Inequality in society harms our mental health – how can we fix it?

“Wealth is not a measure of worth. But low income is related to feelings of inferiority.” Across a range of countries, studies have shown, the experience of poverty leads to people believing they have failed themselves for being poor, and accepting that others feel like that about them.

This is part of the remarkable findings of professors Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson, epidemiologists, whom I heard giving a talk on inequality on Wednesday night in a Keswick church.

Speaking alternately and informally, the professors reminded an attentive audience of how common it is for people to feel inadequate in social gatherings. They may feel they aren’t dressed correctly, can’t make small talk, and are scared of being judged. Sometimes people find social contact so difficult that they withdraw from social life. 

“Yet social contact is crucial to health and to happiness”, the speakers said.

They explained that income inequality is linked to anxiety about social status. There has been a study across 28 European nations of social anxiety, looking at it in relation to different income levels in these societies. The study found that there is more anxiety about status in unequal societies, and the more inequality, the greater the anxiety.

It was apparently known ten years ago when the two professors’ important book ‘The Spirit Level’ was published that there was more mental illness in more unequal societies. But studies of social psychologists, they told us, had led them to understand how this may happen. People made to feel they are inferior will sometimes struggle against the feeling, but others will accept it, internalise a feeling of subordination and submission, and become more prone to depression.

Other psychological effects of living in a more unequal society, the speakers continued, include more wrong self-estimation. Apparently in the USA 96% of drivers think that their driving is better than the average! In Sweden it is 66%. The greater the inequality, the greater is the tendency for people to be narcissistic, so that it becomes difficult to tell the differences between self-esteem and narcissism. (And “It’s awful if narcissism gets to a position of power!” they added, to rueful laughter from the audience.)

Great social anxiety also leads to greater consumption, they went on. This might be of alcohol or drugs. But people also try to show their higher status by having ‘high-value stuff’. “Having high-value stuff shows I am a high-value person.” So consumerism increases in the more unequal society.

“Why should human society turn out like this?” mused Richard Wilkinson. He wondered whether it is natural for human beings to want dominance rather than submission, and whether the market system is natural. “No it is not”, he answered himself. He referred to hunter-gatherer societies which were shown by social anthropologists to be far more egalitarian, and added, “So we’re not inherently nasty.” The desire for dominance can be held in check by counter-dominance strategies in society, for instance by ostracising over-bossy leaders.

Studies show that the idea of a natural hierarchy in society is false, the professor went on, and neither is there a huge inherited difference in intelligence, which is affected by hundreds of different genes. Our brains are shaped by what we do – by studying languages, for example, or physical activities such as dancing. It has been shown that London black-cab drivers who acquire ‘The Knowledge’ have ‘smarter brains’.

We have different abilities, but the idea of inherent differences is a myth, the speaker continued. We have different strategies for domination – and for human co-operation. In more equal societies, we can change.

For sustainable economies, he concluded, we need to oppose the drive to consumerism and self-interest, and reduce inequality. We want greater democracy in the economic sphere, by such means as co-operatives, lower pay ratios, trade unions and mutual societies, making a gradual shift. “It’s not just a matter of changing the tax system. A greater culture of equality is important.” 

The full thinking of the two speakers, Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson, can be followed in their latest book, ‘The Inner Level’. ISBN 978-1-846-14741-8

* Katharine Pindar is a long-standing member of the Lib Dems and an activist in the West Cumbrian constituency of Copeland and Workington.

Read more by or more about , , , or .
This entry was posted in Op-eds.
Advert

35 Comments

  • Peter Martin 13th Jul '18 - 12:51pm

    I’ve always thought that LIb Dems were as good as everyone else at identifying problems like this but aren’t too good at identifying solutions. Other than such measures as devolving governmental responsibility , but without the power that a central government possesses, of course! This means it is unlikely to work. The devolved regions will simply ‘run out’ of money. The politicians of central government will then say it’s not their problem any longer.

    Or, on the other hand, moving the other way and helping create a Pan European entity which doesn’t have a good rack record so far. As I understand it, the wealthier parts of the EU aren’t too keen to share their surplus euros with those poorer, and in deficit, regions.

    At least the left offers a solution. Soak the rich! I’m not sure it really is a solution though. The problem of inequality can only be tackled by the nation state in defining suitable goals for the economy. One of these has to be full employment and the other has to be to ensure that all employment is at a minimum acceptable level. The second naturally follows on from the first. Even the bad employers will then be forced to offer good pay and conditions. Otherwise they’ll lose their workforce.

