Q+A – 27 August 2011

August 26th, 2011 at 1:02 pm by Kokila Patel

On Q+A this week: The Spirit Level has been one of the most influential political books of the past decade, even if strictly speaking it’s not about politics. Its thesis: That the gap between rich and poor is making us sicker, sadder and more violent. So with inequality set to become a major election issue, we speak to the author of The Spirit Level, Prof. Richard Wilkinson. Will reducing inequality reduce our other social problems? Or is it more complicated than that? And does such intervention risk stifling entrepreneurship, creativity and individual freedoms?

Then, tens of thousands of tourists will touchdown in New Zealandover the next few weeks, expecting a 100% pure experience. What will they make of our polluted lakes and rivers? Is the farming that drives our economy now putting our prosperity in jeopardy? Is it time to ask more of our farmers? We’ll debate the issue with Federated Farmers President Bruce Wills and Environmental Scientist Mike Joy.

On the panel this week, Political Analyst Dr Claire Robinson is joined by Chief Executive of the Waipareira Trust and former Cabinet minister John Tamihere and Business New Zealand CEO Phil O’Reilly.

Q+A, 9-10am Sundays on TV ONE.  Repeats at 9.10pm Sundays, 10.10am and 2.10pm Mondays on TVNZ 7       

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20 Responses to “Q+A – 27 August 2011”

  1. flipper (3,563 comments) says:

    OK DPF..
    Why waste your time on this programme? It is put together by left wing flakes (Watkin T is the producer, yet we pay for it – not TVNZ), is fronted by left wing flakes and has, since its inception, had an overtly left wing bias. This week’s panel seems the most constructive since day 1. But as for FF’s Willis v eel guru (teacher, not expert) Joy ???? Get off the grass.

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  2. lastmanstanding (1,204 comments) says:

    I dont believe political parties should recieve one dollar of funding for any reason.

    Why should a citizen be forced to contribute to the propaganda of a party whose policies they not onlt disagree with but despise and find offensive.

    If citizens what to group together in political gangs then they should find the funds to spout their propaganda.

    I find it a crime agaonst human rights to be forced to pay for I dont believe in.

    If political gangs dont have a good enough case then they wont get financial support.

    And any advertising should have a tight monetary limit so the deepest pockets dont get to swamp us with their propaganda

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  3. lastmanstanding (1,204 comments) says:

    Apologies This post ahould have appeared in next item. Clicked on wrong one. Story of my life really!!!!

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  4. wreck1080 (3,732 comments) says:

    The richest are taking an ever increasing percentage of the countries GDP (such as in the UK).

    This wouldn’t be so bad, if the efforts of the rich were lifting the wealth of the poor – but, this is not happening.

    What will be the breaking point? When the top 1% of people are taking 50% of GDP? 80%? Things are heading that way.

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  5. davidp (3,540 comments) says:

    >So with inequality set to become a major election issue

    Who says it will become a major election issue? It hasn’t so far, and wasn’t last time. I think this reflects the author’s desire more than a prediction that is likely to be accurate.

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  6. ben (2,396 comments) says:

    From the PR:

    And does such intervention risk stifling entrepreneurship, creativity and individual freedoms?

    I love how they refer to intervention as if New Zealand doesn’t have a third of the population already on welfare, or one of the largest states in the West, or some of the highest tax rates.

    Yes if only we tried intervening the inequality might come right. Oh yeah, hadn’t thought of that.

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  7. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    The Spirit Level. Blah. More biased work by envious academics.
    Next please.

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  8. Falafulu Fisi (2,176 comments) says:

    Wealth Inequality is a natural consequence of a dynamic capitalist system (in a human society). Advancement of civilization comes from inequality (scientists call it system instability), which makes the system as a whole keep evolving (advancing) in search of a stable region. Lefties can try wealth redistribution but it will fail, in the long run.

    Here are some models that showed that inequality will always exist regardless. There are a few models that have been published on wealth inequality, but the followings are the most quoted ones in the econophysics literature.

    #1) Statistical mechanics of money, wealth, and income (pre-print freely available)

    #2) Bose-Einstein distribution of money in a free-market economy (subscribed only – however, one can request a preprint free copy from the author/s)

    Paper #2 confirmed the theoretical derivation in paper #1. Both papers were derived from different statistics, however one is a generalization of the other, ie, the model in paper #2 is reduced to that of paper #1.

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  9. ben (2,396 comments) says:

    I like inequality. I like the fact that the harder I work the more I get paid. That requires inequality. I like the fact that the lower my income on average the more leisure I consume. I LIKE the fact that Steve Jobs and Sam Morgan are wealthy people – they have delivered extraordinary products to millions of people. Their wealth appeals to my sense of fairness, as reward for their great products, and inspires me to work hard and think hard about a great product nobody else has thought of yet.

    I also recognise that inequality is completely mismeasured. It is not the same people in each quartile each time the income distribution is measured. Upwards mobility is increasing the lower one’s income i.e. you are much less likely to stay in the lowest income quartile than you are to stay in the highest. The very highest income folks actually have negative mobility. Many people in the lowest quartile are there because they earn their income unevenly (e.g. anyone starting a business, or studying) or enjoy non-income benefits (e.g. live at home with parents).

