Source: Democracy Now
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to get your response, Yasser, to our own politicians here in the United States. Following the attacks in Belgium, Republican presidential contender Ted Cruz, who’s a senator from Texas, issued a statement saying, quote, "We need to immediately halt the flow of refugees from countries with a significant al Qaida or ISIS presence. We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized." Later Tuesday, Senator Cruz spoke to CNN.
SEN. TED CRUZ: If you have a neighborhood where there is a high level of gang activity, the way to prevent it is you increase the law enforcement presence there, and you target the gang members to get them off the streets. ... I am talking about an area where there is a higher incidence of radical Islamic terrorism. If you look at Europe, Europe’s failed immigration laws have allowed a massive influx of radical Islamic terrorists into Europe, and they are now in isolated neighborhoods where radicalism festers.AMY GOODMAN: So, that’s Senator Cruz speaking on CNN. Meanwhile, Donald Trump, the Republican front-runner, was asked on The Today Show about what Belgium officials should do to get information from Salah Abdeslam, who was captured last week.
DONALD TRUMP: I’m not looking to break any news on your show, but frankly, the waterboarding, if it was up to me, and if we changed the laws and—or have the laws, waterboarding would be fine. And if they want to do—as long as it’s with—because, you know, we work within laws. They don’t work within laws. They have no laws. We work within laws. The waterboarding would be fine. And if they could expand the laws, I would do a lot more than waterboarding. You have to get the information from these people. And we have to be smart, and we have to be tough, and we can’t be soft and weak, which is what we are right now.AMY GOODMAN: So that was Donald Trump and, before him, Ted Cruz, calling for more waterboarding and for the monitoring of and police going into Muslim communities in the United States. Yasser Louati, your response?
YASSER LOUATI: First, Europe is not waiting for Ted Cruz to give us policy advice. If he wants to patrol neighborhoods, ask him to go patrol neighborhoods where you have a high rate of white-collar criminality, who have put millions of Americans out of their homes and lost their jobs. Let’s start with that.
Second, we have this idiot you call Donald Trump. What does he know about foreign policy? How about ending the drone war? How about ending the war against terrorism? How about paying for the consequences of the collapse of Iraq, that saw the emergence of the so-called Islamic State. So, every single war abroad carried by superpowers is—they’re directly translated into terrorist attacks. And to quote one of your CIA officials, you know, who said, being a—"Terrorist attacks is a small price for being a superpower." So how about addressing that?
When it comes to policies, yes, we need to address our policies, increasing dramatically inequalities and the exclusion of millions of people. And again, it doesn’t take more than 10 individuals to carry out massive-scale terrorist attacks. But unfortunately for America, you have two of the dumbest politicians running for the presidency, and that should be a shame for every single politician in America.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Josh Hersh, I saw you smiling as you saw some of those videos. Your response to the presidential candidates here?
JOSHUA HERSH: Well, I mean, it’s obviously an emotional and somewhat ludicrous response, but at the same time there is a law enforcement response. And we have to recognize that, that there is a role for law enforcement. But I mean law enforcement instead of the military, law enforcement in the way that we’re starting to learn we have to apply law enforcement in smart and engaged ways in our American cities. I mean, Ted Cruz mentioned if we had a neighborhood that was full of gangs, well, we wouldn’t send tanks down the streets. We wouldn’t blow up apartment buildings. We would try and figure out smart, intelligent ways to get information there, to work with neighbors to build relationships with people who might actually be able to inform, under the assumption that most of the residents of that neighborhood don’t want the gangs there, either.
AMY GOODMAN: And, Frank Barat, your response to listening to the presidential candidates in the United States? Actually, the New York police commissioner, Bratton, lashed out against the patrolling of Muslim communities. But your response to Cruz and to Trump, Frank, in Brussels?
