Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Public goods dwindle as wealth rises
Star Phoenix: 12.17.2013 by Paul Hanley

The announcement that home postal service will soon disappear comes as another warning that something is wrong with our economic model. The end of this service - long considered a basic responsibility of any government - may not be much of a problem for most of us, but will be a serious loss for the elderly or disabled.

Canada Post's announcement came alongside news of large-scale layoffs at Potash Corp, more university cutbacks, crowded public school classrooms, closures of hospital wards and the continued erosion of environmental services. The latest in a long list of environmental cutbacks saw the Department of Fisheries and Oceans dismantling one of the world's top aquatic and fisheries libraries, one of five such libraries to be eliminated due to spending cutbacks.

Established in 1973, the library held scientific records dating back to the 1880s. One scientist compared its closure and the resulting loss of intellectual property to burning the Royal Library of Alexandria.

Canada's GDP (in constant dollars) rose from $688 billion in 1980 to $1.6 trillion today. Yet as our wealth grew, public goods - commodities or services provided to all members of society without profit - dwindled. Instead of benefiting everyone, wealth is being captured by the highest income earners.

The decline of public services like mail delivery, schools, libraries and environmental protection occurs as more and more of the benefits from the liquidation of publicly-owned non-renewable resources like oil and potash are making their way into the hands of the wealthy. Canada and Saskatchewan are becoming increasingly unequal societies.

Social inequality was very high prior to the Second World War. After the war, progressive taxation and surging unionization ensured that wealth was more broadly shared. But since 1980, business-friendly economic and social policies have replaced the Keynesian welfare regime and inequality has skyrocketed. Somehow, the elites were able to convince the average person these changes were in their interest. Over subsequent decades, the gap between the richest Canadians and the rest has grown faster here than in all but one other OECD country, the United States. The richest one per cent earned 10.6 per cent of Canada's income in 2012, up sharply from 7.1 per cent in 1982. The concentration of wealth in this country is also rising: The top 20 per cent now control 70 per cent of net worth. READ MORE !

No comments: