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[In the form of argument called reduction ad absurdum you assume the opposite of what you wish to prove, and if, reasoning from that assumption, you arrive at absurd results you have proved the original proposition. Thus if we wish to prove that our economy is organized and managed in such a way that extreme economic inequality is the inevitable outcome, we should start with the opposite proposition and proceed as follows: Our economy is organized and managed so as to promote the widespread distribution of a significant fraction—say twenty percent—of the national wealth. Given our technological sophistication and the scale of our natural resources, it would be well within our abilities, in fact quite easy, to arrive at a state where economic want and insecurity were rather exceptional. But this conclusion must be false since, in point of fact, economic want and insecurity are quite common. Therefore our economy must be organized and managed in such a way as to produce a radically unequal distribution of the national wealth. Statistics Canada confirmed this conclusion in its 1999 wealth survey which indicated that the richest half of the population owned 94 percent of the national wealth. Given the vast amount of wealth that exists, even six percent of it, if divided evenly among the poorer half of the population, would be more than sufficient to prevent poverty. Unfortunately, as with the 94 percent share of wealth held by the richer half, the 6 percent held by the poorer half is very unequally distributed. As a consequence eight percent of Canadians live in poverty, as estimated (in 2001) by the right-wing Fraser Institute. Most social agencies and poverty activists say this estimate is far too low, and claim the true figure is more like 17 percent. For a family of four living in Toronto the Fraser Institute sets the poverty line at $22,300 a year, compared to Statistics Canada’s figure of $33,658. Whatever the case, compared with our true capitalist believers to the south we’re not doing that bad. In the US the richer half of the population owns in the order of 97 percent—the US Bureau of Labour and Statistics is very reticent with this information—of the national wealth, and the poorer half 3 percent. The upshot of this radical inequality is that one-quarter of the population in the richest country in the world just gets by.]

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