FRANK BARAT: I mean, it’s ridiculous on so many levels. Maybe they should read the reports by intelligence agencies that have shown—have showed that the use of torture is actually pretty useless in getting sort of information, or good and solid information, out of people or terrorists. So, again, I mean, those people and most mainstream politicians are not interested by the facts, right? Otherwise, they would completely change their policies.
I wanted to say something about Paris and France. And the interesting and the scary thing is that the state of emergency and the repression of the sort of, you know, Muslim and Arab community—most of them, the majority, being French—has also been used now against social movements, against students, against unions. So they’re using—it’s a bit like, you know, the "shock doctrine," as Naomi Klein would put it. You know, they’re using this terrible thing that happened in Paris and using this to actually repress not only the Muslim community or the Arab community or the youth, but also any sort of political movement that intends on changing the narrative and changing the power in place. So, this is something we’ve seen happening over and over around the world.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you all for being with us. Frank Barat, speaking to us from Brussels, Belgium, he is an author and activist, was the coordinator of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, president of the Palestine Legal Action Network in Belgium. And I want to thank Joshua Hersh for joining us. We’ll link to your piece. He reported from Brussels following the Paris attacks in November, wrote a piece headlined "What They Missed: The Anti-Terror Raid That Asked All the Wrong Questions." At the time, he was BuzzFeed News Michael Hastings fellow. And thanks so much to Yasser Louati, joining us from Paris, spokesperson and head of the International Relations Desk for the Collective Against Islamophobia in France.
Max Weber nailed the problem with Donald Trump a century ago — and explained why his ideological flexibility is the most dangerous thing about him.
Source: VOXUpdated by Yascha Mounk and Daniel Ziblatt
Daniel Ziblatt is a professor of government at Harvard University and the author of Structuring the State: The Formation of Italy and Germany and the Puzzle of Federalism.
Source: VOXUpdated by Yascha Mounk and Daniel Ziblatt
Daniel Ziblatt is a professor of government at Harvard University and the author of Structuring the State: The Formation of Italy and Germany and the Puzzle of Federalism.
The media’s favorite guessing game is to figure out what Donald Trump really believes. Over the past several days, he has repeated his vitriolic remarks about immigrants, promised once again to kill the families of terrorists, declined to dissociate himself from the Ku Klux Klan, and retweeted a quote by Benito Mussolini. Taken together, many commentators have argued, this suggests that Trump is nothing less than a fascist.
But there is also evidence to the contrary. After all, Trump has also praised the state-run health care system in Canada and come to the defense of Planned Parenthood. At the last Republican debate, he repeatedly attacked his main rivals from the left — suggesting that the state has an obligation not to let the sick die on the side of the road, and that the immigrants he would deport should have a chance to come back to the United States. Deep down, other commentators have therefore responded, Trump is actually a moderate.
This whole debate, as Max Weber realized nearly a century ago, misses the point. That’s because, unlike both run-of-the-mill moderates and dyed-in-the-wool fascists, Trump is not motivated by deep political values — and even less so by specific policy preferences.
But this ideological flexibility, Weber explained in "Politics as Vocation," his magisterial 1919 lecture on the nature of politics, does not make politicians like Donald Trump less dangerous; on the contrary, it turns them into a profound threat to the survival of democratic politics:
Vanity, the need personally to stand in the foreground as clearly as possible, strongly tempts the politician.... This is more truly the case as the demagogue is compelled to count upon "effect." He therefore is constantly in danger of becoming an actor as well as taking lightly the responsibility for the outcome of his actions and of being concerned merely with the "impression" he makes. His lack of objectivity tempts him to strive for the glamorous semblance of power rather than for actual power. His irresponsibility, however, suggests that he enjoy power merely for power's sake without a substantive purpose. Although, or rather just because, power is the unavoidable means, and striving for power is one of the driving forces of all politics, there is no more harmful distortion of political force than the parvenu-like braggart with power, and vain self-reflection in the feeling of power
Weber knew that the problem of demagogues is as old as democracy itself, and that in their recklessness they can provoke great upheaval or even civil war. True believers may be willing to sacrifice anything for their cause. But they have goals that can be obtained and values that guide how (not) to act.
