Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Inequality Kills - DDLM Pondering
"Does inequality really matter? The poor have what their grandparents would think unimaginable luxuries - TVs, telephones and washing machines. So why should it matter to them if in some unseen stratosphere the gated kleptocrats on company boards award themselves staggering sums of money? Does anyone really mind the gap?"
"However rich a country is, it will still be more dysfunctional, violent, sick and sad if the gap between social classes grows too wide. Poorer countries with fairer wealth distribution are healthier and happier than richer, more unequal nations."
"Life expectancy in rich nations correlates precisely with levels of equality. So Greece, with half the GDP per head, has longer life expectancy than the US, the richest and most unequal country with the lowest life expectancy in the developed world. The people of Harlem live shorter lives than the people of Bangladesh. When you take out the violence and drugs, two-thirds of the reason is heart disease. Is that bad diet? No, says Wilkinson, it is mainly stress, the stress of living at the bottom of the pecking order, on the lowest rung, the stress of disrespect and lack of esteem. Bad nutrition does less harm than depression."
"Wilkinson's message is that social environment can be more toxic than any pollutant. Low status and lack of control over one's life is a destroyer of human health and happiness. The wealth gap causes few to vote or participate in anything in a world of fear, conflict and hostility."
"It is not primarily five-a-day fruit and veg or obesity that need targeting, but social injustice itself."
OK go read the rest for yourself.