More Equal Societies Have Lower Homicide Rates
The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better – Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger, a book by Richard G. Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, published in the US by Bloomsbury Press in 2009, reveals that there are:
[There are] pernicious effects that inequality has on societies: eroding trust, increasing anxiety and illness, encouraging excessive consumption.
The research demonstrates that there are significantly worse outcomes in more unequal rich countries for eleven different health and social problems:
- physical health
- mental health
- drug abuse
- social mobility
- trust and community life
- teenage pregnancies, and
- child well-being.
The evidence is graphically charted online.
Is The Research Valid?
Of course, the research has been questioned, just as one would expect, given the long reach and clout of the U.S. gun lobby. However, the facts are well supported. In fact, in 2010, the authors published responses to questions about their analysis on the Equality Trust website.
Kate Pickett explains, on the site that
It is clear that some societies are much more violent than others. In the USA a child is killed by a gun every three hours and in the UK over a million violent crimes were recorded in 2005-2006.
The link between inequality and homicide rates has been shown in as many as 40 studies, and the differences are large: there are five-fold differences in murder rates between different countries related to inequality. The most important reason why violence is more common in more unequal societies is that it is often triggered by people feeling looked down, disrespected and loss of face.
The Societal Impact of the Psychological Disorder of Greed
The A&E reality series Hoarders portrays the serious consequences of compulsive hoarding, which is an obsessive-compulsive disorder. Yet, very little has been written of the disorder that drives people to accumulate untold wealth with reckless abandon that rides roughshod over the welfare of others. But this is the root cause of today’s economic and social ills.
The unprecedented greed of the Wal-marts, the Bain Capitals, the Exxon Mobiles, the Koch Brothers, the NRA and the gun manufacturers have today brought our economy to a breaking point.
Where Does America Stand?
We all know that top earners in America make multiples more than middle- and lower-income workers, but how bad has it become? The disparity is greater here than in most developed nations. According to data gathered by Branko Milanovic, an economist with the World Bank, America ranks in the bottom third of the list of 90 countries, based mainly on 2008 data of per capita income or consumption in each nation.
The U.S. has a higher level of income inequality than:
- Australia, and
- South Korea,
While many nations have seen income inequality rise within their borders, the United States has experienced a more rapid increase in recent decades, widening the wealth gap even more.
Greed Undermines The Public Weal
The drive to accumulate more and more wealth exhibited by today’s corporate CEOs and shareholders distorts American capitalism and is ultimately self defeating.
In years past, when economic inequality has reached Dickensian proportions, this has occurred by treating workers as “wage slaves.” Since the Great Depression, the rise of labor unions in the U.S. created a strong and growing middle class. Today, only 7% of workers are represented by unions. The result? Income disparity has reached epidemic proportions, unemployment is endemic, and the economy is struggling to emerge from the Great Recession, caused by – you guessed it – the greed of wealth hoarders.
A Crisis Point: The situation has reached such a crisis point that in 2012, the Republican Party had the temerity to actually nominate a bankster as their presidential candidate. The situation is so out of hand that these same banksters who caused the Great Recession are today lobbying to cut spending on social programs rather than for cuts in the mammoth corporate welfare programs.
Gun violence continues to escalate as income disparity worsens, while politicians, beholden to the NRA, remain silent on the obvious need for stricter gun control. Today it is estimated that 40% of guns are purchased without even a background check. Guns and economic inequality are a volatile mix.
The Fake Fiscal Cliff Debate
In the discussions about the so-called “fiscal cliff,” the banksters and greediest corporate hoarders have called for the government to balance the budget deficit (which they created) on the backs of the neediest Americans and the real “job creators,” the middle class. But is it really necessary to slash programs like Medicare and Social Security?
Consider that, according to one of the more conservative estimates, while about $59 billion is spent on traditional social welfare programs, $92 billion is spent on corporate subsidies. In fact, the government spent 50% more on corporate welfare than it did on food stamps and housing assistance in 2006. And the exact extent of corporate welfare and the “black budget” is not even known.
Daniel D. Huff, professor emeritus of social work at Boise State University, published a comprehensive analysis of corporate welfare in 1993, in which he ratiocinated that a conservative estimate of corporate welfare expenditures in the United States would have been at least US$170 billion as of 1990 (Huff noted that deliberate obfuscation was a complicating factor.) He then compared this number with social welfare:
In 1990 the federal government spent 4.7 billion dollars on all forms of international aid. Pollution control programs received 4.8 billion dollars of federal assistance while both secondary and elementary education were allotted only 8.4 billion dollars. More to the point, while more than 170 billion dollars is expended on assorted varieties of corporate welfare the federal government spends 11 billion dollars on Aid for Dependent Children. The most expensive means tested welfare program, Medicaid, costs the federal government 30 billion dollars a year or about half of the amount corporations receive each year through assorted tax breaks. S.S.I., the federal program for the disabled, receives 13 billion dollars while American businesses are given 17 billion in direct federal aid.
In 2002, Bernie Sanders scrutinized corporate welfare policies in the United States, which he considered to total US$125 billion annually.
The point? The “budget problem” is a manufactured crisis created under administrations since the time of Ronald Reagan that undermined the middle class while increasingly shifting resources and opportunity to the wealthiest 2%. And today, while corporations sit on an unprecedented amount of cash, they refuse to invest it in a socially responsible, ethical way. Instead, they are pursuing policies that will further choke off the very middle class that has constituted the demand for their products. They do this while dismantling all regulations that protect the economic, social and health-related welfare of the average citizen, turning citizens into wage slaves while spewing out pollution and unhealthful products.
The 2 Choices Ahead
The difference between the Great Recession and the Great Depression can be largely attributed to the fact that public welfare programs like Unemployment Insurance, Food Stamps and Medicaid are in place. However, if the corporate hoarders have their way, these programs would be stripped away, and the economy would be ripe for another Great Depression.
There are two possible scenarios ahead: an optimistic one, and a pessimistic one. The pessimistic scenario is what will inevitably occur if the banksters go unchecked and the corporate shareholders continue to expand their influence and domination over the government, the media and the economic landscape. The optimistic scenario is one in which people stop listening to the conservative media and wake up to the fact that there is a protracted class war that has been waged against them for several decades.
It is no wonder that the banksters want to privatize education, prisons, and social programs. They’re lucrative. It’s not surprising that so-called “right to work” laws are being pushed through state legislatures to undermine working wages. What is a wonder is that the public is beginning to catch on, and dealt the Romney campaign a stunning defeat. America’s changing demographics, and the worsening economic disparity are driving recognition. It all begins with recognition of the hard economic facts.