Demagogues, by contrast, are willing to do or say anything to gain office or to consolidate their power. Unconstrained by ideology, they have no concern for the consequences of their actions. Anything that serves to make them more powerful is good enough for them — even if the political system that facilitated their rise should be destroyed in the process.
This, rather than some deep similarity to fascism, also explains the affinity between demagogues and political violence. True fascists venerate violence but also want to make it serve a purpose larger than themselves, like territorial conquest. Demagogues, on the other hand, tap into the most violent currents in a population simply to bolster their own popularity.
In the process, they often unleash lethal damage: They wreck the informal rules of civility that democracies require to survive. Once voters are activated along violent lines and fervently believe the myths propagated by the demagogue, the dam is broken; the ordinary rules of democratic politics no longer apply, and there is no telling what might come next.
Reading all those essays and opinions about how the gap grows between rich and poor increases the chances for violent conflicts, I wonder why so many people in the United States are rooting for Presidential candidates such as Donald Trump, Ted Cruz or Hillary Clinton. All these candidates in this year’s election are trying to gain support for growing this gap between rich and poor even bigger, as they have done in the past.
The rhetoric right now totally distracts from the issue most critical in this world, which is how to lessen this gap between rich and poor. How to avoid chaos in our society, not only in the United States but all around the world.
Burnie Sanders appears to be only candidate who is trying to do at least something about this gap between rich and poor. Yet, people are more scared of change than of violent conflicts.
Nevertheless, money is, as it has before, the dominate factor in the U.S. Election cycle.
Let’s put an end to this nonsense and do something about the growing gap between rich and poor, and at the same time decreases the chances for more violent conflicts!
By SEWELL CHAN
Source :The New York Times
Source :The New York Times
LONDON — Denmark has reclaimed its place as the world’s happiest country, while Burundi ranks as the least happy nation, according to the fourth World Happiness Report, released on Wednesday.
The report found that inequality was strongly associated with unhappiness — a stark finding for rich countries like the United States, where rising disparities in income, wealth, health and well-being have fueled political discontent.
Denmark topped the list in the first report, in 2012, and again in 2013, but it was displaced by Switzerland last year. In this year’s ranking, Denmark was back at No. 1, followed by Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, Finland, Canada, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia and Sweden. Most are fairly homogeneous nations with strong social safety nets.
At the bottom of the list of more than 150 countries was Burundi, where a violent political crisis broke out last year. Burundi was preceded by Syria, Togo, Afghanistan, Benin, Rwanda, Guinea, Liberia, Tanzania and Madagascar. All of those nations are poor, and many have been destabilized by war, disease or both.
Of the world’s most populous nations, China came in at No. 83, India at No. 118, the United States at No. 13, Indonesia at No. 79, Brazil at No. 17, Pakistan at No. 92, Nigeria at No. 103, Bangladesh at No. 110, Russia at No. 56, Japan at No. 53 and Mexico at No. 21. The United States rose two spots, from No. 15 in 2015.
From 2005 to 2015, Greece saw the largest drop in happiness of any country, a reflection of the economic crisis that began there in 2007.
The happiness ranking was based on individual responses to a global poll conducted by Gallup. The poll included a question, known as the Cantril Ladder: “Please imagine a ladder, with steps numbered from 0 at the bottom to 10 at the top. The top of the ladder represents the best possible life for you and the bottom of the ladder represents the worst possible life for you. On which step of the ladder would you say you personally feel you stand at this time?”
The scholars found that three-quarters of the variation across countries could be explained by six variables: gross domestic product per capita (the rawest measure of a nation’s wealth); healthy years of life expectancy; social support (as measured by having someone to count on in times of trouble); trust (as measured by perceived absence of corruption in government and business); perceived freedom to make life choices; and generosity (as measured by donations).
The report was prepared by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, an international panel of social scientists that includes economists, psychologists and public health experts convened by the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon.
