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The great 'what if' promises we throw the 99 per cent

With all the attention that the Occupy Movement has drawn to income and wealth inequality (among other things), some may be surprised to find that an annual income of approximately $47,500 U.S. will put you in the top one per cent globally (check your standing here).

But with 1,210 billionaires in the world, the fact is, most people are poor and a relative few are very, very rich. This letter is to all of us in the top one per cent.

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Columnists

The growth of extreme inequality in Canada

There was always skepticism about claims that, as the rich became richer, income would "trickle down" to others. What wasn't perhaps foreseen was that the trickling would actually be in the other direction, and that it would be more of a torrent than a trickle.

But the evidence is now clear. Over the last three decades, the tables of the rich have overflowed, with barely any scraps falling off. On the contrary, there's been a massive transfer of income and wealth from Canada's middle and lower class to the rich.

The result is that Canada has become a highly unequal society.

Columnists

The deadly consequences of inequality

Last May, the OECD put out figures comparing infant mortality rates in countries around the world. Perhaps the biggest story of all the figures were those attributed to Canada. This country has always boasted of its social stats -- life expectancy, infant mortality, university graduates, and other measures of our success as a nation.

But not this time.

Richest one per cent's share of wealth at historic high

TORONTO - Canada's richest one per cent are taking more of the gains from economic growth than ever before in recorded history, says a new report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).

The Rise of Canada's Richest one per cent looks at income trends over the past 90 years and reveals the 246,000 privileged few who rank among the country's richest one per cent took almost a third (32 per cent) of all growth in incomes between 1997 and 2007.

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Columnists

We need inspired political leadership to champion greater equality

Nobody ever accused Barack Obama of having too stiff a spine.

Even so, there is something crushingly disappointing about reports last week that the U.S. president is likely to retreat from his promise to cancel George W. Bush's tax cuts for the rich.

Such a capitulation to the Republicans would concede defeat before the battle to achieve greater equality and to "spread the wealth around" is even waged. The audacity of hope seems to have turned into a readiness to choke.

Obama's promise was a modest one -- to push the top marginal tax rate from 35 per cent back up to its Clinton-era level of 39 per cent.

Tax the rich: increase employment and sustain demand

Transnational finance, the corporate media, and rightwing political parties are using high government deficits as pretexts for cuts to public employment and social programs.

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Columnists

Restoring inheritance tax could raise education revenue

Almost 40 years ago, Ottawa quietly cancelled Canada's estate tax.

Few Canadians even knew about the tax. Those who did mostly belonged to a small number of wealthy families who were rich enough to pay it. With its cancellation in 1972, this tiny crowd was suddenly a lot richer.

U of T economist John Bossons calculated that ending the tax amounted to a windfall of about $12 billion ($62 billion in today's dollars) for Canada's wealthiest families.

The removal of the estate tax, which remains an obscure event in Canadian history, had momentous implications, depriving Ottawa of revenue and putting Canada on a path toward greater inequality.

Columnists

Just 15,000 families win 'The American Dream'

Most Americans do not know it. When they hear it, many people do not believe it. Since the early 1980s, in the U.S., most income gains have gone to the top one per cent of income earners. From 2002-07, two-thirds of new income went to one per cent of Americans.

Going back further to measure the period from 1993 to 2008 and comparing, one-half of new income had gone to one per cent of Americans -- with 99 per cent of U.S. residents getting the same increase in income as the top one per cent (defined as those earning over $308,000 in 2008).

Harper's aggressive plans: Canada at G8 and G20 summits

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announces Canadas contribution to the Muskoka Initiative on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health during a working session with G8 and African Outreach leaders. Official photo.


Here is a (non-exhaustive) guide to five of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's plans at the G20 and G8 meetings. In an effort to keep it relatively short, I have added numerous links rather than expound on every issue. Use the article as an outline and then go find out more by checking the links for background and references.

A. Economic Crisis 

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Columnists

Financial elite back in the saddle

The good news is that there are still some tickets left for the Fraser Institute's 35th anniversary gala dinner next Monday night in Vancouver. The bad news is that the tickets -- including tables for 10 at $7,000 -- will probably all eventually be sold.

And that means yet more money flowing into the amply filled coffers of an organization that for 3 1/2 decades has worked tirelessly to cut taxes for the rich, undermine public health care, destroy confidence in public education and prevent Canada from joining the global climate change battle.

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