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Title: Why social inequality persists Danny Dorling University of Sheffield Based on the book: Injustice: why social inequality persists, to be published by Policy Press in April 2010. www.shef.ac.uk/sasi


1
Why social inequality persistsDanny
DorlingUniversity of SheffieldBased on the
book Injustice why social inequality
persists,to be published by Policy Press in
April 2010. www.shef.ac.uk/sasi
  • 27th January 2010
  • Lancaster Environment Centre and
  • Royal Geographical Society Seminar
  • University of Lancaster

More than ever before we measure rates of social
inequality and draw pictures of its human
geography. Few would now dispute that we live in
an unequal and unjust world. So what causes this
inequality to persist? Within affluent nations
inequality is no longer caused by not having
enough resources to share, but by unrecognised
and unacknowledged beliefs which actually
propagate it. See Dorling (2010) for an
elaboration of these arguments and further
evidence Injustice why social inequality
persists, Policy Press, April. This talk is a
summary of that book.
2
Of all the 25 richest countries in the world, the
US and UK rank as 2nd and 4th most unequal
respectively when the annual income of the
best-off tenth of their population is compared
that of the poorest tenth. In descending order of
inequality the 1010 income ratios are 17.7
Singapore, 15.9 United States, 15.0 Portugal,
13.8 United Kingdom, 13.4 Israel, 12.5 Australia,
12.5 New Zealand, 11.6 Italy, 10.3 Spain, 10.2
Greece, 9.4 Canada, 9.4 Ireland, 9.2 Netherlands,
9.1 France, 9.0 Switzerland, 8.2 Belgium, 8.1
Denmark, 7.8 Korea (Republic of), 7.3 Slovenia,
6.9 Austria, 6.9 Germany, 6.2 Sweden, 6.1 Norway,
5.6 Finland, and 4.5 Japan.
3
The five new tenets of injustice
  • 1.Elitism is efficient
  • 2. Exclusion is necessary
  • 3. Prejudice is natural
  • 4. Greed is good
  • 5. Despair is inevitable.

In what are now the most unequal of the worlds
twenty five richest countries people have come
slowly to accept different ways of thinking.
Different presumptions about others. Different to
those held in the more equitable and average
countries. New beliefs have local flavour and
antecedents. In Britain, as the five social evils
identified by Beveridge at the dawn of the
British welfare state are gradually being
eradicated (ignorance, want, idleness, squalor
and disease), they are being replaced by five new
tenets of injustice.
4
Extent of education in Britain 1880-2013
Who we think it is fitting to educate changes
over time. When Nelson Mandela was put on trial
in 1963 he faced a possible death sentence. In
his concluding court statement he defined, as an
equality worth fighting for, the right of
children to be treated equally in education and
for them to be taught that Africans and Europeans
were equal and merited equal attention. At that
time the South African government spent twelve
times as much on educating each European child as
on each African child. Lifetime ratios between
the extremes in Britain are not dissimilar.
5
Children by ability, the Netherlands 2006
International tests are used today to label
children by supposed ability. The above graph
is derived from the OECD (2007). None implies
possessing no knowledge as far as can be
measured. Limited implies possessing very
limited knowledge. Barely stands for barely
possessing adequate knowledge in the minds of the
assessors. Simple means understanding only
simple concepts. Effective is a little less
damning. Developed is better again but only
Advanced pupils are found to be capable, it is
said, of the kind of thinking that might include
critical insight.
6
Children by ability, the elitist model
Almost no matter how the students had performed
in the OECD tests, the curves drawn above from
the results of those tests would have been bell
shaped. When calibrating the results (adjusting
the scores before release), it was assumed that
students have been sampled from a multivariate
normal distribution. OECD (2009, page 145).
These educational economists decided upon the
ability distribution of children before they
began testing them. If you do that, then, even in
the Netherlands, every seventh child is, at best,
limited.
7
Nobel Prizes illustrate bias (1901-2008)
Until 2009 only around one in twenty top prices
were awarded to women. Testing humans is almost
always to an extent disingenuous. To win a Nobel
Prize the key requirements were first to be alive
in the right century and then to be of the right
sex. Even male mainstream economists know that
Albert Einstein, Alan Turing and James Watson
were just the inventors of discoveries about to
happen. If these particular individuals had not
found them, others would have made these
discoveries instead.. Kay, J. (2004, page
258).
8
Nobel Prizes to women 1901-2008, 2009
In 2009 one glass ceiling was shattered. Over a
third of Nobel prizes were awarded to women when
usually a twentieth had been. On Monday October
the 5th 2009 Elizabeth Blackburn, Carol Greider
and Jack Szostak jointly shared the award in
medicine. On Tuesday October the 6th the Physics
prize when to Charles Kao, Willard Boyle and
George Smith. And on Wednesday October the 7th
the Chemistry prize went to Venkatraman
Ramakrishnan, Thomas Steitz and Ada Yonath. A
third of the prize winners by the third day were
women. Herta Müller was awarded the prize in
literature on October 8th, yet another, Elinor
Ostrom, shared the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in
Economics that was awarded on October 12th and
was a huge surprise. No woman had been awarded
that prize before. The unsurprising and
predicable award was to President Obama, in hope
of peace. History provides the measure of what
there is to be overcome.
9
Elitism being efficient is suggested by Economic
models designed to find that
  • the costs of trying to increase educational
    attainment by a general rise in school
    expenditure far exceed the economic benefits.

