Income inequality, opinions vs. facts (or, the CBC is fucking lazy)

This CBC article certainly does a good job reporting on a poll about Canadians’ views on income inequality…but utterly fails to mention whether those views actually reflect reality. Which is fine when it comes to opinion-y questions who should take responsibility or whether large corporate profits are good or bad—but telling me that most Canadians believe that income disparity is about the same as it is in Europe is totally fucking useless if your audience doesn’t in fact know if it’s true or not. Like, this isn’t some common knowledge “did humans live at the same time as dinosaurs” shit. I consider myself decently informed and I had to google to get the stats. Links in the sidebar: not good enough.

So here we go.

Surveys prior to 2011 also suggested Canadians perceived a significant and growing gap between their country’s richest and poorest citizens. But in light of the “Occupy” movement’s recent campaign to raise awareness of the vast income differences between extremely wealthy individuals (defined by Occupy protest participants as the “top 1 per cent”) and everyone else, this year’s survey asked about this particular disparity.

Two-thirds of respondents said the gap between the wealthy and everyone else is larger than it has ever been historically. Only 27 per cent said the gap remains the same, while only four per cent said the gap was now smaller.

TRUFAX: Indeed, income inequality is higher now than it even was in the ’20’s. Back in the day, our old-school robber barons of the 1% took in 17% of income growth—today, it’s 32%.

Respondents to the Canadian survey did not identify a single clear cause of this growing gap.

Roughly three-quarters (74 per cent) cited reasons such as tax breaks for the rich (18 per cent), capitalism helping the rich (14 per cent), regional or structural disparities in the economic system (10 per cent), government policies (7 per cent) and fewer middle-class jobs (six per cent.)

Only seven per cent attributed the growing gap to “basic greed and speculation.” Five per cent suggested the wealthy work harder and earn what they make.

TRUFAX: There actually isn’t a single clear cause. Some actual causes include:

Also, those 5% “the rich just work harder” people are douchebags. Objective fact.

Compared to other countries, most respondents believed the income gap in Canada was smaller (44 per cent) or roughly the same (35 per cent) as the gap in the U.S.

Respondents were most likely to see Canada as having similar income disparities as European countries (40 per cent), versus 20 per cent who thought the gap was bigger in Canada and 17 per cent who felt it was smaller in Canada in comparison with countries such as France or Germany.

Close to half of respondents (46 per cent) believed the gap was smaller in Canada than in developing countries such as China or India. One-quarter thought the income gap was bigger in Canada than in developing countries.

Well, there is a handy-dandy Wikipedia table that you can fiddle with, where you can sort countries by Gini coefficients, and the OECD also keeps track of that shit. Tl:dr; Europe is actually doing much better than us. We’re a bit better than the States but not by a hell of a lot. And inequality is a lot worse in “developing” nations. However, the gap between rich and poor is increasing worldwide.


  • While our rich are getting richer, the poor aren’t really getting poorer in absolute terms—but that might not actually matter, because as the standard of living gets higher, it slips out of reach for people in relative poverty. Like, you might keep making $1000 a month, but if rent for a halfway decent shared apartment gradually goes from $400 to $700 and you have to start renting some shithole in the boonies instead, are you really better off?
  • From the same link, the top quintile (20%) of earners take home like 40% of the income. But the bottom two quintiles (that means 40%) of earners get 20%. That’s fucked up, man.
  • This chart says the same thing, I think, but in a super confusing way..

Who’s responsible for fixing it and how they should do it are opinion things, pretty much, but if you want to reduce income inequality in Canada, taxing the rich and increasing benefits like EI and welfare can’t hurt.

As for the facty-wacty (as opposed to ethical) reasons why a more equal society is better for everyone, that’s a whole ’nother post. Later, maybe.