Though the findings do not represent the formal views of the United Nations, the network is closely tied to the Sustainable Development Goals, which the organization adopted in September, aiming, among other things, to end poverty and hunger by 2030, while saving the planet from the most destructive effects of climate change.
The field of happiness research has grown in recent years, but there is significant disagreement about how to measure happiness. Some scholars find people’s subjective assessments of their well-being to be unreliable, and they prefer objective indicators like economic and health data. The scholars behind the World Happiness Report said they tried to take both types of data into account.
In a chapter of the report on the distribution of happiness around the world, three economists — John F. Helliwell, of the University of British Columbia; Haifang Huang of the University of Alberta; and Shun Wang of the Korea Development Institute — argued against a widely held view that changes in people’s assessments of their lives are largely transitory. Under this view, people have a baseline level of contentment and rapidly adapt to changing circumstances.
The three economists noted research showing that people’s evaluations of their lives “differ significantly and systematically among countries”; that within countries, subgroups differ widely in their levels of happiness; that unemployment and major disabilities have lasting influences on well-being; and that the happiness of migrants approximates that of their new country, instead of their country of origin.
The three economists noted that crises can prompt vastly different responses based on the underlying social fabric. In Greece, where the economy began to plummet in 2007, setting off a crisis in the eurozone that has resulted in three financial bailouts, widespread corruption and mistrust were associated with the diminishing sense of happiness over the past decade.
In contrast, trust and “social capital” are so high in Japan that scholars found, to their surprise, that happiness actually increased in Fukushima, which was devastated by an earthquake and tsunami in 2011, because an outpouring of generosity and cooperation contributed to the community’s resilience and rebuilding.
“A crisis imposed on a weak institutional structure can actually further damage the quality of the supporting social fabric if the crisis triggers blame and strife rather than cooperation and repair,” the economists wrote. “On the other hand, economic crises and natural disasters can, if the underlying institutions are of sufficient quality, lead to improvements rather than damage to the social fabric.”
The report, which was released in Rome, included a chapter analyzing Pope Francis’ influential encyclical last year, called “Laudato Si’,” or “Praise Be to You,” which included a cutting assessment of a world in which continuous technological progress was accompanied by environmental degradation, growing anxieties about the future and persistent injustice and violence.
Jeffrey D. Sachs, a Columbia University economist who edited the report with Dr. Helliwell and Richard Layard of the London School of Economics, praised Pope Francis’ admonition against hedonism and consumerism.
He also forcefully rejected the notion that happiness and freedom — especially when narrowly defined as economic liberty — are interchangeable.
“The libertarian argument that economic freedom should be championed above all other values decisively fails the happiness test: There is no evidence that economic freedom per se is a major direct contributor of human well-being above and beyond what it might contribute towards per-capita income and employment,” Dr. Sachs wrote. “Individual freedom matters for happiness, but among many objectives and values, not to the exclusion of those other considerations.”
As the gap grows between rich and poor, so do the chances for violent conflicts
Source:University of Tübingen published on World Future Society
Author: Keturah HetrickEthnic and religious schisms, poverty, political extremism…. There are many factors that can be used to predict the likelihood of a country’s descent into civil war. Researchers at Germany’s University of Tübingen now add income inequality to the list of early signals.
Lack of reliable data during certain periods in history, as well as in developing countries (which are more prone to civil war), has made it difficult to assess a possible correlation between civil war and income inequality. To compensate for missing or inadequate data, University of Tübingen professors Jörg Baten and Christina Mumme estimated Gini coefficients by supplementing established economic datasets with other types of information.
The Gini coefficient is commonly used to measure and compare income inequality on a scale from zero to one. A score of zero represents total economic equality (a society in which each person has exactly the same amount of money), while a score of one represents total inequality (a society in which all wealth belongs to one person). Most countries’ scores fall between 0.30 and 0.60.
Baten and Mumme first looked at changes to the relationship between GDP per capita and wages of unskilled laborers.
