Post of the Week: March 6-12, 2010
Is income inequality making communities unhealthy? This week's Post of the Week says, well, yes. In Inequality Makes Me Sick (Literally), Andrew Price points to an interview with epidemiologist Richard Wilkinson, who studied the correlation between a social problems and income distribution, for the answer.Wilkinson found that social issues like mental illness, teen birthrates, and drug use were much worse in countries with imbalanced salaries. Price wrote of Wilkinson's explanation, "In countries with more income inequality there is fiercer competition for status, and that leads to higher stress, more crime, less trust, and a host of other socially corrosive phenomena."Commenter Carson Bailey responded, writing, "You speak of competition as if it were a bad thing, competition makes the world go ‘round. When you cut competition you retard the bounties of our free market," promptly sparking a debate on socialism. Commenter operahater wrote, "Every experiment in socialism has failed miserably; socialism dehumanizes people and creates a false sense of sameness…there's beauty in our differences."Travelmandan read the study a different way, pointing to "relative deprivation": "Think of it this way…you are perfectly happy in your two bedroom house with your Honda out front until you turn on the TV and see "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous"…or until your neighbor adds a swimming pool and three car garage to put his new Porsche in […] simple solution…turn off the TV, read a book and save your money (just remember, that neighbor of yours is likely far more in debt than you anyway!)Yet another commenter, CHRISTINE NORLAND, saw the study as a subtle call to good. She wrote, "I subscribe to the idea of stewardship, of doing good. It just feels good to contribute back. A post like this encourages me to do more to contribute to my communities and help those stay motivated to live healthy and live well." So, which commenter do you side with? Do you see income inequality as something that needs to be addressed to make the world healthier?