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Economist Jeffrey Sachs Warns of Fraying Societies

Economist Jeffrey Sachs Warns of Fraying Societies

According to renowned economist Jeffrey Sachs, the unravelling taking place in the United States shows why economic inequality is socially and morally unsustainable, a lesson the income equality group Closing the Gap believes New Zealand must urgently heed.

Speaking on Radio New Zealand on Saturday, Professor Sachs said the United States was living through an inequality crisis, with the country's social life "coming unstuck...in a lot of ways".

Peter Malcolm, Closing the Gap spokesperson, said Professor Sachs' comments on the social impact of inequality echo myriad reports that show low levels of inequality is better for everyone in a society, and that high levels of inequality — are deeply harmful.

"Professor Sachs' description of the impact of inequality on his country — including the mean-spirited abandonment of the poor and the plummeting trust in government and its institutions — is frightening, and should be a warning to us all," Mr. Malcolm said.

Professor Sachs, who is due to speak on Monday via video link at the NZ Sustainable Development Goals Summit in Wellington, said the goal of reducing inequality within and among countries was about "a moral sense that our society should be for everybody, we should not encourage, or think that it's OK if the gaps between the top and the bottom grow willy-nilly".

Mr. Malcolm said there was no doubt some of the mean-spiritedness referred to has already taken root in New Zealand, with glorification of the rich, and cruel commentary about vulnerable groups, like beneficiaries and people who are homeless.

"Equality is not only an economic issue, it’s an issue of social cohesion, of living in a decent society that, as Professor Sachs said, should be for everybody."

References/More info:
Sachs interview RNZ: http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/saturday/audio/2018641670/jeffrey-sachs-leading-sustainable-development
NZ Sustainable Development Goals Summit: http://www.confer.co.nz/sdg2018/

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