“If wages lag behind income per capita, inequality is probably increasing,” they reason. “Conversely, if wages grow faster than GDP per capita, this points to a decline in income inequality.”
While GDP per capita and other economic information provided the researchers with sufficient data in most cases, the study compensated for data scarcity by calculating a less conventional measure of equality: adult male height. A population’s height distribution correlates to its food and health-care access. Lower heights tend to signal greater health inequality, used by the researchers as a proxy for economic inequality.
The researchers examined the Gini coefficients (both commonly accepted and estimated) from 30 diverse countries over a 200-year span. They considered only civil wars that were fought against a state’s government and that also had at least 1,000 battle-related casualties.
Regardless of actual income and poverty levels, higher inequality corresponds to increased risk for civil war, the study found. High inequality in sub-Saharan Africa corresponds to a spate of uprisings in the 1960s through 1980s. Meanwhile, civil war prevalence and inequality have remained relatively low in Asian countries and high in Latin American countries.
Inequality in western and eastern Europe and in North America gradually decreased until about 1990. While equality remains relatively high in western Europe, inequality has recently increased across eastern Europe and North America, suggesting that civil trouble may be ahead.
While the study shows a correlation between wealth and conflict, it’s unproven that income inequality causes civil war. High inequality can be a symptom of or coexist with discriminatory government policies, oppressive institutions, or other factors that increase the likelihood of civil conflict.
Nonetheless, growing income inequality in the United States could be cause for concern—and this time, the results could bring more violence than 2011’s Occupy Wall Street protests.
“If this development continues for a long time, it could provide fertile ground for conflict,” warns Baten.
You all know the truth of what I'm going to say. I think the intuition that inequality is divisive and socially corrosive has been around since before the French Revolution. What's changed is we now can look at the evidence, we can compare societies, more and less equal societies, and see what inequality does. I'm going to take you through that data and then explain why the links I'm going to be showing you exist.
But first, see what a miserable lot we are. (Laughter) I want to start though with a paradox. This shows you life expectancy against gross national income -- how rich countries are on average. And you see the countries on the right, like Norway and the USA, are twice as rich as Israel, Greece, Portugal on the left. And it makes no difference to their life expectancy at all. There's no suggestion of a relationship there. But if we look within our societies, there are extraordinary social gradients in health running right across society. This, again, is life expectancy.
These are small areas of England and Wales -- the poorest on the right, the richest on the left. A lot of difference between the poor and the rest of us. Even the people just below the top have less good health than the people at the top. So income means something very important within our societies, and nothing between them. The explanation of that paradox is that, within our societies, we're looking at relative income or social position, social status -- where we are in relation to each other and the size of the gaps between us. And as soon as you've got that idea, you should immediately wonder: what happens if we widen the differences, or compress them, make the income differences bigger or smaller?
And that's what I'm going to show you. I'm not using any hypothetical data. I'm taking data from the U.N. -- it's the same as the World Bank has -- on the scale of income differences in these rich developed market democracies. The measure we've used, because it's easy to understand and you can download it, is how much richer the top 20 percent than the bottom 20 percent in each country. And you see in the more equal countries on the left -- Japan, Finland, Norway, Sweden -- the top 20 percent are about three and a half, four times as rich as the bottom 20 percent. But on the more unequal end -- U.K., Portugal, USA, Singapore -- the differences are twice as big. On that measure, we are twice as unequal as some of the other successful market democracies.
Now I'm going to show you what that does to our societies. We collected data on problems with social gradients, the kind of problems that are more common at the bottom of the social ladder. Internationally comparable data on life expectancy, on kids' maths and literacy scores, on infant mortality rates, homicide rates, proportion of the population in prison, teenage birthrates, levels of trust, obesity, mental illness -- which in standard diagnostic classification includes drug and alcohol addiction -- and social mobility. We put them all in one index. They're all weighted equally. Where a country is is a sort of average score on these things. And there, you see it in relation to the measure of inequality I've just shown you, which I shall use over and over again in the data. The more unequal countries are doing worse on all these kinds of social problems. It's an extraordinarily close correlation. But if you look at that same index of health and social problems in relation to GNP per capita, gross national income, there's nothing there, no correlation anymore.