  • Katharine Pindar 13th Jul '18 - 3:32pm

    Must modern Western society continue to be vastly unequal? That is a deeper question that Professors Pickett and Wilkinson are raising than the question of what fairer taxation can do to stem rising inequality. Their talk hinted that the answer is, no it is not a natural law that we will have to accept in our day. No, it is not a fact frankly speaking that some are not clever enough to rise to better things, or that people cannot change themselves, better their chances and their station in life. It is not a fact that the rich and powerful must rule (I am now developing the thoughts the authors suggested), because if we can help develop a culture of non-acceptance of this, and expectation that excessive dominance linked with narcissism can and must be curbed, we can undermine the gloomy expectation and then the fact.

    Is it not a case that the humility of the English football team manager Gareth Southgate has been viewed with admiration by probably most English people, and that equally most English people are deploring the rudeness and arrogance of the visiting President Trump? On such shared values resurfacing can be built hope for the deep fissures of English society, which we Liberal Democrats can and should help to advance.

  • If more equal societies have better mental health than less equal societies, how come Norway, Sweden and Finland all have much higher suicide rates than the UK?

    https://jakubmarian.com/suicide-rates-by-country-in-europe/

  • Katharine Pindar 13th Jul '18 - 6:00pm

    “The task for liberals is to break down the ‘us and them’ mentality on both sides of the divide.” How right you are, Joe, and how appropriate a task it is for Liberal Democrats. Your post is apt in bringing out the contrary trend of today’s conservatives, in seeming to take up Victorian thinking again. When I read that the New Poor Law was “a wilful attempt to create a low-wage army of labor”, I immediately thought of Universal Credit, and Conservative self-satisfaction in today’s low unemployment, regardless of the facts that many working people aren’t earning enough to readily feed their families, and that many struggle to make ends meet on part-time or temporary or insecure jobs or work all hours on more than one at a time. Working life in Britain is unfair for so many of our fellow citizens that we must not be content with so-called ‘full employment’, or with a national minimum wage that many are not getting. They are also ‘us’, and the present ‘them’ must be brought to accept that a lessening of the divide, culturally as well as economically, is necessary for the wellbeing of our fractured country.

  • Steve Trevethan 13th Jul '18 - 7:35pm

    Thank you for a most interesting article on a most important matter!
    May I recommend “The Spirit Level: Why Equality Is Better for Everyone” also by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett.
    Inequality is self increasing. Economic inequality is power inequality. Extremes of power inequality result in absolutism, fascism and the like. The increasing wealth/power of the few and, particularly, the very few, is terminally dangerous for societies and for the World.
    Without an antidote to increasing ecomomic inequality and power, the vast majority is/will be existing in a parasitic society.
    What we need is symbiotic societies.
    “What we need is not so much a clever solution as a society which recognises the benefits of greater equality” [From book mentioned above]
    The work of Wilkinson and Pickett offers us a a plan and plumb line with which to rebuild our society.
    Let’s get our party to use it!

  • Katharine Pindar 14th Jul '18 - 12:22am

    Thanks, Steve, and congratulations on having already read the book The Spirit Level, which is actually mentioned in my article, but which I must admit to being behindhand in reading. You are so right to dwell on the real dangers of ever-increasing inequalities, and to support the professors’ call for society to recognise the benefits of greater equality. It will take a cultural change, as Joe Bourke highlighted, but it would be right for Lib Dems to take a lead in this. For it is we who constantly oppose ‘us and them’ thinking, which neither the Labour Party, with its primary focus on unionised workers, not the Tories with their focus on the privileged, can possibly prioritise.

    @ TCO. I can’t give you an informed answer on your query about higher suicide rates in Norway, Sweden and Finland, and can only guess that having far fewer daylight hours contributes. But I think the two professors in their conclusions on the part social anxieties play in the worse mental health of more unequal societies are finding they have a link to depression (as I can indeed support from the evidence of my own counselling practice) and are not claiming a link to suicide rates. At its most severe, depression can lead to suicide, as is stated on p.37 of The Inner Level, but the book index gives this solitary reference to suicide, and far more to shame which is strongly linked to poverty.

