Falling Behind is the title of a report by the Ontario Common Front published Aufgust 29 2012. You can download a copy of this report by googling “falling behind report Ontario”. It is also the title of a 2007 book by Robert H. Frank the larger title of which is “Falling Behind, How Rising Inequality Harms the Middle Class”. Both report and book are additions to the growing discussion of how the growing inequality leaves us all worse off. Also addition information cal be gained from excellent Podcasts available from TV Ontario’s Big Ideas. There appears to be an ever increasing agreement on the harm of inequality but less agreement on the solution. The inextricable link between Social Inclusion and Social Justice is made by this discussion. The inextricable link between declining Community and Social Capital and the risks to democarcy of increasing inequality is also made.
Archive for the ‘Equality’ Category
At a recent provincial conference I had the opportunity to listen to reporter and Author Ian Brown, author of The Boy in the Moon. What impressed me about the author was not his story about his son, about his philosophy or any specific incident or story he told. What impressed me was his honesty, his frankness, and humanity. I bought a copy of his book The Boy in the Moon and I committed to myself to read the book in its entirety. For those who want a more fuller introduction to the bookI would recommend the books and videos listed at http://www.kacl.ca/hotlistkacl.html#boy . It is not an easy book to read - it isn’t even a pleasant book to read but at the end of the book I said to myself, “This was an important book to read”.
The theme that appealed to me the most was introduced on page 3″What is the value of a life like his-”.
This is a question that I think most every one asks of someone, sometime or other.
When I got into the disability field almost 27 years ago, the first answer I got was from a certain religious person who was conducting a funeral for an individual who had been served by our Association for many years. The answer that the religious official gave was that “he” had been born, had lived and died to bring those who were attending the funeral closer to God. In addition to thinking about how udderly weak, selfish and shallow this individuals conception of “God” was, I thought that the consumer diserved more credit. Since that time I have heard many others who have said in my consumers they saw the face of God or similar signs, when all I see is “John, Sussie or who ever is in front of me.
More meaningful to me is the phrase that I have heard from others speaking of their departed loved one, ” I miss him, he meant the world to me.”
“What is the value of a life like his?” The answerr can only be answered by a specific individual. When one says “We are all equal because we are loved equally by God”, or that “We are all equal because we are all some body’s mother and loved by that mother.” I listen politely but my thoughts are elsewhere.
The principle of equality of human beings or the principle of equality of value, is not descriptive but prescriptive. What we contribute to others or what values we hold to specific others is for that specific other to determine. The principle of the equality is not about actual contribution or value but raher about how we should treat human beings. The principle of equality makes sense to me, and I beleive that it should make sense to a society that wants a better world. Richard Wilinson and Kate Pickell in The Spirit Level, Why Equality is Better for Everyone provides soem scientific data.
The goal of KACL is to ensure that all people with special needs have the opportunity to live a meaningful and satisfying lifestyle and interact as an equal in their community by providing continuing opportunities for personal growth through education, training, support, advocacy and an informed public.
Included in the goal is the desire to achieve a measure of equality for those we serve.
Equality is desirable goal that any society should strive for all -not just the disabled. The Proof:
- People in more equal societies live longer, a smaller proportion of children die in infancy and self-rated health is better.
- People in more equal societies are far less likely to experience mental illness.
- People in more equal societies are less likely to use illegal drugs.
- Children do better at school in more equal societies.
- Unequal societies are harsher, they imprison a higher proportion of people.
- Obesity is less common in more equal societies.
- There is more social mobility in more equal societies.
- Communities are more cohesive and people trust each other more in more equal societies.
- Homicide rates are lower and children experience less violence in more equal societies.
- Teenage motherhood is less common in more equal societies. Unicef measures of child well-being are better in more equal societies.
- Further economic growth will not improve our health or well-being. For a better quality of life we need greater income equality.
- More equal societies spend a higher proportion their income on overseas aid and perform better on the Global Peace Index.
- Inequality fuels status competition, individualism and consumerism. It makes it harder to gain public support for policies to reduce global warming.
The equality trust has set up to provide education with respect to the bemnefits of equaity and may be seen at http://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/
Humans come in different shapes and sizes; they come with different moral capacities, different intellectual abilities, different amounts of benevolent feelings and sensitivity to the needs of others, different abilities to communicate effectively, and different capacities to experience pleasure and pain. The principle of equality is not a description of an alleged actual equality among humans beings: it is a prescription of how we should treat humans beings. (Singer 2002, Animal Liberation).
But inequality is expanding.
