What Do You Do When 62 People Own As Much as the Poorer Half of Humanity?

It is becoming old news.

The richest 1 per cent is now wealthier than the poorest half of humanity combined. It is a story that gets repeated every year around this time as Oxfam – one of the world’s biggest poverty fighters – publishes its data on income inequality.

Despite earnest statements from the world’s leaders – everyone from the Pope to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – wealth is being sucked to the top at an alarming rate.

Is it because the rich  work so much harder than the rest of us? Not likely. Profit-shifting, tax havens, loopholes and corruption are at the base of this trend. Every year there are well-reported examples of how the wealthy use their resources and access to influence the very same politicians and policymakers who should be protecting our interests. Instead, it is  the interests of the uber-rich that are guarded as they benefit from laws, unfair taxes and economic policies.  Defenders of this practice say that the  very rich  create jobs and create prosperity.  But there is little evidence of that anywhere in the world. Increasingly the rich are making speculative investments, not productive, job-creating investments.

As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attends the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, he should commit to combatting the income equality  created by bad tax policy and corruption. The most effective first step would be to lead the international charge against tax havens. It’s estimated that $32 trillion of individuals’ wealth sits offshore, tax-free.  If tax were collected on the income that this wealth generates, an extra $200 billion would be available to governments each year.

It is estimated that there is $199Billion of Canadian money offshore. It is likely much higher. That translates into at least $8 billion of lost tax revenue each and every year. Government after government ignores the problem. And each year It seems the wealthy get more brazen in their use of the system.

According to Oxfam Canada: •

  • Five Canadians have the same wealth as the bottom 30 per cent of our population – more than 11 million people.
  • The poorest 10 per cent of Canadians only make about $2.30 more per day than they did 25 years ago.
  • The wealth of the five richest Canadians has risen by $16.9 billion since 2010, a 44 per cent increase.
  • The poorest half of Canada’s population has received just 26 per cent of the total increase in income growth.

Smart tax policy is an effective way to even things up in Canada. Help us hold our politicians to account.