Economy hitting sour notes

Economics is, for me, a symphony of numbers, and sometimes the sounds are as foul as nails on a chalkboard. In the last 10 days, the economy and the governments who try in vain to conduct those numbers have hit some painfully sour notes.

Note 1: In Canada, the rich are getting richer

http://www.cbc.ca/consumer/story/2010/12/01/con-rich-get-richer.html

So let me get this straight. Top 3.8% of households control 67% of Canada’s wealth

If ten people (aka population) living in a common space (aka country) had $100 (aka GDP) between them, 4 of them would share $67.00 while the remaining 6 would have to live with the mere leftover $33. How long would that last? Even Adam Smith himself would expect his “invisible hand” to even up that score somehow. But because we have a structural economic wealth distribution problem, this seems to be a trend that’s only getting worst. It’s like a monopoly game gone insane. Except it’s not monopoly. It’s real life.

Note 2: In Canada, the poorest children are falling behind

http://www.canada.com/Canada+poorest+children+falling+behind+UNICEF/3919923/story.html

For this argument’s sake, imagine our country now has 100 people. It’s dinner time. The grown ups eat so much they waste food while 10% of the kids go hungry. Suddenly, I’ve lost my appetite. One in ten children in this country live in poverty. Poverty means hunger. Hunger means pain. For a country where health care and education is provided by the state, this is a despicable statistic. But it’s more than a statistic, it’s the sign of an economy that doesn’t work. It’s neither an efficient nor effective allocation of resources. Demand yes. Supply. Not so much.  It’s a failure.

Note 3: Obama plans to extend tax cuts to the rich – this one nearly blew my ear drums

http://moneywatch.bnet.com/economic-news/blog/financial-decoder/obama-tax-cuts-winners-and-losers/2895/

I don’t know what to think. Except for this. The notion that killing the tax cuts would kill prosperity. If this is prosperity, I think it’s better off dead.

We desperately need to find a new tune because the sound of poverty and structural economic inequity is deafening. And being rich at the expense of the poor is the cruelest economic model known to man – and surely, none of the people who spend their life’s work studying economics, could possibly sing that refrain. Economics is the study of unlimited wants and limited resources and finding a harmonious equilibrium.

Somehow, I think we’re off key. Way off key.

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