Why the “Occupy” protests will fizzle out in Canada.
The call for the September 17, 2011 Occupation of Wall Street was started in a blog post on July 13. 2011 by the Vancouver activist group, Adbusters.
The “Occupy” movement moved to Canada on Sunday, October 16, 2011 but has little traction. Most of the protests had fizzled out as of October 18th. There is just a hand full of protesters in Toronto. The exception is Occupy Vancouver which reportedly still has hundreds of protesters in front of the Art Gallery.
It’s not difficult to figure out why the Occupy movement in Canada has little staying power. The Canadian economy is strong, with perhaps the best performance of the western countries. There have been no bank failures in Canada unlike the US. Also, there have been no financial bailouts in Canada except for the automobile industry.
The unemployment rate in Canada was last reported at 7.1 percent in September of 2011. From 1976 until 2010, Canada’s Unemployment Rate averaged 8.53 percent reaching an historical high of 13.10 percent in December of 1982 and a record low of 5.90 percent in September of 2007.
This contrasts with the US with its economy in crisis, an unemployment rate of 9.1 percent and its politicians unable to stop their partisan bickering and come to grips with a solution.
But what about the occupy group’s most recognizable goal; “the reform of an unfair economic system that breeds greater inequality between a wealthy elite and everyone else”? An examination of the facts, do not support that conclusion for Canada. Let’s examine the Gini Index for some answers.
This is a list of the Gini Indices for some countries (Lower means there is less of a difference of income for top versus low income earners.):
New Zealand 36.2
The Gini Coefficient
The Gini coefficient, invented by the Italian statistician Corado Gini, is a number between zero and one that measures the degree of inequality in the distribution of income in a given society. The coefficient would register zero (0.0 = minimum inequality) for a society in which each member received exactly the same income and it would register a coefficient of one (1.0 = maximum inequality) if one member got all the income and the rest got nothing.
In practice, coefficient values range from around 0.2 for historically equalitarian countries like Bulgaria, Hungary, the Slovak and Czech republics and Poland to over 0.6 for Central and South American countries where powerful elites dominate the economy.
The evolution of the Gini coefficient is particularly useful as it reveals trends. It shows the evolution towards greater equality in Cuba from 1953 to 1986 (0.55 to 0.22) and the growth of inequality in the USA in the last three decades during which the Gini went from 0.35 in the ’70′s to 0.40 now (and it is still rising!). Most European countries and Canada rate around 0.30, Japan and some Asian countries get around 0.35, some reach 0.40 while most African countries exceed 0.45.