Saturday, April 11, 2015

The definition of privilege

Connor Kilpatrick is right to observe that while we should be willing to take note of privilege in many forms, we should be especially concerned with organizing to counter the grossly outsized influence of the very few at the top whose whims are typically allowed to override the common good.

But there's a handy dividing line available to assess the difference. After all, there's already been plenty of work done in sorting out who has the most influence on the U.S. political system.

On the best evidence available, any privilege associated with middle-class status or involvement in mass movement has effectively no effect on government policy. In contrast, the privilege associated with belonging to the top 10% or the organized business lobby includes the capacity to overrule anybody else in how we're governed.

To be fair, the Gilens/Page data is based on the U.S. rather than Canada. But when the Cons' key policies like corporate tax slashing, individual tax havens and income splitting focus their handouts on the top 15% here, there's little reason to think a substantially different standard applies here than in the U.S.

So it's not hard to see who's in the currently-excluded class, and who has enough privilege to warp public policy in their favour. And anybody short of the top 10% should have every incentive to change the balance between public-interest politics and elite domination in favour of the former.

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