Class Anxiety of Privilege Denied

There were yet more outraged upper middle class people at work last night. It’s not an isolated incident, working as I have in a parking ramp for the past two decades. I see all types and it’s not as if working class and minority people never get upset, but never quite so often or to the same degree.

This particular couple was so angry that, if it were a cartoon, steam would have been blowing out their ears. They were screaming and honking their horn. They got out of their car a couple of times. I was starting to fear violence and made sure the doors were locked to my booth. It goes without saying that I don’t normally fear for my life while cashiering.

Fortunately, several large muscular police (all of them white) showed up and set these people straight. It’s nice when the police have your back, as a fellow city government employee. It might help that I’m a white guy and so, even as working class, I get some amount of privilege. I’d probably be more worried if I wasn’t white, as there is a history of systemic racism in this town (one of the highest racial disparities of drug arrests in the country; not to mention the last time a well off white guy started a fight with a poor black guy, it was the poor black guy defending himself that the police shot — see below*).

This couple was yelling at me not just because of some abstract notion of privilege, as so much about our society promotes that sense of privilege with concrete results. No doubt they are used to telling people what to do and getting their way. It’s at such times that I’m glad I’m unionized because I have no doubt they will contact my boss and try to get me fired (this is why every worker should be a union member and every workplace should be unionized). What they don’t understand, in their privilege, is that I don’t back down from rich assholes. Then again, neither do I treat anyone differently no matter their socioeconomic class. If someone is nice to me, I’ll do my best to be nice to them. I didn’t care that they have privilege in our society, not in and of itself or not anymore than privilege in general bothers me, but I do care that they flaunted their privilege in trying to intimidate me into submission.

After the incident, I was thinking about why they were so angry. I hadn’t seen anyone that angry in a long time. Even most upper middle class white people are perfectly fine. I rarely have trouble with any customers. Still, why is it that when there is conflict it disproportionately involves those with privilege? What does privilege mean in a high inequality society such as the United States? People like this are among the few who are socially, economically, and politically secure in American society. They have few worries. Paying the 23 bucks for a lost ticket is nothing to them (filling the gas tank of their SUV would cost far more than that). But being treated like a normal person felt like a threat to their entire sense of reality. And indeed it was a threat because without entitlement their identity of superiority can’t be maintained. Probably at stake, in their minds, was the very social order and their place within it.

Few poor minorities would dare to escalate a situation to that level. That is because they have proper respect for the police showing up. This couple, however, had no concept that any and all authority figures wouldn’t automatically take their side no matter what. And they knew that no matter how much trouble they caused the police were unlikely to shoot them or arrest them, as they might do to a poor minority. I intellectually understand that. Yet what really is at the bottom of that fuming outrage? It’s such a strange thing to observe. And I don’t even take it personally. From my view, they really are no different than any other customer. As a unionized government employee, I take it all in stride because I’ve seen it all before. It’s just another day on the job.

I considered the possibility that they had a really bad day for a thousand different possible reasons. Or maybe they had been drinking. But that doesn’t really explain anything. Unhappy drunks and unhappy people in general are as common as they come. Most people, no matter what is going on in their life and no matter their state of mind, don’t have public tantrums that lead to altercations with the police. It was plain weird. I could sense how shocked, flabbergasted they were that they couldn’t get me to do what they told me to do. I do what my employer tells me to do, not what a rich asshole tells me to do. That is how capitalism works. Now if my employer were a rich asshole, that would be a different situation.

This reminds me of Keith Payne’s The Broken Ladder. He explains how high inequality stresses out everyone, including the rich. It creates a social condition of pervasive anxiety, divisiveness, conflict, aggressiveness, short-term thinking, etc. That last one applies here, since it wasn’t only anger but an inability to think of consequences. That couple was completely lost in the all-consuming moment of blind rage to the point of an apoplectic fit. I’d argue that their behavior was morally wrong, at least according to standards of basic humanity, but more than anything their behavior was supremely stupid. That is a point Payne makes, how as inequality worsens so does decision-making ability.

What stands out is that such relatively wealthy people would argue over such a small sum of money, as if they were poor people and I was trying to take away their last dollar. Payne explains this, in demonstrating how people feel poor and act poorly in a high inequality society, even when no poor person is involved in any given situation. The sense of class conflict and status insecurity is a shadow that looms over the lives of us all, rich and poor alike.