This is found in Denmark because
In full this elitist (but sadly economically
conventional claim reads) This simple
calculation shows that the estimated effect of
school expenditure on educational attainment is
very small, and it indicates that the costs of
trying to increase educational attainment by a
general rise in school expenditure far exceed the
economic benefits. This is especially so since
the returns to education in Denmark are low
compared to, for example, the US or the UK,
because of a very compressed wage structure.
Heinesen, E. and B. K. Graverseny (2005, page
126).
the returns to education in Denmark are low
compared to, for example, the US or the UK,
because of a very compressed wage structure.
!
10
Elitism is efficient if you believe in adeity
who discriminates at birth
  • with the young we should ... push them
    until the young children get the chance to make
    the most of their God given potential.
  • (Tony Blair, 2005).

The same is true if your personal religion isthe
kind of science that invokes the fictionalIQ
gene. A more convincing science finds that we
are born plastic. We inherit the ability not to
inherit ability.
If you believe that God or Genes gives differing
children differing positions at the starting
posts of education then education, education,
education is not about equality, opportunity or
outcome. It is about realising that which is
largely pre-ordained by the Lord. See Ball, S.
J. (2008, page 12 for Tony Blairs words in
full). Our genes (or the gods if you like) endow
us with what is called plasticity at birth. We
inherit the ability not to inherit ability.
11
The Brown eyed / Blue eyed test is key
Treat children differently in class bythe colour
of their eyes and watch
  • There is striking evidence that performance and
    behaviour in an educational task can be
    profoundly affected by the way we feel we are
    seen and judged by others. When we expect to
    be viewed as inferior, our abilities seem to be
    reduced. That is enough to explain away the
    results of the studies of separated identical
    twins.

See Wilkinson, R. and K. Pickett (2009, chapter
8), the work of James Flynn, and the studies of
how Afro-Caribbean boys were treated in schools
in 1968 in Britain. Combined, these explain later
measured differences in test performance. They
do so far better than the general factor
determining your so called intelligence what
eugenists called inherited intelligence or ..the
non-committal symbol of g. Wells, H. G., J.
Huxley and G. P. Wells (1931, page 822, quoting
Prof. Charles Spearman).
12
Inequality clouds judgement
  • Elitist thinking not only determines childrens
    life chances but also has an effect on everything
    that is seen as decent or acceptable in a
    society. Where elitist thinking was allowed to
    grow most strongly, social exclusion became more
    widespread again. In the UK we tolerate older
    adult benefits of only 9 a day to live on
    exclusion from society. Pauperization.