We were a little bit worried that people might think we'd been choosing problems to suit our argument and just manufactured this evidence, so we also did a paper in the British Medical Journal on the UNICEF index of child well-being. It has 40 different components put together by other people. It contains whether kids can talk to their parents, whether they have books at home, what immunization rates are like, whether there's bullying at school. Everything goes into it. Here it is in relation to that same measure of inequality. Kids do worse in the more unequal societies. Highly significant relationship. But once again, if you look at that measure of child well-being, in relation to national income per person, there's no relationship, no suggestion of a relationship.
What all the data I've shown you so far says is the same thing. The average well-being of our societies is not dependent any longer on national income and economic growth. That's very important in poorer countries, but not in the rich developed world. But the differences between us and where we are in relation to each other now matter very much. I'm going to show you some of the separate bits of our index. Here, for instance, is trust. It's simply the proportion of the population who agree most people can be trusted. It comes from the World Values Survey. You see, at the more unequal end, it's about 15 percent of the population who feel they can trust others. But in the more equal societies, it rises to 60 or 65 percent. And if you look at measures of involvement in community life or social capital, very similar relationships closely related to inequality.
I may say, we did all this work twice. We did it first on these rich, developed countries, and then as a separate test bed, we repeated it all on the 50 American states -- asking just the same question: do the more unequal states do worse on all these kinds of measures? So here is trust from a general social survey of the federal government related to inequality. Very similar scatter over a similar range of levels of trust. Same thing is going on. Basically we found that almost anything that's related to trust internationally is related to trust amongst the 50 states in that separate test bed. We're not just talking about a fluke.
This is mental illness. WHO put together figures using the same diagnostic interviews on random samples of the population to allow us to compare rates of mental illness in each society. This is the percent of the population with any mental illness in the preceding year. And it goes from about eight percent up to three times that -- whole societies with three times the level of mental illness of others. And again, closely related to inequality.
This is violence. These red dots are American states, and the blue triangles are Canadian provinces. But look at the scale of the differences. It goes from 15 homicides per million up to 150. This is the proportion of the population in prison. There's a about a tenfold difference there, log scale up the side. But it goes from about 40 to 400 people in prison. That relationship is not mainly driven by more crime. In some places, that's part of it. But most of it is about more punitive sentencing, harsher sentencing. And the more unequal societies are more likely also to retain the death penalty. Here we have children dropping out of high school. Again, quite big differences. Extraordinarily damaging, if you're talking about using the talents of the population.
This is social mobility. It's actually a measure of mobility based on income. Basically, it's asking: do rich fathers have rich sons and poor fathers have poor sons, or is there no relationship between the two? And at the more unequal end, fathers' income is much more important -- in the U.K., USA. And in Scandinavian countries, fathers' income is much less important. There's more social mobility. And as we like to say -- and I know there are a lot of Americans in the audience here -- if Americans want to live the American dream, they should go to Denmark.
I've shown you just a few things in italics here. I could have shown a number of other problems. They're all problems that tend to be more common at the bottom of the social gradient. But there are endless problems with social gradients that are worse in more unequal countries -- not just a little bit worse, but anything from twice as common to 10 times as common. Think of the expense, the human cost of that.
I want to go back though to this graph that I showed you earlier where we put it all together to make two points. One is that, in graph after graph, we find the countries that do worse, whatever the outcome, seem to be the more unequal ones, and the ones that do well seem to be the Nordic countries and Japan. So what we're looking at is general social disfunction related to inequality. It's not just one or two things that go wrong, it's most things.
