Canadian Econ Stats

From the Globe and Mail: (similar patterns to US)

The earnings gap between the rich and the poor is widening in Canada, with incomes among recent immigrants showing especially dramatic declines in recent years, according to sweeping new census data.

Earnings among the richest fifth of Canadians grew 16.4 per cent between 1980 and 2005 while the poorest fifth of the population saw earnings tumble 20.6 per cent over the 25-year time period, Statistics Canada said in its 2006 census release on income and earnings. Earnings among people in the middle stagnated.

That earnings didn’t budge for middle income earners was particularly surprising, given that the economy has generally expanded over the past quarter century, said one business professor.

Of course the histories of the two countries don’t parallel exactly, but there are commonalities.

Rise in the 80s of right-wing governments (Reagan, Mulroney) that sought de-regulation, smaller government size domestically, military buildup, and trade liberalization.

90s:  Neoliberalism.  (Clinton and Chretien).   Social liberalism merged with free market neo-liberalism (NAFTA).  Deficits reduced and budget surpluses.  But at the cost of infrastructure it now becomes more and more clear.

2000s:  Return of conservative government.  Bush, Harper.   Economic policies further beneficial to the upper classes.  Reach of downscale voters through cultural issues.

Though I have to say Harper has not followed Bush in tanking the economy of Canada and sending deficits through the stratosphere.  Harper has also kept the crazier elements of his social conservative base from becoming too public (again pace Bush).  Harper has also had minority government status his entire term (as opposed to Bush who has had so since 2006) and is frankly light years ahead of Bush as a politician.  He’s also benefited from a split on the left (Liberal and NDP, particularly over Afghanistan) as well as incompetent leadership from the Liberals.

But where both stand then is at a moment when one or either party (in Canada slightly different given the existence of the NDP) if they could realistically harness a policy program to the stagnating middle class one would likely come to power that is not a return to 1970s stagflation, top heavy command and control structure.  A New Social Contract for the networked society/informational economy.

I should make clear this policy would likely be focused only on those middle rungs and be aimed at renewed growth of the middle class–a second progressive/New Deal era following upon this Second Gilded Age.

I very much doubt any government in this area will worry or pass any relatively meaningful legislation regarding the poor.  In either country frankly.

Published in: on May 1, 2008 at 7:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

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