In this paper, I will discuss issues and ideas related to social welfare. They are found and outlined in the following articles: “Divided We Stand: Why Inequality Keeps Rising” written by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), “The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better” written by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, “The Canadian dream is well within Reach” written by Amelia Karabegovic and Charles Lammam, and “Tackling Inequality Now” written by Sherri Torjman and Ken Battle”.
I will also present my view against or for each article that is discussed. In the first article, “Divided We Stand: Why Inequality Keeps Rising”, we are presented with a negative outlook towards the future of Canada’s society. OECD informs us of a growing division between the rich and the poor that continues to widen, not only in Canada, but in many countries over the world. The OECD (2011) states that in well-off economies, “the richest 10% of the population is about nine times that of the poorest 10%” (p. ). One of the largest causes of income inequality comes from wages and salaries. Those who are classified as high income earners increase their salaries at a faster rate than those classified as low income earners. A contribution to the increase in income inequality is the technological progression. Workers who are highly skilled benefit with an increase in technology, allowing those with higher education and skill to further their income. Another is the tax and benefit systems.
The tax and benefit systems are introduced with tighter rules that do not help or favour the lowest income groups. To solve this inequality issue, OECD suggests that the best thing policy makers need to do is invest in human capital, promote employment, and create policies and tax systems that are supportive. OECD presents important points and suggestions for policy makers and governments in all countries. Though they may be hard to implement, the need for action increases as the divide between the rich and poor widens. Like the author, I agree with these principles.
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People, especially those in low income groups, need the support of the government through programs and policies. If these programs and policies were created but cannot help those who need it most, one may question why they are in place. To make them effective they may need to be changed or redistributed in a way that works. The next article, “The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better” provides readers with a distinctive view on how unequal societies create disadvantages and how these disadvantages create a greater inequality.
In a study of 33 countries, a small connection was found between income inequality and homicide rates, but no connection was found between public spending on health and education. However, Wilkinson and Pickett shed light on an important growing connection between income inequality and social dysfunction. The greater the inequality, the greater the need is for government intervention. It is easy to assume that the more unequal a society is, the more dysfunctional it may be. To make the most difference with the least well-off, greater equality is needed.
Having an unequal society not only affects those in low income groups, but affects those on all levels. Those in well-off groups have the income and ability to spend more on consumer goods, allowing them to “vote” on what is being produced. As Wilkinson and Pickett said, government intervention is needed. Because they have the power to enforce new rules and regulations, the government should be able to regulate how equal a society should be and eliminate dysfunction when able. The third article, written by Amelia Karabegovic and Charles Lammam, enlightens us with a positive future for Canada.
Their studies have found that many individuals start out in low income groups and then climb to the middle or high income groups. Low income jobs are meant to be short-term and a step towards a better paid job. Karabegovic and Lammam found that “…60% moved into a higher income group in one year, 79% did so after two, and nearly 90% after six. ” (paragraph 7). Karabegovic and Lammam write with an optimistic attitude for Canada’s future. Though they describe low income groups as “stepping stones” to higher income jobs, this is not always the case.
If greater inequality is rising, as it says in the previous articles, then those in low income groups may find it harder to find a job, or even one with a higher paying income. Yes, Canada’s dream may absolutely be attainable, but that comes after dealing with the difficult problems like poverty and inequality. This cannot be accomplished without hard work and the cooperation of all individuals. The last article, “Tackling Inequality Now” written by Sherri Torjman and Ken Battle, was published on the Caledon Institute of Social Policy website in January of 2012.
Torjman and Battle give readers a perspective to how a Canadian society is perceived today. They say the best way to start change is by recreating and reorganizing the different programs and systems that policy makers create. However, instead of moving society in a positive way, the federal government made expensive changes that moved in a negative direction. Especially during the recession and difficult economic seasons, the programs and policy choices that are meant to help failed to do so. Programs like the Working Income Tax Benefit and Employment Insurance were created to help, but did not provide support to those who needed it.
Often, those in low income groups were not qualified for the programs provided. With the Working Income Tax Benefit program, the amount invested would barely make a difference. Torjman and Battle suggest that it is important for the government to focus on bettering the Canada Child Tax Benefit and the Working Income Tax Benefit and to invest in education and work training. This article gives readers an honest insight to how the government and the public need to pay attention, improve, and change one of the main issues in society today – inequality.
As previous articles mentioned, these issues are something Canada struggles to fix. I concur with many of the points Torjman and Battle make. It seems as though the government has the money to create, continue, and improve these social welfare projects and policies, but they are not using it in an efficient manner. Torjman and Battle hypothesize and conclude that if the government invested more money in the programs that did work and benefit others, Canada would be heading down a positive road.
In conclusion, inequality has grown over the past years causing money to be spent continuously, but not always in the right places. It is easy to talk about changes and think about what can be improved, nevertheless making sure the change happens can be difficult. No one can succeed without the help of someone offering support. This idea of reaching out to each other and supporting those who need it most is what can be the start of changing inequality. Yes, the government plays a huge part in changing and shaping Canada’s society, but so do the Canadians.
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