  • Steve Trevethan 14th Jul '18 - 7:32am

    On suicide:
    “The Spirit Level” has interesting bits on suicide on pages 75 and 175. The probable correlation between suicide and homicide (p.175) is particularly striking.

  • Steve Trevethan does the book explain what drives suicide?

  • Sue Sutherland 14th Jul '18 - 12:42pm

    Thank you for this Katharine. I’d like to see a more equal society which spreads prosperity across more classes. Unfortunately consumerism, or keeping up with the Joneses, seems to be the driving force for economic growth which originally occurred with the growth of the middle classes. Weber’s embourgeoisement. China’s growth has repeated this pattern as those with more disposable income seek to display their wealth to impress their neighbours and also, as you say, reinforce their social standing.
    In the 60s and 70s a lot of people saw their incomes rise and more people could afford major items like a house and a car, so they felt comfortable with their situation. I think it’s nostalgia for this era as much as for our lost empire which fuelled the Leave vote.
    So, to achieve economic growth and stability it seems we need more people to spend more. We need to increase the spending power of the majority, but at the moment there are too many people who consider themselves to be middle class, or who want to be middle class, who are unable to afford to buy a home of their own, which is the most significant sign of social position in our UK society.
    Instead we have very wealthy people with lots of money who can’t possibly spend it all, so it seems to me that there is an economic argument, as well as the demand for social justice, for redistribution of wealth.

  • Katharine, as I tried to point out to you last night the further north a person lives the longer the day is in summer. This is why Svalbard, Norway has no sunset from 19 April to 23 August (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midnight_sun). Of course in winter the days are shorter the further north a person lives. This is why Svalbard, Norway has no sun during December and what is called the ‘civil polar night’ from 11 November until 30 January (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polar_night). I wonder if both phenomena counter balance each other so everywhere in the northern hemisphere ends up with the same number of hours of sunlight over the whole year.

    However, the further north a person lives they might be affected more by seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and it might be this which gives Norway, Sweden and Finland higher suicide rates. Another factor pointed out on the Jakubmarian website is the further east in Europe a country is the higher the suicide rate – UK 6.2, Norway 9.1, Sweden 11.1, Finland 14.8, Russia 19.5.

  • @Katherine Pindar @Michael BG so what you’re both saying, in effect, is that it’s more complicated than the simple correlation that the more unequal a society is, the worse the mental health of those in that society. Because the evidence of suicide rates clearly refutes this theory.

    That the authors of this book seem to equate correlation with causation is troubling, don’t you think?

  • The jakubmarian site shows a suicide rate of 28.2 for Lithuania against one of 3.8 for Greece – two countries on similar longitudes. Lithuania has the dubious honour of being the country with the highest suicide rate in the world https://www.baltictimes.com/news/articles/6210/ . According to the director of the State Mental Health Center, pinpointing an exact cause for suicide is impossible. But the clear social and financial problems that exist in Lithuania have had a major effect.

    Although Greece has a low rate there does appear to be increases involved with the country’s economic woes http://greece.greekreporter.com/2014/09/12/suicide-rate-in-greece-decreases/

    “A researcher noted that although there have been studies into the health effects of negative economic growth in the past, there was a gap when it came specifically to spending cuts and health. His co-author, economics professor Alan Collins, said they were surprised at how many suicides appeared to be linked to austerity and how clear the connection was.”

  • Peter Martin 14th Jul '18 - 6:49pm

    This study shows that in the 2009-2010 period an extra 500 Greek males took their lives due to the economic recession . There’ll be female suicides too. Multiply that by 8 or 9 for each year since and we’ll be looking at thousands of deaths. No doubt, if we look closely, we’ll find that many Greek women have been forced into prostitution to feed their families. That’s what women will do rather than let their children go hungry.

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/21/austerity-greece-male-suicides-spending-cuts

    We can add physical illness into all this. There’s always likely to be that correlation. In addition there will be a tendency for young people to feel hopeless and drift into a lifestyle of drug abuse and crime etc. I’m not sure its necessarily all connected with inequality. You can start life with not much at all but if there’s opportunity and the possibility of advancement then there’s no reason to feel too depressed about life. Not that depression can’t strike us all and for no apparent reason. It’s not all about economics, fairness and equality but a large part of it is.

