Richard Wilkinson really is a twat isn\’t he?

The populations of much poorer countries are less happy than people in the rich developed countries. But above some threshold that Britain passed a generation ago, further economic growth doesn\’t seem to help.

Easterlin Paradox, above a certain level more income doesn\’t make you happier.

Wrong.

Although economic growth is what has transformed the quality of our lives over the last 200 years, it looks as if the real social and human benefits of growth are subject to diminishing returns.

And in the next fucking sentence he tells us about diminishing returns. Well, of course you twat. What\’s so damn surprising about diminishing marginal utility?

Well, which is it? No marginal utility or diminishing?

And there is of course the idea that it\’s not levels of income which induce this happiness, it\’s changes in them. Growth has two effects, one simply that we can see a better and brighter tomorrow which, most human beings being fairly optimistic creatures makes us happier. The other is that growing incomes make it easier to deal with the stresses and strains of distribution. If you like, jealously is less of a problem in a non-zero sum world.

Rather surprisingly, health – and probably other indicators of wellbeing – continued to improve in the great depression of the 1930s. This is likely to have been partly because that period saw the most rapid sustained increase in equality on record.

This would be nothing at all to do with the fact that the 30s were the one decade where technology advanced more than any other? Medical technology along with others?

Twat.

6 comments on “Richard Wilkinson really is a twat isn\’t he?

  1. One symptom of increasing wealth is the rise in the number of people who like the idea of a subsistence existence. Only the wealthy educated middle-classes who have lived their entire lives as far from subsistence as possible could think like this.

  2. Your use of the word “twat” in the above title is offensive. I’m contacting my solicitor with a view to suing you for “hate speech”.

    Yours sincerely, pompous, humourless, sanctimonious, Guardian reading arsehole.

  3. The Spirit Level seems to have infected the public debate re health. The finding of moderate negative correlations between developed countries’ health and inequality levels was interesting, albeit lots of questions remaining re sample choice (throwing certain countries in or out by changes to the fairly arbitrary selection criteria changed the results) and potential confounding variables (loads of ’em, highly equal societies tend to have other things in common too, some of which may explain the trend).

    But now some left wingers seem to see this effect everywhere, and try to explain almost everything in relation to equality levels. So e.g. the true cause of better health outcomes is equality, medical science breakthroughs or better healthcare systems be damned/forgotten about. Hence crazy idea that the rich getting poorer in the depression caused the poor to get healthier.

  4. What increase in equality during the great depression?
    Ignoring the very rich and the people who played the markets, who after all were a tiny minority at the time, we are left with with the lucky and unlucky among the ordinary people. If you were lucky you had little debt and managed to keep your job when the shit hit the fan. Your standard of living might even improve as prices dropped. If you were unlucky you could be literally on the street or living on the charity of friends and relations. In North America there were possibly millions on the road begging or chasing casual work.
    I would argue that the difference between having a roof over your head and enough income for food and fuel and sleeping rough with no dinner in prospect is a fundamental kind of inequality. Much more important than the size of the graduations at the upper ends of the scale.

  5. Was the 30s the age of the biggest improvement in sci-tech? Perhaps as a time when it’s fruits came home to more people – wonder how the 30s compares to other decades in terms of rise in households with electicity/hot running water and other goods conducive to public health. But IIRC the ‘miracle age’ for medical breakthroughs – at least drugs – was considered the 50s?

  6. If there were any medical breakthroughs in the thirties – it mattered not if you could not get them.
    I broke my arm back then and remember me and my mother being questioned by the almoner as to whether I could have it treated.
    Otherwise it tended to be bread poultices and the like.

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