More Profit – No Compassion

Compassion, where have you gone,
that spirit of the farmers of the prairies
and the fishermen who plied their trade on the seas,
where you gave to all who knocked on your door
sharing what you had with those who had not.

Compassion does not lie in the living room
of a five thousand square foot mansion
shared by two people who seldom see each other.
Compassion does not cruise away in a foreign car
that tells the world “I am rich”.

Compassion is caring for those who cannot care for themselves
until they are strong enough to face each day with a smile.
Compassion is sharing food from my table at my table,
not the scraps that are left by having too much,
but the best I have served on my best plates.

Compassion is seeing each other as equals,
laughing at the same jokes,
and crying at the same sorrows.
Compassion is celebrating the you I see
when I look at you and you look at me.

A new set of data came out last week from Canadians for Tax Fairness. The number of billionaires in Canada has doubled between 2010 and 2019. The top 1 % now control up to 26 % of Canada’s economy, while the poorest 50% have seen their share drop to 4.7%. In spite of these numbers, the top 1 % continue to balk and complain about taxes being too high and threaten to take their wealth off-shore where there are more lenient tax laws. Our governments continue to allow this to happen claiming that letting billionaires keep their money is good for the economy because of the trickledown effect. But there is no trickle-down effect.
And what are the 1% doing with their money and why is there no trickle down? They have multiple homes, most of them outside the country, also filled with luxury items that also come from outside the country. These houses have on average 10,000 sq.ft of space for two to four people, while workers are glad to rent a condo with 600 sq.ft. They drive vehicles that range from $100,000 to $2,000,000, most of them again manufactured outside the country. The middle class have boats; the 1% have yachts, again, made outside the country. The bottom 50% rarely travel, those of us in the middle class fly cramped up in tight spaces, while the top 1% have their own jets or fly first-class on new luxury airplanes to vacation in luxury villas and spas, again, outside the country.
Where does this extra wealth come from? The obvious answer is that we live in a global economy where the laws of supply and demand are ruthlessly applied. It is cheaper to outsource to China or Bangladesh where labor is, at best, ten dollars-a–day, and then ship it back to Canada, than to pay Canadians a decent wage of twenty dollars-an-hour. And where companies are forced by law to manufacture in Canada for the Canadian market, they are now resorting to mechanization and robotics to eliminate the high cost of labor. Whenever and wherever they can, they downsize. They maximize their profits. We middle class Canadians are not much better. We want the increased profit so we can pad our income and pensions from stocks and bonds where we have reduced taxation from capital gains and dividends from so called Canadian companies. As good paying jobs are shrinking, it takes two working class people working two or more jobs in the service industry just to make a living. Those people who are innovative and creative find work for themselves as entrepreneurs and struggle to find a niche in the market place to create a profitable business. Meanwhile the top 1% continue to skim off the cream while we middle-classers stand by and watch, happy to get what’s left.
The truth is that there is just one pie called the GDP, and the top 1% get to eat a quarter of the pie all to themselves, while 49% of us middle-classers share the rest, and the bottom 50% just get a few crumbs. In a truly compassionate society, there is a much fairer sharing of the pie. The role of government, which is supposed to be for all the people including the bottom 50%, is to make sure the pie is evenly distributed. This means collecting more taxes and placing restrictions, excise taxes, and guide-lines on outsourcing. If you want to do business and live in Canada you should be willing to pay the price. The gross revenues can then be used to see that the middle class would get a few breaks and in return pay more for their burgers and fries, which in turn, means higher wages for those in the service industries.
Thank God for the food banks and other helping organizations, but they should not have to do all our compassionate work for us. Compassion is not just taking care of the poor through donations from compassionate people. We are the government. We should demand compassion from those who govern. In this day and age where there is so much wealth to be shared and so few high quality jobs available, perhaps it is time to consider a guaranteed annual income where those who have will share the income of the nation with those who do not through a more compassionate form of government. Perhaps we should adopt the ancient custom of our indigenous brothers and sister and celebrate our abundance by giving it away each year in an annual potlatch, commonly known as income tax. When we give from the heart, we get it all back with interest. We have a safer, happier country where we share joy instead of frustration and anger.