on the topic here.

        Canadians are as fed up with the world system as everyone else….this is not a parochial nationalist issue.

        ‘you have to be careful of giving access to the people’ is the most revealing statement you made.

        • what period of economic development? the one in the last century or before? 

          I understand that you are fed up, my point is, what is your plan to eradicate the issues you brought up? all you are doing is pointing out flaws in a system but not actually giving any insight on to fix them. So if you are an economic development guru, how would you fix our global economy?

          and finally that statement was part of a bigger argument you obviously didn’t get. “The people” were the ones who started the French Revolution, the Bolshevik Revolution, and almost every revolution right. But change isnt necessary always good, drastic change can cause more harm than good, especially when its a proclamation by people who don’t know better. Most of these revolutions fail because of the people involved in it, the international community, and the ultimate failure of the peoples movement. And remember, it was “the people” who when the German economy tanked fought the civil war, it was “the people” who voted in the Nazi party, and it was the “the people” who supported what went after that. So you can’t always trust the mob mentality or “the peoples”.

          Now….if you cant get my argument now I will spell it out very plainly.

          Occupy Canada needs to get its own agenda that applies to its own situation. It needs to get a mandate, and one that applies specifically to our issues. I agree, the world needs to change with the inequalities it possesses, and this should be addressed by people who know what they are talking about not “the people”. Its gonna take a lot more than people in the streets to do this.

          I have no problem with changing the world. My only problem is with the world being changed by people like you.

          • I say again…trying to insult other posters doesn’t solve the problem under discussion.

            It is the ‘people’ who live in this world who determine how it is run…not just a few at the top. Forget that at your peril.

            “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

            That explains all the other revolutions we’ve had….and no, they haven’t always had a good outcome….so maybe this time we could change things in a better more peaceful way?

            Canadians have the same problems as everyone else….this is not, nor will it be, a local situation.

          • I love your embrace of democracy, Marie. Those peasants  – they’re revolting, aren’t they?

      • We’re still fighting wars over resources and political influence.  How else do you explain our involvement in Libya?

    • I think this is a fantastically written comment. Only thing I would add is that we have to incorporate a greater understanding of the natural limits of our planet

      • Thank you!

        And yes indeed, since this is the only planet we currently have, we need to learn it’s limits and abide by them.

  6. Well, since Andrew Coyne is paid by Rogers, it’s easy to understand his point of view….
    This is a very long article saying nothing. The important part was the front page -in newsstands – for brainwashing.
    One thing he missed and us 99% understood – was the fact that coming another financial crisis the rich will bocome richer and we have to pay AGAIN for that.
    What this movement is trying to do is to prevent that if they can. It’s a warning.
    Oh, and the mobile phone was not invented in 1980 – how can you compare…. plus you’d expect society to evolve over a 3 decades time span, duh?
    They used horses 100 years ago and now we are using cars and even planes. Remember Jules Verne?

    • Tighten the tinfoil hat and go back to bed, sweetie.

  7. This is a great article.  The navel gazers won’t understand it of course but I imagine that the average person will get it…and agree.

  8. Excellent article! It seems obvious that Andrew is right: that we should concentrate on the bottom 10% of earners, the poor. Of course, we don’t, because feasting on the spectacle of the rich is much more fun. The only thing that worries me about Andrew’s argument is how he glosses over the stagnation in incomes over the last decades. Maybe we could dig deeper into that, and the idea that young people today are going to be less well-off than their parents.

    • You’ve hit upon my main beef with Andrew’s piece. The anecdotal evidence [at least in my blue collar world] does not support his arguement that things are pretty much ok. If you discount the folks who head out to Fort Mac and those fortunate enough to be in a union[ and then only some unions] many working folks are not bringing home more bacon then they did in the eighties when you factor in cost of living and inflation. More then a few tradesmen tell me they made as much or more in relative terms 20-30 years ago than they do today, furthermore there was considerably more job security, benefits and even the odd pension or two. Andrew papers over a lot of cracks in his arguement on this score. This doesn’t even touch on perhaps the worst change of all – the degree to which we are all indebted. Sure we can buy lots of goodies that we previously couldn’t have[ AC neglects to mention that many of them are simply much cheaper then they used to be] ; but at what cost? If you were to magically remove the ability to borrow at seemingly cheap rates from consumers[ much of that predicated on bubble wealth such as housing] income stagnation for the middle of the middle class would be readily apparent. If we ever see a return of hyper-inflation or stag-flation to this country i’d guess some of Andrew’s house of cards would come tumbling down.
      I do however agree with AC’s point about being concerned more with helping the poor join the rest of us; trouble is i don’t see any way rampant globilization is going to manage that. Favouring international corporatism over the state[ the stories of ruthless corps pulling the rug out from undrneath truly poor people all over the world are now  commonplace] is not at all helpful in that regard even if it is only an attempt to craft a meritocracy – which i don’t believe it is, not even close. Some wag memorably said of Reaganism: ” God helps those whom God has already helped.”
      I suspect part of what the protesters are about is this sense that absolutely everything is to be monetized in this age, our values, our citizenship, everything. There’s a deeply held if unfocused conviction that something is very wrong with this picture. The economy, the “system” should largely serve us, serve the common good to the degree that it is possible. Obviously lots of people think that isn’t happening.

      ” People who are in a fortunate position always attribute virtue to what makes them so happy” – JK Galbraith – could well apply to some of Andrews defence of the wealthiest 01% of Canadians.

  9. Andrew:

    Part of the motivation for the protests is unequal access to policy makers. Wealthy corporations, such as the entertainment industry, can push their agenda (copyright reform, ACTA, etc.) and get legislative response. Those without such wealth have a much more difficult time.

    I’d venture to say that any one of the people in the top 0.1% could get a meeting with the Prime Minister or any cabinet minister without any difficulty. Can the same be said for the bottom 90%?

    Who is attending $500 a plate dinners? Who is hiring $350/hr lobbyists? The wealthy have a much easier time being heard, and they have much more influence on policy. 

    I agree with you that the needs of the bottom 10% are neglected. But they are lacking money, which leads to a lack of influence and a lack of voice.

    Canada is not as bad as the US when it comes to money and politics. But that does not mean that there aren’t legitimate concerns about whose interests are being served in our legislatures. The Occupy protesters have a wide variety of issues and demands, but the one thing that unites them is a desire to be heard.

    • Amen, excellent point.

      I feel that Andrew’s setting up a bit of a strawman here, or at least not exploring all of the avenues.

      There’s also the fact that the top echelon of society use their power to steal visa-vi refusing to pay taxes. I caught this http://wikileaks.org/wiki/Barclays_Bank_gags_Guardian_over_leaked_memos_detailing_offshore_tax_scam,_16_Mar_2009 on wikileaks today, and I’m sure it’s only the tip of the iceberg. If these people would pay their fair share, I doubt the financial crisis would be quite as bad as it current is.

  10. Well put Mr Coyne.  But the poor have always been with us, in all societies.  Our welfare safety net has enabled the bottom 10% to live fairly comfortably in our high cost society.  

    • “Our welfare safety net has enabled the bottom 10% to live fairly comfortably in our high cost society.”
      You seriously think this? I’m guessing that you haven’t been exposed much to the bottom 10%, and that you’ve never been on disability, welfare or EI.

    • I dont think 600 will even cover a room in a city like Toronto, let alone umm comfortably.. You are WAY out of touch on this one. 

  11. Tremendous article, Coyne. You can knock me over with feather that someone in Canadian msm wrote about poor people and how we are not serving them very well at all.

    Way too much focus on rich and how we can kneecap them in order to make some people feel better about themselves but very little discussion about how we can help poor people. 

    Poor people are alienated from Government because public officials focus solely on middle class now, it seems. A great example was Maclean’s story about how teenagers can’t use hammers or screwdrivers, lots of working class boys would find those skills useful, much more than learning how to ‘think’ about inequalities or some other marxist claptrap. 

    I would be interested in seeing stats about poor people, or working classes, and are they moving up into middle classes? That’s important number to me. Rich are getting richer, which is fine, as long as poor people are getting richer as well. 

    If I was King for a day – God help you all – I would implement a guaranteed income for underclass, some working class types and mothers with young children and eliminate all these programs that are supposedly helping unfortunates. Many government programs don’t work, we are wasting money to employ university educated people to do work that is nonsensical and nonproductive.

    •  Like a minimum wage Tony?  Got one already!  The system works!
      When was the last time sociologists and economists, (university educated types) actually got to do say a Kaizen (toyota) on benefit programs, student loans or even education itself?

      A real problem is that when these groups make recomendations, they’re not taken seriously and their improvement aren’t implemented until the system is just about to go critical.
      Global warming?  If we don’t neutralize methane and carbon emissions within like what fifteen years we’re gonna see worst case scenarios as the climate change cycle (milankovitch), spirals out of control?  That’s a glaring example of academic types giving all the warning we need.  It’s been fifteen years, and emissions have increased.  Re-examine the source of the problem to find a solution.

      And leave the unfortunates alone, like where the hell is everyone’s compassion and altruism?  Should the poor suffer to be poor?  ESPECIALLY Christians, because as CHRISTIANS you are identifying with a scripture designed to foster love and compassion, but in backing the Conservatives, (and Christians do), you are supporting vehemence, callousness, and an overall lack of empathy.  If you vote for economic subjugation, continued involvement in wars worldwide, criminal sentences that make lawmakers in texas cringe, (Bill C10) and the known and eventual socioeconomic backlash of such policies, you may as well stop going to church, because you’ve cast a vote for Satan.

  12. What convoluted logic!  Here is the Cole’s Notes version of this article:

    1. It is true that the banks in many countries bought off politicians to remove regulations on financial transactions (which is what the Conservatives argued for in opposition) and, when they blew up the system the politicians passed on their private debt as public debt, all the while permitting these same people to pay themselves huge bonuses but let’s not concentrate on this …
    2. It is true the tax rates on corporations and the richest members of our society have decreased subtantially but  let’s not concentrate on this …
    3. It is true that after-tax incomes for the low and middle class have stagnated for a generation while those of the richest have increased substantially  but  let’s not concentrate on this …
    4. The poorest are getting even poorer, so we should all look at this end of the income distribution and ignore points 1 – 3 pertaining to the other end of the income distribution!