This phenomenon isn’t limited to inequality or rather not only to socioeconomic inequality, as there are many forms of disparity between individuals and groups. Any stressor will have similar consequences, but few stressors are likely to have much impact without one kind of inequality or another already being present. It is the differences and divides of inequality that transforms an individual stressor into large-scale and pervasive social stress. This among much else, as Payne explains, leads to the clinging of social identity — from race to politics, but often class. And that is how we come to see our neighbors and fellow citizens as potential threats, as enemy others to be fought and defeated or to go down trying.

In such a state of anxiety and fear, every incident can become a perceived existential threat. But the seeming point of contention focused upon, whether a ramp charge or a political argument, is rarely if ever the real issue. What matters most is how this cuts to the heart of identity and, in these reactionary times, turns the mind toward the reactionary — it not being all that relevant what is being reacted to. Lots of heat, little light.

* * *

The Broken Ladder
by Keith Payne
pp. 2-4 (see earlier post)

As they discovered, the odds of an air rage incident were almost four times higher in the coach section of a plane with a first-class cabin than in a plane that did not have one. Other factors mattered, too, like flight delays. But the presence of a first-class section raised the chances of a disturbance by the same amount as a nine-and-a-half-hour delay.

To test the idea another way, the researchers looked at how the boarding process highlights status differences. Most planes with a first-class cabin board at the front, which forces the coach passengers to trudge down the aisle, dragging their baggage past the well-heeled and the already comfortably seated. But about 15 percent of flights board in the middle or at the back of the plane, which spares the coach passengers this gauntlet. As predicted, air rage was about twice as likely on flights that boarded at the front, raising the chances of an incident by the same amount as waiting out a six-hour delay.

This air rage study is revealing, but not just because it illustrates how inequality drives wedges between the haves and the have-nots. What makes it fascinating to me is that incidents of rage take place even when there are no true have-nots on a flightSince an average economy-class ticket costs several hundred dollars, few genuinely poor people can afford to travel on a modern commercial airplane. Yet even relative differences among the respectable middle-class people flying coach can create conflict and chaos. In fact, the chaos is not limited to coach: First-class flyers in the study were several times more likely to erupt in air rage when they were brought up close and personal with the rabble on front-loading planes. As Ivana Trump’s behavior can attest, when the level of inequality becomes too large to ignore, everyone starts acting strange.

But they do not act strange in just any old way. Inequality affects our actions and our feelings in the same systematic, predictable fashion again and again. It makes us shortsighted and prone to risky behavior, willing to sacrifice a secure future for immediate gratification. It makes us more inclined to make self-defeating decisions. It makes us believe weird things, superstitiously clinging to the world as we want it to be rather than as it is. Inequality divides us, cleaving us into camps not only of income but also of ideology and race, eroding our trust in one another. It generates stress and makes us all less healthy and less happy.

Picture a neighborhood full of people like the ones I’ve described above: shortsighted, irresponsible people making bad choices; mistrustful people segregated by race and by ideology; superstitious people who won’t listen to reason; people who turn to self-destructive habits as they cope with the stress and anxieties of their daily lives. These are the classic tropes of poverty and could serve as a stereotypical description of the population of any poor inner-city neighborhood or depressed rural trailer park. But as we will see in the chapters ahead, inequality can produce these tendencies even among the middle class and wealthy individuals.

What is also notable about the air rage study is that it illustrates that inequality is not the same as poverty, although it can feel an awful lot like it. That phenomenon is the subject of this book. Inequality makes people feel poor and act poor, even when they’re not. Inequality so mimics poverty in our minds that the United States of America, the richest and most unequal of countries, has a lot of features that better resemble a developing nation than a superpower.

* * *

*Let me note one thing, for sake of fairness.

Even with the proven history of racial bias around here, I have to admit that in my personal experience the Iowa City Police are quite professional. Blacks living here very well might have different experience than my own, of course. All I can say is that I’ve observed no police bias, racial or class, in my years as a city employee. Maybe the police are more careful these days about biases, as it does seem they’ve sought to increase diversity of officers.

They dealt with this white upper middle class couple with a calm but firm authority, effectively de-escalating the situation. But I’ve seen them do the exact same thing with a black guy in my cashier lane some years ago. In neither case, did they threaten the customer nor did they have to resort to arresting them. The police here don’t seem to look for trouble, even when the problematic individual is looking for trouble.

