The one per cent solution

It is estimated that 3.5 per cent of Canadian households account for 67 per cent of our wealth

It is a shame that the “Occupy” movement, which started out raising real concerns in a peaceful manner, seems to have been taken over by a less-than-desirable faction that can do nothing but detract from the credibility of the original protest. Unfortunately, that seems to be an unavoidable progression unless the legitimate protesters ostracize the hooligans and partiers — and only they can do that.

But that does not detract from the legitimacy of the protests. Numerous studies have shown that the higher up the income ladder you climb, the faster the rise of the rich.

Canada’s richest one per cent grabbed one-third of all income growth since 1987. This is due to several factors: capital gains were not taxed prior to 1971 — therefore prior to 1971 the rich obtained more to invest, and afterwards the more you had to invest, the more you gained (compounding finances); the rich do not wish to increase taxes to fund public services and social programs — and our politicians facilitate those desires; and taxes have been slashed over the past two decades, but taxes on the highest income earners have been cut far faster than those of other Canadians.

It is estimated that 3.5 per cent of Canadian households account for 67 per cent of our wealth. The working class has no chance to catch up. Hundreds of thousands of workers have been laid off or forced to reduce wages and benefits or reduced to part-time work.

Meanwhile, the rich get richer and their greed outweighs their social conscience. Governments at all levels feed this greed with massive tax breaks to corporations and wealthy backers and reductions to social programs and hidden taxes on the middle class and poor. By 2005, the richest one per cent was taxed at a lower tax rate than the poorest 10 per cent of all taxpayers.

You wonder why the protests? Where is the future for the other “99 per cent” under this system? As long as the rich shareholders and corporations are continuously given tax breaks at the expense of our social programs and infrastructure — just so a bunch of immoral politicians can get re-elected, nothing is going to change.

And if change is not initiated, I am afraid, as Gwynne Dyer states, “there’s going to be a blow-up”.

Patrick MacDonald

 

Penticton