    The rules of the game have always been weighted in favour of those with the most power but, from the 1930′s until the mid-1970′s, there were at least counterweights to protect the middle and lower classes. The main message of the Occupy Wall Street protests is the the rules of the game have been rigged continuously more in favour of the richest members of society, to the detiment of everyone else, for the last 30 years, and they want this trend reversed.  Coyne’s article reminds me of the Wizard of Oz (“look here and ignore the man behind the curtain”).   

    • Wow.  This is the best response of the lot to Coyne’s fantasy.

    • Except,  didn’t Coyne show pretty conclusively that A) #1 didn’t happen in Canada, and that B) numbers 2 and 3 aren’t, in fact, true in Canada?

  13. Excelllent article.
     I am not so sure, however, that “giving” the poor more money is the answer. It seems to me, in my dealings with the poor, that they are poor for a reason. Though I am not so ignorant so as to believe that we are all born into this world as equals, there should be an effective way to account for the money “given” to the poor, whether it be given under conditions of mandatory financial counsolling or whatnot.

    • The solution, then, is to give them waaaay more money. If we make them filthy stinking rich instead of poor, it appears you’ll feel less inclined to feel so concerned about what they do with their money.

  14. You want more support for the poor?

    Keep per-vote funding, but increase the amount/vote and remove the thresholds.

    And if you *really* want more support, if someone has an annual income below the taxable threshold their tax return includes a voucher that entitles them to an extra vote in the next election — to make up for the lack of access to politicians that they have to deal with the rest of the time.

  15. “Our banks did not get overextended, did not have to be bailed out…”

    But they happily handed off $25 Billion worth of mortgages to the feds in late 2008. Was that a pre-bailout package?

  16. The businessinsider.com says it all,  Andrew Coyne says what?

    • Lol !
       
      http://www.businessinsider.com/class-warfare-breaks-out-within-the-occupy-movement-2011-10
       
      Occupy Wall Street is the new 1%.
       
       
      It’s raised a ton of money, and it won’t share with other Occupy sites.
      From Metro New York:
       
      Occupy Wall Street’s New York encampment has amassed nearly half a million dollars since they first started, according to Brooklynite Pete Dutro, 36, of the organization’s finance committee.But New York protesters haven’t shared one cent with other Occupy camps set up across the nation.“We could definitely use [New York’s funds],” Vernon Johnson, a volunteer at Occupy Philly, said yesterday. “What’s the point of collecting money if you’re not releasing it to the people you’re trying to help?”“We need money bad,” agreed fellow Philadelphia protester Kate Corbett. Occupy Philly has raised $10,000.

  17. The Occupy Movement, as I understand it, is the 99% asking questions of the 1% of our country that are  in a position to make the decisions that affect the rest of us. It’s not just about rich vs poor.

    I was there to ask the 1% why we are still using oil for fuel, others were asking why unlabelled genetically modified foods were in our stores, others were asking why our food had to come from big industry instead of supporting the production of healthy food from smaller local producers. Others were asking why student tuitions were at ruinous levels, others were asking why our seniors have to fight for services.

    Everyone I saw at the Occupy Vancouver rally had a question. The common denominator to their questions of ‘why things have to be this way’ was greed. Maybe it’s not so much that we are jealous of the rich and powerful, maybe we are tired of the 1% putting profit over our health, our future, and our environment.

    • Guest…you just made Andrew’s point…no one is quite sure what the occupy movement is about and apparently in different cities it is about different things….oil; modified food; small producers; tuition fees; service for seniors….who knew?

      • Anybody who’s been paying attention.

        • Really?  Are you saying Andrew Coyne and the other leading journalists haven’t been paying attention, Thwim?  Maybe you and the other occupiers should give them a call and set up and interview to clear things up.

          • Jesus, so not only can you not read effectively, you can’t write either.

            Go on. Read what you yourself wrote and actually think about it.

          • Thwim…you are nothing but an arrogant bully and a hypocrite!  Do us both a favor…when you see me blog something, pass over it and don’t reply.

          • Stop posting idiocy and it’ll be simple.

          • Just ignore my posts…I have the right to post my opinion if you find it idiotic that is your business but leave me alone.

      • I’m sure someone like you said this just before the French Revolution – ‘I mean really, why don’t those peasants come up with a clear set of demands?’

        • Oh, I don’t think so Jan.  I know that the “let them cake” is not a real quote but the sentiment is true.

    • Gh – are you putting in this link to show us what the occupy movement is about in the US?

      • I believe I was trying to show trends, sorry, I’m not an acedemic but I do get the jest of what is going on in the world. The same crap that started decades ago, accept it’s reaching a crescendo, in a sense. It’s just the musing a of a highschool drop-out but if I waited for thinkers to give me my understanding of the world I’d be in no better position than I am already in. The world is full of know-it-alls and experts.

        • Thanks, I was just asking….not being critical.

  18. This is the fairest view of the inequality for the poo I have EVER read…it is easy to jump on the very, very rich, but when you stop and realize this number is an inflation of only a few hundred (and many of them being part of a poolies number game), it makes one think a little harder.

    As a mostly left leaning person, it was nice to read a counter argument that was well written and still had compassion throughout. Good work Mr. Coyne

    • that’s not supposed to say poo, but poor :S

      • LOL!  I should report you to the poo-lice.

        Like you, I may not agree with everything that Mr. Coyne writes.  I do appreciate that he has done his homework and has come up with his own conclusions.

        • I can’t believe that I got past the Maclean’s moderation system for writing “poo-lice.”

          The Globe and Mail wouldn’t print one of my comments because I wrote “Dick Van Dyke.”  I didn’t know that “Van” was a naughty word.

          • So was it the dick or the dyke?  LOL

  19. Andrew, I just want to say…brilliant article and that I appreciate your mentioning that some of these uber-rich people are giving away more of their money to helping poor people than they are keeping for themselves…ie.  Bill Gates.  I think we need to hear more about the philanthropy of some of those who give moreof what they have made to charitiy than keep for themselves or their families…people like the recently deceased Harley Hotchkiss.  People are so ready to revile wealthy people but they have no idea what they have done to better the lives of those less fortunate than themselves.

    • Probably because most of the wealthy people don’t bother. We keep hearing about these exceptional cases, such as the Gates’, specifically because they are so bloody exceptional. And personally, I still think that the Gates’ foundation exists specifically as Bill’s attempt to assuage his guilt at how many people’s lives he crushed with unfair dealing practices and out-right rip-offs of other people/companies. But that’s a personal thing and not really related to the topic.

      Any sort of suggestion that charity is as good as taxes is inherently flawed for the simple reason that it relies on someone choosing to put themselves at an economic disadvantage as compared to someone who isn’t charitable.  It doesn’t take a rocket-scientist to see how such a system isn’t anywhere near sustainable.

      • You would think that Thwim because you cannot believe that there are people out there who actually hand out BIG money.  I will give you a hint….look around at the hospitals in the city you live…is it Edmonton…Stollery …named that because the Stollery family paid for the building and alot of the contents.  It is Calgary…the Hotchkiss Brain Institute….built and run with millions of dollars in donations from Harley Hotchkiss; the Bud McKaig building; the Doc Seaman and Brett Wilson Centre.  These philanthropists allow research and treatment to flourish.  You can ignore that the Mannix family donated 50 million dollars a few years ago but to say that Bill Gates who is running a foundation that this trying to erradicate Polio, Malaria and TB in Africa as well as cure as AIDS is doing so to “assuage his guilt” is an assinine assumption.  This man retired in 2008 to personally oversee this foundation that is attempting to deal with famine and to ensure that all children of color in the US receive a decent education. 
        As for your ridiculous assertion that giving to a charity is somehow “wrong” because it affects the amount of taxes one pays and somehow the money would be better utilized if the government got it first and then disseminated to the charitable organization…..you cannot be serious.   If I give The Cross Cancer Centre 1 million dollars to purchase an MRI machine, that whole 1 million dollars will go toward the purchase of the needed machine.  If I pay that money to Steven Harper, that money will go toward the purchase of 65 F-35 fighter jets.
        Now, as a rancher, I could just choose to buy a million dollars in cattle and not pay any taxes but I am a philanthropist and I want to do some good so I buy the MRI.  See how it works.

        • And once again, the plural of anecdote does not equal data. I realize it’s hard for you to understand anything beyond your own small experiences but there really is a wider world out there. And unless you can show that the majority of the 1% are doing similar things for charity, you have absolutely no case at all. And even if you do, the rest of my points stand.. people choosing to put themselves at an economic disadvantage by giving to charity vs those who do not, while wonderful, is unsustainable. As you point out.. people can choose to be ranchers and then be ahead of those who choose to donate MRI machines. Who ends up being able to continue to donate at the end of the day? The guy who has no interest in donating and bought cattle instead? Or the guy who bought an MRI machine for the warm fuzzies?

          And if you give the Cross Cancer Centre a million dollars to purchase an MRI machine, that’s fine. If you pay a million dollars in taxes much of it will go to support hundreds of people in ways that you probably never heard of and usually never think of. An MRI machine for the Cross Cancer Centre helps people who might have cancer. On the other hand, the government might use that money to put several unemployed people through job training camps and gets them employed and contributing. Folks who say that government is lousy at picking good things to spend on generally have no idea of how many things government does spend on, and have an inflated idea of how well individuals without the resources of information and analysis that government has can do.

          • My point Thwim is you cannot conceive of the good that people like Bill and Melinda Gates have done with their foundation.  Those people who donate the money have so many resources that their ability to continue to donate is not an issue.  The point is that they could choose to re-invest the income in private jets that would be tax deductable but instead they give the money to help countless people who will be diagnosed earlier and receive treatment faster because of their gifts.  The other off-shoot of their donations are that they provide jobs for people who are required to run the “MRI” that they donate.  Instead of the two people who are given training by the government, 8 people are hired to run the new MRI.  My point is that you assume that is money is ear-marked for taxes and that is not necessaily so.  As Warren Buffet indicated, these uber-rich people are not paying a whole lot of taxes so if they are donating 50 million dollars, it isn’t to avoid income tax.

          • I guess the point where we differ is you’re essentially saying “But look at the wonderful things these rich people do!” and most of the rest of the world is noticing that the reason these rich people can do these wonderful things is because the systems are set up to benefit them at the expense of the majority of most other people.

            ie, why does it take a super-rich like Bill Gates to drive forward a cure for this kind of stuff, and if that wasn’t what he happened to want to do, how long would it be before something was done? What if instead we had a system that actually valued people over profit? Where instead of relying on the whims of an individual who happens to be generous (and I maintain that there are fewer of those than there are of those who are not) we relied instead on all of us, and took steps to ensure that all of us were involved in solving these problems as we identified them?

            Or in other words.. it’s certainly nice that they do that, but that does nothing to address the systemic problems people are encountering, so why should we be celebrating it?

          • Many of these uber-rich people like Bill Gates got to where they are because of good timing.  They invented something that was new and it took off.  Then he had exceptional management skills and vision.  I am not saying he was not a brutal businessman.  However, unlike Steve Jobs, he turned his vision and determination toward something else…curing diseases, famine and education.  I think that sometimes these people have amassed all this money and feel they want to leave a legacy of some good behind.  They are challenged by that so they attack philanthopropic ventures the same way they went after their business lives.  That “gel” that stops hepatitis that was reported on Macleans online was likely developed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  They have been looking for a way to stop the spread of AIDS in Africa that women can use without their partners knowing.  Governments including Canada actually give their AIDS research money to the foundation.  The foundation in turn gives out money to others like Bill Clinton whose foundation provides generic AIDS drugs to people in Africa.  The US government will provide money AIDS drugs but they made a stipulation that the drugs must be brand name.  According to Bill Clinton, he can treat about 160 people with generic drugs for the cost of every 1 person with brand name drugs so there are good reasons for not having government involvement.
            I do not know where you got your statistics about people who donate money to charity, Thwim but I know a lot of money is donated in Calgary to the hospital system….especially the pediatric hospitals.  Then there are the lotteries.
            You asked at what point would “the system” have acted if Bill Gates did not.  Well, I will put that question back to you.  When do you think that Polio, Malaria and TB in Africa would show up on the radar of “the system”?  Last I heard Belinda Stronach was handing out mosquito nets in Africa to fight Malaria – probably due to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

          • Oh, I certainly agree that those concerns wouldn’t show up on the system as it is now. Considering that my point was people are saying “The system as it is now is a problem”, your question is not only irrelevant, it’s asinine.

            As for the rest of your grovelling that some of the very well off bother to do charity, who gives a crap? Yeah it’s nice. Is it sustainable? Is it reliable? Does it make sense to have a system where helping the worse off not only depends on a few people realizing they’ll never spend all the money they have anyway, but depends on pretty much everyone else being short-changed due to a reliance on profit over people?”

    • Let’s not forget Warren Buffet who, apart from his generosity,  has called for his fellow rich to pay more in taxes. 

      • Jan, Warren Buffet and Bill Gates got together in 2005 and worked out a 60 billion dollar deal to fund the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 

        • I am well aware of the good works of the Gates and Buffet, but what has that do with what Mr. Buffet said re taxes? 

          • I support what Warren Buffet says but like I said to Thwim that money the very rich are giving away was not going to taxes anyway.  For many of them, they give away half of their net worth.

  20. Great article indeed.  It seems many Occupy participants in Canada have brought with them slogans they’ve seen in media covering U.S. protests.  The main focus here in Canada should be our governments’ failure to protect, and recent attacks against, the environment that we and our economy live in.  Our economy is doing as well as it is largely by using up environmental capital that rightly belongs to future generations.

    If the economy were to collapse completely we would have some tough times for a few generations while we build a new economy.  The economy is man-made after all.

    If the environment were to collapse we might not have more generations.

    Yet we have a government that not only fails to act, but opposes science and action on greenhouse gas emissions or declining fish stocks or the myriad other issues that urgently need attention.  Frankly I am not hopeful, and ‘class’ may not matter a whit by the time todays babies reach middle-age.  What’s really sad is that the economy could and should be thriving on new(er) technologies that deal with the problems of sustaining a population of 7+ billion people.  Canada has the resources and education and wealth to lead the world.  Instead we’re dragging our feet and trying to be the go-to country for fossil fuels, asbestos and seal skin.

  21. Are Canadians part of the 99% or not?  Are we the richest 1%? I think not.  It may not be as bad here, but it’s the same problem in the entire globe.

    • I caught a tweet from an economist that said anyone making over $53,000 or $54,000 CAD is in the top 1% of worldwide incomes.

  22. Good article Andrew.

    Rather than hiking taxes on the rich, would it not be better to institute an Estate Tax and close some pre-death and other estate distribution loop-holes? It doesn’t make much sense to “tax the rich” when, as Stephen Gordon noted this morning, they have all the (legitimate) power to change the rules in their favour and deflect the costs downward.

    Also, what form of relief would you suggest for the bottom 20% or even 40%? It seems that direct transfers would be preferable to this patchwork of tiny tax credits (refundable and non-) we have now, and which are so often tied to activities and circumstances beyond the means of those who would, and should, benefit the most.

    I don’t think the answer to our problems is “more taxation” as much as it is “more progressive taxation”, with greater direct benefits for those who need it.

    • If there was just straight elimination of the scores of targeted tax credits you’re referring to, and nothing else, the system would become more progressive.  As I understand it, it’s like high-income earners who are going to take advantage of kids sports credits, fitness credits, and so on.  Basically a simplification of the tax code would go a long way. 

      Tax bracket and rate arguments should come after that.

      • Removing anything that promotes fitness in this age of obesity is probably not a great idea.  What we need is not to get rid of programs that offer credits for fitness but programs that offer cheap fitness passes for low income workers as well as transit passes.

        • AKA, something that taxes regularly provide for, but private donations almost never.

          • The only people who get cheap transit passes in the City of Calgary are senior citizens – regardless of their income….people on AISH, welfare, etc. pay full price….oh yes…youth also get a cheaper pass.

          • Wait, sorry that is not totally accurate.  People on low income can get a bit of money off per month but only seniors pay the very low sum of $15.00 per year regardless of how rich they are.  People on assured income for the severely handicapped on the other had might get $15.00 per month off the price of a pass when they get an income of less than $1,300h dollars per month.  The discount on the fitness passes is not much better for the low income groups.  We really should approach a philanthropist to take this on!

          • And how many get cheap transit passes due to private donation?

        • I just want to clarify that we need programs for cheap fitness passes and cheap transit passes for low income.

    • Estate taxes used to exist in Canada but they were removed because they are inherently unfair as they tax a person twice.  You pay the taxes when you make the income and then your beneficiaries pay the taxes again on the money when you die.

  23. We are protesting because we don’t want to be next , Andrew ! Look at what the thieves on Wall Street  have done to Greece , Ireland , Spain , Portugal and they tried Iceland but failed only because Icelanders rose up and protested ! Now they are bankrupting America and you think Canadians should just quietly twiddle our thumbs and what ? Say nothing ?

  24. Seriously could everyone please stop commenting on OriginalEmily1′s posts, she clearly thrives on the attention.

  25. Three points:

    First, It’s worth signalling to our (Canadian) government that we don’t want to go down the American route of radical capitalism, and if the Occupy phenomenon does that, that’s a good thing. I like it that my government refused to let the banks merge into mega banks when Paul Martin was on watch.

    Second, I have no trouble rewarding true productivity, but betting on trends twice and thrice removed from real economic activity does not a single widget make.

    Third, taking advantage of Cognitive Bias (look it up) to persuade people to give you their money for whatever purpose is in my view immoral, and if the persuaders can find their moral compass, then let’s at least tax such transactions to build up a buffer to protect ordinary folks. We have seatbelt and speeding laws, and that’s a good thing – this isn’t much different.

  26. Slowly and slowly I have begun to recognize that Canadian journalism is a fucking joke. Andrew Coyne you’re a prime example of the stupidity and uninformality of Canadian journalism, you might as well start writing for tabloids with your lack of intelligence on global affairs. I’m appalled that Maclean’s have agreed to hire you as a writer with this type of ignorance. Actually, never mind Maclean’s itself is a big fucking joke.

    Let me teach you a thing or two about corporate greed. When “Occupy” protesters have hit the streets, yes, it was initially about the American financial crisis in 2008 and the bailout; but the overall message is not solely on American financial crisis in 2008 and the bailout but of corporate greed in general. 

    Do you really think that every country has exactly the same corporate greed issues? Are you fucking stupid? How is it that in your article you have never mentioned about the grave human rights abuses that Canadian mining companies conducting in South America? How is that in your article you never mention about Canadian logging companies lobbying the Canadian government to exploit and undermine aboriginal communities? 

    This is about CORPORATE GREED IN GENERAL and not solely because of the American financial crisis in 2008 and the bailout. 

    People are tried of billionaires promoting “free-trade” at the expense of people’s rights to live, people’s right to self-governance, people’s right to choose their own destiny.

    If you’re happy with living such a society, go ahead. With your level of intelligence I’m sure corporations would love people like you working under them because you don’t how to THINK. Congratulations on being a drone of society. Peace.

    • So everyone who disagrees with your take on things lacks intelligence.

      It must be such an awesome thing to be as singularly enlightened as you.

      • Didn’t you recently call the NDP idiots? 

      • You obviously didn’t receive education past high school. When I said he was an idiot, I didn’t say he was an idiot because he disagreed with me, but he is an idiot for assuming that just because there is a protest against corporate greed, they need to live in a country where the corporations have violated its citizens for the same reason as one’s in america (where the Occupy protests have started, even though they were influenced by a Canadian movement).

        There is going to be no country in this world, where the corporations have committed  EXACTLY THE SAME violations as the ones in America. Even though Canadian corporations have committed violations across the world for other reasons. Therefore, Occupy Protesters should protest against the government to tell the government to impede our corporations harming global citizens for their own greed.

    • “How is it that in your article you have never mentioned about the grave human rights abuses that Canadian mining companies conducting in South America?”

      Yes. This is what the Canadian Occupy protest is about. I mean it was SO clear, how did he miss that?! How DARE he write an article about a protest about economic matters in Canada and not mention human rights issues in South America?!

      Remarkable…

      • Your assumptions are incredibly foolish.

        I was just saying that to show that you cannot argue saying that Canadians have no reason to protest against the government just because they and the corporations did not commit violations against its own citizens exactly the same way as Americans. 

        There are no two countries in this world, where its corporations have violated exactly the same violations against its own citizens. 