    We need to do what we can. The problems we are discussing are largely self inflicted. It’s not as if a large asteroid has struck the planet and caused large scale crop failures! We tend to think that the 2008 GFC was an external calamity imposed on us, and we’re incapable of getting our economy back on track. I’m not sure why! We can and we should.

  • Katharine Pindar 14th Jul '18 - 7:55pm

    The studies cited by the two professors do show that mental health tends to worsen according to the inequality of societies. You are right, of course, Peter, that there are many other reasons for mental ill-health. The increase in child mental ill-health is reported to be linked partly to image anxiety and social media interaction, but that also suggests social anxiety about status may be a major cause. The professors are suggesting, as I understand it, that social anxiety is linked with mental illnesses such as depression, and that it tends to be particularly prevalent in less equal societies. In other words, people suffering poverty in a society where many others can flaunt their wealth may be liable to self-shame and fear of the opinions of others.

    So, Peter, the ‘opportunity, and possibility of advancement’ which may keep people’s spirits up may depend on the circle and society they are in. We are social beings, and mostly do seek some approval from those around us, and if we haven’t enough money in this consumerist society we may well feel like failures and expect others to look down on us, unless we have strong links to others similarly affected or firm backing from family and friends. I feel anxiety for Food Bank users, especially when they are first obliged to ask for that help.

  • Katharine Pindar 14th Jul '18 - 8:14pm

    Sue Sutherland.. Thanks, Sue, you make the interesting point that ‘it seems for economic growth and stability that we do need more people to spend more’, which I suppose can be a defence of consumerism. But as you suggest, we need a more equal division of wealth, so that more people can afford to buy their homes, and fewer people have more wealth than they can spend – or, we might add, spend too much of it buying property as investment and not to provide more homes. I entirely agree. I think also we probably need to think more about desirable spending, so as to be able to encourage or ‘nudge’ people towards ethical aims. It would be good if there was less admiration for people having the biggest houses and flashiest cars, or the latest shiny electronic device, but I suppose only the churches can promote a moral regeneration of that sort!

  • @ Peter Martin

    The Samaritans published UK and Ireland suicide rates for 2013-15 (https://www.samaritans.org/sites/default/files/kcfinder/files/Suicide_statistics_report_2017_Final.pdf) which states “There has been a decreasing trend in the UK suicide rate until around 2007. Since then, there has been a general increase in rate” (p 28).

  • Peter Martin 14th Jul '18 - 9:15pm

    @Sue Sutherland @ Katharine Pindar

    Sue says

    “So, to achieve economic growth and stability it seems we need more people to spend more.”

    and

    “Instead we have very wealthy people with lots of money who can’t possibly spend it all”

    Which I think is an interesting observation too. Consider that everything we produce is placed for sale in a giant hypermarket. If everything is not sold (ie not enough spending) we have recession. There’s no point making any more so workers are laid off. If too much is sold too quickly (ie demand is too high) we can get too much inflation. So its the amount of spending that does matter. The Govt is the only entity that can regulate its spending to ensure that demand is not too high and not too low.

    If some people earn more than they can spend they end up saving it which creates Govt debt as they buy bonds etc. Then we worry about Govt increased debt, apply austerity economics etc, and we create the situation we have now.

    I agree that we are far too consumerist and we’re making demands on the planet which are unsustainable. The problem is that if we just reduce those demands, without thinking what we are doing, we would crash the economy as demand plummets.

    So how do we survive in the longer term without wrecking the society we have? A society with an economic system which requires and is addicted to growth. If we don’t get growth then everyone feels worse off. GDP (per capita) now is not much different from 2002 but we were much happier then. So, you’re right if we don’t get growth we don’t have stability either. I have been reading some suggestions on how we can achieve a stable growthless economy – at least in resource terms. I don’t think it’s impossible but it’s going to be difficult.

    Just fixing the present economy is trivially simple by comparison!

  • Katharine Pindar 15th Jul '18 - 9:01am

    Surely, Peter and Sue, considering that the economy needs people to spend in order to grow, what we must think about is who is spending, on what, and how politicians can affect that. We want the rich to invest in productive industry, for instance, not in buying property as an investment. We want the poor to have greater capacity to spend, and aren’t going to prescribe what they spend it on. We need policies to affect both ends.

    On suicide, it seems from the evidence posters here have helpfully provided that the years of economic austerity have led to the sad fact of more people committing suicide, both in Greece and in Britain. But the despair that leads to suicide is not part of the consideration of the epidemiologist professors Pickett and Wilkinson in their two books, or of the studies that they have built their current theses on.

  • Peter Martin 15th Jul '18 - 10:35am

    @ Katharine,

    The rich will always put their money where they feel it will get the best return. I suppose they aren’t any different from anyone else in that respect. We can work it out for ourselves but, if not, we only have to watch Dragon’s Den to know how they think. They’ll want to know that any business venture is likely to attract enough paying customers to support a decent profit margin. There has to be enough demand.

    If they don’t feel people in a depressed area are likely to go out and spend in an upmarket restaurant, for example, they won’t put money in to create one. But if the region is becoming more prosperous than that could change. So the fortunes of the wealthy and less affluent aren’t separate, and it’s not a simple matter of one gaining at the expense of the other. That should chime with Lib Dem political theory!

    So demand management is an essential part of any sensible political and economic system. The Government can influence that by targetted fiscal spending in ways that more orthodox monetary management can’t. In other words the Govt needs to target its spending towards more Middlebrough rather than London and the SE of England.

  • Peter Hirst 15th Jul '18 - 1:21pm

    It used to be said that the poorer are happier and there was some truth in it. Relationships and more time for them and the enjoyment of simple pleasures such as nature made up for less material wealth. An angry poor is symptomatic of a failed society.

  • Katharine Pindar 15th Jul '18 - 2:48pm

    ‘An angry poor is symptomatic of a failed society.’ Well said, Peter Hirst, and a deep problem that we Liberal Democrats have to keep on working out solutions for. Peter Martin, I take your points, but I also take it that taxation policy can alter the choices of the wealthy (at which point I guess I turn to the other thread running parallel to this!).

  • Sean Hyland 15th Jul '18 - 2:54pm

    Katharine Pinder many thanks for starting this discussion and have enjoyed reading the contributions from others. A timely subject to address with many causes and possible solutions.
    I don’t think the poor were any happier in the past as they had to, as they do now, have to focus on surviving. The only benefit they used to be able to felt on was a society that recognised that sometimes people needed a little extra help and support and governments that agreed and tried to provide a fair equitable welfare state. Increasingly that has been removed and the poorer in our society are demonized and labelled. As others have said we need to challenge that and campaign on all the issues identified.

    A more difficult issue to address maybe how we challenge the narrative of what constitutes not just success but a valued life. We are bombarded with images that we can only be content and have value of we have ” stuff “. The latest fashion, gadget, appliance, car, phone etc etc etc in a never ending list. We cannot continue to consume – it’s no good for us as individuals and no good for the planet.

  • @sean Hykand – what do you think the poor in the past – who did quite literally starve – might make if today’s poor? What do you think the majority of people outside of Western Europe and North America might think?

    What evidence do you have that attitudes are any more or less judgemental today than at previous times?

  • Katharine Pindar 15th Jul '18 - 7:31pm

    Sean, the country is in such a state of turmoil now that it may be just the time to begin to plan for a better Britain. I don’t believe that Parliament will allow a no-deal Brexit, but there are rough waters to keep afloat in before, hopefully, a People’s Vote for staying in will allow our country to begin to pick itself up. And yes, we will need to tackle inequality, have fairer taxation and better pay, shore up the NHS and social care, give fairer resources to the regions, and let local government have funds for all the depleted services we need.

    But besides all those essential aims, we will see a country aching for peace and harmony again, for a country no longer split in two, no longer so deeply divided and full of anger and hatred. People will look for the best of Britain, such as was seen in the 2012 Olympics, and now in the collective endeavour of our English football team and its humble, thoughtful manager. It can be a time then for searching for old values, and for a real national renewal. Why not then point more of our people’s thinking towards a simpler, more outward-looking way of life, more based on sharing with our neighbours than on consumerism? Sheer gratitude for the end of chaos, if combined with a real effort by politicians to end the plight of the poorest and most ground-down of our people, could surely provide the impetus towards such renewal. What do you think?

  • Sean Hyland 15th Jul '18 - 7:33pm

    TFL think the poor of the past would class the poor of today as quite privliged. Was referring purely to the UK. We seem to be returning to the Victorian stages of wether the poor were deserving of not and the architects of their own misfortune. The modern poor in UK society have seen statements and headlines that demonize them as spongers and scroungers. Not in the same class as the past i know but we developed a welfare state for a reason.

