EDITORIAL: Spreading wealth

The median income for Canada's top earners is almost 10 times higher than the median income for the remaining 99 per cent.

More money is being earned by fewer people.

According to Statistics Canada, 10.6 per cent of the country’s income is now earned by the top one per cent of those who filed tax returns in 2010. The median income for those top earners is almost 10 times higher than the median income for the remaining 99 per cent.

This disparity between the haves and the rest of society was the fuel for last year’s Occupy movement that spread around the world from Wall Street. It is a component of the First Nations’ Idle No More protests to reclaim their portion of Canada’s enormous wealth of natural resources, pumped and excavated from lands that once belonged to them.

The gap between rich and poor has fired protest and unrest for as long as there’s been currency. Just ask the French, who disposed their monarchy when the population could no longer afford bread because of onerous taxes.

In fact, Canada’s not doing too badly when it comes to dispersing income, ranking somewhere in the middle of the rest of the world.

According to the Gini Index, a measure of income dispersion developed by an Italian statistician and sociologist in which a coefficient of zero means everyone has exactly the same income and one means all the wealth within a country is held by one person, Canada’s coefficient is .688. That’s lower than countries like Brazil (.784), the United States (.801) and Switzerland (.803). But it’s higher than the Netherlands (.650), Belgium (.662) and Germany (.667).

The country with the most equal distribution of income in the world, according its Gini coefficient of .547, is Japan.

Of course, all those statistics are meaningless the next time you check your bank statement.

That’s the true measure of wealth distribution. Somehow, it’s never enough.

 

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