        And the human rights abuses committed by the Canadian mining companies were just examples of something that Canadian corporations does in the name of corporate greed. I did not say that it is something that everyone should know.

        Learn to read, learn to comprehend and learn to think. 
        Fucking morons.

        • I love people who think insulting others is a legitimate argument and still seem to hold on to some sort of intellectual high ground while doing it. As if you’re smarter than everyone, see everything the RIGHT way (because there’s only one way of course), and everyone around you is just a “fucking moron.”

          The beauty being that you’re surely not convincing anyone with that bull, so what IS your intention?Anyways, I’m done with you.

          • It’s funny how you said nothing to counter-argue my arguments.

            Probably because you have nothing smarter things to say. 

            I’m not smarter than everyone else, but I’m definitely smarter than you and the author. 

            K thanks.

    • “People are tried of billionaires promoting “free-trade” at the expense
      of people’s rights to live, people’s right to self-governance, people’s
      right to choose their own destiny.”

      So “free trade”, the ability of individuals to make voluntary transactions with each other without government interference, somehow comes at the expense of people’s right to their own destiny?

      The government telling me what I can and cannot buy somehow aids in self governance?

  27. This article is typical of the spurious
    market-apology that Andrew Coyne regularly produces. He’s like an over-eager
    university student who has just learned introductory economics and can’t wait
    to reproduce the world in its image.

     

    First, let’s consider his thesis, which
    could be summed up as follows: the middle class has every reason to be content
    with their growth in income in the recent past; the real moral outrage is the
    plight of those at the bottom of the income distribution, not the success of
    those at the top. 

     

    The first part of his thesis seems to be a
    backward rendering of Marx’s notion of false consciousness: the anxious and
    agitated members of the middle class just can’t see how well they’ve been doing
    recently.  But according to the
    Conference Board of Canada, the middle class has every reason to be upset:
    between 1976 and 2009, median after-tax income for families increased by only
    5.5 per cent
    (http://www.conferenceboard.ca/hcp/hot-topics/caninequality.aspx#anchor3).  This doesn’t even capture the fact that
    families have worked more hours for this modest increase in income.  Meanwhile, between 1980 and 2005, labour
    productivity rose 37 per cent (http://www.csls.ca/reports/csls2008-8.pdf).  Such a gap between income and productivity
    growth would not exist if the orthodox economic doctrine to which Andrew
    desperately clings were true.

     

    Andrew doesn’t say whether the 21.5 per
    cent growth in median income he cites between 1993 and 2008 is calculated using
    before- or after-tax income, but what is clear is that picking a time period
    that coincides with a boom produces historically unrepresentative results (a
    boom, by definition, is unrepresentative of history).  If Andrew were focused on producing good
    journalism rather than rationalizing the status-quo, he would have mentioned
    the statistics I’ve just cited. We can only assume (or maybe we can’t,
    worryingly) that he was aware of them.

     

    The second part of his thesis is less
    flagrantly offensive to reason: Why should a top-heavy income distribution be
    the object of moral outrage? The rich getting richer doesn’t hurt anyone,
    right?  Heck, they might even be using
    their vast fortunes to make productive investments!

     

    Let’s assume, because it’s not essential to
    the argument for greater income inequality, that the gains of the super-rich
    don’t hurt anyone (although they certainly have adverse effects on the
    distribution of political power in society). 
    That is to say, the real gripe of the middle class is that they just
    want a larger slice of the economic pie. 
    The lower classes are “envious” as our Victorian-era moralizer
    puts it.  It couldn’t be because they’re
    finding their incomes more precarious than ever and they see a group with many
    times what they need to achieve the common man’s definition of “economic
    security.”  But let’s forget the
    motivation for wanting more; it’s not important.  The crucial question is why shouldn’t regular
    working people demand a larger share of our economic gains?  This is not some philosophical question of
    merit, as Andrew frames it (although it’s difficult to see why workers who are
    37 per cent more productive should receive only 5.5 per cent more of the
    proceeds from their labour).  This is a
    question of democracy.  In a democracy, the
    economy is supposed to function primarily for the benefit of the vast majority
    of ordinary citizens.  Yet we can see
    that income gains are going primarily to the richest one (or ten) per cent.  Ordinary citizens have every right to be
    upset about that.  Trying to convince
    them that they ought to be content with a 5.5 per cent increase in incomes over
    33 years, when society can clearly afford them more, is a last-ditch attempt to
    suppress reform by lowering aspirations.

     

    Regarding the bottom ten per cent.  Nobody denies that their plight is the most
    serious one, and the effect of haranguing the top one per cent is not to
    detract attention from the bottom ten per cent. 
    To the contrary, income redistribution implies the lifting of those at
    the bottom, not just the chopping of those at the top.  There is a legitimate debate to be had about
    how to best go about that redistribution. 
    (Personally, I favour producing a more egalitarian distribution of
    pre-tax income by empowering unions, shareholders, and workplace democracy.)  But there is no evidence to suggest that we
    cannot achieve a more equal distribution of income and higher growth rates.  In fact, Keynes showed us theoretically what post-WWII
    social democracies showed us in practice: high rates of (socially useful) economic
    growth depend on the sustained increase in purchasing power among the
    masses.  That insight is lost by Andrew
    and every other economist who chooses to ignore both the history of economic
    thought and the history of real economies.

  28. This article is typical of the spurious
    market-apology that Andrew Coyne regularly produces. He’s like an over-eager
    university student who has just learned introductory economics and can’t wait
    to reproduce the world in its image.

    First, let’s consider his thesis, which
    could be summed up as follows: the middle class has every reason to be content
    with their growth in income in the recent past; the real moral outrage is the
    plight of those at the bottom of the income distribution, not the success of
    those at the top.

    The first part of his thesis seems to be a
    backward rendering of Marx’s notion of false consciousness: the anxious and
    agitated members of the middle class just can’t see how well they’ve been doing
    recently.  But according to the
    Conference Board of Canada, the middle class has every reason to be upset:
    between 1976 and 2009, median after-tax income for families increased by only
    5.5 per cent
    (http://www.conferenceboard.ca/hcp/hot-topics/caninequality.aspx#anchor3).  This doesn’t even capture the fact that
    families have worked more hours for this modest increase in income.  Meanwhile, between 1980 and 2005, labour
    productivity rose 37 per cent (http://www.csls.ca/reports/csls2008-8.pdf).  Such a gap between income and productivity
    growth would not exist if the orthodox economic doctrine to which Andrew
    desperately clings were true.

    Andrew doesn’t say whether the 21.5 per
    cent growth in median income he cites between 1993 and 2008 is calculated using
    before- or after-tax income, but what is clear is that picking a time period
    that coincides with a boom produces historically unrepresentative results (a
    boom, by definition, is unrepresentative of history).  If Andrew were focused on producing good
    journalism rather than rationalizing the status-quo, he would have mentioned
    the statistics I’ve just cited. We can only assume (or maybe we can’t,
    worryingly) that he was aware of them.

    The second part of his thesis is less
    flagrantly offensive to reason: Why should a top-heavy income distribution be
    the object of moral outrage? The rich getting richer doesn’t hurt anyone,
    right?  Heck, they might even be using
    their vast fortunes to make productive investments!

    Let’s assume, because it’s not essential to
    the argument for greater income inequality, that the gains of the super-rich
    don’t hurt anyone (although they certainly have adverse effects on the
    distribution of political power in society). 
    That is to say, the real gripe of the middle class is that they just
    want a larger slice of the economic pie. 
    The lower classes are “envious” as our Victorian-era moralizer
    puts it.  It couldn’t be because they’re
    finding their incomes more precarious than ever and they see a group with many
    times what they need to achieve the common man’s definition of “economic
    security.”  But let’s forget the
    motivation for wanting more; it’s not important.  The crucial question is why shouldn’t regular
    working people demand a larger share of our economic gains?  This is not some philosophical question of
    merit, as Andrew frames it (although it’s difficult to see why workers who are
    37 per cent more productive should receive only 5.5 per cent more of the
    proceeds from their labour).  This is a
    question of democracy.  In a democracy, the
    economy is supposed to function primarily for the benefit of the vast majority
    of ordinary citizens.  Yet we can see
    that income gains are going primarily to the richest one (or ten) per cent.  Ordinary citizens have every right to be
    upset about that.  Trying to convince
    them that they ought to be content with a 5.5 per cent increase in incomes over
    33 years, when society can clearly afford them more, is a last-ditch attempt to
    suppress reform by lowering aspirations.

    Regarding the bottom ten per cent.  Nobody denies that their plight is the most
    serious one, and the effect of haranguing the top one per cent is not to
    detract attention from the bottom ten per cent. 
    To the contrary, income redistribution implies the lifting of those at
    the bottom, not just the chopping of those at the top.  There is a legitimate debate to be had about
    how to best go about that redistribution. 
    (Personally, I favour producing a more egalitarian distribution of
    pre-tax income by empowering unions, shareholders, and workplace democracy.)  But there is no evidence to suggest that we
    cannot achieve a more equal distribution of income and higher growth rates.  In fact, Keynes showed us theoretically what post-WWII
    social democracies showed us in practice: high rates of (socially useful) economic
    growth depend on the sustained increase in purchasing power among the
    masses.  That insight is lost by Andrew
    and every other economist who chooses to ignore both the history of economic
    thought and the history of real economies.  

  29. I use to give you the benefit of the doubt Mr. Coyne but between your idiotic writings about 911 and this tripe you are the biggest phony of all.

    The Occupy movement is a shot over the bow Mr. Coyne, take heed. The people may not be able to say what it is that’s wrong but they are telling you that they feel something is wrong and people tend to act on their feelings.

    • And on what basis do those protestors legitimately represent “the people”?

  30. “Canada did not have a housing bubble, hence had no housing collapse, nor the resulting epidemic of mortgage failures. ”

    By what metrics do you define “bubble”? It’s difficult to look objectively at prices of real estate in Vancouver not to mention the attitudes/behaviour of the local population), and not conclude we’re in a bubble.

    Hence we may be heading for housing collapse, and the resulting epidemic of mortgage failures?

  31. The working poor are proud to use their microwaves and dish washers so that they can step down off of aching feet for a few hours in the evening before returning to their thin lives at the hands of ungrateful patronizing twerps like yourself, Mr. Coyne. 