I wanted to give credit where it is due. The police handled the situation well. Of the times police have showed up when I was dealing with a customer, I can only think of one time where the officer in question was less than helpful. It’s nice to be able to expect a professional response from the police, considering that evidence implies that isn’t always the case with police departments in some other cities.

Economic Inequality: A Book List

I was discussing economic inequality with a conservative… which, as always, is a masochistic activity.

I’m amazed how easily a conservatives dismiss such things. It isn’t just about the data, about whether correlation is causation. It’s hard enough to even get conservatives to look at the data, and so most debates never even get beyond blind dismissal of what conservatives don’t know and don’t want to know.

I truly do think the data is secondary, although the mountains of correlations do make a damning case. The reason I say the data is secondary is because the data isn’t necessary. The idea that vast economic inequality is bad should be commonsense. Just a brief perusal of countries with similar economic inequalities should make any American a bit on the uncomfortable side.

I know conservatives mistrust science and academia, even though that mistrust is rather selective in application. But when did common sense become the enemy of conservatives?

Maybe that is why the data is so important, after all. The data makes clear what is already obvious enough. Sometimes stating and restating the obvious is the best one can offer in defense of truth and morality.

In that light, I offer a list of books I’ve been perusing recently and also some that I was considering as possible reads. I hope many more people will begin reading books like these and that it will force the discussion into the mainstream, whether or not conservatives like it.

The Politics of Inequality: A Political History of the Idea of Economic Inequality in America
By Michael J. Thompson

Why Some Politicians Are More Dangerous Than Others
By James Gilligan

It’s the Middle Class, Stupid!
By James Carville and Stan Greenberg

Falling Behind: How Rising Inequality Harms the Middle Class
By Robert Frank

Class Matters
By The New York Times

Status Syndrome: How Social Standing Affects Our Health and Longevity
By Michael Marmot

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America
By Barbara Ehrenreich

Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream
By Barbara Ehrenreich

The Measure of America: American Human Development Report, 2008-2009
By Sarah Burd-Sharps, Kristen Lewis, Eduardo Borges Martins, Amartya Sen, and William H. Draper III

The Measure of America, 2010-2011
By Burd-Sharps Lewis and Sarah Kristen

Inequality Matters: The Growing Economic Divide In America And Its Poisonous Consequences
By James Lardner (Author, Editor), David Smith (Editor), Bill Moyers (Foreword), and Jim Lardner (Author)

The Great Divergence: America’s Growing Inequality and What We Can Do about It
By Timothy Noah

The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future
By Joseph E. Stiglitz

Mismeasuring Our Lives: Why GDP Doesn’t Add Up
By Joseph E. Stiglitz, Amartya Sen, and Jean-Paul Fitoussi

So Rich, So Poor: Why It’s So Hard to End Poverty in America
By Peter Edelman

The Price of Inequality: Facts, Trends, and International Perspectives
By Kemal Dervis, Uri Dadush, Sarah P. P. Milsom, and Bennett Stancil

Winner-Take-All Politics
By Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson

Polarized America: The Dance of Ideology and Unequal Riches
By Nolan McCarty, Keith T. Poole, and Howard  Rosenthal

Disconnect: The Breakdown of Representation in American Politics
By Morris P. Fiorina and Samuel J. Abrams

99 to 1: How Wealth Inequality Is Wrecking the World and What We Can Do about It
By Chuck Collins

Economic Apartheid In America: A Primer On Economic Inequality & Insecurity
By Chuck Collins and Felice Yeskel

The Unheavenly Chorus: Unequal Political Voice and the Broken Promise of American Democracy
By Key Lehman Schlozman, Sidney Verba, and Henry E. Brady

The Private Roots of Public Action: Gender, Equality, and Political Participation
By Nancy Burns, Key Lehman Schlozman, and Sidney Verba

Inequality and American Democracy: What We Know and What We Need to Learn
By Lawrence R. Jacobs

Faces of Inequality: Social Diversity in American Politics
By Rodney E. Hero

Latinos and the U.S. Political System: Two-Tiered Pluralism
By Rodney E. Hero

Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life
By Annette Lareau

The Color of Wealth: The Story Behind the U.S. Racial Wealth Divide
By Barbara J. Robles, Betsy Leondar-Wright, Rose M. Brewer, Rebecca Adamson, and Meizhu Lui

With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful
By Glenn Greenwald

The New Jim Crow
By Michelle Alexander

Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II
By Douglas A. Blackman

Wealth and Democracy: How Great Fortunes and Government Created America’s Aristocracy
By Kevin Phillips

