On this page there is a number of items that can be used almost by anybody as part of presentations to any group of people.
The first is 3 minute video which can be down loaded from here directly into a power point presentation or copied to a CD to used as a power point presentation.
The second item which could follow the first video is a presentation based on the information from The Spirit Level. Here there is a series of slides (The Gap Slides) (below) which can be copied onto a CD for a power point presentation. Also below there is a commentary which can be used to support the slide presentation. Simply copy it and read it along side the slides edited or changed if you feel so inclined.
The Gap Slides Commentary
Slide 1 About two and a half years ago I read the “The Spirit Level” which was all about inequality and I then went on to read a number of books about the world of economics and finance..
The next 3 slides are actually for the jokes written below. They may or may not be appropriate for your audience. Use your discretion, may be replace them or leave them out and go straight to “ Contrary to the situation in earlier decades….. towards the top of page 3 of the commentary
Let me set the scene. A dimly lit up market bar. A smartly dressed young man walks in and sits down next to a rather attractive woman.
Slide 2, She, having already downed a few drinks, turns around, faces him, looks him straight in the eye and says, “Listen here good looking. I screw anybody, anytime, anywhere, your place, my place, in the car, front door, back door, on the ground, standing up, sitting down, naked or with clothes on; it doesn’t matter to me. I just love it!”
His eyes are now wide with interest, and he responds,
“No kidding, I’m in Banking too! Which one are you with?”
But then I read about politics
I personally have a good life, particularly now that I have retired, but, in recent times I have become very worried about a number of things. I am very lucky to have fourteen Grandkids in this wonderful country of ours but I am extra ordinarily concerned about their future.
Contrary to the situation in earlier decades,New Zealandnow has worse social and health problems than almost all the wealthy OECD countries.
Slide 5 New Zealand’s Problem
Drug and Alcohol Issues: some of the worst in the OECD countries.
Mental Health: The prevalence of mental illness here in NZ is significantly higher than in other wealthy countries and our youth suicide rate is depressing.
Imprisonment: We have doubled the rate in the last 25 years and now have, behind theUSA, one of the highest rates of incarceration in the developed world.
Infant Mortality: This is actually declining but it is still 60% higher than many of the more equal countries.
Obesity: Our rate is more than twice the rate of more equal countries and growing.
Trust: Surveys have suggested that we still have relatively high levels of trust but many people feel this is slipping as income gaps grow.
Environmental Sustainability: In the one area in which comparisons are available–which is recycling–we are half way down the list and have a rate that is half that of the top countries
Infectious Diseases: Sadly we have seen an increase here over the last 20 years. There is now the re-emergence of so called third world diseases in parts ofNew Zealand.
Teenage Pregnancies: We are the third worst of the wealthy countries, five times the rates of more equal countries likeSweden and our rates have increased since the 1980’s.
Homicide and Violence: For once we do pretty well amongst the wealthy counties however our imprisonment rates are high and many of you will remember 50 years ago, one or two murders a year was the norm, what is it like now, at least one a week?
Education: International surveys tell us we do very well for the middle and top groups. However we do have a serious problem with the bottom 20%. In these surveys we showed the highest variation between the top and bottom groups.
Life Expectancy: We are ranked below halfway in this statistic for wealthy countries and we are 2 to 3 years below the best.
Why is it like this?
Over the last 20 years the gap between rich and poor in NZ has increased greatly. We have gone from one of the most equal of the developed or wealthy countries to one of the least, and this has been mostly due to large rises in overall income for the top 20%. The bottom 20% have actually seen a slight reduction in their disposable incomes.
Slide 6 Authors
In 2009, British academics, Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, both epidemiologists, published a book called The Spirit Level
Slide 7 This book summarized a number of years of their work on what are the basic causes of bad social conditions and health problems in wealthy countries
Slide 8 Sources of Data
Their work consisted mostly in gathering data from a wide range of sources.
As the following slides will illustrate they found that there were very strong correlations between “income gap” ie the difference between the average income of the top 20% and the bottom 20% in any country, the so called Gini Index, and the social and health ills of that country.
Slide 9 Income per head and life expectancy
You might well think that social ills and health issues are inversely related to actual average income in a country. But this slide clearly illustrates that this is true only up to an average income of around $10,000 per year but after that increasing average income makes very little difference to life expectancy.
Slide 10 Selection of countries
Wilkinson and Pickett started their research using World Bank data that gave them the richest 50 counties ( flat section of the curve on the previous slide). They then excluded those for which there was not a complete set of data and those with a population of less than 3 million people. So they finished comparing just 23 countries.