  32. It’s still not clear why so many should be so upset that so few are so rich—other than the obvious reason: envy.
    Interesting: That one sentence could have easily taken the place of the entire piece.  You expand that thought very well, though.

    The National Council of Welfare has just released a report estimating the cost of lifting every Canadian out of poverty in 2007 at $12 billion.
    Or, that’s the initial price of encouraging as many people as possible to lower themselves into subsidized idleness, especially if the subsidy takes them “out of poverty.”  If poverty is a guaranteed ticket out of poverty, watch the lineup wrap around the block and down the street.

    And let’s suppose your endorsement of this idea helps it come to pass: do you (does anyone) seriously believe that will keep the usual suspects quiet about the evils of inequality?

  33. Good article, but not great. A couple of points of note:

    The LICO is based on the the expenditures of households as observed in 1992. It is a poor measure, as it is based on ridiculously outdated spending data. My own family didn’t get a personal computer until 1994, for example, but now it’s virtually unheard of to not have a personal computer in your household. Cellular phones were just becoming de rigeur for your average consumer by the 2000s, now it’s quite uncommon not to have not only a phone but a data and texting package at your fingertips.

    The bit about appliances made my nose wrinkle. “Since 1980, the percentage of Canadian homes with a dishwasher, for example, has more than doubled, from less than 30 per cent to 60 per cent. Fewer than one in 10 homes had a microwave oven in 1980; today it is upwards of 90 per cent. Washing machines, colour televisions, computers, cellphones and so on: the trend is the same.”

    And? Are black and white televisions even available anymore? All of these things are coming down in price and possession (or at least access to them in your rental unit) is becoming normative. Cars were rare in the 20s but now our society’s built around them. Change and progress are great and yes, our standard of living is increasing and you cannot argue that it isn’t; but at issue is the disparity between those with high relative income and low relative income; not that there are proportionally more microwave ovens or dishwashers in Canada than there used to be. 100 years ago, most homes didn’t have running water and telephones were but a dream. 60 years ago, generalized-use credit cards didn’t exist. I can name a host of other things that make life more convenient and demonstrate some amount of social progress, but they don’t really give weight to either side of the income inequality debate.

    In 30 years the median income in Canada has barely budged, yet the richest 1% are seeing substantial gains in THEIR share of income. It IS about the 99% and the 1%. It is ALSO about the 90% and the 10%. Frankly, it’s about time we actually changed the principle that capital begets more capital. It’s not necessarily about income, it’s about bonuses, it’s about capital gains and their laughably low tax rate, and it’s about time we woke up and paid attention.

    http://www.policyalternatives.ca/newsroom/updates/canadas-richest-1-taking-more-ever

  34. Actually, Andrew, the problem is with corporation law, also all the MBA programs that churn out idiotic and sociopathic business plans. When the ‘shareholders’ of a company include the top company people (as holders of stock options), then it means they can legally run the company so they themselves will be rewarded no matter how incompetent or crooked they are, and that’s what is ruining legitimate businesses. And since that’s the case, I’d like to be considered for CEO of one of those failing American banks. They can pay me half of what they’re paying their current guy and I promise I’ll also help destroy the U.S. economy. 

  35. sometimes Mr. Coyne, you are absolutely infuriating. But that’s your job isn’t it.

  36. Mr. Coyne takes all the fun out of it by introducing facts and logic — what a spoil sport!

  37. It’s sad to see Andrew Coyne once again preaching to the choir.   Although I applaud his proficiency at statistical cherry-picking, the facts are that the Canadian working class and middle class have been in a failing position for a very long time.  We can see it in our bank accounts, our pillaged retirement plans, and in our standard of living.  Your suggestion that the youth of the middle class go home because it’s “not as bad as America” and that they’re not among the working poor – yet – is truly laughable.  These kids have a much more realistic view of their futures than the one you’ve been able to garner within your media bubble: they’re looking for work; they’re unable to find housing in the midst of a housing bubble; they’re noticing that the government is in thrall to corporations and has no inclination to deal with their pressing problems.  Congratulations on your dramatic drubbing of the “class war” strawman! Your choice of terms, however, has telegraphed the depth of your research and the interests you’re serving in your editorial.  Maclean’s will continue to fade into obscurity – a pulpit for free marketers which couldn’t survive in a free market system, a “news” magazine which writes only for its advertisers.

  38. I don’t think it’s true that there was no bailout in Canada. A 75B$ backstop was implemented for mortgages. It’s the exact same kind of backstop that brought Ireland to its knees.

    Ok, the housing market hasn’t collapsed yet, but when it does, the backstop will be there and canadians will end up footing the bill, like all other losers out there.

    I also think it’s a mistake to re-use the same arguments as the american occupation, but there’s plenty of reasons to occupy, especially with Harper: Super expensive and useless F35, prisons expansions, Giving military fleet contracts to Irving, a company whose owner vowed, living in Bermudas, never to pay taxes in Canada, etc..

  39. Seems to be some sleight-of-hand going on here. 
    -Exclude capital gains from income for calculating 99th percentile? Why? Why is investment income privileged this way?
    -Include only income taxes for illustration of who pays most? Why? In the US example this is even more deceitful than in Canada, but even so, why shouldn’t the total tax burden be the relevant measure? Include G/HST, property taxes, excise taxes, the effect of tariffs and we’d see a much more regressive/inequitable distribution.

    Mr. Coyne makes some fair points, but whenever someone plays with numbers in this way, I have to ask whether their interest is to advance an argument, or win a political point.

  40. While Canada doesn’t have the same problems currently as the USA, the people in positions of power and influence are of the same mold as their American counterparts.  Just because we haven’t had a housing bubble or banks failing is not thanks to the efforts of banks or our housing markets or our current politicians. The conservatives, who wanted to pave the way for a similar banking setup as the USA years ago but were halted by the thankfully more intelligent.. which isn’t saying much.. Liberals.  We have 4 years of Conservative rule, and they will most assuredly attempt to destroy everything that saved Canada from Americas fate. 

  41. the last 3 decades there’s been a shift: economies once acting in a more national or regional setting (a least at the micro level) to now acting in a more ‘globalized’ setting. In that process , the common person has now become more politicized and shows at times sudden ‘global’ irrational grievances that do not necessarily reflect the reality of what’s going on. Ex: There’s a recession going on, but in reality, in Canada- the effects of that have not been incredibly dramatic- at least not proportional to the widespread belief that the public has now suddenly become disenfranchised. So I think what’s more important is, why are people thinking this?? feeling this way?? acting this way, suddenly??? The top one percent in the US own about 35% of the state’s economy, the other ninety nine percent of the population own around 25% of the economy. It is natural in these sort of settings that a bit of social unrest will occur, but the fact that that has then drifted over here says something else. The Canadian ‘wall street movement’ is artificial, it’s more less people saying “I’m mad as hell and i’m not gona take it anymore” but i don’t think they necessarily know what they’re mad at, they’re just mad.

  42. You just don’t get it.

  43. A recent paper titled “The network of global corporate control” by Stefania Vitali, James B. Glattfelder
     and Stefano Battiston from ETH Zurich essentially states that 147 transnational corporations control and ultimately decides the outcome of about 1 million other TNC’s.  In my opinion, this structure of high-order cross-sharing (and thus ownership and control) is a global ponzi scheme.
    More so than ever, if global trade is to remain, then every nation who wishes to participate must adhere to a set of (currently non existent) global standards.  In Canada’s case, this doesn’t mean lowering our quality of living nor national standards.  (BSE, Listeria, tar sands, imports from China, fish stocks being exploited to the point of collapse, soft wood industry…  The list goes on ad nauseum.)http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/1107/1107.5728v2.pdf

  44. I refute you thus: https://uloadr.com/u/iGey.jpg

    Canada has indeed had our own bank bailouts, income inequality is growing faster here than over the boarder, Harper is selling out citizens out to corporations (perhaps you’ve heard of his new megaprison housing plan?), and our investment portfolios are certainly not exempt from wallstreet fraud. 

  45. The framing of the article is a bit misleading.  OWS is not solely fixed on issues of monetary policy, but also systemic political and economic issues that affect the profound lack of control felt by those participating in the rallies.

  46. the entire argument in this article rests on the fact that things arent getting worse. Even if you allow Coyne the benefit of choice statistics up and down the income brackets to make his point, the entire principle is false. just because a problem existed in the past does not imply that the problem doesnt exist.

    understand that money is a representation of aquired resources. also, resources are not infinite. these income statistics (ineffectually) represent distribution of canada’s resources. Capitalism is the most effecient system for spreading these resouces around. However, scientific advancements have allowed society to enter higher levels of understanding. it is the natural progression for society to redistribute wealth as developed countries have all generally moved towards higher tax rates towards the wealthy. this trend will continue further, hopefully faster too.

    the most important step in curbing poor resource distribution is heavier regulations. if we can sacrifice perhaps 1% of GDP (mostly to the wealthiest, with an obvious trickle down effect) in order to bring massive increases to sustainability and humanity efforts, the financial bottom line for huge companies and banks needs to take on that hit.

    the bottom line cant be priority #1 just because capitalism makes it so. Our society will advance past that notion, whether it happens later rather than sooner. people before profits isnt just hippy propaganda.

  47. “In Canada, that means anyone earning more than about $170,000 in 2007 (not counting capital gains), versus about $400,000 in the U.S.”

    Not including capital gains makes these statistics absolutely meaningless. The truly wealthy make their money from capital gains, which are taxed at a lower rate than other forms of income. That’s unfair and it’s a perfectly legitimate reason to protest.  

  48. I must say, these comments really impress me overall, such public intelligence is rare on other media websites. 

    With regard to the author’s suggestion that envy is a major motivator behind these protests; I have to agree that I do envy the super-rich, but not for their material standard of living. I envy them for their much higher levels of political access and capability to shape the public discourse. These are among the things which I firmly believe we must strive to distribute as equally as possible among all citizens in order to realize the true potential of a democratic society, yet I see the situation becoming fundamentally more unequal in this country, thanks to the active manipulation of the elite AND the passive ballot-box condoning  of the middle-class majority.

    I tacitly support the Occupy movement, though I have to acknowledge some of the criticisms leveled at it, particularly here in Canada where it is true we have not seen a fraction of the economic hardship unfolding to the South. Still, I have to ask myself whether these protesters would be better off targeting the ranks of the average middle class Canadians to which most of them, and myself, belong.

