David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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when the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives published an ambitious report, The Rich and the Rest of Us by Armine Yalnizyan, reactions from the political right quickly followed. This was, of course, to be expected. Her research describes galloping disparities of income among Canadians from 1976, where after-tax median income of the top 10% of families was 31 times higher than that of the bottom 10%, to 2004 when it was 82 times higher. An even more dramatic case could be made by comparing wealth as well as income, including such things as real estate, stocks, and savings. Also, the report does not throw into relief the most grotesque of disparities since the top 10% of incomes includes both families earning $110,000 a year and the multimillionaires. In my naiveté I anticipated an exchange of technical debates over analytic methods, sampling strategies, data sources, and the like. Instead, the rError: Illegal entry in bfchar block in ToUnicode CMapight-wing pundits and think tanks, for the most part, accepted the findings and reacted to them by complaining that reversing the trend would require socialistic state interference with market forces. A theme running through the critical reactions was that nobody has grounds for objection to growing income disparities as long as the worst off are no worse off than they had been earlier. In fact, if the worst off are somewhat better off, the findings would, it is claimed, lend support to the “trickle down” theory endorsed by neoliberals at least since the Thatcher/Reagan era. Trickle-down assertions depend on the never proven assumption that ballooning income of the rich is a central cause of economic growth (rather than being made possible by growth, which has other origins). If there is anything to the trickle-down theory, it is nullified exactly by the sort of disparity in income the Rich and the Rest..
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