March 31, 2014

BY Margaret H Johnson

I’ve been waiting a long time for someone from the media to agree with my observations regarding a struggling middle class as opposed to some rosy picture that only a handful of bad money managers are having trouble.

An article published in the Vancouver Sun entitled, Middle-class family income in Tory budget called ‘make believe’ talked about how the federal government’s budget each year seems to find a couple of working families with two kids, deemed to be average, who earn $120,000 per year and save $3400 a year in tax savings.

In a recent case, the woman’s earnings increased 20 per cent, and the man’s salary went up to $ 48,000 from $40,000 over the same period - also a 20 per cent increase.  However,  “… a closer look at these couples’ changing salaries shows some whopping increases, far above inflation and out of step with the workplace experience of many ordinary Canadians….. Critics agree that the family’s rising income is a complete fiction….”

Of course, there is no mention of any debt. This leaves the impression that the average middle income class family may have no debt, which is complete fiction as well. By innuendo this further creates the image that only lower income groups and out of control shoppers owe the $516 billion (as reported by the Bank of Canada) currently outstanding in consumer debt excluding mortgages.

Statistical research revealed in 2005 – 06 that the richest one-fifth of the population accounted for 44% of the annual incomes and held 69% of the accumulated wealth. The middle fifth of Canadian households only received 17% of the incomes and 8% of the wealth. Moreover, debt had risen 7 times faster than incomes since 1990.

Another unspoken issue came up this week, too. Thank you Pete McMartin for having the courage to mention that there is such a thing as an investor class and how the federal government’s investor class immigrant program produced a number of unintended consequences. Resentment is high on the list for the federal government “importing a wealthy class rather than create one…”  It has damaged the social fabric of our society and divided Metro Vancouver along financial and racial lines. It has fractured our sense of social cohesion.

The resentment towards the millionaire investor class includes ultra-expensive car dealerships, schools, luxury stores, banks, merchants and government officials who specifically target the wealthy. Although the investor immigrant program has now been terminated, it has left behind a landscape of monster houses, so big, so outrageously opulent they insult the agricultural reserve lands in which many inappropriately sit. These monuments of extreme wealth ridicule the middle and lower income Canadians and immigrants who work and pay higher taxes.

It’s time for us to get back to the real world. One that involves car payments, credit cards, husband and wife working to make ends meet. We need to focus on better incomes, affordable housing, affordable day care, affordable transportations costs, affordable colleges and universities – and getting out of debt. This is the real world for middle and lower income families.



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