Unequal Democracy: The Political Economy of the New Gilded Age
By Larry M. Bartels

Affluence and Influence: Economic Inequality and Political Power in America
By Martin Gilens

Inequality and Instability: A Study of the World Economy Just Before the Great Crisis
By James K. Galbraith

Inequality, Power, and Development: Issues in Political Sociology
By Jerry Kloby

Inequality Reexamined
By Amartya Kumar Sen

Public Health, Ethics, and Equity
By Sudhir Anand, Fabienne Peter, and Amartya Sen

Infections and Inequalities: The Modern Plagues
ByPaul Farmer

Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights, and the New War on the Poor
By Paul Farmer

The Health of Nations: Why Inequality Is Harmful to Your Health
By Ichiro Kawachi and Bruce P. Kennedy

The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better
By Richard G. Wilkinson and Kate Pickett

The Impact of Inequality: How to Make Sick Societies Healthier
By Richard G. Wilkinson

Worlds Apart: Measuring International and Global Inequality
By Branko Milanovic

The Haves and the Have-Nots: A Brief and Idiosyncratic History of Global Inequality
By Branko Milanovic

The New Economics of Inequality and Redistribution (Federico Caffè Lectures)
By Samuel Bowles
 
Unequal Chances: Family Background and Economic Success
By Samuel Bowles
 
Poverty Traps
By Samuel Bowles

The Oxford Handbook of Economic Inequality (Oxford Handbooks)
By Wiemer Salverda

 

Race & Wealth Gap

I heard something truly disgusting last night. The worst part is that I heard it on NPR.

Several guests were discussing how poverty and the wealth gap have increased and how it has increased the most among minorities. One factor given was that blacks are disproportionately employed in government jobs which have been hit the hardest because of funding cuts. One of the guests had the audacity to portray government jobs as just another welfare for blacks. He was arguing that even blacks who work hard for their money still are just being lazy welfare recipients. WTF! In the eyes of a bigot, minorities can’t win for losing.

He said this on the supposedly ‘liberal’ NPR. Did any of the other guests challenge his racism? No. Did the host demand he explain why he made such a racist comment? No. Apparently, no one on this NPR show thought it was unusual or immoral to express such bigoted views on public radio. I’m sure they were all upper class white people.

http://sociology.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html

Figure 3: Income and wealth by race in the U.S.

http://www.alternet.org/teaparty/151830/debunking_the_big_lie_right-wingers_use_to_justify_black_poverty_and_unemployment?page=entire

It’s a myth that should be put to rest by the economic experience of the African American community over the past 20 years. Because what Kern and other adherents of the “culture of poverty” thesis can’t explain is why blacks’ economic fortunes advanced so dramatically during the 1990s, retreated again during the Bush years and then were completely devastated in the financial crash of 2008.

In order to buy the cultural story, one would have to believe that African Americans adopted a “culture of success” during the Clinton years, mysteriously abandoned it for a “culture of failure” under Bush and finally settled on a “culture of poverty” shortly after Lehman Brothers crashed.

That’s obviously nonsense. It was exogenous economic factors and changes in public policies, not manifestations of “black culture,” that resulted in those widely varied outcomes.

http://www.alternet.org/economy/151809/white_families_have_20_times_the_wealth_of_black_families%3A_how_racism%27s_legacy_created_a_crushing_depression_in_black_america/?page=entire

It’s crucial to understand the relationship between wealth accumulated over generations and one’s economic prospects today. Central to that relationship is the concept of “intergenerational assistance.” That’s a fancy way of saying that a person’s chances to advance economically are very much impacted by whether his or her family can help get him or her started on the path to prosperity.

A Fundamental Flaw of Free Markets

This video is an explanation of the type of issue I often consider. Listening to it, it got me thinking about why this needs to be explained.

Going by the data I’ve seen, this explanation seems obvious. I honestly can’t see any other convincing explanation. Yes, some rich people are deserving, but many aren’t deserving of being as rich as they are or aren’t any more deserving (in terms of talent, intelligence, ambition, etc) than many less advantaged people.

So, why doesn’t this seem obvious to many conservatives? What keeps them from seeing it? I suspect many refuse to seriously consider the data because it contradicts their beliefs and assumptions. That is understandable. If they get all their news from Fox News, Wall Street Journal, and right-wing talk shows, they probably never (or, at least, very rarely) would even come across any data that contradicts their beliefs and assumptions. That is sad, but understandable.

