In memory of Martin Luther King, Jr: “The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger” by Richard Wilkenson and Kate Pickett.

Much discussion recently of the 50th anniversary of MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Here is a book that supports what King arrived at from another angle – the value of narrowing the gap between rich and poor.

The methodology used by Wilkenson and Pickett is EPIDEMIOLOGY. Yes, the statistical study of disease, applied to several health related social problems – juvenile delinquency, teen pregnancy, addiction, incarceration rate… Using data from the United States (state by state) and the developed world (country by country), the authors show that these problems all increase with inequality of income. They use data from reputable, publicly accessible sources. Their conclusions are based on solid science. 

If a group of problems all correlate with one factor (in this case, income distribution) maybe THAT’S what we should address, instead of plodding away at initiatives directed at six different problem areas. 

This book is readable, and should be required for anyone planning to run for public office or charged with responsibility for public health and welfare. Not to mention the citizen/taxpayer!

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