Thursday, September 11, 2014

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- The Broadbent Institute studies wealth inequality in Canada, and finds not only that the vast majority of Canada's capital resources remain concentrated in very few hands but that the disparity continues to grow:
The new Statistics Canada data show a deeply unequal Canada in which wealth is concentrated heavily in the top 10% while the bottom 10% hold more debts than assets.
  • The majority of Canadians, meanwhile, own almost no financial assets besides their pensions. The top 10% of Canadians accounted for almost half (47.9%) of all wealth in 2012.
  • In 2012, the bottom 30% of Canadians accounted for less than 1% of all wealth; the bottom 50% combined controlled less than 6%. 
  • The median net worth of the top 10% was $2,103,200 in 2012. It rose by $620,600 (41.9%) since 2005. In contrast, the median net worth of the bottom 10% was negative $5,100 in 2012, dropping more than 150% from negative $2,000 in 2005.
- Meanwhile, PressProgress highlights a new international study on the declining wage levels and job quality faced by Canadian workers over the past forty-plus years. And T.M. Scanlon summarizes how growing inequality erodes our basic social foundations.

- Harriett McLachlan offers her take on what it's like to live in poverty:
What is it like to live in a world built for people not living in poverty?

I think a person who is poor is more vulnerable or susceptible to getting hurt along the road of life, the impact of which is deeper and longer lasting than folks who are not poor. The way our society is constructed, each time a poor person gets hurt they never fully recover, they are still wounded when they are hit by the next roadblock. 

Poverty is like [a] Mack Truck coming at you, barrelling towards you, and you only have a split second to jump out of the way. As you dodge one, you see another truck barrelling towards you and if you’re not careful or unlucky you can be hit by a third and by a fourth one that was not possible to see right away. How do you strategically manoeuvre towards safety in fractions of a second? How is it even possible to sustain this ‘escaping’ behaviour over the long-term? How can a person be a productive and contributing member of society under such challenging circumstances? That’s what the world is like for me living in poverty. 
Are there any other questions that you think I should ask you?

One question I would want to answer is: if you had money, what would change? Poverty has a way of impressing upon a person their identity. So that when one comes to define themselves as poor, all the negative images associated with being poor are woven together with who you are. A person who is poor, especially in long term poverty, most likely see themselves through a lens of negativity. The lens is bleak, without life, without hope. 

I never wanted poverty to define me. I volunteered for forty years giving to others so I wouldn’t be suffocated by the heavy weight of poverty consistently upon me. A person is still a person regardless of poverty. 

Poverty is such a restricting force, like when you see old metal cars compressed by huge machines, stacks of flattened cars waiting to be towed away to a scrap yard. Poverty can be like that on a person, very crushing. There is a strength of heart that is needed to counter that or poverty will compress the life out of you. For me it is important to define who I am independent of my circumstances. That can be a very challenging thing to deal with on a day-to-day basis when the weight of poverty is especially heavy.
- Marc Lee points out that British Columbia doesn't lack the means to properly fund its public education, meaning that it's purely by choice that the Clark Libs are trying to strongarm the province's teachers into accepting low wages and unduly difficult class conditions.  And Lizanne Foster reminds us that the primary explanation for that choice is the desire to privatize education.

- PSAC notes that the Cons are trying to force federal public servants to go to work sick rather than maintaining a sound sick leave system. And the Saskatchewan NDP reveals how workers see Saskatchewan's health care system from the inside - with strong majorities of workers finding that neither managers nor the Sask Party government are listening to how to better ensure a healthy province.

- Finally, Linda McQuaig discusses the Cons' plans to boost military spending for no particular reason (other than to ensure public money isn't used for more positive purposes).

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