    As to the impacts on individuals mental health i can only look back on my past career as a senior nurse / team manager in a community mental health team. My professional practice is a few years out of date but I can still recall the impacts on individuals and families from isolation, exclusion and low/limited income.

  • Sean Hyland 15th Jul '18 - 7:35pm

    Sorry spellchecker at work meant TCO – my apologies.

  • Katharine Pindar 15th Jul '18 - 11:16pm

    Thank you for reminding us of your highly relevant past career, Sean. You remember impacts on families from ‘isolation, exclusion and low/limited income’. Did ‘exclusion’ include the feelings of worthlessness and expecting to be seen as worthless that our authors highlight? I should also be glad of your opinion of my question (I think we were writing at the same time) about the chance of national renewal – a psychological renewal – if we stay in Europe and if we do indeed right the many practical evils that we Lib Dems dwell on.

    I know you were a Leaver, but the question still remains if Mrs May does somehow pull off the unlikely triumph of a really soft Brexit. I would be interested in others’ opinions on the same sort of question. There could be such a sense of relief and burst of energy after release from this excruciating national hiatus – provided we don’t have the fudge of a transitional period, which will leave us all in limbo still. There is such a waste of national resources already, in the thousands of new civil servants, of the paying of so many lawyers, and of the time spent by government politicians of trying to work it all out and please everybody. Another referendum is the democratic cutting of the Gordian knot.

  • Katharine you always ask really good questions. I’m going back to the mid 2000’s and things were a little different then. We had some joined up health services linking hospital and health teams in the community and good relationships with social services. We were however still in a time when there were not really any high profile campaigns against the stigmatising of individuals with mental health issues. This is not to take away from the work of people like MIND and others.

    So yes there was a bit issue of lack of worth in individuals. There were few positive role models in the public eye and stigma and misunderstanding limited life opportunities like work and study. This fed the isolation and had clear clinical impacts. You soon realise that there is no point in valuing yourself if society doesn’t value you. The biggest impact we had on this was to push self advocacy – equipping people with the support and training to stand up for themselves, challenge services etc. I worked mostly with children and young people and it had a great impact on them and their families/carers. We live in a different world now as we are seeing the pushback against the labelling with high profile campaigns and positive role models. A long way to go but step leads to step.

    Yes I’m a leave voter but my decision has never been set in stone and I still question my decision and look for answers. There could be a sense of national renewal and further change in society no matter what the outcome. We have had several years of negativity, waste and splits in society. The whole process has been badly managed since the campaigning began and continued with the mistakes of the negotiations. Just the ending of the process will satisfy some as it’s all finally over. There will hopefully be some positives what ever the end result – so let’s emphasise those while being honest and truthful about the fact that issues still remain to be resolved and there will be those who have a different agenda.

    Somehow we have to find a way back to addressing the other important issues in society- health,education,housing, inequality etc. Then we may feel the rewards of a positive renewal. Sorry for waffling on but the chance is there if we can campaign for the right outcomes with positive messages on positive policies. Hope this answers a little of your question.

  • Peter Martin 16th Jul '18 - 7:57am

    My thoughts on equality have always been guided by thoughts of what should be normal civilised human behaviour rather the mental health aspect to it. If children are given a packet of sweets, for example, they’ll normally just share them out equally. It’s the natural thing to do.

    In supposedly more primitive tribal societies food was, and still is where that structure still exists, shared out among the group according to certain social customs. It may not be exactly equal but there’s an obligation on the hunters and collectors to bring back whatever they catch or gather so that everyone can have their share. There’s also an obligation to not just sit back and do nothing though. If young men are capable of running down an antelope, then that’s what they are expected to do.

    So there may be a Job Guarantee but not a Universal Basic Income! 🙂

    That’s how we have evolved. We are social beings. It is simply not correct to say there is no such thing as society and we are all individuals whose obligations to others don’t extend beyond our immediate family.

    That’s a myth to try to justify the present economic system. More right wing economists even build this falsehood into their models with, for example, their nonsensical theory of ‘rational expectations’!

