Inequality harms everyone – except, maybe the very, very rich

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The Guardian is running a series on inequality this week. If it's as good as its opening article then it will be excellent.

Read this from Madeleine Bunting in the Guardian:

The charge sheet is being assembled. A super-elite ratchets up social comparisons, leaving everyone lower down the pecking order disgruntled - the US economist Robert Frank argues that the relationship between inequality and lower rates of happiness is now well established. His new book, Falling Behind, examines the phenomenon in the US, where the middle classes are now working harder than ever to pay exorbitant mortgages on incomes that have stagnated while the wealth of the super-rich has ballooned. "Richistan" is another country, argues a Wall Street reporter assigned to cover the subject full-time in 2003: private banking, private planes, private health and education. And it's a country stuffed full of absurd opulence - watches worth hundreds of thousands, but hey, why stop at one, what about a "watch wardrobe"?

We are as ghoulishly gripped by Richistan as if we were watching a car crash - and that's exactly what it is. A slow-motion catastrophe: an elite, however small, with this kind of immense wealth has a hugely disproportionate impact, skewing the whole frame of reference in a society of value, worth and status - which are all human needs basic to dignity and wellbeing. The super-rich are poison to the body politic, ratcheting up social tensions - most acutely in London, the global capital of Richistan - and those tensions, tragically, play out on the streets not of Belgravia but in the poorest neighbourhoods.

Now read the rest. It's worth it.

Now argue why we do not need strong, progressive taxation. It's hard to think of anything that could do more to increase well being in this country. And around the world.