Still, I doubt that this explains it all. There has to be many conservatives who are familiar with the data and yet still support the rich having advantages. Why?

Is it just team sports mentality, just rich people defending other rich people that they personally identify with as being part of their group? That makes sense psychologically. Poor people do the same thing, although less effectively since they less power.

Another explanation is that some people believe that, despite inequality being morally wrong or less than perfect, is still better than the alternative. Maybe it’s a belief that the egalitarian vision is dangerous. It’s better to have an imperfect system than to risk its destruction by trying to improve it. Certainly, some conservatives do believe this, but I find it a bit too convenient that they many rich conservatives just so happen to support the analysis that benefits them personally.

Yet another explanation is that some people are just cynical. They have theirs. Fuck everyone else. They are on top of the wall and so they kick the ladder away to ensure no one can challenge their position of power. I wonder about this. How many conservatives are this cynical? Or, if not quite this cynical, how many conservatives are to varying degrees motivated by cynicism?

I don’t ask this as a way to dismiss all conservatives and all rich people. I genuinely want to understand what motivates people, want to understand why inequality keeps growing in this country. I can’t believe it’s a mere accidental side effect of an otherwise moral system. There is a class war going on, but I don’t know how many people even see it. For those who don’t see it, what is their incentive in remaining blind to the suffering of others?

The 10 Most (and Least) Tolerant States in America

I love data! 🙂

If you want to see a previous state comparison I wrote about, here is the link. The following is the list of states with the least unemployment:

  1. North Dakota
  2. South Dakota
  3. Nebraska
  4. New Hampshire
  5. Vermont
  6. Hawaii
  7. Kansas
  8. Wyoming
  9. Minnesota
  10. Iowa

And here is the top 10 most tolerant states according to the data (discussed in the video above and with links below):

  1. Wisconsin
  2. Maryland
  3. Illinois
  4. Pennsylvania
  5. Hawaii
  6. California
  7. Minnesota
  8. New Jersey
  9. New Hampshire
  10. New Mexico

It’s interesting to compare the two comparisons. Some of the states are found on both Top 10 lists: New Hampshire, Minnesota, and Hawaii. On the other hand, looking at the ranking of all the states, some of the least tolerant states did very well economically (both in terms of low unemployment and low economic disparity): North Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Wyoming.

I don’t know why that is or what it might mean. The similarities confirm a correlation of data, but differences makes me wonder about what is exactly is being measured in terms of tolerance and intolerance. Social problems, in general, correlate to both poverty and economic disparity. According to other data (from The Spirit Level by Wilkinson and Pickett): North Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Wyoming have some of the best rankings in the country according to the “Index of health and social problems” (North Dakota is ranked as the fourth best). There must be other confounding factors, but I don’t know what they could be.

The following is the details of the data about the comparison of tolerance across the US:

http://www.alternet.org/newsandviews/article/440581/10_most_(and_10_least)_tolerant_states_in_america/

And now for the breakdown … Wisconsin wins for being the most tolerant. Its religious tolerance was quite good, its gay tolerance leaves room for improvement. Others in the top 10 were Maryland in second, then Illinois, Pennsylvania, Hawaii, California, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Hampshire and New Mexico.

And on the flip-side, the 10 least tolerant states are Alabama, finishing 40th in the nation, then it gets worse going to Kentucky, North Dakota, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Ohio, Nebraska, Kansas, Arkansas and then Wyoming finishes dead last.

This wasn’t included on the list, but interestingly, the 10 most tolerant states all went Democratic in the 2008 election and the 10 least tolerant states are all red states, with the exception of Ohio.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2011-01-16/ranking-the-most-tolerant-and-least-tolerant-states/full/

1, Wisconsin
Tolerance score: 77 out of 100
Hate crime score: 27 out of 40
Discrimination score: 39 out of 40
Gay rights score: 3 out of 10
Religious Tolerance Score: 8 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents: 1.0 (10 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents: 9.2 (5 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage: 44%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life: 79%

2, Maryland
Tolerance score: 75 out of 100
Hate crime score: 25 out of 40
Discrimination score: 37 out of 40
Gay rights score: 5 out of 10
Religious Tolerance Score: 8 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents: 1.8 (19 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents: 7.8 (1 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage: 51%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life: 72%

3, Illinois
Tolerance score: 74 out of 100
Hate crime score: 30 out of 40
Discrimination score: 31 out of 40
Gay rights score: 5 out of 10
Religious Tolerance Score: 8 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents: 1.5 (16 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents: 14.5 (24 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage: 48%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life: 74%

