Meanwhile, let’s take a look at what I consider to be the most serious and vexing problem facing New Zealand – and the Western World – now and in the immediate future: income inequality and unemployment.
In their book The Spirit Level, British epidemiologists Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett reveal that among the world’s wealthiest countries, it is the more unequal ones that do worse, according to almost every quality of life indicator.
The fundamental findings, which are backed by sound social science research, is that inequality damages community life and the relationships that hold nations together. They show that many social problems are more common in societies with larger income differences.
And the sad thing is New Zealand is among the most unequal of the “rich” countries. We have poorer health, higher teenage birth rates, more people in prison, more mental illness, more obesity, more drug abuse, lower levels of child well-being, huge personal debt, and less social mobility than the more equal rich countries.
In a newspaper article, Britain’s Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, wrote: “Evidence-based research confirms what many have always believed: that inequality is divisive. It weakens the bonds of caring, kindness and trust between us …
“If we are not to see a generation of young people damaged by long-term unemployment, and a society becoming increasingly anti-social, we need resolute action to tackle these insidious and corrosive [economic and social issues].
“If we want a happier and less divided society, then an important step would be to reduce the income differences between rich and poor.”
As we enter the second decade of the third millennium, let us all think on these things.
Blessings for the New Year.
By Garth George | Email Garth