Social exclusion is the new image of injustice
that grew out of the old face, out of general
eradication of the bulk of an old social evil,
want going hungry, wanting for clothes and
other basic possessions, warmth and other
essentials. But to go back to see the origins of
the idea that the poor will always be with us
unless we control their behaviour, look back
to the worlds first ever geographical example of
a graph used to suggest in-breeding of the
unfit.
13
Geographical distribution of paupers,England and
Wales, 1891, by Karl Pearson
There is a long history to suggesting that
geographical concentrations of paupers imply
exclusion is naturally distributed. The figure
above is redrawn from the original (Pearson 1895,
Figure 17, plate 13). On the X axis paupers per
ten thousand people Y axis frequency of unions
reporting each rate. Given what we now know the
graph suggests that despite the structures of the
poor laws paupers did move out of poorer areas,
but new paupers were constantly being created.
Migration, not in-breeding segregated rich and
poor over time.
14
What it means to be poor changesHouseholds -
poor by different measures
If a family is poor by two out of three ways of
measuring poverty you can be sure they are badly
off. One sixth of households in Britain are this
poor. Those who are subjectively poor describe
themselves as poor. Those who are necessities
poor do not have access to the goods or services
deemed necessary to be included in the normal
life of society. Low income is the way poverty
remains officially measured in the UK (source
Bradshaw and Finch, 2003).
15
Households cycle into and above poverty
People get into debt to avoid their standard of
living falling immediately when their incomes
fall. Above, the X axis measures income poverty.
The Y axis measures adequacy of material goods
(necessities). Households tend to circulate
anti-clockwise. Source David Gordon, Townsend
Centre for International Poverty Research,
University of Bristol (http//www.bris.ac.uk/pover
ty/). Social mobility is lowest where the lengths
of these axes are longest.
16
Sustaining postwar growth in rich nations after
the 70s would have required another planet
Decadal growth rates (in GDP)
Poverty as measured through low income or by
otherwise being excluded from the spending norms
of society rose in Britain and America in the
1970s as the rich sought to maintain high growth
in their wealth despite the worldwide slump. The
poorest continent and poorer people in richer
continents suffered most from the slump Real
growth per decade in GDP () per person by
continent 1955-2001 (drawn above) shows the
widening gap. Source Estimates by Angus
Maddison, from versions provided in spreadsheets
given in www.worldmapper.org.
17
The global bell-curve is of income distribution
The curve only looks normal when money is
valued multiplicatively (hence the log X axis).
The affluent in rich countries excluding
themselves from social norms results in ever
greater consumption by smaller groups in the rich
world that, in turn, causes want to rise
elsewhere. It regenerates the old evil of the
most basic of wants rises as peasants are made
into paupers in the poorest of countries.
Pauperization is now clearly seen by many to be
the direct end result of massive economic
polarization on a world scale (Amin, S., 2004).
18
If unchecked,unjust belief builds on unjust
belief
  • 1. elitism is efficient
  • 2. exclusion is necessary
  • 3. prejudice is natural
  • But rememberUnlike other species human infants
    have very few of their neural pathways already
    committed at birth.We are born helpless.