4, Pennsylvania
Tolerance score: 72 out of 100
Hate crime score: 29 out of 40
Discrimination score: 31 out of 40
Gay rights score: 4 out of 10
Religious Tolerance Score: 8 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents: 0.4 (5 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents: 11.8 (13 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage: 51%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life: 75%

5, Hawaii
Tolerance score: 71 out of 100
Hate crime score: 34 out of 40
Discrimination score: 27 out of 40
Gay rights score: 4 out of 10
Religious Tolerance Score: 6 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents: 0.1 (1 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents: 20.3 (35 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage: 54%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life: 66%

6, California
Tolerance score: 70 out of 100
Hate crime score: 30 out of 40
Discrimination score: 29 out of 40
Gay rights score: 5 out of 10
Religious Tolerance Score: 6 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents: 2.7 (29 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents: 15.9 (28 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage: 56%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life: 67%

7, Minnesota
Tolerance score: 70 out of 100
Hate crime score: 21 out of 40
Discrimination score: 38 out of 40
Gay rights score: 3 out of 10
Religious Tolerance Score: 8 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents: 6.0 (49 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents: 8.7 (4 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage: 47%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life: 74%

8, New Jersey
Tolerance score: 69 out of 100
Hate crime score: 18 out of 40
Discrimination score: 35 out of 40
Gay rights score: 8 out of 10
Religious Tolerance Score: 8 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents: 6.3 (50 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents: 12.1 (14 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage: 55%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life: 74%

9, New Hampshire
Tolerance score: 68 out of 100
Hate crime score: 18 out of 40
Discrimination score: 32 out of 40
Gay rights score: 10 out of 10
Religious Tolerance Score: 8 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents: 2.1 (21 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents: 12.3 (16 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage: 55%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life: 79%

10, New Mexico
Tolerance score: 67 out of 100
Hate crime score: 32 out of 40
Discrimination score: 25 out of 40
Gay rights score: 4 out of 10
Religious Tolerance Score: 6 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents: 1.3 (12 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents: 12.2 (15 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage: 49%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life: 62%

11, Virginia
Tolerance score: 66 out of 100
Hate crime score: 24 out of 40
Discrimination score: 35 out of 40
Gay rights score: 1 out of 10
Religious Tolerance Score: 6 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents: 1.9 (20 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents: 8.5 (2 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage: 42%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life: 69%

12, Iowa
Tolerance score: 64 out of 100
Hate crime score: 34 out of 40
Discrimination score: 16 out of 40
Gay rights score: 6 out of 10
Religious Tolerance Score: 8 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents: 0.6 (7 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents: 37.5 (48 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage: 44%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life: 73%

13, North Carolina
Tolerance score: 63 out of 100
Hate crime score: 25 out of 40
Discrimination score: 30 out of 40
Gay rights score: 2 out of 10
Religious Tolerance Score: 6 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents: 1.1 (11 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents: 11.5 (10 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage: 36%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life: 62%

14, Connecticut
Tolerance score: 63 out of 100
Hate crime score: 18 out of 40
Discrimination score: 27 out of 40
Gay rights score: 10 out of 10
Religious Tolerance Score: 8 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents: 5.6 (47 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents: 16.8 (30 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage: 57%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life: 73%

15, Florida
Tolerance score: 61 out of 100
Hate crime score: 32 out of 40
Discrimination score: 21 out of 40
Gay rights score: 0 out of 10
Religious Tolerance Score: 8 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents: 0.7 (9 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents: 18.7 (32 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage: 41%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life: 72%

16, Louisiana
Tolerance score: 59 out of 100
Hate crime score: 34 out of 40
Discrimination score: 19 out of 40
Gay rights score: 0 out of 10
Religious Tolerance Score: 6 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents: 0.5 (6 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents: 14.8 (25 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage: 36%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life: 70%

17, New York
Tolerance score: 59 out of 100
Hate crime score: 18 out of 40
Discrimination score: 27 out of 40
Gay rights score: 6 out of 10
Religious Tolerance Score: 8 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents: 3.3 (35 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents: 17.8 (31 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage: 58%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life: 77%

