Inequality hurts BC’s economy and democracy

By Dr John Peters [department of political science at Laurentian University]
Tyee – The Election Hook

You name it and you are likely to hear it in political conversations these days about the economic problems B.C. is facing in the run up to the provincial election.

But oddly, one critical problem you hear very little about is inequality. Commentators often talk about increasing inequality and some of its social problems. But they seldom link these to the vast economic problems that B.C., Canada, and all advanced industrial countries face. Even less frequently — despite months of protest by the Occupy movement around the world — do you hear about how inequality may also be our chief political problem as well.

Yet the facts are as plain as day…

Unsurprisingly such inequality brings huge economic problems. Once so much income goes to the top, and the majority of British Columbia families do not have enough money to keep economic demand going, more and more have to go into debt….

In reality, neither B.C. nor Canada’s economy can recover until the surge in inequality is reversed….

The economy cannot recover without a strategy to revive the purchasing power of Canada’s working families. This means reversing B.C.’s decades-long trend toward widening inequality, and investing in public schools, eliminating tuition fees for higher education, building more energy-saving homes, and developing efficient public transportation. It also means passing far better labour laws, increasing B.C.’s minimum wage, expanding its safety net, and protecting the environment.

Economies are not zero-sum games. They work best when everyone benefits and government does its job in keeping powerful economic interests in check. Start with fixing inequality and not only will B.C.’s economy improve, but so will its democracy.

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