Humans as they grow are able (and have) to adapt
to the conditions they find themselves born into.
Those human beings born with fixed inherent
traits would have been less likely to survive
through the rapidly changing environments that
they found themselves in over the course of
(human) history. Prejudice is not natural. We
evolved to become more flexible. That evolution
means we now inherit the ability not to inherit
particular abilities. But, simultaneously, none
of us are that able. Almost all of us find
memorizing 5 digit numbers difficult. Those who
dont usually find much else difficult.
Idiosyncracies that others tend to be better at.
It is only by working in concert that we do well.
19
How are you finding things?
Hows life inthe UK? Ask Howdid we getto
this?
Households ability to get by on their income in
Britain, 1984-2004. Source Derived from (ONS,
Social Trends, 2006, table 5.15, page 78, mean of
1984, 1994, and 2004 surveys). Finding it
difficult to manage is a very British euphemism
for not managing. Among those doing better than
this, almost half the population in Britain
describe themselves as only just coping! So,
how did we get to this situation? A lack of
political ambition as compared to what
politicians have achieved in the majority of
affluent countries can be blamed. In most
affluent countries people trust others more, are
less scared of their neighbours, share their
resources out more equitably and are less
prejudiced in their opinions of others in their
country (Wilkinson and Pickett 2009).
20
Answer Enough people voted for it in the right
places at the right times
Conservative vote concentration1918-2005
Concentration of Conservative votes, general
elections 1918-2005. This graph shows the spatial
segregation index for Britain. The index shows
the minimum proportion of such voters who would
have to be transferred between a fixed set of
parliamentary constituencies if each constituency
were to have the same national proportion of
Conservative voters at each general election. The
geographical concentration reflects how people
come less to know, to share the views of, their
neighbours in other areas. The over-concentration
of votes since 1997 and not just their low
numbers lost the Conservatives power from then
until at least 2005, but the influence of their
concentrating geographical block affected all
politics. Left wing politicians feared the
right-wing middle-Britain.
21
Income inequality in Britain the trend
What the richest 1 get
  • As a result of what first became politically
    possible and then, apparently, politically
    impossible, inequality fell and then rose

Share of all income received by the richest 1 in
Britain 1918-2009. Lower line is post-tax share.
Source, Dorling 2010 updating and relying on
Atkinson (2003) and Brewer, Sibieta et al.
(2008). Recent bankers bonuses are not included
above. If the full extent of the 2008 and 2009
bankers bonuses are added, inequality by 2010
would be seen to exceed the 1922 gilded-age
maxima. Taxation of the bonuses in 2010 may, for
the first time since the 1970s, see this rise in
the exclusion of the very richest be curtailed.
However, it is not just bankers that constitute
the most affluent single percentile of the
population.
22
The most harmful cost of inequality
Inequality in health premature mortality
In more unequal times, and in the aftermath of
the shock of mass unemployment, more people in
poorer areas die young as compared to other times
and places. The prospects of the wealthy also
move away from those of the average. The line
marked by white squares shows how much lower the
age-sex standardized under age 65 mortality rate
of the best-off 10 by area is as compared to the
average. The line marked by dark diamonds shows
how much higher that of the worst-off 30 is than
the average. (Source Dorling and Thomas 2009,
derived from Table 4.3 with interpolation between
five year rates in some circumstances).
Best and worse off area - differences from
average
23
If unchecked unjust belief builds onunjust
belief, upon unjust belief
  • 1. elitism is efficient
  • 2. exclusion is necessary
  • 3. prejudice is natural
  • 4. Greed is good! (still!!)

It is still quietly being claimed that
ultimately, greed is good even by some of
those who reported from outside of collapsing
banks. As the BBC correspondent Robert Preston
wrote, in 2008, in support still of the orthodox
economic model, the mantra remains greed is
good Preston, R. (2008, page 336). We sustain
injustice while we still think that we have to
rely on the trickle-down attributed to the
wealth-generation that is assumed to be a
by-product of the greed of a few in the elite.
This occurs while millions of others are excluded
from social norms and presumed to be unable to
generate wealth themselves.
24
7 of single adults own 2 or more cars
  • We tolerate this

