Friday, April 23, 2010

Rant a Rant Rant over Social Inequality.

A still from Flickr Creative Commons: Library of Congress, Bain Collection Mrs. Belmont's Farm for Girls.There was a sense in 1910 that working the earth was wholesome.

I have just been listening to BBC Radio Four Daniel Dorling, Professor of Geography at Sheffield University, who wrote Injustice: Why Social Inequality Persists. I had clicked on for a discussion of 'nakedness' but this preceeded it.

How much have things changed in 100 years, since the 1910 era when the Nicholson girls dreamed of a better life for themselves through hard work, education and good fashion sense?

Not much. From what I could glean from the short interview, this scholar believes inequality exists because we believe in inequality, or it's inevitability: we actually believe some people have the right to, say, 40,000 dollars for getting out of bed in the morning and others should have their 10 dollars a day welfare taken away, because that princely sum will make them too lazy and they won't get up and work. (His metaphor.)

It reminds me of what a man said on air a few months ago, on BBC's Today, that the Bond Street men making bazillions earn every penny because they 'give up everything for their work': they never see their wives or kids. Hmm, I thought at the time, "If you are a disfunctional human you deserve a lot of money. Funny, that."(Hmm. These Wall Street or Bond Street guys don't wear flowing wigs and silly shoes with giant buckles and purple tights, and they are busy beavers, but they are today's French aristocracy, no doubt. (And when they commit crimes,they do it big time, stealing bazillions and not thousands, so they don't get punished.)

Apparently we accept the fact that greed is good today (which is why we allow credit card companies to charge 19 percent when the lending rate is otherwise so low. Indeed, this easy credit is a way to maintain inequality for some people spend all their extra cash on interest and IT IS ENCOURAGED. ) Simple. (I remember reading a famous essay from decades ago that said, sadly, "Whatever is good for business is "good." (After dealing with THE BANK lately, with respect to my mother's estate, I can say that Greed is all that matters with them. Not humanity, not common sense, not logic. Well, one bank, the Royal Bank of Canada, was very good to deal with. A real person took care of my file. The 'other bank' seems to employ only telephone drones, who open your file, repeat the same jargon, send you to another drone, and the advice contradicts itself all over the place and the agents get confused or snooty when caught in their contradictions. Or they blame in on 'the system' as in "the system automatically bills you." "The System sends out nasty, treatening letters." And still the banks make bazillions. Indeed, this is all that matters to them, oops, I mean IT.

Anyway, this scholar also admitted that while medicine has advanced considerably over the decades (and the letters reveal this well) that our idea of mental illness has not. We actually believe it is OK for a huge proportion of the population to be mentally ill, if the sales of anti-depressants are any indication. Why has the rate of mental illness become so much worse, these days? (Could those endless telephone menus at government, banks, corporations,etc)have something to do with it? I suspect so.) Why do we accept it? My son is reading Foucoult, I think that's his name. We often discuss this issue.

I must get back to editing Flo in the City, my work in progress about a young woman growing up in the pivotal 1910 era in Quebec based on the letters of