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The Spirit Level

The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger by Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson.

I don’t own this book, and I haven’t read it. I was intrigued by the above video, that I was pointed to, with its intriguing research that inequality is bad for the rich, not just for the poor. So – the book is on my “must read” list.

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5 thoughts on “The Spirit Level”

  1. I would love to live in a world where it was for each according to his needs from each according to his abilities

    But we are no longer in the Garden of Eden but in a corrupt and fallen world.

    And feature of that is that wealth inequality which is what drives it whether we like it or not.

    What we value at times is totally wrong, we chase the wrong things and so forth.

    And having great wealth is a pitfall, a temptation to indulge in the baser aspects of life without the consequences (in this world at least).

    But wealth disparity is a necessity just like in thermodynamics having regions of high energy and regions of low energy is necessary for things to happen. Homogeneous energy distribution means no work, nothing moves, nothing changes. Energy flows from regions of high density to regions of low is what makes the universe work, what makes machines work and so forth.

    Same with wealth distribution alas.

    What the Church needs to be doing is not fretting over inequality but rather teaching those who are blessed with plentiful resources the perils that come with that and to use them wisely, for the betterment of their brethren

    1. Thanks for your comment, Andrei. I am no expert in this area whatsoever, but it appears you seem to be saying that in a more equal society, such as Japan on this video clip, there is “no work, nothing moves, nothing changes”. That does not correspond with my understanding of that country. So I am not convinced that your model of thermodynamics applies. Blessings.

      1. The problem is, Fr Bosco, when you wish to cherry pick statistics to argue a political case anything goes.

        Thus if I were to argue a case for capital punishment (which I don’t wish to) I could claim that Japans method of dealing with capital cases (which seems to me to be incredibly harsh and cruel) is responsible for their homicide rate being significantly lower than ours.

        The reality is that all those graphs and charts using Japan are a snapshot in time, taken during Japans high summer whereas Japan is facing a demographic crisis – the industrial basis of its wealth is moving to Korea and China and the winter is on its way.

  2. Bosco
    This is interesting. Dr Robert Kawachi (Harvard Uni http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/faculty/ichiro-kawachi/ ) has done extensive research over a prolonged period, across national, cultural and racial divides, that shows that the single biggest determinant of quality of life and life expectancy is the degree of equality/inequality (that sentence is a hideous and gross simplification of his work, by the way). It is the one variable that mathematical models were unable to ‘eliminate’ from the scenario.

    The dilemma is that in the real world of human beings some degree of inequality is actually necessary to create motivation for most people to work harder, to innovate etc. I think the arguments generally are not about the desirability or otherwise, but rather about the extent of inequality.

    Kind regards

    1. Thanks, Robin for your comment. As I say, I have no expertise in this area, although the concepts of justice, fairness, and quality of life clearly interest me. What you write makes sense to me – there needs to be some drive to strive and some rewards for doing so (those rewards, of course, need not be either financial, nor even the promise of heavenly bliss, but could be less measurable “rewards”), but, as you say, the inequity might be significantly smaller and it would still motivate those who need such to strive. Maybe also we can encourage a culture in which those unmeasurables are more valued. Blessings.

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