Friday, September 05, 2008

Inequality kills

One of the consequences of the 90's Revolution was a massive rise in inequality - the middle class were pushed into poverty, while a tiny clique at the top made out like bandits. But that inequality didn't just cause widespread misery: it also killed people. A paper published today in the New Zealand Medical Journal shows widening gaps in death rates between rich and poor areas. And a key reason for these gaps is the 80's and 90's "reforms":

Among the plausible explanations for this were changes in housing, health and education with the implementation of a "neoliberal economic and social agenda".

Other commentators have said the "Rogernomics" moves of a Labour government which took power in 1984 were reinforced by increasing reliance on "market forces" under a subsequent National government.

Dr Pearce said the changing social and political environment disadvantaged poor people and areas, as well as Maori and Pacific people. Healthcare reforms which required people to pay more for their treatment led to poorer people making less use of health services, and unequal rationing of primary healthcare had affected some regions more than others

Something to keep in mind whenever the right start talking about market-based policies, tax-cuts for the rich and user pays. These policies have a cost, and it is borne by the poorest and weakest in our society.

The full paper is online here [PDF].