Thursday, April 09, 2009
The rich as social disease
From John Carey's review (The Sunday Times, March 8, 2009) of The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better, by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett:
"What they find is that, in states and countries where there is a big gap between the incomes of rich and poor, mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse, obesity and teenage pregnancy are more common, the homicide rate is higher, life expectancy is shorter, and children’s educational performance and literacy scores are worse. The Scandinavian countries and Japan consistently come at the positive end of this spectrum. They have the smallest differences between higher and lower incomes, and the best record of psycho-social health. The countries with the widest gulf between rich and poor, and the highest incidence of most health and social problems, are Britain, America and Portugal ...
One illusion that, cheeringly, they hope to dispel is that the super-rich are some kind of asset we should all cherish, rather than, from the viewpoint of social health, the equivalent of the seven plagues of Egypt."