  • Katharine Pindar 16th Jul '18 - 10:00am

    Useful thoughts, thank you, both Sean and Peter. While there is indeed a bit less stigmatising of people with mental health issues today, as you suggest, Sean, there is unfortunately more chance of people developing these issues. With relative poverty still high people’s sense of failure, lowered self-worth, and expectation of being thought poorly of by their surrounding society are likely to continue to worsen their mental health. I suppose the worthwhile pushing of self-advocacy, which you describe so interestingly, should continue, but from our political perspective obviously reducing relative poverty is a vital aim. I think your thoughts on working towards wider national renewal are entirely relevant, and these are matters we all need to concentrate on for the future beyond March next year.

    Peter, you engage tremendously in all these discussions, but I hope you will also help pursue the useful aims the party may come to support, such as, indeed, working for guaranteed jobs for all, including government provision as a last resort.

  • Katharine, it is a kind of circular argument. If you identify the causes you provide the solution you stop the issue developing. Times have changed in terms of attitudes but the policies of government of whatever colour have more impact. Policies that push people into unemployment,poverty,homelessness,and want do more damage psychologically than people generally realise. Peter has a point about which economic model is appropriate to a societies needs. If we pursue policies that promote full employment, decent housing, community services etc the payoff should be seen in a happier population. If you feel more secure in your individual and family circumstances it can then translate into channelling your concerns into helping your community and society in general. People who feel valued generally want the same for others.

    We also have to find a way to challenge the relentless pursuit of “stuff” equalling a ” perfect ” life and images of what a ” perfect ” body is. We used to value people for what they did, not just in employment but as part of their community, now it seems as value is equated to a full wallet the latest car/gizmo and dressing in the latest hot labels. A quick search will reveal any number of studies showing the impact on the mental health of particularly the young.

  • Helen Dudden 17th Jul '18 - 11:03am

    I’m 70 years old, and seen many changes in society.
    One thing that really concerns me, is the number of the young who are taking their lives. What ever the reason, it’s shocking and it’s happening.
    Brexit, I’m not really worried one way or the other. The NHS and housing bothers me, and also Universal Credit. I’m disabled, and fully understand the unfairness here.
    Things did seem more stable when I was 17 years old, homes were easier to find and working seemed to be less stressful. Not the pressures are young seen to face.
    Politics to me, can often seen noisy and lacking.

  • “He wondered … whether the market system is natural. “No it is not”, he answered himself. He referred to hunter-gatherer societies which were shown by social anthropologists to be far more egalitarian.”

    Did he also not draw the obvious conclusion that egalitarian hunter gatherer societies remain as hunter gatherer societies and that it takes enlightened self interest to drive innovation?

    Perhaps he’d like to give up the trappings of modern society and his academic status and be a hunter gatherer?

  • Helen Dudden 19th Jul '18 - 8:42am

    @Sean Hyland. I agree with most of your comments. It should be more than what you look like, or if your phone is better.
    We desperately need housing, not all the housing stock is still up to Decent Homes. The NHS is lacking in respect, to those it was designed to help. It needs reforming and the Matron used to rule. It was not designed to be an employer, for those with high earnings for a few of those at the top.
    Mental Health for our young is beginning to become worrying and a problem for all those families concerned. Suicide is written about daily for young adults.
    The chance of our young people owning homes is not very high.
    Employment, is stressful. Lack of respect in many areas.
    I also feel, there is a need to put less interest in the internet, and more into relaxing in other pursuits.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarGalen Milne 20th Sep - 11:40pm
    Your explanation is correct. England should be subdivided into smaller regions with equivalent representation in an upper chamber that reflects population sizes. Tge Scottish Parliament...
  • User AvatarJoeB 20th Sep - 10:55pm
    Peter, we consume what we produce. To the extent we consume more imports than we export, then we produce assets that overseas investors can invest...
  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 20th Sep - 10:39pm
    Thanks to the excellent and very much valued contribution from our stalwart Katharine. I was very troubled by the vote on abortion. I do not...
  • User AvatarMichael 1 20th Sep - 10:21pm
    On polling - it is easy to cherry-pic k and read too much into one poll. But it is encouraging that we look to be...
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 20th Sep - 9:33pm
    @ nvelop I don't know whether you're being provocative or just ill informed. Probably both. Before the NHS was introduced in 1948 the patchwork of...
  • User AvatarEd Shepherd 20th Sep - 9:25pm
    Externally marked exams that are open to anyone are a way in which people from underprivileged or non-traditional backgrounds can compete with people from privileged...