That Spirit Level thing

Wilkinson was shocked by what he believes is part of a worrying trend in political discourse, also happening in the US, where a few people, often attached to right wing institutes, have set themselves up as professional wreckers of ideas.

It\’s really an amazing thing to complain about, isn\’t it?

That intellectuals* should not examine critically new ideas? Consider the evidence in favour or against such a new idea? Should, in fact, when presented with a load of old tripe of a political argument dressed up as social science just roll over and say \”Ooooh, how nice!\”?

Arguably the most profound conclusion is that economic growth among rich countries has finished its work because it is no longer increasing life expectancy and the only way to do that is to better share the wealth we have.

Err, no, that\’s not a conclusion the book reaches actually. It does conclude that further economic growth doesn\’t increase happiness and that therefore further economic growth isn\’t needed/isn\’t desirable. But then they\’re wrong about that as Andrew Leigh has pointed out…and they\’re wrong in logic as well, given that it seems to be the process of economic growth, not the level of it, which produces the happiness. A rich yet static society is unhappy in the same way that a poor but static one is while a poor and growing is happy in the same way that a rich and growing one is.

* I use the term loosely

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