The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett

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Our group was unsettled by the analysis and conclusions outlined in this book.  It shows that from an analysis  of many countries, that those with a more even distribution of wealth have less societal problems and so overall, the whole of society – including the more wealthy – is better off.  The challenge is how to re-balance wealth when incomes have a very wide spread.  According to the author’s research (from UN data), NZ has one of the largest wealth gaps between the poorest and richest 10% of the population. The authors suggest two options

–          Increased taxes on higher incomes

–          Compressing the income earning gap

The latter seems less feasible than the first.  The social unrest seen in UK, Greece and Spain this year reinforces the impression that all is not right with unfettered capitalism and the ‘market’ is not always right or yields outcomes of benefit to all.  A disturbingly good read which should prompt a rethink by all people especially those who are ‘religious’ and those with an ability to redress the gap.

Ian Harris 23 Nov 11

Ian Harris