Inequality’s a real bitch

This is an amazing TED talk regarding income inequality all over the globe. “Richard Wilkinson charts the hard data on economic inequality, and shows what gets worse when rich and poor are too far apart: real effects on health, lifespan, even such basic values as trust.”

I am going to put some of the basics up here. It quickly becomes mind-bendingly obvious just how backwards our social system is here in the U.S. Here we have income inequality by country. Notice the US waaaaaaay over to the right.

Next we have graphs of various problems graphed according to income inequality in the country:

First: overall index of health and social problems

Second: number of prisoners

Third: child well being (measured on lots of different factors)

Fourth: levels of trust

Fifth: social mobility (otherwise known as rich dad, rich son, poor dad, poor son effect)

And just to be sure that they were checking their hypothesis that social inequality leads to these sorts of disparities, he also did some tests between U.S. states.

Number of high school drop outs

Trust by state

One of the more amazing things is when they compared countries by gross national income, these disparities disappeared. Meaning as Wilkinson says “the avereage well being of our societies is not dependent any longer on national income and economic growth (That’s important in poorer countries but not the richer, developed world). But the differences between us and where we are in relation to those within our country now matter very much.”

Oh, and this last graph is great. We know that cortisol wrecks all sorts of havoc on our bodies, and it turns out that tasks where the stressor has to do with a “social evaluative threat” (like someone thinking you’re dumb, or poor, or not worthy in some way) caused way more of a cortisol response than other tasks.

So, in conclusion, no wonder you are stressed/tired/scared/anxious/depressed/fat/anorexic/ fillinwhateverfuckingproblemyouhave – it’s the way of life here in the U.S.


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