Among the 24.6 million Canadian taxpayers in 2007, the richest 1% made more than $169,000 and had an average income of $404, 000. They took almost 32% of all growth in income in the fastest growing decade in this generation, 1997 to 2007 and by 2007 held 13.8 % of the income in Canada. The richest 0.1 made more than $621,000 and had an average of $1.49 million, The richest .01 made more than $1.85 million and had an average income of $3.83 million. In 1948, the top marginal tax rate was 80%, on taxable income over $250,000 which would be $2.37 million in 2010 dollars. The top rate in 2009 averaged across Canada was 42.9% above $126,264. In 2009, the financial research institute Investor Economics identifies 544,000 “high-net-worth” house controlled 67% of the total financial wealth in Canada. ( Armine Yalnizyan, The Rise of Canada’s Richest 1%, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, http://www.policyalternatives.ca/publications/reports/rise-canadas-richest-1(December 2010)
Canadian Business Special Edition Winter 2010/2011 reports that the top 100 richest hold $185.1 billion, up 70% since 1999. The top 20% hold 70% of the wealth. The writer asks the obvious question: Why hasn’t the spike in equality led to outright class warfare? The answer they give : ignorance and comfort. The population in general doesn’t realize the level of inequality that exists. And, as somewhat comfortable individual in Kenora, asks, “What’s the big deal, anyway. You can only eat so many hamburgers.”
Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett in their 2009 book The Spirit Level , Why Equality is Better for Everyone, point out that everyone is better off with equality once minimum levels of wealth have been accumulated: less health and social problems, higher self esteem, greater community trust, lower mental health problems and use of illicit drugs, less obesity, less crime less violence etc. So is there growing dismay about increasing inequality? Apparently not.
On the Saturday following the release of the House of Common’s Federal Poverty Reduction Plan Report, the Toronto Globe and mail reported on some polls that had been completed during the recent past from 2004 to 2007 (2004 Canadian Election Study, 2006 World Value Survey; Angus-Reid 2007 and Environics) indicated:
In 2004, 61 % of Canadians outside Quebec agreed that “People who don’t get ahead should blame themselves, not the system.”
In 2006, just over half of Canadians gave more value to the statement “We need larger income differences as incentives” over “Incomes should be made more equal.”
In 2007 only 34% of Canadians polled agreed that poverty is a very serious problem”, 46 % said government programs to improve conditions for the poor are “having no impact either way” and
18% per cent said programs make the problem worse.
The Kenora Association for Community Living borrowed a paragraph from an earlier report to the Provincial government as its principle statement regarding the right to equality
All people in Ontario are entitled to an equal assurance of life opportunities in a society based on fairness, shared responsibility, and personal dignity for all. Society has a responsibility for the well being of all its members. The support that society provides is not to be understood as a gift or privilege, nor as charity to the disadvantage. Rather it represents a right to which all members of society are entitled.
Yet equality is a far away goal. Perhaps a more immediate goal is the alleviation of poverty. The greater number of Canadians with disabilities are living in poverty. Too often, as identified by CACL, their income is insufficient to benefit from tax credits like the Disability Tax Credit. Canadians with disabilities are too often served by inadequate, stigmatizing and ineffective systems of income support that were never designed to provide long-term income support. The goal of most government plans is not to get people out of poverty but to assist them to live in a state of poverty
Two federal reports, The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, Subcommittee on Cities, In From the Margins: A Call to Action on Poverty, Housing and Homelessness in December 2009 and the House of Commons committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development, Federal Poverty Reduction Plan: Working in Partnership Towards Reducing Poverty in Canada (FPRP) report which recommended that government should get serious about getting rid of poverty rather than to continue to manage it.
Poverty among seniors has steadily declined from 30.4% in 1977 to a low of 4.9% in 2007 (Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, Financial Security-Low Income Persistence, Indicators of Well Being in Canada http:www4.hrsdc.gc.ca/.3ndic.1t.4r@-eng.jsp?iid=83, Reported in Page 27 of the Federal Poverty Reduction Plan).
KACL believes that such improvements have come about as a result of the introduction and expansion of federal income security programs such as Canada Pension Plan (CPP), Old Age Security (OAS) and Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) programs. While we welcome the recent addition of the Registered Disability Savings Plan we believe that this is insufficient for lifting people with Disability out of poverty.
This Association calls on all levels of government to work to immediately provide a guaranteed annual income at least equal to the levels provide by Old Age Security (OAS) and Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) ($14033 in 2010) to persons with disabilities.