In the sixth episode, Linda McQuaig and Ian Thomson discuss the rising fortunes of the billionaire class amid shrinking incomes and opportunities for the vast majority before and during the pandemic.
In speaking about the impacts of billionaires on our democratic systems, McQuaig says:
“This accumulation of wealth in the hands of billionaires… It’s not just that it’s tremendously unfair, which of course it is, it’s that it gives them so much political power that they get to effectively control the world… The wealthy corporate elite now has so much power that it can effectively block any kind of collective action. And that’s exactly what they’re doing. The reason that there isn’t progress on climate change isn’t that the public is resistant. The public would actually like there to be action on climate change. It’s the immensely powerful interests in the fossil fuel industries that are single-handedly blocking that…. it’s not just unfair they have all that money; it’s detrimental to the survival of the human race… So when I talk about a wealth tax, I’m not just talking about it so we can get money from them. I’m talking about a wealth tax that will curb their political power, economic and political power. So they can’t control things and prevent us from taking the collective action we need to take.”
According to Thomson, and the most recent Oxfam International report Inequality Kills:
“Whether it’s from the climate disasters that are taking lives. Whether it’s the vaccine inequality that means that COVID-19 is taking more lives – these are deaths that could be easily prevented if we had a more equitable vaccine distribution. And people are also being pushed to the brink of extreme hunger and actually are dying of starvation. These are the sorts of real-life impacts of this extreme wealth inequality, largely in the lowest income countries, but also lower income people in all countries are suffering from. And when you take the numbers, you just see that actually people are dying every four minutes due to inequality. The numbers are so staggering that it is hard to wrap your head around what kind of suffering this is bringing about.”
About today’s guests:
Award-winning journalist and activist Linda McQuaig is also the author of best-selling books, including: Shooting the Hippo: Death by Deficit and Other Canadian Myths; It’s the Crude, Dude: War, Big Oil and the Fight for the Planet; The Trouble with Billionaires (co-authored with Neil Brooks) and most recently The Sport and Prey of Capitalists: How the Rich Are Stealing Canada’s Public Wealth. A long-time and powerful voice of dissent against economic injustice and extremes of wealth, Linda has been described as “an indispensable public intellectual” and “an irritant to Canada’s 1%” one of whom, Conrad Black, even suggested that she be “horse-Whipped”.
Ian Thomson leads Oxfam Canada’s work on government relations, corporate engagement and feminist policy influencing in Canada and internationally. Prior to joining Oxfam, he coordinated the human rights and natural resources program of a national ecumenical coalition and chaired the Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability. He is a board member of MiningWatch Canada and the Maquila Solidarity Network, and holds engineering degrees from Queen’s University and the University of Toronto.
The Courage My Friends podcast series is a co-production between The Tommy Douglas Institute (at George Brown College), rabble.ca, with the support of the Douglas Coldwell Layton Foundation.
Transcript of this episode can be accessed at georgebrown.ca/TommyDouglasInstitute or here.
Image: Linda McQuaig and Ian Thomson / Used with permission.
Music: Ang Kahora. Lynne, Bjorn. Rights Purchased
Intro Voices: Chandra Budhu (Podcast Announcer), Nayocka Allen, Nicolas Echeverri Parra,
Doreen Kajumba (Street Voices); Bob Luker (Tommy Douglas quote)
Courage My Friends Podcast Organizing Committee: Resh Budhu, Breanne Doyle (for rabble.ca), Chandra Budhu and Ashley Booth.
Produced by: Resh Budhu, Tommy Douglas Institute and Breanne Doyle, rabble.ca
Host: Resh Budhu