This is, of course, a no-win blog post. Anything even remotely related to attempting to justify income inequality is like a red flag to the bulls of Pamplona.
But… just because I love taking a punch.
This is in response to new data suggesting that Alberta has become a place where the top income earners are hoarding all the income.
In many ways the Soviet Union was the most equal society in history. You had a tiny cohort at the top and everyone else scraping around at the bottom. But they were equal at the bottom. I realize that is a cliche but it remains mostly true.
Guess which province has the lowest percentage of taxfilers reporting income under $15,000 per year? Alberta.
Guess which province has the lowest percentage of taxfilers reporting income under $50,000 per year? Alberta.
Guess which province has the lowest personal tax burden? Alberta.
Of course if you live in the big city you will have to allocate more to housing and I am not suggesting for a moment there are no ‘poor’ folks in Alberta.
Guess which province spends nearly $11,000 per capita on provincial government services? Well, lots. But Alberta is one of them although it is projected to drop somewhat in the coming years. On a per capita basis in 2013-2014 Alberta will spend more on provincial government services than BC, Ontario, Quebec, NB, NS and PEI.
I guess my point is that it is true that in a Piketty sense the owners of capital and highly specialized skills do better in a boom economy (SK is facing similar issues) but if the rest of people on the income spectrum are doing better their their peers in the rest of Canada (higher incomes/lower taxes) and the government is spending as much or more on public services – it becomes pretty hard to argue we moved back to feudal England or Russia.
Percentage of taxfilers reporting income less than $15,000 per year and $50,000 per year
PS – guess which province is most ‘equal’ as measured by the lowest percentage of folks earning over over $50k per year? PEI with NB as a close second. If you look at the percentage at the top of the income scale $250k or higher, same thing. PEI and NB. New Brunswick has 28 people earning $250k out of every 10,000 taxfilers (0.28%) compared to 151 per 1,000 in Alberta (5.4 times as many).