From the equality of rights springs identity of our highest interests; you cannot subvert your neighbor's rights without striking a dangerous blow at your own. Carl Schurz

Sunday, May 8, 2011

So How's That Neo-Liberalism Thing Workin' Out For Ya ?

For the past 30 years or so in Canada we have seen a steady succession of neo-liberal governments, each telling Canadians that we have to tighten our belts while cutting taxes and regulation on corporations. Well the evidence is in and we now know what many of us have been saying all along, neo-liberalism doesn't work for the vast majority, in fact it is destructive to them.

Late last year two studies were released showing the effects that these ruinous policies have had on the city of Toronto.

In the United Way's Vertical Poverty   we find that:
  • The number of high poverty neighbourhoods in Toronto has more than quadrupled over the last 30 years, from 30 in 1981 to 136 in 2006.
  • In 2006, almost half (46.3%) of the low-income families in Toronto were living in high-poverty neighbourhoods—up from 17.8% in 1981.
  • Scarborough has experienced a ten-fold increase in high-poverty neighbourhoods, from 4 to 40 between 1981 and 2006.

In 1981, one out of every three low-income families in the City of Toronto (34%) rented a unit in a high-rise building. By 2006, this had increased to 43%.

  • By 2006, nearly 40% of all the families in high-rise buildings in the City of Toronto were ‘poor’—up from 25% in 1981—giving proof to the idea of ‘vertical poverty’.
  • Between 1981 and 2006, family poverty in the City of Toronto rose significantly, from 13% to 21%. In actual numbers, there were nearly twice as many low-income families in 2006 as there were in 1981.

The second study was released by the University of Toronto's Cities Centre, titled Three Cities in Toronto.
While it's findings also show an increase in poverty ,they also demonstrate quite graphically that not only is the middle class disappearing but swelling the ranks of the poor.

  • The report found that the proportion of neighbourhoods — what Statistics Canada refers to as census tracts — considered to be middle income was 29 per cent in 2005, down from 66 per cent in 1970
  • The proportion of low income neighbourhoods, meanwhile, rose from 19 per cent in 1970 to 53 per cent in 2005. Low income neighbourhoods are defined as those with average individual incomes at 20 per cent of the city average or lower.
Both reports show that while these trends were evident throughout their study periods,they exploded following the social program cutting frenzy of the mid nineties.

If you think these numbers sobering, then fasten your seat belt because they are about to get a whole lot worse. Canada under Harper's rule is about to enter a new age of austerity.We are not alone in this, nations all over the planet have begun the journey down this road to a Dickensian world, which is why we see so much unrest on our TV screens. Will Canadians react as others have and take to the streets en masse?

Well we'll find out eventually, just bear in mind that our rulers are ready for this eventuality, hence the over bloated G8/G20 budgets.

Oh and I almost forgot both studies relied on the Long Form Census for much of their data.

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