VIDEO: Richard Wilkinson on how economic inequality harms societies
- Written by Jay Ruskin and Hank Berger
In July 2011, Richard Wilkinson (coauthor -- with Kate Pickett -- of The Spirit Level (2009), on how societies with more equal distribution of incomes have better health, fewer social problems such as violence, drug abuse, teenage births, mental illness, obesity, and others, and are more cohesive than ones in which the gap between the rich and poor is greater) reviewed the data the book is based on in a 16-minute TED talk. -- COMMENT: In the London Review of Books, Wilkinson admitted that "we do not have evidence on the fraction of one percent who are very rich," but that "people at all other levels of the social hierarchy do better in more equal societies." -- A key question is whether the richest 1% we are all now talking about are truly misguided in their resistance to greater equality and also suffer from inequality ("Midases of the world! you have nothing to lose but your gold!"), or whether they are really benefiting from it at what Wilkinson and Pickett call "the spirit level" ("I prefer to keep all my residences even though I've lost count of them, thank you very much"). -- See here for more discussion of Wilkinson's argument....
COMMENTARY: John Updike endorses Occupy Wall Street from beyond the grave
- Written by Fran Lucientes
John Updike died in 2009, so he won't be weighing whether or not to join Occupy Writers, the list of more than 1,000 well-known writers who support Occupy Wall Street. -- But a 1992 essay written when the author of Rabbit, Run was sixty shows he would have sympathized with the movement. -- Updike's prescient essay was the keynote speech at a humanities festival in Chicago in the year Barack Obama begin teaching constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School. -- Entitled "Freedom and Equality: Two American Bluebirds," it appears in his 1999 collection More Matter: Essays and Criticism (1999). -- In it, Updike concluded that equality is more important than freedom because it is freedom's foundation. -- "An unequal society," Updike wrote, "is an angry and fearful society, and a fearful society is not a free society." -- "[A]n American degree of personal freedom can flourish only when the economic thrust is not forcing people apart." -- The concluding paragraphs of Updike's essay evoked the 1%-99% theme, and are reproduced below. ...