Slide 11 How Much Richer are the richest 20% that the bottom 20%
Note that New Zealandis 6th from the top of the most unequal countries in terms of income gap
Singaporemost unequal and Japan least
Slide 12 Health and Social Problems are worse in more unequal countries
The vertical axis is an index calculated from 10 different measures of social conditions. Social mobility measures the amount of movement of individuals and families from being poor to rich over successive generations.
The slide largely speaks for itself.
Slide 13 Same slide with NZ marked Note whereNew Zealand lies.
Slide 14 Health and Social Problems are worse on more unequal US States
To provide a comparison which would give more validity to the premise that countries with more Inequality have worse social and health problem, Wilkinson and Pickett looked at comparable data from states within the USA and surprise, surprise, they found similar statistical associations.
Silde 15 Health is related to income differences within rich societies but not to those between them
The graph for those between rich societies (on the left) shows no relationship at all whereas within rich societies(on the right) the relationship is very clear, bigger gaps, lower life expectancy
Slide 16. Infant mortality rates…
Again the relationship is clear.. Note sadly where we come.
Slide 17. Rates of imprisonment are higher in more unequal countries
See that we come 4th from the top in imprisonment rates and 5th in income inequality
Slide 18. More Adults are Obese in More Unequal Rich Countries
Similar results but the correlation is not quite so strong
Slide 19. The prevalence of Mental Illness is higher in more unequal rich countries
Again the correlation is clear and look at New Zealand
Slide 20. Drug Use is more common in More Unequal countries
The slide speaks for itself
Slide 21. Child well being is better in more equal rich countries.
I am appalled at whereNew Zealandis in this slide!!
Slide 22 Teenage Birth rates are higher in more unequal rich countries.
Another whereNew Zealandfares badly
Slide 23 Education Performance
HereNew Zealandis a bit of mixed bag. According to international surveys we do pretty well with our top kids but the gap in our schools is one of the worst among rich countries.Finlandaccording to the same surveys is top of the lot. Some of the reasons for this are on the slide
Slide 24 Statistical Associations : Cause and Effect.
From the slides so far you can see that there is a clear statistical correlation between social and health ills, and income inequality across 23 rich countries. This relationship is reinforced when data from the various states of theUSA. is compared. Here we find that the same relationship, ie increasing income gaps correlate with increasing health and social ills.
Most statisticians assert that these correlations are robust for the field of epidemiological research.
Further, in this type of research, nothing is ever 100%. You can always find counter examples but as they do not represent the overall population results/trends exceptions should not detract from the validity of these findings.
Further when you look at changes that occur in various countries over time we find the same patterns ie when changing income gaps occur they are almost always accompanied by changes in social and health indices.
Consequently from this and further research (OECD reports, New Economics Foundation, the research digest of the UK Equality Trust, Ill Fares the Land byTony Judt, The Price of Inequality by Joseph Stiglitz….) there is no doubt that there are, in most instances, robust statistical associations between income gaps and social and health ills amongst the wealthy countries.
Now the question is: Does this prove Cause and Effect? ie that increasing income gaps cause these social and health issues to worsen.
Slide 25 Explanations
Statistical associations do not PROVE cause and effect but when they are as robust and consistent across the various indices of social and health status (both between the wealthy countries and
between states within the USA), and when temporal change in the size of the gap is accompanied by appropriate change in the social and health indices, cause and effect is more than probable.
This is not to claim that the income gap provides 100% explanation for all social and health ills in wealthy countries but it is likely to be the dominant overall contributor.
The next question is what are the mechanisms by which increases in this income gap lead to worsening of societal and health indices? Whereas it is difficult to give a definitive answer, there is a lot of research showing very clearly that stress has a very detrimental effect on our wellbeing and health and also our responses towards the world around us.
It is clear that social status is incredibly important to us all, whether we admit it or not.
There is also no question that increasing income gaps lead to increasing disparities in social status which results in increasing levels of stress, again whether we admit it or not. And the pathological effects of stress are becoming increasingly well known.
All this results, interestingly at all levels of society, in poorer health outcomes and increasing levels of anger and frustration and feelings of isolation with in societies. This latter aspect has very negative social effects.
This perhaps is best illustrated when we look at levels of trust in societies
Slides 26 and 27 Levels of Trust in Wealthy Countries and USA States These graphs clearly shows that levels of trust, which are surely of psychological importance in a society, are significantly worse in more unequal societies.
