I welcome this book. It is a superb summary of the problems that inequality actually creates. Inequality issues are often presented as being about the poor, but this book shows that we are all poorer for living in more unequal societies. Inequality is as bad for the rich as it is for the poor. Society is poorer as inequality becomes greater.
The impacts of inequality show up in poorer health, lower educational attainment, higher crime rates, lower social capital, lower trust, lower co-operation the more unequal the society becomes. Wilkinson and Pickett give us clear evidence for these statements.
For the last twelve years we have endured in the UK a Labour government that preaches equality (then wonders "equality of what?") whilst actually presiding over increasing inequality and reducing social mobility.
Inequality is clearly a bad thing for a society, and its constituent individuals. The question comes about what to do about it, and how best to reduce it. Sadly these questions are usually posed and answered from the political left, usually in terms of state action and redistribution. It is clear after 12 years of a hyperactive state under Gordon Brown that state action is a blunt instrument at best, and can often make things worse, and lock inequality in.
Wilkinson and Pickett have written this book well and have made an accurate diagnosis of the problems inequality is causing in unequal societies such as UK and USA. I am less sure about their suggested remedies, but I support their work, and hope that political and economic thinkers both on the left and on the right will come to recognise the problem of inequality, and come up with solutions for it.
Meanwhile as a medical doctor I will continue to try to patch up the casualties of inequality I meet in my consulting room.