First, let’s hear it for Matthew’s post on human evolution just below, which is perhaps the best science post he’s written here. I know it took a lot of work, so do read it; you’ll learn a lot.
Reading the usually soporific Nicholas Kristof in today’s New York Times op-ed section (a column called “America’s stacked deck“), I learned something for once. Actually, two things. The column itself is about how Americans are pissed off (“cheesed off” to you Brits) about inequality of wealth, price-gouging by healthcare and pharmaceutical companies, and so on, and that is a powerful force driving voters this year. Kristof concludes that we must “prescribe the right fixes and achieve them in this political environment.” A BIG YAWN for that feat of intellectual dexterity!
But he did impart two useful pieces of information:
The 20 wealthiest Americans, a group that would fit comfortably inside a luxury private jet bound for a private Caribbean island, are worth more than the poorer half of the American population, according to a recent report from the Institute for Policy Studies. Forbes’s wealthiest 100 are worth as much as all 42 million African-Americans, the report says.
In other words, a person among that richest 100 has, on average, 420,000 times the average wealth of an African-American. This is the kind of inequity that makes America a socially dysfunctional (and therefore a highly religious) society.
And fact #2:
Two business school professors, Michael Norton and Dan Ariely, showed people charts of the distribution of wealth in egalitarian Sweden and in highly unequal America and asked them which kind of society they would prefer to live in, without saying which country each chart represented. Some 92 percent of Americans chose Sweden’s distribution.
So much for the evils of democratic socialism!
I’ve always said this, and I said it again in London last Friday: if I could do two things to make America a less religious society (which would in turn make it more accepting of evolution), it would be to have truly universal healthcare and to drastically reduce income inequality. Doing those would go a long way towards making America a healthier and more just society, and with that would come the diminution of religious power.
End of sermon.