We can improve the real quality of human life by reducing the differences in incomes between us, says Richard Wilkinson, author of the ground-breaking ‘Spirit Level’ book.
Ever wondered why the crime rate and other social ills seem to be on the rise?
Wilkinson suggests that these problems seem to be more prevalent in countries or societies that are more unequal.
Malaysia, for instance, is by all accounts a rather unequal society. Should we then be surprised at the level of social problems in the country?
You can see that one of the recommendations that Wilkinson puts forward is for a more progressive tax system – i.e. higher taxes for the wealthy to try and narrow the income gap.
Unfortunately, what we are seeing now in Malaysia are cuts in tax rates at the higher levels and the proposal to introduce GST. This is moving us towards a more regressive tax system, and it won’t help in stemming the tide of inequality in our country. Similarly neoliberal policies including privatisation appear to be transferring more profits to the top 20 per cent of society.
How then to reduce social problems?