Canada and other capitalist economies base success on the growth; stagnation or decline of our economy. On the left side of the spectrum, individuals say they want growth to redistribute wealth, tackle homelessness, and invest in social programs. On the right side, individuals state that a growing economy will provide the opportunity for prosperity. Yet, statistics show a growing amount of income inequality and a relatively stable level of unemployment and homelessness. In the years of 2005-09, studies show approximately 200,000 individuals across Canada experienced homelessness per year. This statistic was reinforced in 2013 when it was recorded that over 235,000 individuals experienced homelessness (Londerville & Steele). Those in the low income bracket hovered at a 9.14% average during 2007-11, ranging from 8.8% to 9.5%. Meanwhile the population of Canada is constantly growing, so even if the percentage stays the same, the number of individuals experiencing low-incomes and homelessness is growing. Growth is being diverted into the hands of the wealthy.
Individuals may argue that the middle-class has seen tremendous benefits to the growing economy in recent decades. Though middle-class families certainly benefited in some facets, there is a bit of a misconception that this economy is truly designed to help the majority of citizens. From 2009-13, family incomes increased by 10.63%, which seems incredible to the naked eye. Upon further review, inflation rates have totaled 8.04% in Canada during that same period, yielding a meager 2.59% net increase in actual value. From 2007-10, the top 10% of earners in Canada saw a rise of income from $69,000 to $80,400, and increase of 14.18 %. The top 1% went from $181,000 to a staggering $381,300 in the same period, a 42.5% growth. Meanwhile, inflation between 2007-10 increased 7.21%, yielding a 6.97% and 35.29% net growth respectively (Statistics Canada). If an individual is in the high income bracket, this economy appears to be tailor-made for you. If you fall below, however, it seems you’re merely the grease that keeps the wheels moving.
Society continues to increase costs, boost profit margins, and work towards obtaining the almighty dollar. Individuals jump at every new superhero film, iPhone, and gadget; most of which we can’t really afford. Yet advertisements lure us into buying their products one way or another. Products like the iPhone have such high prestige they can charge ludicrous amounts of money and society will bite. Various alcohols associate their brand with an endless amount of good-looking people and unforgettable memories; food chains prey on our senses. In Canada, we’ve seen an influx of North-American-based multinational corporations creep into our lives. Corporations such as P&G, Coca Cola, and General Mills have undercut small businesses because of their inability to compete. Mass production, low wages, and low taxes mixed in with trade agreements makes for an incredibly affordable bargain for the Canadian people. Yet the argument is made that they provide jobs. In hindsight, the net amount of jobs created isn’t telling the entire story. Quality of jobs created by fast food chains, retail stores, and other multinationals tend to hover around minimum wage, hardly enough for an individual to make ends meet working full time hours.
All corporations have one important thing in common: make as much money as possible. This can only occur via growth, thus drawing a parallel to our nation’s motto for constant growth of the economy. The aforementioned statement is what leads to a power-shift in our nation. Canada wants these businesses to invest in our country for taxation purposes. Furthermore these corporations want to exist in Canada and other markets because they want more money. Economies are controlled by the government but the amount of revenue generated, jobs created, and capital being circulated is desirable by powers to illicit an illusion of prosperity.
I know these are some very staggering accusations; throughout the semester I’ll be covering a number of topics individually. Considering aspects that go overlooked in everyday society, but which shape our daily lives. These articles will encompass a number of topics in the genre of issues to do with capitalism. Capitalism as a theory isn’t the problem in my eyes; greed and corruption are where the issues lie. It’s time our generation begins to question the powers that be to shape a prosperous future for all citizens, not a select few. Remember: without posing these issues and asking questions, we inhibit our ability to advance.