Ed's Reviews > The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better

The Spirit Level by Richard G. Wilkinson
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Oct 29, 09

Read in October, 2009

An extraordinary compilation of data to show how catastrophically damaging to society, inequality is. And it effects every level. Life expectancy even for rich people is lower in less equal societies. And by more equal societies we are talking about perfectly economically viable, wealthy countries like Japan and Scandinavia. Of course none of this evidence will actually be looked at by conservative proponents of extreme inequality of the market has spoken sort. What is interesting about Japan is that it is the most equal advanced economy but this is achieved without highly redistributive taxes: it is very equal in its pre-tax income because of the structure of its society, its values and the social pressure on executives not to earn loony multiples of their employees salaries. Anyway lots of interesting, sometimes counter intuitive data and an overwhelming case for greater equality that will fall I suspect on completely deaf ears: as Simon and Garfunkel sing: 'all lies and jest until a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.'This book also makes the connection between the need for greater equality because of environmental pressures: we cannot afford status arms races.
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