What about trends
Slide 28 Trends in UK Income Inequality The trends are obvious
Slide 29 The Gap in New Zealand Speaks for it self
Slide 30 The Gap in New Zealand and our attitudes to this are very worrying
Slide 31 The Gap in New Zealand 2009—2010 and getting worse
Slide 32 Considerations for the Rich speaks for itself
Slide 33 Action: Reduce the Income Gap It has been estimated that if we manage to reduce our income gap to the level of the most equal countries in the “rich” world we would have, and I need to emphasise these
4,000 fewer people in prison through halving the current number of around 8,000
More than a hundred fewer babies dying each year in their first year of life (currently over 300 per year)
Life expectancy increased by one to three years for all those living inNew Zealand
400,000 fewer people who are obese which means fewer cases of diabetes and heart disease
2,500 fewer teenage pregnancies meaning fewer abortions, and fewer children and young mothers struggling with the social problems associated with teenage motherhood
Reduced levels of depression and other mental illnesses
Fewer teenagers taking their own lives
Fewer children and young people killed or crippled every year in this country as a result of infectious diseases such as meningococcal disease (which killed more than two hundred people during the 1991 -2007 epidemic).
1,500 fewer 15 year-olds with low reading and maths literacy
Doubling the rate at which we recycle waste
And just think about the savings in Government expenditure as a result
Slide 34. How to reduce the Gap Having convinced you all on the merits of this case we need to find ways of reducing our income gap. May be this is the job of the politicians and their particular ideological preferences But perhaps they need some ideas.
If we look at the most successful countries there are different methods.
The Scandinavian countries have very comprehensive (some would also argue fair) progressive tax regimes which then pay for very comprehensive welfare/education systems. The approach inJapanis to severely limit top salaries.
Many political decisions in Scandinavian countries are made on
rational cross party and sector agreements rather than political ideological bases. Try the introduction of National Standards inNew Zealandfor a counter example and our approach to law and order.
What we need in New Zealand is to tackle our health and social problems on a rational basis, ie take action on the basis of the research summarized by Wilkinson and Pickett in their book The Spirit Level.
and emphasised by Peter Gluckman the Govt Science adviser
Slide 35 The Fight against Organised Misery speaks for itself
and the little book by Stephan Hessel—“Time for Outrage”
Slide 36 Where to from Here
I belong to an organization called Click Income Equality Aotearoa New Zealand Incorporated which was started in 2011 Click by a group of New Zealanders who were convinced of the case put forward by Wilkinson and Pickett in their book “The Spirit Level”.
Click Our aim is to convince a sufficient number of New Zealand of the merits of the argument so that Click enough politicians will take notice, make reducing the Income Gap in New Zealand a top priority and work out ways of accomplishing that goal.
Click Income Equality Aotearoa New Zealand Incorporated is attempting to do this through a variety of channels the most important of which is our website www.closingthegap.org.nz. W# also have facebook Click and twitter Click sites Please go and have a look and play your part in making New Zealand better place for us all
Slide 37 Like Minded Groups. There are other groups that we have established relationships with but we need to develop this much further and are looking to run a conference in late November of Like Minded Groups to establish more combined efforts.
Having established that reducing the income gap should be top of the agenda the obvious question is how do we actually achieve this.
I guess that our organization, to appeal to the largest possible group, set out to be non political, and secular and hoped that after persuading the people and hence the politicians of our cause, they could work out how to achieve this goal within their particular ideology. However I now think they need some help.
So briefly I believe we need: Click
- Click A degree of political consensus that expresses a vision for our country which includes a socially fair and just society
- Click A fair, all encompassing progressive tax system.
- Click A programme that lifts bottom incomes
- Enough well paid jobs for all who need them
- A well educated workforce. To get this we need at least better educational results for the bottom 20% which implies better homes and care givers, more preschools, and better schools—taechers not buildings
4. Click A safety net welfare system which provides proper
adequate support. And doesn’t dump beneficiaries on the
scrap heap of poverty
I am sure most if not all of you would agree with these things.
And lastly I am reminded of Warren Buffet’s comment: It has been class warfare over the last 20 years and at the moment the rich are winning”
And Stephan Hessal —Time for Outrage
We must have everybody winning.
Slide 40 And we must avoid this!!!!
Click here for The GAP slides then click on “The Gap slides 2(7).. at the bottom of the page
When using these slides you may find it useful to have a laser pointer ($2 shop). New Zealand is high-lighted on many of the slides