None of Us Are Free/Economic Inequality Causes Crime, Depression, Early Death, etc.

With so many billions of dollars swirling around from Washington and so many unemployed, underemployed friends, family, etc. I think it’s time to talk about economic inequality and the affects it has on humans.

An amazing article by “Yes Magazine,”interviews  British epidemiologist Richard Wilkinson about what happens when a society has unequal distribution of wealth. The most telling statement to me was,” Inequality affects our ability to trust and our sense that we are part of a community. In a way, that is the fundamental mediator between inequality and most of these outcomes, through the damage it does to social relations. For instance, in more equal countries or more equal states, two-thirds of the population may feel they can trust others in general, whereas in the more unequal countries or states, it may drop as low as 15 percent or 25 percent.” Read the whole interview here

He is talking about Us here, that is the U.S. and the difference between us and Sweden or France and even the difference of what state in the U.S. we live in and how unevenly distributed the wealth is.

Yesterday, I was part of a debate about whether the documents that WikiLeaks leaked should have been made public. I was astonished that some people who I thought were close to me politically thought it was wrong! Here are a couple of the reasons given.

1. Didn’t trust people with the information. Dolts would use it to cause more harm.

2. It was like a schoolyard tattletale.

The first thing seems like the result of living in an unequal, consumer society and the second seems like judging whistle blowing as bad behavior because peers who may have been doing harmful things should be protected, kind of a “gansta” mentality, in my thinking.

All this brings me to the giant need we have for community and sharing. A very interesting conclusion of the above study is that in order to deal with many of the ills of our society we need to bring more economic equality to our societies. Another point Wilkinson made is that we are not consumers because we are selfish but because we are such social beings that it is extremely important to us to be accepted by our community. The anxiety and mistrust of fellow human beings this produces deeply affects both the poor and the rich. In other words, poverty is not the problem, but inequality is what needs to be solved.

My work in trying to spread Permaculture without the huge expense ($1200 and up) it takes to get Permaculture Certification. There may be a place for getting certified, but it has become one of the main means by which Permaculture designers get income and share the knowledge. I do feel like knowledge is power and that with holding information is a way of controlling the masses. I consider the soldier who leaked the documents to be a huge hero and am grateful that there was a place he could send what he found.

We are all living with more anxiety and fear these days post 911, but most of mine comes from watching our rights get eroded by governments who claim to be protecting me and are probably scanning this post for reasons to put me on some list…..Or maybe it’s because I live in such an unequal society! There has not been such a vast divide in income in this country since 1928, the year before the Great Depression.


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