It is unjust that in a country full of cars so
many parents of the poorest young children have
to walk. There are clearly enough cars for every
household that needs a car to have a car. Around
7 of spare cars are owned by single adults who
cannot physically drive more than one at a time.
Children living with only one adult in their
household are double in absolute number, and many
more time as likely to be living without a car
than are children living with two parents. It is
much harder to live without a car if you have
children and no other adults to rely on. If you
are able bodied and not caring for young children
or others who cannot walk far and you live in a
city then in an equitable country public
transport works better than driving.
because of greed
25
We racked up our debt because of greed
Debt in the USA
Outstanding consumer debt as a proportion of
disposable income, USA 1975-2005. The debt was
needed to keep up with the Joneses and to keep
living away from those you increasingly fear if
you live in a more unequal affluent country. The
bars show the ratio of debt to annual disposable
income with axis to the right. The line shows the
percentage change in that ratio over the coming
five years (with axis to the left). Disposable
income is the income after paying taxes. Derived
from Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve
System, Flows of Funds, Accounts of the United
States, Historical Series and Annual Flows and
Outstandings, Fourth Quarter 2005 (Foster 2006).
26
We pollute the poor because of greed
Poverty rate by NOx emission and ambient air
quality for 10,444 British wards in 1999. When
you drive a car (to let you live further from the
poor but still get to work) it is not just you
who suffers inconvenience. It is people living in
those parts of inner cities which are poorest,
where they are least likely to own cars, who
breathe in the most air pollution from the
exhausts of the cars of those who drive past
their homes (graph from Mitchell and Dorling
2003). Note low emitting and polluting quintiles
are labelled 1, the highest are labelled 5. The
proportion living in poverty is derived from
breadline surveys.
27
We avoid/evade tax because of greed
Social security and taxation prosecutions,
Australia, counts, 1989-2003 Source Redrawn from
figures originally appearing as a graph in the
Journal of Social Policy, and in a presentation
by Greg Marston (2007). Much the same could be
drawn for Britain except that social security
fraud has been falling in recent years while tax
avoidance/evasion has been rising greatly (Horton
and Gregory, 2009, page 211). Widespread greed
makes us progressively care more for ourselves
and our immediate gratification and more
suspicious of others and other types of planning.
28
We pay more in interest because of greed
Debt payments as of disposable income, United
States, 1980-2008 One persons greed pollutes all
others lives, raises house prices for them and
sees less spent on social housing, further
congests their roads, reduces educational
spending for the many in favour of a few, sees
health care being sold on a private market rather
than allocated according to need, and even
pollutes the thinking of society as a whole. The
graph above is drawn from data provided by the
Federal Reserve Board on required debt payments
on mortgage and consumer debt, automobile lease
payments, rental payments, insurance, and
property tax payments (Foster 2006 gives data
source).
personal income in the USA spent on interest and
rent
29
The five tenets end in rising despair
  • 1. elitism is efficient
  • 2. exclusion is necessary
  • 3. prejudice is natural
  • 4. Greed is good!
  • 5. Despair comes to be seen as
  • .........Inevitable