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  10. David Garrett (6,447 comments) says:

    Not entirely on topic but relevant I think….it is a myth promulgated by the left that one of the reasons very high unemployment (like 25%, with almost no welfare safety net) did NOT produce an increase in crime in the 1930′s was that “we were all in it together ” back then. This is demonstrably false.

    In 1932 – the year of the Queen street riots – the members stand at the Ellerslie races was full of very well dressed men and women at every meeting with rows of chauffeur driven cars waiting for their owners to finish the day’s festitivies and take them home to mansions in remmers staffed with servants…servants plural, usually more than one…

    Meanwhile 5 miles away people were looting shops…for FOOD and clothing, not 1932′s equivalent of plasma TV’s. Despite the Queen street riots, 1932 was also the year which saw the lowest violent crime per 100,000 in NZ in the 20th century.

    So, the facts dont fit the lefties’ argument viz.: 1) there always was real inequality in this country, arguably it was much greater before the welfare state evened things out and prevented people from actually starving; 2) there was and remains – as evidenced by the very high unemployment and low crime in the US – NO CORRELATION much less proven causation between inequality and crime. Most unfortunate for the lefties who argue otherwise, but there it is…

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  11. Kimble (4,381 comments) says:

    “The Spirit Level” has been well and truly debunked in The Spirit Level Delusion. http://spiritleveldelusion.blogspot.com/

    Or a more easily digested article here, http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/reviewofbooks_article/8934

    It looks like Q&A starts with the premise, everything in The Spirit Level is true, and then instantly moves on to what should be done about it.

    Unfortunately, the authors of The Spirit Level enjoy intellectual dishonesty even more than they enjoy cherry-picking samples to fit their conclusion.

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  12. KiwiGreg (3,177 comments) says:

    Both Stalin and Mao created around 20 million perfectly equal human beings by making them dead.

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  13. mikenmild (10,744 comments) says:

    Kimble

    I think ‘well and truly debunked’ is a bitof an overstatement. Aspects of the argument in The Spirit Level have been criticised, and the authors stand by their work. The debate looks like continuing for a good while yet. I’m not sure that so much can be put down to income inequality. There are other factors but the basic premise that high levels of inequality are bad news probably has a bit going for it.

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  14. David Garrett (6,447 comments) says:

    Mikey: Please do explain then why in 1932, at the depths of the depression, crime per 100,000 (both violent and property) went DOWN?

    Although you’re a leftie you’re obviously a fairly well informed one, so you will know both that the above is a fact, and that unemployment was 25% or more (which was undermeasured since only men were counted) and that there was virtually no welfare to ameliorate the misery….

    Wouldnt those condition of inequality logically produce half a dozen Bonny and Clyde types, and safe crackings and jewellery shop robberies every night if the “unemployment causes crime” thesis had even a shred of validity?

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  15. Falafulu Fisi (2,176 comments) says:

    Mikemild said…
    Aspects of the argument in The Spirit Level have been criticised, and the authors stand by their work.

    The authors method of data analysis is just laughable. I challenged them (The Spirit Level ) authors on their blog post here last year, but they didn’t want to engage. Two things that come to mind. They either didn’t fully grasp of what I was saying (in terms of proper rigorous data analysis) or they did understand but they wanted not to debate it since it would have exposed the inappropriateness of their method, ie, their kindergarten methods.

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  16. Kimble (4,381 comments) says:

    MnM,

    They are standing by their work using a combination of ignoring the criticism, accusing the people raising the concerns of being corporate shills, and outright lying. They quote papers as being in support of their assertions when the papers are actually discussing something else entirely and in some case they quote papers supporting their assertions when the paper is saying the exact opposite!

    They ignore every other variable other than inequality, saying they did not “believe” those factors mattered. Their analysis involves little more than plotting two variable scatterplots with a line of best fit, standing back and squinting.

    Even if the data was real, they dont have any genuine suggestions about the mechanism by which inequality seemingly affects everything.

    There is a wealth of work on the link between inequality and health, but the two authors dont treat it with respect enough to present it honestly.

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  17. KiwiGreg (3,177 comments) says:

    @ kimble they sound just like warmists.

    If only Sam and Gareth Morgan would leave New Zealand, it would become a more equal country and all around our fair land violent criminals would take up finger painting, beneficiaries would gain employment, the lame would walk and peace would prevail.

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  18. hj (6,359 comments) says:

    Speaking of “warmists”:

    http://www.gmi.co.nz/pages/news/1256/Rot-at-Centre-of-Modern-Economics.aspx?utm_source=morgan%2bonline%2baugust%2b11&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=big%2bkahuna%2barticle

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  19. Kimble (4,381 comments) says:

    Speaking of speaking of “warmists”:

    http://offsettingbehaviour.blogspot.com/2011/08/rot-at-centre-of-new-zealand-economic.html

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  20. Falafulu Fisi (2,176 comments) says:

    Someone just forwarded me the following, which I think it is relevant here.

    These are possibly the 5 best sentences you’ll ever read:

    1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity, by legislating the wealth out of prosperity.

    2. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.

    3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.

    4. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.

    5. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work, because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation.

    Can you think of any reason for not sharing this? Neither could I…..

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