SHOULD GOVERNMENTS REDISTRIBUTE WEALTH?

Pollster Greg Lyle of Innovative Research asked Canadian voters the following question:

Is the main role of government 1) to create opportunity so that everyone can  compete on their own to be the best they can be or 2) to redistribute wealth so that the poor and the disadvantaged have more than they would if left on their own?

Fifty-five per cent of NDP voters want the government to redistribute wealth — through the tax system and a strong safety net.

Fifty-eight per cent of first time NDP voters want the government to create equal opportunity.

Seventy per cent of all voters replied the government should create equal opportunity.

Should governments redistribute wealth through the tax system and a strong safety net?

What do you think?

21 Comments »

  1. 1

    If you compare the situation of citizens in Canada and the Us, you can see the results of more redistribution vs less. With the Family Allowance plan, Medicare, Government pensions, not to mention grants for house improvements, workers’ compensation, etc., there is not as big a gulf between the wealthy and the poor in Canada – though the gap has been widening here, as well as in the US. I am happy to see that 70% of Canadians think we should provide a strong safety net – though I’m puzzled by the NDP statistics.

  2. 2
    John Says:

    Although there’s always been a certain degree of dissatisfaction regarding abuse at both ends of the wealth scale – i.e. by both the poor and the rich. It seems at the moment, given the Occupy Movement, the above statistics, the article below etc. the greatest unhappiness rests with the rich.

    As far as redistribution goes, I suspect what some folks want is a reality check on what one or two individual’s role is actually worth within a given organization.

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/top-ceos-take-three-hours-to-make-an-average-workers-yearly-salary/article2289438/

  3. 3
    Neil McKenty Says:

    What do we say to those who contend that too much support for the poor can stifle initiative? Even in Canada we had a lot of people who opted for unemployment insurance rather than employ ment.

  4. 4

    Lyle question was wrong. It is not the role of government either to redistribute someone else’s money nor to “create opportunities” (whatever that means) for money to be made. The role of government should never be that of amateur financial advisor cum pimp cum Santa Claus. The role of government should have remained simple: collect and redistribute enough taxes to support the enforcement of laws, roads, and education. Otherwise, stay out of the lives of the people.

    Government should be our servant, not our master.

  5. 5

    I think there is a difference between “create EQUAL opportunity” and “to create opportunity so everyone can compete on their own…”

    We do a very good job here in providing medical care, education, social assistance, pensions and social programs and that is certainly a “distribution of wealth”.
    In fact, we may have gone too far already and killed motivation, hard work and pride.

  6. 6
    John Says:

    I wasn’t suggesting that we simply take from the rich and give to the poor, however, I was suggesting that a system where it takes the boss three hours to make what his/her workers will make in a year does more to “kill motivation, hard work and pride” than does the availability of social assistance.

    That kind of discrepancy simply makes it easier for those struggling to find/keep employment to simply say “to hell with it” and head to the unemployment system.

    Afterall why bother to play the game when the odds are stacked against you?

    I also agree, to a large extent, with what Lady Janus has said regarding the role of government.

  7. 7
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Neil asks:

    “Should governments redistribute wealth through the tax system and a strong safety net?”

    Yes, they should. But not to the extent that they stifle personal initiative and the rewards that come from that and hard work. That is why I have no problem with wealth or income “gaps”. As long as society provides the basic necessities to all, who cares how big the disparities are? Indeed, the richer an individual becomes, the better; the more he earns, the more he’ll be taxed which fills government coffers with revenue needed for all those safety net and wealth distribution programs!

  8. 8
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Neil writes:

    “Even in Canada we had a lot of people who opted for unemployment insurance rather than employ ment.”

    I recently saw a study reported in the media by a European country on its unemployment insurance program and when recipients would actually get a job and go off benefits. Most people got a job in the last months of the benefit period (ie, when benefits ended). Each time the government shortened the benefit period, people still waited until the last few months to get a job! So there was no incentive to get a job until the prospect of losing benefits reared its ugly head!

  9. 9
    John Says:

    Tony: “As long as society provides the basic necessities to all, who cares how big the disparities are?”

    I would say a growing number of the 99% at the other end of the disparity scale.

    Tony: “Indeed, the richer an individual becomes, the better; the more he earns, the more he’ll be taxed which fills government coffers with revenue needed for all those safety net and wealth distribution programs!”

    Tony, do you not realize that those who line up for social assistance, the ones you speak of in your very next post, hold this exact same point of view?

  10. 10

    Hi John,
    I worked all my life, never went to welfare lines & drew UIC twice as maternity benefits. I always made less money than the owners of the company or my manager for that matter. I never envied what they earned or had. I had my own set of incentives, motivation and pride. I eventually had a very successful outcome- Nothing like the figures quoted today in the news, but if I’d wanted that, I am sure I could have gotten a better education & worked harder to climb the ladder. To each his own.
    I find that there really are too many people out there making excuses and laying blame.

  11. 11
    John Says:

    Patti: “I always made less money than the owners of the company or my manager for that matter. I never envied what they earned or had. I had my own set of incentives, motivation and pride.”

    As did I Patti. We were part of the middle class – the in between class – not upper, not lower. A good work ethic was generally enough to get us there and to keep us there. Unfortunately the middle class, as you and I knew it, has for the most part disappeared and with it has gone many of the incentives that you and I once worked for. The widening gulf between the upper and lower classes has left a large number of people feeling frustrated and helpless. Many are from middle class families and struggle with the fact that the world their parents and their schooling prepared them for no longer exists.

    Patti: “I find that there really are too many people out there making excuses and laying blame.”

    That may well be Patti, but I maintain the current economic disparity leaves them little choice. In fact, it encourages them to do so.

