The rich keep getting richer because we think they work for it. The thing is, they don’t work for their wealth that separates the wealthy from everyone else. What allows the rich to keep increasing their wealth is capital gains instead of money earned though labour. Most of us have to work to ensure we can pay rent and buy food; however, people born into wealth don’t need to work nearly as much since they can earn money from money. If we want a more equitable society where everyone needs to work to get wealthy then we need to tell people that the rich don’t need to work.
In this paper, Oscar Barrera-Rodriguez and Emmanuel Chávez examine the impact of providing information on the source of income of the top 1% earners on attitudes towards this group. Based on a randomized online survey of 2000 French respondents, they find that:
Simply presenting information about the amount of money the rich make is insufficient to change attitudes toward top earners.
Information about other aspects of income at the top, especially the sources of income (capital versus labor), does produce a shift.
Individuals most responsive to the treatments vote for left-wing candidates and have egalitarian notions of justice.
A country that loves extracting fossil fuels has begun to clean up its tax rebates for the destructive oil and gas industry. Canada spent over $15 BILLION on subsidies for the oil and gas sector in 2021 alone, which isn’t just bad it’s literally funding the destruction of the planet. Thankfully the government has figured out that destroying the land for short term profit isn’t a good idea when the industry profiting kills everything it touches.
Starting this year the Canadian government will begin the long process of cutting tax loopholes and subsidies for oil and gas, which generate billions in profits. Why fund an industry that is insanely profitable that harms people and the planet?
Burning fossil fuels is one of the main drivers of climate change, so ending public spending that supports the industry is crucial. Ending fossil fuel subsidies frees up those funds to support thingslike renewable energy and electrification. Clean energy is of paramount importance as the world is under pressure to slash greenhouse gas emissions more than 40 per cent by the end of the decade.
“Moving forward, every subsidy that the government would want to grant to the oil and gas sector would have to go through this filter — any department of the federal government, whether it’s finance, international trade, natural resources — to ensure that we do not give federal dollars to support the production of oil and gas or coal,” said Guilbeault. “This is a fundamental shift from what we’ve done in this country for decades.”
Luxury taxes can save us from climate collapse and we should start raising taxes now. You, the reader, will not have your taxes increased and nor are you likely to be impacted by a luxury tax; however, the benefits you will gain from a luxury tax are immense.
We already know that lifestyles of the rich and famous kill the environment faster than average lifestyles. It’s hard to compare the carbon footprint of the wealthy to people living in developing economies since the difference is so vast.
Researchers have concluded that the most ethical way to get to a carbon neutral economy is to tax the people what are over consuming.
Not only was the luxury tax “fairer” based on household income—affecting low-income households less and high-income households more—it also was slightly better at reducing yearly household emissions in the very short-term. The researchers note that this might be because it is more feasible to forgo luxury purchases than an essential purchase if the price increases.
While the luxury tax proved fairer in all countries studied, the researchers found that, in low-income countries, a uniform tax could also be fair. In South Africa, for example, low-income households already spend much less on fuel or heating than high-income households. Thus, a uniform carbon tax is already targeting high-income groups by design. In contrast, the luxury carbon tax is most beneficial in terms of fairness when applied to high-income countries. This tax can better account for flexible, nonessential purchases in countries like the United States, where it is difficult to avoid carbon-emitting activities like driving a car in a low-income lifestyle.
A wealth tax could be a way to not only address inequality, it’s also a way to reduce the damage done to the planet by greedy billionaires. Oxfam looked into the investments that the ultra rich hold and found that their investments alone do more damage to the planet than the entire nation of France. By introducing a wealth tax it would force the ultra wealthy to streamline their holdings and force them to think better about where they put their money. Let’s tax their obscene wealth and ban their private jets!
Researchers made the calculations by starting with a list of the 220 richest people in the world, according to the Bloomberg billionaire list from August 2022. They worked with a data provider to identify what percentage of each company was held by the billionaires andthe scope 1 and 2 emissionsof these corporations. The researchers used analysis by Bloomberg for detailed breakdowns of the sources of billionaire wealth to calculate what percentage of each company was owned by the billionaires. They excluded billionaires with less than a 10% share in a business. The research was limited because it was reliant on data that companies publish themselves, which is often not externally verified.
“Each of these billionaires would each have to circumnavigate the world almost 16m times in a private jet to create the same emissions,” the report said – adding that almost four million people would have to go vegan to offset the emissions of each of the billionaires.
Us Canadians need to live up to the stereotype that we are a nice, peaceful, and safe country. Clearly the so-called trucker protest tarnished our reputation, but in financial circles our reputation is tarnished thanks to our neglect of corporate accountability. Internationally Canada is seen as a great place to launder illegal obtained funds akin to third world tax havens. Laundering money in Canada is known as snow-washing.
Thanks to excellent research to Transparency International Canada (and more organizations) we finally know the extent of snow-washing. In order to address the problem we must first understand it. So let’s hope Canadian politicians step up to fight this corporate corruption in our government.
Although Canada has vowed to establish a publicly accessible corporate beneficial ownership registry, a database that will store details about who ultimately owns and controls millions of private companies, it won’t be operational until at least 2025.
“Open data allows journalists, civil society and other stakeholders to investigate wrongdoing,” the report says. “This is particularly important for Canada, where law enforcement and regulatory authorities have limited capacity to investigate domestic crime, let alone criminal activity beyond our borders.”
As an example, one of the report’s case studies about a Russian transnational laundromat builds on previous reporting by investigative journalists, including The Globe’s Mark MacKinnon.
For far too long, Canada has been saddled with a reputation as an international haven for financial crime. As the report rightly argues, transparency is the only antidote.