The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger

Reblogged from David's 'Clan' Blog:
The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger - Richard G. Wilkinson, Kate E. Pickett

It took me awhile to finish this because it is not really the kind of book one reads for entertainment. It really is a more academic expose of lots of research that indicates basically that the cause of almost all problems associated with 'Society' are to do with the level of disparity between the rich and the poor. It is very relevant to our times and I have no doubt that the wealthiest people in our society will be spending a lot of time disparaging the findings. But it suggests that most problems apparently have nothing to do with the actual level of remuneration but much more to do with the difference between the richest and the poorest. It makes a cogent argument and it convinced me that unfashionable concepts of 'fairness' and 'equality' are vital for the well-being of any society and not simply wishy-washy ideas of liberalism and fairness. It argues that where the difference is less stark almost everything is better, crime, health, infant mortality, death rates, anti-social behaviour etc are all better - with lots of graphs and data to prove the fact.It is certainly worth reading if you want to argue for a more egalitarian society - but not a book you read for fun.It is an argument I believed already - this book simply provided me with some figures to back me up. I came away thinking that one simple law that said that anyone who employs others should not be entitled to earn, lets say, more than 25 times the level of his poorest paid employee would help with an awful lot of social problems. I did a couple of quick calculations - let's say a company pays its poorest employees around £6.50 an hour - the CEO would be limited to around £340,000 per annum - which lets face it is a pretty good salary. I then looked at the annual salary of the Tesco CEO and calculated that on that basis the minimum salary of a Tesco employee would need to be about £280,000 a year - which does an awful lot to explain the level of the disparity in our own country.Ah well - maybe come the revolution....