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Class warfare is killing us

Sam Pizzigati at Alternet via Yves:

[Richard Wilkinson and Kate Picket] both work as epidemiologists. They study the health of populations, and, over recent decades, pioneering work by Wilkinson has helped reveal the most reliable foundation for good health and long life. Want to live long and prosper? Go live in a relatively equal society.

Over 200 studies since the early 1980s have now documented that people living in societies where wealth has concentrated at the top of the economic ladder live significantly shorter, less healthy lives than people who live in societies that spread their wealth more evenly.

And we’re not talking just poor folks here. All people in unequal societies do worse. Middle-income people in the United States, the world’s most unequal developed nation, have shorter lifespans than middle-income people in Japan, Sweden and a host of other more equal nations.

This same dynamic, Wilkinson and Pickett show in their new book, The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger, is operating on all our most basic yardsticks of social decency. On everything from homicides and teen pregnancies to drug addiction and levels of trust, people living in more equal nations do better — from three to 10 times better — than people in societies where treasure tilts to the top. ...

Here's a good stat:

The 32,500 souls fortunate enough to work at Wall Street banking giant Goldman Sachs will pocket an average $498,153 for their labors in 2009. Their total compensation for the year, $16.2 billion, runs $3.3 billion more than the pay that went the year before to the 207,315 teachers who staff New York state’s public schools.

So who makes the world a happier, better place? Banksters? Or teachers?

The data from epidemiologists Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett remind us that gaps like these have consequences: they translate into ever-higher levels of stress and insecurity in nearly every corner of our daily lives. This economic insecurity assaults more than just our household finances. Over time, the chronic stress it causes actually wears down our immune systems. Our epic inequality, in essence, is quite literally killing us.

Which is why abolishing health insurance companies would be a two-fer. Not only would we be clawing back the 30 cents on every dollar these guys skim, we'd be creating a world where there were fewer rich fucks. Win win, right?

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BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

Here's an interesting pre SOTU post from Jesse about the two economies, the real one and the extractive FIRE one. There's a lot of interesting stuff in it, including this:

Traditionally, running deficits is supposed to help pull economies out of recession. But today, spending money on public services is deemed “bad,” because it may be “inflationary” – that is, threatening to raise wages. Talk of cutting deficits thus is class-war talk – on behalf of the FIRE sector.

The entire thing is worth reading because it explains exactly how FIRE is using debt to extract wealth from the rest of us.

MsExPat's picture
Submitted by MsExPat on

thanks for the link. It clearly and completely unpacks the double-speak of "recovery".

Tony Wikrent's picture
Submitted by Tony Wikrent on

Economists claim their practice is a science. So, I wonder how many economists are willing to include the conclusions of "Over 200 studies since the early 1980s," on the social and health effects of income inequality in their theories of free market economics?

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

Great post!

"Here's a good stat:

The 32,500 souls fortunate enough to work at Wall Street banking giant Goldman Sachs will pocket an average $498,153 for their labors in 2009. Their total compensation for the year, $16.2 billion, runs $3.3 billion more than the pay that went the year before to the 207,315 teachers who staff New York state’s public schools.

So who makes the world a happier, better place? Banksters? Or teachers?"

Just so!