« It’s better to have a country without rich people, like, um, I don’t know … Mali? Yeah! We should be more like Mali! »

National Post
Canada needs more exploitation, to make complaining easier
By Kelly McParland

'Fat CatYou know where the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives is coming from when you go to their web site and the first face you see is Naomi Klein, asking for donations.

“We need the CCPA to remind us that our dreams of a decent, egalitarian society are reasonable — indeed that with a little work, they are practical,” Naomi says. Which is a neat encapsulation of the core conceit of the Left: their dreams are for a decent, egalitarian society. Everyone else dreams of inequality and exploitation.

It’s good to get that background straight if you plan to read the CCPA’s latest “major report”, which indicates that “the richest 1% (of Canadians) took 32% of all growth in incomes between 1997 and 2007 — the biggest piece of action any generation of Canadians has taken.”

Sounds outrageous eh? How dare those rich people take a bigger share of income growth? Down with rich people! It’s better to have a country without rich people, like, um, I don’t know … Mali? Yeah! We should be more like Mali!

There are all sorts of fascinating facts to be gleaned from this study. For instance:

To be among the richest 1% in Canada you only have to make $169,000. That means Jack Layton , who gets $157,000 as an MP and another $54,000 as a party leader, is a stinking rich member of the exploitative capitalist elite. Add in Olivia Chow’s MP salary, and the Layton clan is just dripping in excess wealth. In fact, every one of the 308 MPs comes within a hair of being filthy rich just on the basis of their MP salaries. Add in a few thousand bucks from other sources of income (some of them did actually have gainful employment before becoming MPs), and they’re nothing but 308 grasping, self-serving fat cats, including Pat Martin, the NDP MP from Winnipeg who always has a sassy remark ready when the media comes calling. Jeez, wouldn’t you love to know what Pat has to say about the exclusive rich people’s club he’s a member of?

• I bet Naomi made at least $169,000 last year. Naomi, you capitalist dog, explain yourself.

• Canada’s richest of the rich, the top .01% of the moneyed class, start at an income of $1.85 million. The Globe, reporting on the CCPA study, referred to this group as the “super rich.” Which suggests they don’t get out much at the Globe. By most plutocratic standards, $1.85 million is peanuts. In the U.S., $1.85 million wouldn’t get you in the door of even the slightly-rich. Tiger Woods spent more than that just buying off his slutty girlfriends last year. Fuel for his boat probably cost more that $1.85 million. According to the NHL’s salary cap list, $1.85 million is what the 340th best-paid player in the NHL is making this year (and in US dollars). So Gilbert Brule, who will be 24 on Jan. 1 and has scored 35 goals in roughly two years with the Edmonton Oilers, counts as the Canadian equivalent of Bill Gates or Warren Buffett.

• Most interesting of all, the CCPA points out that Canada’s top earners are in reality just a bunch of wage slaves, like the rest of us. Rather than finance their lifestyle through stock dividends or rent (squeezed no doubt from starving families) like in the old days, they mostly just get paid well.

“In fact, the richest 0.01% rely on their jobs for almost three-quarters of their income, just like the average Canadian. The difference is their work is much more richly rewarded.”

So forgive me, but I’m having trouble spotting the unfairness and inequity in this. With only a handful of exceptions, Canada’s wealthiest people are just employees who have jobs considered important (and difficult) enough that their employer feels it’s worth paying them a lot of money. No one makes the boss pay the high wages. The recipient isn’t stealing the money, or exploiting the downtrodden for it. He/she just happens to have a talent judged to have a high monetary value. And even at that, there are relatively few of them (just 2,400 in the entire country), and they don’t really make all that much.

Which is no fun at all. You have to feel a bit sorry for the CCPA. Here they are, all set to wind themselves into a righteous rage over the rampant inequality of Canadian capitalism, and the best they can do is a bunch of bankers and hockey players who have high salaries. Dammit. Why can’t Canada be more awful, so left-wingers would have something legitimate to complain about?