Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 25 Share on Twitter 2 Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds   

Let Them Eat Cake: The Economic Costs and Causes of our Societal Ills

By       (Page 1 of 2 pages)   2 comments
Follow Me on Twitter     Message Robert De Filippis
Become a Fan
  (30 fans)

Occupy Wall Street: DAY OF ACTION - 11/17/11 - 42
Occupy Wall Street: DAY OF ACTION - 11/17/11 - 42
(Image by ChairWomanMay)
  Details   DMCA

Occupy Wall Street: DAY OF ACTION - 11/17/11 - 42 by ChairWomanMay

Richard Wilkinson, Professor Emeritus of Social Epidemiology at the University of Nottingham, England and researcher in social inequalities in health and the social determinants of health, gave a TED talk on the effects of unequal distribution of wealth in rich, developed market democracies, which includes us.

He emphasized two important findings from his research: 1) Country to country comparisons showed no correlations or statistical relationship. Which means the unequal distribution of wealth between countries had no discernible effect.

2) The unequal distribution of wealth within each country had overwhelming negative statistical relationships to its society's health. And the most egregious negative societal effects, the findings of which are confirmed by at least 200 peer reviewed journals, is found in the United States.

Wilkinson's study compared the distribution of wealth between the top and bottom 20 percent in each country. For example, the unequal distribution of wealth in the United States is twice that of countries like Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark.   None the less, they were consistently found to have much healthier societies.

This cannot be a surprise to anyone but the most unconscious among us: A society's unequal distribution of wealth has a negative correlation to the health of its society. In other words, the greater the one, the less the other.

What are the factors that constitute a healthy society? Life expectancy, math and literacy skills, infant mortality, homicides, imprisoned population, teenage births, trust, obesity, mental illness, including drug abuse and alcoholism, and social mobility.

In effect, what this means is the health of our society as measured by these factors is at the low end of all the rich, developed market democracies in the world while our unequal distribution of wealth is at the high end. Our top 20 percent has 8.5 times more wealth than the bottom 20 percent.

Now before you think I am advocating for government enforced redistribution of your personal wealth, please relax. I'm coming to this issue from a constructive perspective that was an integral part of capitalism for a long time before Milton Friedman.

There are two remedies I can think of in this regard: 1) a more equal distribution of the ownership of the our economic engine. "Ain't gonna" happen in my lifetime. 2) a more equal distribution of the responsibility for and the sharing of the gains to be had in the functioning of a more effective economic engine.

In simple terms, get capital and labor working together to make the whole pie bigger and enhance everyone's life. In other words, reverse the current trend taking us down the road toward even more corrosive effects on our society.

I'm a dreamer, you say? No, I'm the voice of experience. I've done exactly this and proved the concept.

In the 1980's, while a plant manager for Dana Corporation, I had the pleasure of working with Fred Lesieur who at that time held the Scanlon Chair at MIT. Lesieur consulted to companies who wanted to implement Scanlon Plans and had partnered with Joseph Scanlon in the development of the first plan of this type at Lapointe Tool Company in the 1930's.

Initially, the plan was seen as a union management cooperation plan designed to save a company from bankruptcy. I found it to be a great deal more. It remade every one of my 400 employees into a capitalist by sharing the responsibility and the gains that came from new efficiencies they themselves produced.

During those years, Dana corporation was in the top 100 Best Places to work while they had their Lesieur Scanlon Plan. My plant was one of those places.

In concrete terms, the plan released a 20 to 25 percent improvement in efficiencies previously blocked by employee/management conflicts of interests. We all enjoyed the bonus income that came from our joint efforts, not to mention the improved morale and reduction in grievances about trivialities.

Next Page  1  |  2

(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).

Rate It | View Ratings

Robert De Filippis Social Media Pages: Facebook Page       Twitter Page       Linked In Page       Instagram Page

Author, columnist, and blogger with a long career in business management, management consulting and executive coaching. I've authored and published eight books: "You, Your Self and the 21st Century,"The Flowers Are Talking to Me," and "Faith (more...)

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Follow Me on Twitter     Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Illinois Is Now on Board. We Can Carry Concealed Weapons in Every State.

Don't be Fooled: Black Racism Causes White Racism

The Primary American Meme: Be Afraid.

What Jesus said and What the Christian Lunatic Fringe Hears.

This Pope Makes Me Want to be an Atheist

Ethan Couch: An Example of the Pathology of Wealth

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend