Richard Wilkinson did not sell his book well on Q&A and highlights the point that scientists and researchers are not necessarily the best promoters of their work and in this age of informercials its not about the quality of the goods but the quality of the sales pitch.
The panel responding to Wilkinson's interview did not appear to have read the book or give it much thought and on the whole were very dismissive of his conclusions. I can not see how you can really argue that Wilkinson and Pickett's research does not have a sound basis in fact. All the developed nations that have unequal societies suffer a range of negative consequences:
- Lack of trust for others in their communities and a drop in perceptions of personal safety.
- Higher levels of drug use and poor mental health.
- Deteriorating levels of health (obesity, third world health issues reoccurring).
- Growing disparity in educational achievement.
- Higher levels of teenage pregnancies
- Growing levels of violent crime.
- High levels of imprisonment.
- Social mobility restricted and those less advantaged less likely to advance themselves.
All the above are being reflected in New Zealand as our society continues to become more divided. Currently the top one percent of New Zealanders have the same collective wealth as the bottom 60% and with the most wealthy seeing a 20% increase in their wealth over the last year, the bulk of New Zealanders are finding their incomes aren't keeping up with the rate of inflation.
We need to get back to building healthy communities and healthy families and a good part of that is ensuring that all New Zealanders are financially secure. We should not have 250,000 children living in poverty at the same time as we have a record $480 million (approx.) spent on new Bentleys. Wealthy businesses and employers should value their workers and share the profits amongst all who have had a considerable contribution in making them.
New Zealand was known as being a clean, green and egalitarian society, this is no longer true and I wonder what will be a more accurate description of us five years from now as we follow the current path of governance?