18, Massachusetts
Tolerance score: 59 out of 100
Hate crime score: 18 out of 40
Discrimination score: 23 out of 40
Gay rights score: 10 out of 10
Religious Tolerance Score: 8 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents: 5.1 (43 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents: 21.1 (37 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage: 62%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life: 79%

19, West Virginia
Tolerance score: 58 out of 100
Hate crime score: 24 out of 40
Discrimination score: 26 out of 40
Gay rights score: 2 out of 10
Religious Tolerance Score: 6 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents: 1.4 (13 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents: 12.6 (18 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage: 41%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life: 70%

20, Nevada
Tolerance score: 58 out of 100
Hate crime score: 25 out of 40
Discrimination score: 23 out of 40
Gay rights score: 2 out of 10
Religious Tolerance Score: 8 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents: 2.1 (23 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents: 15.9 (27 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage: 50%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life: 73%

21, Montana
Tolerance score: 58 out of 100
Hate crime score: 15 out of 40
Discrimination score: 36 out of 40
Gay rights score: 1 out of 10
Religious Tolerance score: 6 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents:: 2.9 (30 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents:: 8.7 (3 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage:: 45%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life:: 63%

22, Rhode Island
Tolerance score: 57 out of 100
Hate crime score: 22 out of 40
Discrimination score: 22 out of 40
Gay rights score: 5 out of 10
Religious Tolerance score: 8 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents:: 3.4 (37 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents:: 24.4 (45 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage:: 60%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life:: 73%

23, Alaska
Tolerance score: 56 out of 100
Hate crime score: 13 out of 40
Discrimination score: 34 out of 40
Gay rights score: 1 out of 10
Religious Tolerance score: 8 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents:: 3.1 (31 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents:: 9.3 (6 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage:: 45%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life:: 77%

24, Washington
Tolerance score: 56 out of 100
Hate crime score: 22 out of 40
Discrimination score: 22 out of 40
Gay rights score: 6 out of 10
Religious Tolerance score: 6 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents:: 3.1 (32 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents:: 20.6 (36 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage:: 54%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life:: 68%

25, Vermont
Tolerance score: 56 out of 100
Hate crime score: 16 out of 40
Discrimination score: 22 out of 40
Gay rights score: 10 out of 10
Religious Tolerance score: 8 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents:: 4.0 (39 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents:: 21.7 (39 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage:: 59%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life:: 79%

26, Oregon
Tolerance score: 56 out of 100
Hate crime score: 18 out of 40
Discrimination score: 28 out of 40
Gay rights score: 4 out of 10
Religious Tolerance score: 6 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents:: 5.5 (45 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents:: 12.9 (20 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage:: 52%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life:: 70%

27, Maine
Tolerance score: 55 out of 100
Hate crime score: 19 out of 40
Discrimination score: 19 out of 40
Gay rights score: 7 out of 10
Religious Tolerance score: 10 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents:: 3.8 (38 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents:: 22.5 (40 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage:: 55%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life:: 82%

28, Delaware
Tolerance score: 53 out of 100
Hate crime score: 13 out of 40
Discrimination score: 28 out of 40
Gay rights score: 4 out of 10
Religious Tolerance score: 8 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents:: 4.2 (40 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents:: 15.8 (26 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage:: 50%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life:: 71%

29, Texas
Tolerance score: 52 out of 100
Hate crime score: 32 out of 40
Discrimination score: 15 out of 40
Gay rights score: -1 out of 10
Religious Tolerance score: 6 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents:: 0.7 (8 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents:: 18.8 (34 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage:: 35%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life:: 65%

30, Michigan
Tolerance score: 52 out of 100
Hate crime score: 21 out of 40
Discrimination score: 22 out of 40
Gay rights score: 1 out of 10
Religious Tolerance score: 8 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents:: 3.2 (34 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents:: 21.2 (38 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage:: 46%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life:: 72%

31, Colorado
Tolerance score: 52 out of 100
Hate crime score: 16 out of 40
Discrimination score: 26 out of 40
Gay rights score: 2 out of 10
Religious Tolerance score: 8 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents:: 4.2 (41 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents:: 10.3 (8 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage:: 52%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life:: 72%

32, Georgia
Tolerance score: 50 out of 100
Hate crime score: 24 out of 40
Discrimination score: 21 out of 40
Gay rights score: -1 out of 10
Religious Tolerance score: 6 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents:: 0.1 (2 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents:: 12.5 (17 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage:: 34%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life:: 63%