Despair is the final injustice of the five new
faces of inequality, mutating from the old social
evil of widespread physical disease. Health
services now exist that effectively treat and
contain most physical disease in affluent
countries. However, while most physical maladies
are now well treated with high-quality care in
all but the most unequal of rich countries,
mental illness has been measured and found to
rising across the rich world. Almost all of that
rise is due to the fastest increases in measured
rates of depression and anxiety rising found to
be within the most economically unequal of
affluent nations.
30
Children in unequal rich countriesare suffering
rising anxiety
Reports from trials
Girls assessed in North America as depressed by
around age 15
Adolescent girls assessed as depressed, , North
America, 1984-2001. In this graph circle size is
drawn proportionate to clinical trail size.
Source Reanalysis of (Costello, Erkanli et al.
2006) The data shown above are for those studies
where the children lived in the United States,
the U. S. territory of Puerto Rico, or Canada.
The same trend is not found in more equitable
affluent nations, but is found in data drawn from
Britain and among adults as well as children. One
in three families in Britain now live with a
family member suffering from poor mental health.
This is most often depression or anxiety.
31
More and more pills are prescribed
The rate of prescribing antidepressants by the
NHS in Scotland
Prescriptions per day per 1000 people, mainly of
SSRIs (such as Prozac), 1992-2006. Across the
whole of Scotland prescription of antidepressants
rose over the course of the 1997 to 2005 period
to include almost a tenth of the population
regularly being dosed up (far more in parts of
Glasgow). All this before the summer of 2007, the
crash of 2008, and the gloom of 2009. Source NHS
(2007, Table 1.1, page 12). Measuring Defined
Daily Doses per 1,000 people aged 15. Note The
National Health Service uses financial years when
reporting on prescribing rates. Possibly because
costs are still mainly counted in terms of money
rather than human misery?
32
Young men are also particularly vulnerable
Men dying per woman by age and birth cohort
Male/female mortality ratio by age in the rich
world (18501999). Although higher rates of
anxiety and depression are recorded for women
than men, it is men who suffer the bulk of the
excess premature mortality that now accompanies
perceived economic failure and particularly age
cohorts entering the labour market at the wrong
time. Source original figure given in Rigby and
Dorling (2007), sample size 1 billion people.
Note Each line refers to the cohort born in the
decade it is labelled by. The X axis gives ages.
The Y axis gives how many more times a man of
that age born in that decade is likely to die in
a year as compared to a women living in the same
set of countries born at the same time and of the
same age.
Cigarettes
Failure
33
In 2009/2010 many trends went off-scale
  • Home Loans USA1977-2009
  • Annual change
  • And billions

United States mortgage debt ( change and bn)
1977-2008. All was very far from good at the
height of the boom, but there is now much more to
be fearful of. Right hand axis, net billion
additional borrowed in year shown by the bars in
the graph. Left hand axis change in that
amount. Final percentage change unknown but to be
based on a denominator of just -46bn (the only
negative bar). It is show plummeting down off the
scale. Bar and line for 2009 figures are included
above as known by Q1 2010. Source United States
Federal Reserve (Debt growth, borrowing and debt
outstanding tables).
2009
!
34
Old divides are being widened again
  • In 1934 as a result of the 1929 crash, special
    areas were created in an Act of parliament. Money
    was moved north. In 2010 money is being moved
    south from regeneration schemes and area
    initiative to help fund various bail-outs.

There is a North-South / West-East Divide in who
is carrying most of the cost. The Audit
Commission published figures during 2009 showing
how budgets in the North were being cut to fund
the housing market bail-out in the South in a
report aptly titled when it comes to the
crunch. The divide shown above is the social,
economic and political divide in England. Below
the line people live about a year more on
average identical houses cost much more, people
in similar situations are more likely to vote
Conservative than above the line, and much more
besides. For a more detailed description of the
line and exactly where it is estimated to run
see www.sasi.group.shef.ac.uk/maps/nsdivide
www.sasi.group.shef.ac.uk/maps/nsdivide
35
Clear thinking is harderin more unequal countries
  • Before you ask what is to be done, you have to
    decide what is wrong that you currently may
    condone.

In becoming a grossly unequal society it is
usually clear thinking that is among the first
casualties of new levels of normal inequality
Perhaps the most serious problem created by
growing inequality is that it facilitates the
reproduction of the politics and ideology of
inequality. (Irvin, 2008) Such politics sees
inequality rise as in recession it is the low
skilled who are laid off first and in growth and
those with what are seen as high skills who
benefit most from competition (Kelsey, 1997).
The mantra that greed is still good is played
to the rhythm of there is no alternative sung
to the tune that massive cuts demonstrate
economic responsibility.
36
Quick gains are possible
  • You can only do that which you come to believe
    is possible, acceptable and desirable.
  • First you need to know. For instance
  • More people aged 5 to 25 are killed by cars than
    in any other way in the UK.
  • So 20mph speed limit in residential areas should
    be a key public health policy.