The other really important point I want to make on this graph is that, if you look at the bottom, Sweden and Japan, they're very different countries in all sorts of ways. The position of women, how closely they keep to the nuclear family, are on opposite ends of the poles in terms of the rich developed world. But another really important difference is how they get their greater equality. Sweden has huge differences in earnings, and it narrows the gap through taxation, general welfare state, generous benefits and so on. Japan is rather different though. It starts off with much smaller differences in earnings before tax. It has lower taxes. It has a smaller welfare state. And in our analysis of the American states, we find rather the same contrast. There are some states that do well through redistribution, some states that do well because they have smaller income differences before tax. So we conclude that it doesn't much matter how you get your greater equality, as long as you get there somehow.
I am not talking about perfect equality, I'm talking about what exists in rich developed market democracies. Another really surprising part of this picture is that it's not just the poor who are affected by inequality. There seems to be some truth in John Donne's "No man is an island." And in a number of studies, it's possible to compare how people do in more and less equal countries at each level in the social hierarchy. This is just one example. It's infant mortality. Some Swedes very kindly classified a lot of their infant deaths according to the British register of general socioeconomic classification. And so it's anachronistically a classification by fathers' occupations, so single parents go on their own. But then where it says "low social class," that's unskilled manual occupations. It goes through towards the skilled manual occupations in the middle, then the junior non-manual, going up high to the professional occupations -- doctors, lawyers, directors of larger companies.
You see there that Sweden does better than Britain all the way across the social hierarchy. The biggest differences are at the bottom of society. But even at the top, there seems to be a small benefit to being in a more equal society. We show that on about five different sets of data covering educational outcomes and health in the United States and internationally. And that seems to be the general picture -- that greater equality makes most difference at the bottom, but has some benefits even at the top.
But I should say a few words about what's going on. I think I'm looking and talking about the psychosocial effects of inequality. More to do with feelings of superiority and inferiority, of being valued and devalued, respected and disrespected. And of course, those feelings of the status competition that comes out of that drives the consumerism in our society. It also leads to status insecurity. We worry more about how we're judged and seen by others, whether we're regarded as attractive, clever, all that kind of thing. The social-evaluative judgments increase, the fear of those social-evaluative judgments.
Interestingly, some parallel work going on in social psychology: some people reviewed 208 different studies in which volunteers had been invited into a psychological laboratory and had their stress hormones, their responses to doing stressful tasks, measured. And in the review, what they were interested in seeing is what kind of stresses most reliably raise levels of cortisol, the central stress hormone. And the conclusion was it was tasks that included social-evaluative threat -- threats to self-esteem or social status in which others can negatively judge your performance. Those kind of stresses have a very particular effect on the physiology of stress.
Now we have been criticized. Of course, there are people who dislike this stuff and people who find it very surprising. I should tell you though that when people criticize us for picking and choosing data, we never pick and choose data. We have an absolute rule that if our data source has data for one of the countries we're looking at, it goes into the analysis. Our data source decides whether it's reliable data, we don't. Otherwise that would introduce bias.
What about other countries? There are 200 studies of health in relation to income and equality in the academic peer-reviewed journals. This isn't confined to these countries here, hiding a very simple demonstration. The same countries, the same measure of inequality, one problem after another. Why don't we control for other factors? Well we've shown you that GNP per capita doesn't make any difference. And of course, others using more sophisticated methods in the literature have controlled for poverty and education and so on.
What about causality? Correlation in itself doesn't prove causality. We spend a good bit of time. And indeed, people know the causal links quite well in some of these outcomes. The big change in our understanding of drivers of chronic health in the rich developed world is how important chronic stress from social sources is affecting the immune system, the cardiovascular system. Or for instance, the reason why violence becomes more common in more unequal societies is because people are sensitive to being looked down on.
I should say that to deal with this, we've got to deal with the post-tax things and the pre-tax things. We've got to constrain income, the bonus culture incomes at the top. I think we must make our bosses accountable to their employees in any way we can. I think the take-home message though is that we can improve the real quality of human life by reducing the differences in incomes between us. Suddenly we have a handle on the psychosocial well-being of whole societies, and that's exciting.