  12. 12

    My opinion tends to what patti says, I don`t care what others make, just as long as I get a fair chance. Opportunity is always there,you just need to recognise it and move on it. Very few people can do that , and it has nothing to do with money. It`s all about a certain insight and daring.

    The main opportunity the government provides is education, the rest is a safety net, such as medicare ,pensions welfare and EI. There are always people who will abuse the system , and I`m not sure if you can ever eliminate that,short of having a nation of informers.

    A long time ago, I had this Economist, Robert Naylor as a professor, who believed the government should provide guaranteed incomes to all. But,from what i`ve gleaned about different countries, any sort of guarantee just breeds a class of welfare dependants, generation after generation. So , no,there must be time limits on that sort of income.

  13. 13

    Thank you gentlemen, you are right, there is a disappearing middle class as we knew it. It’s different now, but not impossible. Young people should get 2 educations-one which gives them a professional career and one that gives them a trade, or versions of both- A nurse and a waiter. They have to learn to be flexible. Was that “The Popcorn Theory”?
    We were not born into the upper middle class, at least I wan’t, and the 1st 25 years of my life I didn’t live like the middle class. I bought a modest (very) home when I was 30. My 1st beautiful new car at 35, (sigh). Now, I see young people expect all that in their 20’s, and because of credit can get it…so what’s the challenge?
    I see too many “we’re hiring” & “help wanted” signs in the windows of businesses. They all pay $10. hr. which beats welfare, and if you are young and single you can get two jobs-Maybe you have to swallow pride and know that there is something to learn in every single job!
    Another note: What a flurry of excitement about 10 CEO’s!
    RE: Robert Naylor-Was he promoting communism? Sounds like that! 🙂
    To a certain degree, we have bred two generations of welfare dependents.
    How do we correct that?
    PS: I do have empathy for kids who are struggling today, but I don’t want to give them the right to quit!

  14. 14

    Patti:

    Yes, he was a commie. He once yelled at some student for contradicting hi,this in a major amphitheatre of a room.

  15. 15
    John Says:

    Phil: “I don`t care what others make, just as long as I get a fair chance”

    What’s a fair chance Phil? A job with a decent wage? With some long-term security? An adequate benefits package? A reasonable retirement program? Is that fair? Ask the average 35 year-old if they’re getting a fair chance.

    Patti: “Now, I see young people expect all that in their 20′s, and because of credit can get it…”

    Who gives these young people the credit that allows them to live beyond their means and charges them to do so. Check that list of 10 CEOs. How many run banks?

    Patti: “I see too many “we’re hiring” & “help wanted” signs in the windows of businesses.”

    Patti, you and I worked those entry-level jobs because we knew there were better ones ahead. You take away that knowledge and all of a sudden the incentive for taking those jobs isn’t much different than taking a government hand-out.

    This is not about 10 overpaid CEOs. It’s about the 10s of 1000s of underachieving young people who as they watch the world’s financial resources fall into the hands of fewer and fewer have simply given up hope. This is not an economic crisis; it’s a crisis of the spirit.

  16. 16

    A “crisis of the spirit”. That is a very sensitive appraisal. Nice.

    It’s unfortunate that so many young people’s only role models were welfare recipients allowed to beat the system. I know of lots of them.
    I also know lots of young people who are hard working and not bitching about their lot in life.
    The difference between working an entry level job, & getting a government check, is taking responsibility, for getting up and out to work every day, a sense of accomplishment, and there it is…hope. Sitting at home playing video games and sending a CV to 100’s of ads, doesn’t beat getting out there and asking for help & a job. There are lots of job opportunities in the oil fields out west, there’s military service, and job training.
    I don’t think that demonstrating and raging against the establishment, will further their cause.

  17. 17

    John;

    By `fair chance `. I mean a meritocracy. If I get a decent education, happen to be good to great at my job-whether I work for myself or for some outfit- I should be able to get ahead. I mean that the rules,or the system should not favour a language group , or ethnic origin,or political connection. Right now , it seems that people in finance have a licence to print money,and they`ve played by those rules. We may not like the results,and those results may be doing us harm, but they`ve done nothing outside of the established system.

    This goes back to what I`ve said before-North America has lost a lot of industries, and that has taken away many chances for serious employment.

  18. 18
    John Says:

    No question Phil. The opportunities for employment are not what they once were. Back in the sixties my younger brother struggled in school eventually leaving to take a job with the local PUC. He stayed there 30 years, made a decent wage, raised a family and retired with a comfortable income. Not a chance-in-hell of that happening nowadays.

    We need to start to look at the concept of work differently.

    Patti: I simply do not share your faith in the old adage that if you “keep your head down and work hard, everything will be fine.” The facts (at least the way I see them) simply do not support it. Maybe if the gulf between the rich and poor were shrinking (but it isn’t), maybe if the income of the few were flatlining (but it isn’t).

    Patti: “I don’t think that demonstrating and raging against the establishment, will further their cause.”

    On the contrary. This was actually the most hopeful sign of 2011 for me. My greatest fear was that folks had gotten to the point of simply giving up and accepting the status quo. The protests, no matter how slim on substance etc., were for me a welcome relief.

    Although we see things differently. I do believe we share a common concern for the future of our young people and hopefully between our two points of view is a path that will allow them to enjoy the same benefits that we have had. Albeit in a different form and perhaps by a different means.

  19. 19

    John: Well said, & points well argued.
    Pat

  20. 20

    One last thought…We, (our generation) were diligent with savings, taking advantage of RSP’s, and protecting ourselves with life insurance, so this next generation should inherit a tidy sum. I inherited $11,000 from my parent’s estate, which certainly was appreciated. Actually I invested it for my kids. That was tough, I really wanted to go to the Bahamas. 🙂

  21. 21
    Jim Says:

    Whatever happened to excess profits tax.


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