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By Greater Fool (Reporter)
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Culture of envy

Friday, February 17, 2017 15:36
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“Jeez,” says Jerry, “this has been a depressing week of blogs. Maybe you should do a series on ruptured hernias. Or an analysis of fungal infections. Would be an improvement, dude.”

I get it. But we can’t spend all day talking about goofy bidding wars or balanced portfolios. Sometimes what governments are doing, plus what we’re doing to ourselves, must be dragged into the sunshine and vivisected. As we head into the second T2 budget – the nasty one, two years before an election – a debate about where the country’s headed is just.

Is taxing our few (286,000) wealthy people at 54% okay? Should everybody with a mutual fund or a rental condo pay more in capital gains? Is Hoovering the dividend income of retired people overdue? Do we need a tax on house profits? Can a country become stronger, fairer, more prosperous by increasing the tax burden? Is more government the answer to income inequality?

Seems we hit a spot where the 99% hate the 1%. Where Millennials despise Boomers. Where the houseless blame immigrants. Workers hate bosses. The surprising pro-Brexit, pro-Trump sentiment here (now morphing into pro-O’Leary) shows many people want to elect and support disruptors, blow up the status quo and dismantle elites. When the POTUS can stand in a presser and call the reporters he summoned “fake news”, then speak proven falsehoods and is cheered on by his supporters, we’re clearly on a dangerous voyage.

Edelman Canada’s a marketing outfit that polls people so it can help companies sell stuff. The result is a Trust Barometer. And the latest one’s a shocker.

Faith in business, politicians or reporters is at low tide. Populism’s on the rise, fueled in no small way by the power of social media – allowing like-minded groups of people to find each other, bypass mainstream thought, and coalesce into armies. Brexit was won through YouTube. Trump triumphed with Twitter. CNN or the New York Times, meanwhile, have been trashed and marginalized. News is now what you agree with. What you don’t, is fake.

Edelman found 61% of Canadians have lost faith in leaders. Eighty per cent think elites are out of touch. Half believe immigrants are bad. A third feel free trade is wrong. Over half (55%) said they don’t listen to news they disagree with and are 3.5 times more likely to ignore facts supporting a position they don’t support.

Trump knows all this. He can claim to have received the most electoral support “since Ronald Reagan”, call all Mexicans “rapists”, suggest Muslims are terrorists or claim there were three million illegal voters, and get away with it. In Canada our leaders know they can claim that by vacuuming a relative handful of rich everyone else will get more. It’s what people wish to think. It’s popular. So it’s fact.

As society drifts to the extremes, middle ground is being lost. No shock that “progressive conservatives” no longer exist, replaced by hard-right Cons and increasingly leftist Libs. In the US election three months ago public sentiment was split right down the middle. In Canada we have a majority government elected by a minority of voters. Common ground is uncommon. It’s as if there’s no longer any unity of purpose. About anything.

“Garth, I do not comment openly on blog sites for the sake of privacy but the observations you have been sharing recently are too important to let pass,” says a blog dog from the West. “My wife and I are among the 1% that you often reference.  For many years we have worked hard, taken risks, reinvested after-tax earnings, produced valued products, and employed many.  We have paid substantial taxes during the past decades at levels we had already considered punitive.  With the changes in tax policies at the provincial and federal level during the past two years, the incentive to reinvest has been lost.

“Canada has become a country where the fruits of our labor and investment are no longer respected.  Every action our political leaders now take, plays to an outcome that is increasingly more hostile to the values we wish to instill in our children.  I am now spending most of my time considering how to transition our business to a country where they understand the need to allow the market to reward hard work, innovation, and investment.  I would like to be allocating my focus to our production in Canada however these days it feels far less like home.  My children will not find the change easy because they don’t fully understand the relationship between incentive and risk.  If I am successful my grandchildren may thank me.

“Of all the trends you have identified Garth, the practice of envy politics through taxation policy may be the most harmful to this country.  Housing bubbles correct with great regularity, but the creation of a culture of envy will be difficult to overcome.  If the Canadian housing bubble has shown us one thing it is that momentum is not easily changed once it has taken hold of the people.”

Well, this blog won’t change anything. The die are cast.

On Sunday. What to do as the revolution comes.


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