|Source: The Equality Trust UK, published in "The Spirit Level"|
We all knew of the devastating effects of poverty on those at the bottom of the wealth/income ladder. What this book showed though, was that there is an undeniable connection between inequality spread and the social ills of all of society, no matter whether you are at the bottom, middle or top of that ladder.
Since Robert Putnam’s “Bowling Alone” (1995) there has been much talk about social capital. If social capital is the glue that binds communities and societies together then wealth inequality is the anti-adhesive that breaks down those ties.
Wilkinson and Pickett analysed social indicators in a wide range of areas including; life expectancy, homicide, imprisonment, infant mortality, social mobility, numeracy/literacy, obesity etc. In case after case these two epidemiologists concluded that the higher the gap between the top 10% and the bottom 10% then the greater the social ills across the whole of society.
Now the Equality Trust in the UK (established by Richard Wilkinson, Kate Pickett and Bill Kerry) are planning to produce a film/documentary based on the book. If the book helped to bring the issue to the attention of a few policy makers, academics and activists around the world, then the film has the potential to bring the issue to the attention of a much wider public. Some have likened such a film to doing for inequality what the film “Inconvenient Truth” did for climate change.
One of the biggest leverage points in creating systems change according to Donella Meadows is with the paradigms of the system itself. The myth that differences in income and wealth are an incentive for those at the bottom to move higher on the ladder is one of the most pernicious of paradigms. That is why I think that this film is critical to facing one of the 4 Key Issues for Community Development.
In order for this film to be made the Equality Trust is fundraising. I have contributed to this and I encourage readers of this blog to consider doing so also.