    I’m with thirdway below. Over the last half-century, Capitalism has arguably produced the best living conditions for the greatest proportion of society since the beginning of civilization. Half a century is a very short period of time though, and there are good reasons to suspect that the system as we know it will fail us all. Furthermore, the intractable imperative to increase economic production exponentially, forever, that seems to be built into capitalism is fundamentally at odds with physical and biological reality. We should not use the tremendous benefits of capitalism as an excuse for ignoring its ills. 

  49. Just saw the photo MacLeans chose for the cover of the magazine this month, which features the above op-ed. Talk about a) Not having a clue, or b) Fox News in print.  “Make the #&*%@$ rich pay!” Is that what this movement is about? http://www.occupyvancouver.com/assets/uploads/david_suzuki_oct_23_1415.pdf Here is Dr. David Suzuki’s speech to Occupy Vancouver on October 23rd, which is his opinion, but which pretty much sums up many of the issues for Canadians.

  50. It isn’t about envy, or inequality, it is about control of our government and economy by bankers. It is absolutely crazy to see something that is obviously flawed and just say “well it has been working okay.” Our country could be way more prosperous. People aren’t upset because they are jealous they can’t afford a Porsche, they are pissed because our country is controlled by bankers. 

  51. Coyne’s article must be the first in history to argue for government intervention to lessen equality and post empirical evidence of a Laffer curve effect.

  52. I never thought the “occupy” protests were about the “rich”.  I saw them as people getting fed up with the way companys and individuals are allowed, through laws, to incur economic hardship on others through:  GREED.

    So I think Andrew Coyne, you have it all wrong.

  53. No, the single mother doesn’t want a yacht but if the person that owns the yacht that owns the corporation that owns the chain of retail outlets, fast food restaurant or hotels takes a little bit of a salary/benefit cut and increases her wage by $1 or 2, then maybe she can afford the basketball.
    If the superstars didn’t demand so much, maybe the price of a movie or a sports event or a concert might be within her reach.

  54. “The sight of the near-rich casting covetous eyes at the rich—all in the
    name of denouncing “greed”—is, you’ll forgive me, a bit rich.”

    Earning 60k a year is not exactly “near-rich”.  What has this author been smoking?

  55. Andrew’s number bumbling misses the point entirely. The “99%” is obviously meant symbolically, not as some mathematical division between people. For a better idea of what the movement is about read Matt Taibi’s article in the Rolling Stone: http://m.rollingstone.com/entry/view/id/18620/pn/all/p/0/?KSID=ee2c761be21a8b13d82db271819754bc&ints_viewed=1

  56. So, we are not as stratified as the US and many Third World countries.  Does that make the movement irrelevant?  The fact is that Canada, like the US nearby, has been getting more and more unequal, so we are on our way.
    What the protesters should really concentrate on is the role of government in keeping a relative equality of wealth in the country.  In effect, as Ralston Saul wrote, the government is there to represent collective interest of the state.  Yet the Harper group is pleading a fragile economic situation and in its name cutting corporate taxation by $6 billion and cutting services by $4 billion.
    And THAT is the kind of policy that people are suspicious of!

  57. I have to live for others and not for myself: that’s middle-class morality.
    - George Bernard Shaw

    The rich cannot be rich unless a middle class feels the need to show up to work every day. Moreso if there’s a sense of struggle.

  58. After years of witnessing citizens of the world protest the G-8 and G-8 financial meetings and with the media only focusing on the confrontations that developed between the police and the citizens, we are now witnessing the citizens of the world stage their own ‘meeting’ to get their point out. Perhaps if the media had of spent some time on the reason the citizens were protesting the G-8/-20 meetings then we would now be seeing some actions on gov’t's to address the core problems with the world economies.

  59. Here is what the conservative magazine The Economist has to say about “Occupy”.  Quote “The protesters’ preoccupations vary from place to place, as do the economic data that underpin them. Education is the focus in Chile, frustration with bankers in Britain. But they do share a common demand: someone, somewhere, should do something to right the problems of global capitalism as currently constituted. One reason why these protests are so interesting is that their targets, those cheerleaders for globalisation, capitalism and free markets, tend to agree that the system needs fixing. This makes the ‘occupy’ protests, as they have come to be known in the English-speaking world, hard to argue against. 

    Andrew Coyne’s claim that “Occupy” is FAKE certainly puts him at odds with one of the most conservative media outlets in the world and, according the The Economist, even at odds with other cheerleaders for globalization, capitaism and free markets.  The Occupy protests are not simply focused on the single issue of the 1% who are so wealthy so why does Andrew try to reduce the issue to simple envy backed up by all sorts of talk about quintiles and percentiles?  The potestors have focused on positive solutions to the problems they see.  To me this suggests Andrew has simply built up a straw man that he can easily blow down and has failed to really investigate what is going on, as the economist has. 

    Andrew argues that unemploymentin Canada is ONLY 7.1 percent, but leaves out the fact that for those under 25 the unemployment rate is more like 20 to 25 percent.  Andrew argues that there isn’t a housing bubble in Canada and the banks didn’t fail or need to be bailed out, but he ignores the fact that current government policies are heading us in that direction.  Andrew finds it possible to write a long article mocking the occupy protests supposed single focus on envy, but manages to avoid the idea that it might be acceptable for wea;thy people to stop insisting taxes are too high when it is obvious to everyone that our health care system is failing because of lack of tax revenue. 

    This article is really the “cartoonish” view of the world and the occupy protests. 

    • I cannot comment on everything you are saying but I do know as someone who works in the healthcare system that it is not failing due to a ”lack of tax revenue”.  You are taking what are very complex problems that exist in the system and suggesting that if we just threw a bunch of money at it, all would be solved.  That is not true.  Allberta, where I work, spends more money per capita than any province and still has terrible problems with access issues and outcomes.

      • There are a number of problems with your arguement, but they all relate to the fact that the primary problems in the healthcare system do result from lack of appropriate funding of the system itself. 

        First, many provincial governments frequently bemoan that health care takes up such a large and increasing percentage of their operating budget and give this as an excuse to privatize healthcare.  But they fail to acknowledeg that government revenue as a percentage of GDP has been declining for about fifteen years.  So simple math tells us that even if healthcare spending remains flat as a percentage of GDP, it will represent an increasing percentage of a revenue stream that is decreasing as a percentage of GDP.  In actual fact health care spending in Canada has been declining as percentage of GDP. 

        Second, every attempt for the past two decades to restructure the health care system have been essentially conducted by accountants who treated the exercise as a cost cutting project.  This is what you get when the focus is money rather than people. 

        Third, many politicians at both the federal and provincial level claim to believe that government should play no role in anything except the rule of law and foreign affairs.  Associated with this they believe that public healthcare, as well as most other social programs simply pamper citizens and are a waste of time.  They would prefer that people in need be forced to approach charities and religious organizations for help.  So these politicians make every effort to reduce taxes and resulting government revenues such that it becomes impossible for any government to properly fund social programs and healthcare, with the result that none of these programs can possibly function properly.  Then these same politicians point to the failing systems and say, see what a waste of funds these programs are. 

        I acknowledge your point that it is senseless to simply throw money at heath care issues, but that is essentially what happens when politicians who believe there is no role for government to play in health care, are given control of the public purse.  The result is the obscene idea that health care costs must be reduced and at the same time  as taxes must be reduced for corporations and the wealthy. 

        • It is not the amount of funds that are earmarked for healthcare that cause the problems, it is how the funds are used that are problematic.
          #1)  We are grossly short of long-term facilities – nursing homes for people who need supervision (they are “bed-blockers” in the hospitals but actually don’t really require nursing care) and are sucking up a great percentage of the healthcare resources without having any real need of them.
          #2)  We are administration heavy and front-line short in the delivery of healthcare services.  We have people in multiple levels of management who go to meetings all day, day in and day out and we don’t have enough people to working to deliver personal care to people who are in need of it.
          #3)  We are fighting an epidemic of nosocomial (hospital acquired) infectious illnesses that spread like wild fire and increase morbidity and mortality and alarming rates in the system because we are expecting people to wash their hands instead of just assuming that they won’t and renovating/building hospitals to ensure that it doesn’t matter if they don’t because the hospital layout will diminish the chances of the spread of illness.
          #4)  We have people who make money off sick people deciding who should be admitted and discharged (fee for service) rather than people who are objective (on salary).
          #5)  We worry about the number of beds and push people through the system but we are greatly underfunding the community services on the other side so we have no one to refer them to for followup.
          I could go on and on about the waste I see…..

          • Yes and ALL the waste is associated with the fact that conservative minded governments are unwilling to properly fund health care.  In response to your points: #1 No funding for long term facilities.  Fancy jets and prisons are more important.  #2 Politicians in search of lower taxes have assigned cost cutting accountants to run heath care rather than care givers.  #3 Conservatives hate fact based science and would rather give tax incentives to banks and oil companies than to anyone who could solve infectious disease problems.  Let market  focused private companies suck patients dry; the deficit MUSR be reduced and taxes lowered.  #4 Conservative folks believe that ONLY the profit motive can provide efficient operations and besides, turning health care over to private companies will lower the deficit and taxes and help us get elected.  #5 Yes, more underfunding as I said to start with. 

            You are a healthcare insider, you ought to know that lack of proper funding in order to keep taxes low for corporations and the wealthy is the primary government objective. 

          • Wait a minute….healthcare is a PROVINCIAL government responsibility so it is not Harper who is cutting back funds.
            I just pointed out real, fixable problems that costs the system countless dollars and you come back with political rhetoric….how disapointing.  Don`t bother responding.  I understand your opinion.  Thanks.

  60. Does it not follow, then, that government policies should be directed at making Canada a place where choosing to remain poor is a viable option for a family?

    Making it relatively easy for a family to get by with next to no money would actually solve the problem rather than shoving it aside. A lot of very expensive other programs would no longer be needed.

  61. This Emily chick sounds nuts.

  62. Andrew – your article is fantastic. I want to put all of your words on signs all over the city. Thank you!

    • Andrew – your article is a waste of space.  Andrew wrote this article based on a single sighting of a sing that said “the 1% rules to world” 

  63. “In the long boom from 1993 to 2008, for example, median family income grew by 21.5 per cent after inflation……”

    This is not true at all. I worked as a nurse in Canada during this period, and we never had an income increase anywhere near the cost of living index alone, let alone 21% above that. Your statistics are untrue and incorrect.

