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No need to acquaint this crowd with the Occupy Wall Street movement. Yet for many, particularly Republicans, the concerns about income inequality expressed by these protestors is purely philosophical. To some like Herman Cain, income inequality exists simply because most of us are lazy, or not willing to try hard enough. To Herman Cain, we are all capable of being millionaires if we'd get off our fat asses.

Intuitively we understand that the greater the gap in inequality, the rougher our society becomes and the higher degree of social stress. What is missing for many is the proof. Follow me below the fold if you'd like some proof.

Enter today's TED talk, by Richard Wilkinson who has studied the issue and has slide after slide of empirical evidence. The short of it: income inequality adds to social pressure, make a society less stable and make people not only more vulnerable, but makes those on the lower end feel more worthless. The greater the spread, the bigger the problem. Narrow the gap and the problems tend to resolve themselves.

Pass this along to your friends trying to understand the movement, and perhaps open the minds a little of those who think it's okay if the rich keep getting richer.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (8+ / 0-)

    Many an insightful opinion and observation can be found on my blog Occam's Razor.

    by Guy Noir on Mon Oct 24, 2011 at 04:21:20 PM PDT

  •  Stunning talk by Richard Wilkinson (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mommyof3

    Really, really worth the watch.

    Not everyone will watch 19 minutes - if a few of the figures were captured into the main diary, I think it would add a lot of powerful content.

    Thanks so much for providing this diary.

  •  The Spirit Level... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    James Wells, mommyof3, lcrp

    ...is the book written by Wilkinson and Pickett that spells all of this out in detail. It should be required reading for all Democrats. (No point in telling Conservatives this  - they believe in inequality, as long as they're on top.)

    One important point: inequality as bad for the rich as well as the poor. It's not a one side versus the other issue. Reducing inequality makes things better for everyone.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Mon Oct 24, 2011 at 04:32:12 PM PDT

    •  That's my take too (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      James Wells

      Not that I think we should live in a communist society and all make the same amount of money, but I think making wealth a fetish and praising those who reach obscene levels of wealth is weird and counterproductive. It's like the work the rest of us do is unproductive.

      Many an insightful opinion and observation can be found on my blog Occam's Razor.

      by Guy Noir on Mon Oct 24, 2011 at 04:35:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It gets worse (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Thutmose V, lcrp, ItsaMathJoke

        If this from Kevin Drum is to be believed, the rest of us are going to have less and less productive work to do. If we continue to base so much of how we value people on what they do and how much they get paid, increasing numbers of people are going to have no economic value at all. Every time automation has reduced the need for labor, the gains from productivity increases have been siphoned off, while the newly redundant workers have been left behind.

        Once upon a time there was talk of 4 day work weeks, or less, and the idea that people would have more time to live their lives as they wished because the basic business of survival would take less and less time/effort. That didn't happen; instead we've gone to a model where fewer and fewer people do more of the work - and the rest are basically left to fester. We're no closer to figuring out how to reconcile the market economy with the sanctity of human life.

        "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

        by xaxnar on Mon Oct 24, 2011 at 04:46:29 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I have been worried about this for a long time. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          xaxnar

          How can we fix unemployment if there is no need for employees?  Yet no one who has any power is trying to prepare for this situation.  This is one of my 2 long term worries, the other one being energy.

          "The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt." Bertrand Russell

          by Thutmose V on Mon Oct 24, 2011 at 05:49:07 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It gets worse if we solve energy (0+ / 0-)

            Say the Polywell reactor works as promised and we have all the energy we need. We have a huge infrastructure for buying, selling and distributing energy; it's a big chunk of our financial sector.

            Now imagine all the people heavily invested in that finding out power can be almost unlimited, without carbon pollution or piles of radioactive waste. If they can't find a way to leverage their investments into a way of making equivalent amounts of money off fusion, they're going to be pissed, to put it mildly.

            "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

            by xaxnar on Mon Oct 24, 2011 at 06:26:00 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent Post, Sir (0+ / 0-)

    Well-positioned. Well-framed. Well written.

    Carry on!

    Better get back to the web. The internet isn't going to surf itself.

    by RodSerling on Mon Oct 24, 2011 at 04:56:10 PM PDT

  •  I have been a devotee of Wilkinson now for nearly (0+ / 0-)

    a year. Having trouble trying to get him the very high profile his work deserves, even hard to do on dailykos.

    For a great video of him speaking at length in Toronto, watch this. Don't complain about the length, the message is too improtant. One must really read the book to get it all. As he says, "If Americans want to live  the American dream, move to Denmark."
     http://podcasts.tvo.org/...

    "...stories of past courage can define that ingredient..... But they cannot supply courage itself. For this each man must look into his own soul." JFK Profiles in Courage

    by ontario on Fri Oct 28, 2011 at 09:54:00 PM PDT

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