The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone

Howard Jackson,

I accept your book challenge. I haven’t received the Letters from a Skeptic from Jenny in Iowa yet

but I am going to read

The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better

, by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett,, from the reviews, it sounds like it’s brilliant although I acknowledge that there’s some confirmation bias going on.

still, snippets:


There’s an almost pleading quality to some of Wilkinson and Pickett’s assertions, as though they feel they’ve spent their careers banging their heads against a brick wall. It’s impossible to overstate the implications of their thesis: that the societies of Britain and the US have institutionalised economic and social inequality to the extent that, at any one time, a quarter of their respective populations are mentally ill. What kind of “growth” is that, other than a malignant one?

Globe and mail:

A number of factors have been identified as influencing whether social relationships are supportive or toxic. Some researchers highlight the importance of neighbourhoods where people trust, rather than fear, one another. Others focus on the importance of a workplace that fosters a sense of autonomy rather than powerlessness. Yet others emphasize being part of diffuse social networks. Each of these factors has been shown to have important effects on health.

However, Wilkinson and Pickett argue that these different factors are all symptoms of a deeper issue – namely, inequality.

Inequality – consider that gays and lesbians have shorter lifespans, shorter and more intimate relationships, because the social inequality of being gay is an attack on our very lives.

Being treated as lesser than, in a toxic mix of religious condemnation to gay bashing to legal discrimination and an uphill and on going fight for rights, that we fight through entirely legal and non-violent means.

Even though everywhere around the world, there are countries which are honest enough to make being gay a death penalty crime to the countries where there are degrees of tolerance, hard won after decades of hardships as a community and as couples and individuals.

If all members of society are equal and treated that way, the economy would be taken care of because we’d all be in a state to be entrepreneurs, creators, productive members of society, contributing.

it’s the dream that Gene Roddenbury had with Star Trek’s Federation – all war, poverty and inequality gone from human society, so each person could live at their potential, whatever they chose it to be.

It’s not beyond us, we just have to want it badly enough

we just have to want it more than we want what we get from the status quo

3 thoughts on “The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone

    • I think that the reason that his book has captured my imagination is a line in a Christopher Hitchens column about Arab Spring.

      That people can put up with most any kind of repressive government as long as they don’t have to pretend that it anything other than what it is.

      So the voting for your dictator was too much – so combining that with this idea that the equality our society says that we have and our individual experiences that show the degree of equality that we actually have vs what we’re supposed to is the margin for mental illnesses and social malaise

  1. Pingback: The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger | laser-level-pro.product-ratings

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