Growing inequality damaging to society
TheStar.com – opinion/letters – Re: More unequal, less complacent, Editorial Dec. 11
Published On Mon Dec 12 2011. Eleanor Batchelder
As you say, various groups, from international to local, are sounding the alarm about the growing inequality of our societies. I’d like to mention another excellent report, “The Three Cities Within Toronto: Income Polarization Among Toronto’s Neighbourhoods, 1970-2005” by J. David Hulchanski, a publication of the Cities Centre, University of Toronto.
This booklet shows graphically that the middle-income group in Toronto has moved from 66 per cent to 29 per cent in these 35 years, and is projected to become only 9 per cent by the year 2025. A grim picture, indeed, verging on a Dickens novel.
However, a less frequently reported aspect of this growing inequality is its effect on everyone in the society, not just the poverty class. A 2009 book from the U.K., The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better, by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, “demonstrates that a whole range of social problems — from poor health to educational failure, from mental illness to obesity, from drug addiction to violence, from teenage births to the weakening of community life — share one overwhelming feature: they are all several times more common in more unequal societies” [quoted from the Toronto Public Library website].
I recently attended a lecture given by John Campey, executive director of Social Planning Toronto, at the Japan Foundation, and saw slides of some of the graphs from this book, which are quite dramatic evidence that it is not the wealth of a society that matters, but how equally the wealth is distributed among its members.
We all stand to lose if we cannot equalize our economy.
Eleanor Batchelder, Toronto
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