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Parliamentary Budget Officer exposes looters and thieves

Make the rich pay
Bradley Hughes

June 19, 2020

The richest few in Canada have gotten away with looting. They have taken the great wealth that our labour makes possible. A report from the Parliamentary Budget Officer provides new estimates for the plundering by Canada’s richest families.

The top 1600 families have nearly 6 times the combined wealth of the poorest 6 million families. The average family in the .01 % has wealth of $408 million and the average family in the bottom 40% is worth only $21,000. In other words for every dollar a family in bottom 40% has, those in the top .01% have $20,000.

The top 1% of families are worth about as much as the bottom 80%, that is 160,000 families have as much as 13 million families. So if we brought the top 1% down to the level of the rest of us, 80% of the families in this country would double their wealth.

There are 100 families with more than $1 billion. Combined they have nearly 2% of the nations wealth, but represent less than a thousandth of one percent of the population, that is .0006%. Those one hundred families control almost twice as much wealth as 40% of the population, over 6 million families.

Source: Estimating the Top Tail of the Family Wealth Distribution in Canada

To get an idea of how much $1 billion dollars really is, imagine that you were paid $1 every second. And not just while you were working, but every second of every hour in the day, 7 days a week. In that case you would make $3,600 per hour, 24/7. At that rate you would be a millionaire in less than two weeks. To be a billionaire, however, you would need to wait more than 31 years. If you were only paid for a 40 hour work week, at $1 a second, it would take 130 years to “earn” a billion dollars.

There is no way that the wealthiest families earned their wealth. The $654 billion accumulated by the richest .01% of families is wealth that the rest of us created by working for them. All our labour goes to make profits for the few. They then decide what to do with it. We workers produce all the wealth, we should control it.

The $654 billion owned by the richest .01% is more than twice the total federal government revenues for 2017 – 2018. It is the equivalent of 33 years of EI benefit payments. Or 18 years of Federal payments for healthcare. It’s also enough to cover doubling the current spending on all K- 12 public education across what is currently called Canada and pay for it all for 4 years. Or if you put it all together you could pay for all EI benefits, Federal healthcare spending and all the provinces spending on K- 12 for 5 years. That's just the top .01%, the top 1% of families own around five times as much, more than $3 trillion. That's enough to pay for all of those programs for 25 years.

As the costs mount for dealing with the pandemic and for recovery spending, all levels of government will try to get workers to pay by slashing healthcare, education and other budgets, laying off workers, and trying to lower wages. But, the money is there to increase spending without a single layoff. Make the rich pay!


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