People's Voice Editorial


21st century capitalism is a system with the biggest income and wealth gaps in human history. The relevant facts and figures are plentiful. In March 2018, Forbes magazine identified 2,208 global billionaires, with a collective worth of $9.1 trillion, up 18 percent since the preceding year. Currently, the world’s richest 10 per cent take up to 40 per cent of total global income, while the poorest 10 per cent earn only between 2 and 7 per cent. Nearly half of the increase in global income between 1988 and 2008 was captured by the top 5 per cent of the world’s population.

Here at home, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives reports that the country’s 100 highest paid CEOs netted an average of $10 million in 2017, or 197 times more than the average worker’s annual earnings of $50,759. This disparity continues despite what the capitalist media describes as a “tight labour market”. While bourgeois economic theory predicts this should boost wages, those extra dollars haven’t turned up on most paycheques. As the CCPA says, “immense wealth continues to circulate through the economy—it’s just not making its way into the hands of the average worker.”

In fact, the average employee will have to work full time all year to earn what a top CEO does by 11:33 a.m. on January 2. Last year’s CEO pay numbers were particularly high because six male executives grabbed retirement bonuses worth between $9-18 million each. “Variable” or bonus pay linked to a company’s stock price accounted for 77% of CEO pay, a system that rewards workforce cuts, not long-term corporate investment and economic growth.

The full social and political consequences of global inequality will emerge sooner or later. Episodes like the chaotic "yellow vest" battles in France are just the early signals of impending class struggles on a huge scale.

 (The above article is from the January 1-31, 2019, issue of People's Voice, Canada's leading socialist newspaper. Articles can be reprinted free if the source is credited. Subscription rates in Canada: $30/year, or $15 low income rate; for U.S. readers - $45 US per year; other overseas readers - $45 US or $50 CDN per year. Send to People's Voice, c/o PV Business Manager, 706 Clark Drive, Vancouver, BC, V5L 3J1.)