Columnist Konrad Yakabuski gave some historical context to the question of whether technology will mean more and better jobs in the future. He told readers (and reminded American journalists who may take up this core economic and social issue) of “a bombshell US study [that] found that almost 60 per cent of American jobs created earlier that decade were low-wage positions in the service sector.”
Yakabuski also gave this historical perspective in discussing what he writes is the somewhat mythical idea of a strong middle class in the Canadian past:
Globalization has deprived governments, businesses and workers of the near absolute control they once exerted over domestic economies. It has also enabled a lucky few to earn eye-popping (if not unseemly) incomes with the emergence of a global market for top talent. Combined with currently slow-growing salaries for the rest, the distribution of income has become more unequal in most developed countries. Restoring balance won’t be easy, as an aging population depresses consumption and economic growth, while emerging economies seek to move up the food chain by eating our lunch. But before we try to roll back the clock, as so many seem eager to do, we need to understand why we face these challenges in the first place, and why rising to them will make us all better off.
The paper came at these issues with what managing editor Cherney acknowledges are biases. “We also are very much a business paper with a business audience and mindful we are not trying to portray the rich as the enemy,” Cherney said. “We are pro competition and pro free market.”
Cherney also noted that Canadian inequality is more subtle than in America “because we have the great equalizers of education and healthcare spending” that in America are heavily influenced by localized wealth and private spending. Cherney’s point about the equalizing effects of universal education and healthcare goes to an important—and neglected—issue: the public benefits of taxes. As an important study that got almost no attention when it came out shows, taxes play a major role in the level of inequality in Canada and the US, both in how revenues are raised and how the money is spent.
American journalists would do their audiences a great service if they looked at the tremendous costs of American healthcare relative to other modern countries in terms of its effect on inequality—or most any of the other pressing issues examined in The Globe and Mail’s excellent “Wealth Paradox” series.
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