    This seems more like propaganda than anything else, in the 80s BEFORE I had the income of a nurse I had a dishwasher, I am afraid nothing of my personal direct experience aligns with the information in this article. I wonder where it came from?

    • What province were you an Rn in?

  64. Andrew clearly has a very different view of “Occupy” than I do. Whereas the Seinfeld show was about “nothing,” Occupy is about “everything.” Think about it. It will become clearer in time.

  65. ” To put it in perspective, $12 billion is about what you’d get from another two percentage points on the HST.”

    And here is where the inequality bias is highlighted.  Show the disparity between the gross contributions of the “bottom” 89.9% of Canadian earners vs the “top”.  Looks like you’ve suggested the middle pay for it again huh.

    BTW – where are your stats coming from???


  66. Our banks did not get overextended, did not
    > have to be bailed out, and are lending, again
    > unlike the U.S. banks, at a good clip

    Umm… what? Canada provided $75 Billion to bail out our banks and credit companies. The U.S. provided an additional $111 Billion to those same Canadian financial institutions, making for a total $186 Billion bailout for CANADIAN banks.

    http://www.wellingtonfund.com/blog/2010/12/02/canadian-bank-bailout-total-touches-186-billion/#axzz1bzM241Bw 

  67.  See CTV News Channel interview about Occupy Canada protests across Canada, at:http://watch.ctv.ca/news/#clip550361 and see Action Alert to support key corporate responsibility and bank accountability measures at:http://dwatch.ca/camp/actcorpsystem.html and see article about the measures at:http://dwatch.ca/camp/OpEdOct1311.html and see more news at:http://www.facebook.com/DemocracyWatch or http://dwatch.ca/news.htm
    Hope this helps,
    Duff Conacher, Founding Director of Democracy Watch
    Organizer of the http://CoffeeParty.ca

  68. This is nonsense.  Most of the rich were handed their money by mommy and daddy.  Most of the remainder scammed and speculated, cheating and taking advantage of honest people.  They did not work for it.    Businessboys today deny they have any obligation to the community.  If they can screw someone else out of money they think that is ok.  We need to start rewarding effort and work.  wall street activity is gambling, speculation and parasitism.  The wall street hedge fund boys and so called investment salesboy trash have not contributed a thing to our world.  They skim and scam from everyone elses efforts.  There is no reason to reward these clowns for gambling with other people’s money just as there is no reason for the trust fund brats to be supported their entire life with producing anything just because of who their grandmother had sex with.

  69. Occupy Wall street is not about the exorbitant salaries of corporate executives, the lack of affordable housing for Americans, or the quality of life or unemployment figures in Canada.  The movement aims to unite the “99%” to fight back against the corruption that corporations bring to democracy that is prevalent in the US and increasingly in Canada.  Big money is dictating what laws gets passed related to finance, the environment, agriculture, etc, and this is what people are upset about.  These laws then benefit these corporations, thus growing their influence on democracy.  The 99% want their voice back, be it in Parliament or in Washington, in Canada or elsewhere on the planet.  

  70. The Occupy Winnipeg people said they are protesting against corporate greed, but when a homeless man came by to fill up at their food tent, they locked up the tent and set a guard to watch it. Greed of another kind, I guess.  Whatever happened to food co-ops and offering a helping hand?  True social change comes from the ground up, but just not from the downtown public park grounds occupied by the Occupiers.

  71. “that means anyone earning more than about $170,000 in 2007 (not counting capital gains), versus about $400,000 in the U.S”"not counting capital gains” 
    read as: “every income stat and percentage in this article is useless”
    How can you claim to write a legitimate article about the differences in wealth between the top 1% and the bottom 99% and not count capital gains?  Considering the wealthiest people make such a high portion of their income from capital gains.  It seems the only reason would be to mislead the reader since I know Andrew Coyne has enough sense to know that not including capital gains is not telling the whole truth.

    • There are a lot of untruths in his article.
      Look at “Barretw16″ ‘s comments.

  72. Our Banks did get Bailed out & you know that ,Andrew.
    Just call it a “transaction” ,but taxpayers money was traded for high risk mortgages that the banks held & now CMHC administers rather than the banks.
    Banking, smoke and mirrors – Winnipeg Free Press

    http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/columnists/banking-smoke-and-mirrors-96958474.html

    Special investigation: How high-risk mortgages crept north – The
    Globe and Mail

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/article727831.ece

    Mortgages and Harper’s ‘pre-emptive’ bank bailout : The Ryerson Free
    Press

    http://ryersonfreepress.ca/site/archives/1886

  73. It is hard to tell if Andrew Coyne is advocating for the super rich or the super poor in this article. No wonder he thinks there is no class warfare, but try telling that to the homeless super poor, the unemployed poor, and the working poor. It is easy to take the position he does when he has  financial security from good paying jobs, a comfortable home, plenty to eat, and disposable income to do with what he will. But take all that away from him through a series of unfortunate events beyond his control, and I bet he would change his tune pretty fast. 

    Canada’s Christian fundamentalist Prime Minister tells millions of poor no need to protest
    http://chainthedogma.blogspot.com/2011/10/canadas-christian-fundamentalist-prime.html

    A modest proposal to end homelessness in Canada
    http://chainthedogma.blogspot.com/2011/10/modest-proposal-to-end-homelessness-in.html

    Asbestos, Abortion and the Canadian Prime Minister’s cats
    http://chainthedogma.blogspot.com/2011/10/asbestos-abortion-and-canadian-prime.html

  74. This assumes “we are the 99%” refers to income shares. But I have read that it originally referred to the percentage of assets in the USA owned by the top 1% as a percentage of wealth, not of income. Coyne’s point about ending poverty is quite valid. But what are the Canadian stats on inequality of wealth, and is it increasing?

  75. Ya, Coyn. The biggest reactionary, hack there is – all of the following arguments are false. The funny thing – or sick thing – is that Coyn knows it himself, but he’s happy to just make things up for himself.

    1. “Canada did not have a housing bubble”
    2. “Our banks did not get overextended, did not have to be bailed out, and are lending”
    3. “Unemployment is not rising in Canada”
    4. ” Ditto for poverty: even when measured against a moving target like Statistics Canada’s low income cut-off, it is just off its 40-year low, at 9.6 per cent, from a peak of 15 per cent in the mid 1990s.”
    5.  “Ditto for poverty: even when measured against a moving target like Statistics Canada’s low income cut-off, it is just off its 40-year low, at 9.6 per cent, from a peak of 15 per cent in the mid 1990s.”
    6. “It turns out it isn’t the top 20 per cent of the population whose share of the income pie has grown. It’s all in the top one per cent: the bottom 19 per cent of the top 20 per cent, that is those in the 81st through 99th percentiles, have seen no increase in their share.”

  76. The writer of this article asks a rhetorical question:  “Could it be, in other words, that what is behind all this is what we all profess to want: meritocracy?”  I for one can see very little “merit” in a bankers who have ruined the world’s economy.  If this is “merit,” you can keep it–or give the bankers what they really merit.  Remember Milton’s Satan, “by merit raised / To that bad eminence” (Paradise Lost, 2.5-6).

  77. Coyne (is that his real name or a Mammonist pun?) writes: “It’s worth noting that to be in the top 10 per cent of earners in Canada you only have to make about $65,000 or so.”  This statistic does not tally with the calculator that Macleans itself provides to “rank your income.”  According to the calculator, a salary of 75k would place you in the top 14%, so either the calculator or Coyne (or both) must be wrong.  That evasive “or so” (written in the ink of the cuttle fish) does not inspire much confidence.

  78. I would hardly say a “phony” class war.  Ten percent of Canadians own 41% of wealth.  That leaves 90% owning 59%.  Hardly balanced and equitable!  The social network is being reduced and or eliminated in many areas.  The Federal government gives away far more money to corporations or other wealthy individuals and groups than it does to individuals who work. People who work are subject to a rigid system of taxation and collection while the rich have a broad range of options to avoid, offset or evade taxes. It has withdrawn ongoing financial support for transit systems in big cities and ongoing maintenance/replacement for other infrastructure needs.  University education is out of reach for the children of many low-to-moderate income families.  Accessing funding is difficult because the information is sheltered from those who need it the most.  Yes, we are not as bad as the US (yet), but there are certainly many areas where Canada should be doing more to improve the standard of living for working Canadians, natives, immigrants, etc.

    • “Accessing funding is difficult because the information is sheltered from those who need it the most. ”

      See, this makes me think we are worse off than the US! At least in the US, you know you are screwed. Up here, we like to say we aren’t but really, anyone trying to get social supports or navigate such systems quickly realizes that it is not so. I’d rather be flat out told that there is no help than get stuck in a loop of bureaucracy that is more crazy-making than Graham James, or the RCMP, or our rampantly incompetent health-care system.

  79. perhaps if the welfare leaches would stop suckling at the teet and get jobs then the rest of us who have worked since we were in our teens and carefully stored money in investments and savings would actually come out ahead since we wouldn’t have a huge percent of our taxable income going toward the welfare sect – it could then be redirected to haelthcare or education.

    • I worked since my teens. Went to University. Got a great job. Now I feel like a crab in a bucket.

      You are correct that healthcare needs reform but I highly doubt it needs more money thrown at it. Incompetent doctors get paid regardless of the job they do. How is giving them MORE money helpful? Same with teachers. I would say those institutions (education/health care) need to be held accountable. The last thing they need is more money/power.

      There is no welfare in Alberta. I don’t know about other provinces. You might want to do some research into the leeches you talk about before making such ignorant claims.

  80. We may have not had a recession to the extent of the US, but our politicians are still corrupt! Harper continues to lie about where he’s putting his money, and the lower class is still not getting what they need. The Aboriginal population still only makes up roughly 3% of the population, while their suicide rates are 10 times more than the rest of the country. They also take up 20% of the space in federal prisons. A lot of reserves can’t even drink their tap water and in response to the H1N1 epidemic, the Harper government sent a Manitoba reserve BODY BAGS (they also sent them slop pails when they asked for running water for toilets)… Our government is despicable and we need them to take responsibility of their actions instead of lying to our country. THAT is the reason the Occupy protests have come to Canada. Harper makes over $100 000/ a year, gives billions of tax dollars to already wealthy oil rigs and but then says that we can’t afford to give more to the poor. The system is in desperate need of change. There are so many more reasons why the citizens of Canada are angry, and many of them, non-Aboriginals as well, have been treated wrongly by our government THEMSELVES. I know I have. So I’d just like to say a big FUCK YOU to Andrew Coyne for being so ignorant about issues in our country, our HOME.