Thoughts and memories can be made foggy by living
for too long under too much inequality. What was
seen clearly as injustice began to be excused as
inevitable. Unless you look around at most of the
rest of the rich world for alternatives, and at
all of the rest of the world for what happens
when you are so mistaken. Can we aim to only be
as unequal as the average OECD country. Is that
too much of an aspiration?
37
Other changes take longer
  • In affluent countries with elitist education all
    children do worse at school. Solutions
  • Ensure the nearest school to every child is
    funded by need, not just numbers.
  • Introduce free higher education for those who
    attend their nearest university.
  • Fund education from a redistribution of monies
    from the wealthy among the old, not by putting
    the young into debt.

If all this is obviously just, sensible and fair
then why is it not done? It is not done because
of what people in the most unequal of affluent
nations have come to believe and have been
taught. Far too many believe that they themselves
are amongst the most able tiny fraction, or that
their children are the brightest. At the extremes
over half belief they are in the top tenth by
favours measures. In beliefs such as this we have
become more stupid than we once were. Slow down,
stop it, what is in your interest is what is also
in others interest.
38
Circumstances of our making
  • In an affluent country we choose the rate of
    poverty we are prepared to live with.
  • We do this by deciding that a few people can be
    paid very highly and tax them very low.
  • We do this by deciding that many others should
    receive minimal benefits.
  • Most people in most affluent countries of the
    world made better choices.

We could collectively decide that there are
limits to what the highest paid can be paid.
Those who run large institutions. It would then
be easier to encourage them to keep the pay of
others below their pay. What it would be socially
acceptable to receive in income would change.
This is no utopia. It is normality where most
people live in most affluent nations. But getting
back to normality is difficult when you have
become addicted to models of competition. Do all
this and it is possible to imagine having safety
nets, benefit levels, that most people would be
prepared to rely on.
39
Money is not the best metric
  • Mass idleness cannot be reduced without a
    reduction in prejudice.
  • The ideal of more than 80 of working age adults
    being paid for their labour is an ideal that puts
    markets above all else and sees caring for others
    only of value when done in the market.
  • Given options most people would rarely be idle by
    choice.

Why are we trying to get richer? We can now
produce far more than we need to consume and
enough to sell overseas to fund more than it is
safe for us to consume. We are living in the
first generation where there are enough material
goods for everyone's needs in the UK. They are
just badly shared out. What we also lack is
freedom to choose what we do with our time. Most
people in work worked far fewer hours one, two or
three decades ago. Far fewer were unemployed,
sick, or otherwise not economically active of
working age then also. Paid work can be better
shared out. Unpaid work can be better valued.
Again this is not utopia. It is just normality in
most other places as nominally rich as we are.
40
Another world already exists
  • Almost everyone could be made better-off if they
    were not sold (and did not buy) the story that to
    do well you must have more than others.
  • Running more than one car is an expense worth
    avoiding. Owning more than one home is not
    necessary. Private swimming pools are not the
    luxury they tell you.

If the very rich really did have the broadest
smile on their faces every minute of every waking
hour then perhaps it would be worth trying so
hard to join them and do others down on the way.
Celebrity magazines and carefully edited
television presents an image of people smiling
far more often than is humanly positive given
cramp and the limits of our facial muscles.
Wealth brings fear as well as security. It breeds
mistrust within affluent families and a distain
for others. How else do you excuse your wealth if
you are not someone special? The new squalor of
our times is greed. It is not an easy habit to
kick.
41
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all, S. J. (2008). The Education Debate. Bristol,
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513-25. Brewer, M., Sibieta, L. and Wren-Lewis,
L. (2008). Racing away? Income inequality and the
evolution of high incomes, London Institute for
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Angold, A. (2006). Is there an epidemic of child
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inequalities, Oxford Oxford University Press, pp
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Societies Almost Always Do Better. London, Allen
Lane. (chapter 8).
  • Can we aim to only be as unequal
  • as the average OECD country?
  • Is that too much of an aspiration?

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