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#552#553#554#555 Episode #556 - Redefining Poverty
(Needs and The Spirit Level)



Sat 24 July 2010  Ivan Illich (reading), Stephen Bezruchka, Richard Wilkinson, Kate Pickett
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Download Hour1 Download Hour2This week we challenge modern ideas about wealth and poverty. Our main piece is by two English professors, Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett on their 2009 book, The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better. But first, we conclude the Ivan Illich reading from episode 554.
What does it mean to be poor? When did people start to see poverty in abstract terms? When did they start to refer to basic needs? These and other questions will be answered this week in by second half of the Ivan Illich reading from episode 554. Illich looks at the history of apparently simple and innocuous concepts as 'the poverty line' (a phrase coined by Quaker philanthropist and friend of Lloyd George, B.S. Rowntree in 1901). By exposing some of the hidden value sets in the institutionalised language of 'poverty alleviation', this reading sets the scene for what follows.

Former emergency doctor Stephen Bezruchka introduces our main presentation, the soundtrack of a 90 minute video recorded in Seattle Town Hall in January 2010 by PirateTV. One of the speakers, professor Richard Wilkinson, we heard before in episode 499. This time he shares the presentation on their 2009 book, The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better with his co-author and partner, professor Kate Pickett.

They explain their research, which provides evidence that social inequality is highly correlated to a wide range of key social indicators, which can broadly be understood as indicative of 'social health'. For example, income equal societies, people live longer, have higher rates of life satisfaction, literacy, trust, social mobility and innovation.

Unequal societies by contrast have higher rates of depression, teenage pregnancy, infant mortality, obesity, illegal drug use and imprisonment. We conclude with a Q&A session.
Thanks to Pirate TV Seattle for the Spirit Level video.
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