  81. Andrew Coyne, defending his place in the 1% as always. It’s sickening and disgusting for this man to claim that the disappearing middle class is not a concern in Canada (hence the focus on the 1%), and that the currently constructed capitalist system is not to blame for this. This is on top of major environmental concerns like the oil sands and control of our media and democratic process by a few rich individuals and corporations. Has it ever occurred to Andrew that part of the reason people are protesting in Canada is because we don’t want it to get as bad as it has in the US before the complacent sheep started to wake up?

    Get out of your ivory tower, Andrew, and join the rest of us on the streets.

  82. Does anyone else smell the familiar stench of an old boys club?

  83. Wow. Coyne gives new meaning to the phrase “small appliances are the new opiate of the masses”. 

  84. It’s hard to argue with the excellent reasoning of this article – Coyne is spot on.

  85. It would appear to me that many of the previous contributors are asking for a bigger slice of the wealth pie.  I would say, because of the society in which we all live, that is available to anybody in Canada.  We live in a capitalist democracy (don’t know if that’s the right term, but bear with me).  This means that we all have the opportunity to work for what we deserve, and the capability to get it.  I’ve seen too many examples of people who’ve gone from poor circumstances to achieving success (whatever they deemed “success” to be) by putting in the time & energy to get it.  We have so many resources in this country to help ourselves become more successful, yet I believe most would rather say it doesn’t work; that those resources aren’t available or aren’t applicable to them – BECAUSE THAT’S THE EASY WAY OUT.  It’s always been easier to make excuses and fail, rather than commit, focus, and work hard to achieve success.  We really have things so good here but, as it’s always been, many people find it easier to complain.  Personal accountability for one’s circumstances is, once again in my opinion, at an all-time low.

    For all the people out there who are screaming “It’s Not Fair”, it’s high time they realized that LIFE IS NOT FAIR.  It was never designed to be.  But that’s not an excuse to blame others.  It’s an opportunity to take some personal accountability & make one’s life better.

  86. Coyne comment about “cartoonish understanding” is amusing as is is actually he who seems to have
    totally missed the true reason for these Occupy protests.  People are protesting the erosion of democratic governance.  We are now living in a plutocracy (a history of how the “super-rich” took power from democratic governments is laid out in the excellent documentary The Mayfair Set: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5U-sNn28dJk). 

    It does not matter what country you live in. This is a global protest.  In fact the richer the country you live in the more commendable that  you stand up for Democracy (“the worst
    form of government except all the others that have been tried – WC”).  True democracy is
    worth fighting for – perhaps Coyne will remember that on November 11th.  

    Coyne is a good writer and usually thorough so it is odd that he omits to mention the pertinent fact that Canada, in a very direct way, is
    inextricably linked to Occupy Wall Street. The protest was
    conceived by Adbusters, a Canadian organization.The article devolves further when Coyne writes “At any
    rate, it’s not clear what can be done to stop it, even if we were of a
    mind to”.  A first and very obvious step our governments can take is to restore financial market regulation. Perhaps Coyne will read more than just income statistics before tackling this subject again.  I suggest he start withToo Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System—and Themselves by A. R. Sorkin. 

  87. Its always interesting to question the ‘facts’ and systems upon which our society operates and there must be checks and balances put in place to stop public institutions from being abused for the profit of individuals. That said, do we have a Canadian problem worthy of this occupy or is it really just greed and envy from some protesters?

  88. Not sure why Mr. Coyne thinks that the top 10% of the income bracket makes up the majority of protesters.  Where is the statistic on that? And where is the coverage of the fact that there are real issues here like the fact that youth unemployment is double that of the national average, youth are straddled with more and more debt earlier on, and those who do find good jobs are forced to pay more of their earning into pension funds that their parents’ generation intentionally shorted. Instead of trying to ensure that the economic system continues to provide some kind of stability in employment for the generations now entering the world of work, the boomers are content to pillage the state, take their tax cuts and suck out every last bit of material benefit while they tell people in their twenties that they will just have to suck it up and get used to the “new reality.”  Youth are not lazy today. They actually work a lot harder for a lot less than the boomers ever had to.  Of course its a phony class-war, its actually an inter-generational conflict. The 99% slogan is just that, a slogan, not a literal economic analysis.  Since the boomers still have the demographic heft to win at the ballot box, its not like young people can come right out and point at the real issue without getting screwed over even further by the selfish generation.

  89. I think that the point was the message of the occupation. Too many people are scared and unha fnpp y. Particularly in the states but Canadians are also afraid of american corps and american politics and their effect on our economy. I don’t like the “weakness” implication. I like the request for a change rather than “taking to arms”. I like people coming together rather than indiviiduals feeling helpless and alone and going on a rampage. I like this protest compared to sooo many alternatives.

  90. This op-ed made me want to cancel my subscription.  How much more right wing can you get?  Maybe if those people in the top 1% paid the working poor decent wages,
    children wouldn’t have to come to school with empty bellies!  Why does he think so many people are slipping into poverty?  I am a teacher and see the effects of poverty on children every day and it boils my blood that single moms and families are out their trying to raise their families on minimum wage.  To me, that is what the occupy movement is all about.  And if you think Canada is immune, don’t hold your breath.  I believe it was the same issue that said that Ontario’s debt is skyrocketing and is going to take Canada down in the end.   

  91. Coyne is in essence just a vugar apologist for capitalisism and its inherent inequalities and crises.  However right wing clods sometimes make valid points; points that need to be addressed by progressives if the dominate voices for change are to be progressive and not reactionary.  I.e. dismissing MacCleans, G&M, Fox news, Pierre Paladeau, True Finns, Le Pen,Tea Party  National citzens &c, without noting where/who they resonate with their elitist lies would be as big a tradgety as the dismissal of the relevancy of Hitler by the Social Democrats in the 1920s. 

    One point made herein that I think has been neglected by occupiers and/or their supporters is that special attention ought to go first to the Bottom 10%; I.e. what ever Robin Hood can squeeze out of the multi-millonaires of the top (1%?), the bottom 10% have first claim on it. 

    Another good Coyne point is the harm inflicted on children by growing up in deprivation; this is well documented but it harms us not to be occasionally reminded of the situation. Then while on this subject, he inadvertantly makes a good point when he refers to a single mother on welfare not being interested in a yacht but instead interested in being able to afford a few “extras” for her children, items that are routine for average or higher incomes. 

    What he and all his type inevitably leave out is the fact that too many “yachts” and similar rich mans toys are produced with resources that rightly ought to go towards basketballs, field trips &c.for the welfare mothers’ kids. 

    Like many vulgar apologists he is well versed in facts, facts that coupled to half truthes support conclusions that favour his reactionary ideas.  Progressive thinkers should anticipate this and be prepared to counter such arguments, but this will not be acomplished without reading the crap we wish to counter!!

  92. Occupy Canada movement remains unscathed
    following phoney attack in MACLEAN’S
     
    By Nick Fillmore
     
    The right-wing Canadian media establishment unleashed one of its loudest barking dogs this week as MACLEAN’S Andrew Coyne tried to tear a strip off the Occupy Wall Street movement in Canada.
     
    Coyne’s cover story acknowledged that anyone living in the United States would have “good reason to be ticked” because of the wide range of serious problems in that country, but then, talking about Canada, he cited dozens of often odd statistics to attempt to show that, except for the poorest-of-the poor, things are hunky-dory here.
     
    Coyne sets up a straw man, falsely saying that the justification for the Occupy movement is based largely on the claim that the top 1 per cent is exploiting the other 99 percent. Using more stats, he claimed that, while the top 1 per cent in the U.S. in 2007 (not counting capital gains) included anyone making about $400,000, the equivalent income figure for Canadians was about $170,000.
     
    So the headline of the article contends that the Occupy movement in Canada is “A phoney class war” because we don’t have a huge number of people who earn millions of dollars every year.
     
    He is right on this point, but it hardly makes the Occupy movement “A phoney class war” – as claimed in the title.
     
    The real point of the Occupy movement missed by Coyne is that the . . . . Read More
     
     

  93. It is a mystery to me why the Tea-Partiers in the US are forming
    angry mobs to protect these incredibly rich people.  Personally I think
    it is about time the 99% movement took to the streets chanting “make the
    rich pay”.

    Coyne gets his conclusion wrong.  He says:

    Those protesting are probably in the 10%
    and they’re just envious of the 1%.  They want their fair share of the
    wealth hoarded by the wealthy.

    I think he has their motivation wrong.  I’d join the Occupy Toronto
    movement if I had the time, but I fortunately still have a job.  I am
    probably a 10%er.  But I want the rich to pay their fair share so that
    we have a better society.  The rich don’t see the really poor.  They
    arrive at work at their private helipad.  When I go to work I have to
    step over the homeless to get to my office.

    I want the poorest of society to have health care, (and in the case
    of the homeless – mental health care).  I want them to have places to
    live, and work, and food to eat.  If the rich export our jobs to India
    and China so they can save 10 cents on their product so they can get the
    gold toilet they always wanted for their private jet …. I say tax the
    bastards.

    If they would plow their money, with or with out government coercion,
    back into our economy, perhaps there would be more consumers and more
    money for consumers to buy their product.

    Taxes are the price of civilization.  Keep going in this direction
    and more than a few Wall Street bank executives may face a date with the
    guillotine.

  94. Its another Right Winger telling bold faced lies, methinks… I wondered if anyone was fool enough to vote for Harper, and maybe nobody did!! A Stolen election, stolen tax dollars by banks, its all a pack of lies.

    Quote:
    During the financial crisis, Canadian banks accessed three separate programs from both the Canadian and U.S. governments. Canadian banks received $33 billion dollars (converted to $CDN) through the U.S. Federal Reserve programs. At the same time, they also accessed $41 billion at the peak of the crisis through a nearly identical Bank of Canada loan program. Finally, they received $69 billion selling mortgages to CMHC for cash. These peaks occurred at different times.

    Link> http://www.progressive-economics.ca/2012/04/30/the-big-banks-big-secret/

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