Sep 30, 2011 | By Shannon Hughes
In this ten minute segment from Wednesday's NewsHour on PBS, Paul Solman investigates the repercussions wealth disparity has on our health. His search leads him to conversations with "epidemiologists, former six-figure income earners who are chronically unemployed and poor teenagers who struggle with inequality each day" as well as Dr. Richard Wilkinson, co-author of The Spirit Level.
Understanding the physical consequences of this created system amplifies our moral responsibility to address this injustice, but as Solmon wraps up his piece, we hear two differing opinions on inequality. Imagine two people, you know, one is working hard and one is just lazy and goofing off. And suppose both get the same thing down the road. I mean, wouldn't the hardworking person say, why am I doing that? So inequality motivates people to be inventive, to work hard, to pursue a career, to pursue an education." This is the argument that to make the rich work harder, you need to pay them more. To make the poor work harder, you need to pay them less."
This isn't the kind of logic I want to rely on in when facing the reality of higher rates of mental illness and infant mortality in the US than in more economically equal societies.
Download a full transcript of the video here.