33, Indiana
Tolerance score: 49 out of 100
Hate crime score: 18 out of 40
Discrimination score: 21 out of 40
Gay rights score: 2 out of 10
Religious Tolerance score: 8 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents:: 1.5 (14 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents:: 16.4 (29 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage:: 37%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life:: 73%

34, Tennessee
Tolerance score: 49 out of 100
Hate crime score: 21 out of 40
Discrimination score: 23 out of 40
Gay rights score: -1 out of 10
Religious Tolerance score: 6 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents:: 2.7 (26 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents:: 13.8 (23 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage:: 31%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life:: 63%

35, Oklahoma
Tolerance score: 48 out of 100
Hate crime score: 25 out of 40
Discrimination score: 18 out of 40
Gay rights score: -1 out of 10
Religious Tolerance score: 6 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents:: 1.6 (17 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents:: 13.8 (22 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage:: 26%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life:: 65%

36, South Carolina
Tolerance score: 48 out of 100
Hate crime score: 13 out of 40
Discrimination score: 30 out of 40
Gay rights score: -1 out of 10
Religious Tolerance score: 6 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents:: 2.7 (27 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents:: 10.6 (9 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage:: 32%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life:: 61%

37, Missouri
Tolerance score: 47 out of 100
Hate crime score: 24 out of 40
Discrimination score: 15 out of 40
Gay rights score: 0 out of 10
Religious Tolerance score: 8 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents:: 2.1 (22 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents:: 29.4 (46 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage:: 37%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life:: 73%

38, Mississippi
Tolerance score: 46 out of 100
Hate crime score: 27 out of 40
Discrimination score: 16 out of 40
Gay rights score: -1 out of 10
Religious Tolerance score: 4 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents:: 0.2 (3 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents:: 11.6 (11 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage:: 27%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life:: 59%

39, South Dakota
Tolerance score: 46 out of 100
Hate crime score: 10 out of 40
Discrimination score: 28 out of 40
Gay rights score: 0 out of 10
Religious Tolerance score: 8 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents:: 5.8 (48 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents:: 9.4 (7 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage:: 38%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life:: 79%

40, Alabama
Tolerance score: 44 out of 100
Hate crime score: 26 out of 40
Discrimination score: 15 out of 40
Gay rights score: -1 out of 10
Religious Tolerance score: 4 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents:: 0.3 (4 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents:: 12.8 (19 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage:: 26%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life:: 59%

41, Kentucky
Tolerance score: 43 out of 100
Hate crime score: 14 out of 40
Discrimination score: 24 out of 40
Gay rights score: -1 out of 10
Religious Tolerance score: 6 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents:: 4.7 (42 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents:: 13.4 (21 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage:: 31%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life:: 69%

42, North Dakota
Tolerance score: 42 out of 100
Hate crime score: 16 out of 40
Discrimination score: 18 out of 40
Gay rights score: 0 out of 10
Religious Tolerance score: 8 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents:: 2.3 (25 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents:: 32.8 (47 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage:: 38%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life:: 79%

43, Arizona
Tolerance score: 42 out of 100
Hate crime score: 20 out of 40
Discrimination score: 15 out of 40
Gay rights score: 1 out of 10
Religious Tolerance score: 6 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents:: 3.4 (36 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents:: 18.7 (33 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage:: 48%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life:: 64%

44, Utah
Tolerance score: 41 out of 100
Hate crime score: 16 out of 40
Discrimination score: 24 out of 40
Gay rights score: -1 out of 10
Religious Tolerance score: 2 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents:: 1.7 (18 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents:: 11.8 (12 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage:: 22%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life:: 45%

45, Idaho
Tolerance score: 41 out of 100
Hate crime score: 22 out of 40
Discrimination score: 16 out of 40
Gay rights score: -1 out of 10
Religious Tolerance score: 4 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents:: 2.3 (24 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents:: 23.9 (42 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage:: 33%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life:: 60%

46, Ohio
Tolerance score: 40 out of 100
Hate crime score: 15 out of 40
Discrimination score: 16 out of 40
Gay rights score: 1 out of 10
Religious Tolerance score: 8 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents:: 3.1 (33 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents:: 24.2 (44 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage:: 45%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life:: 76%

47, Nebraska
Tolerance score: 40 out of 100
Hate crime score: 17 out of 40
Discrimination score: 16 out of 40
Gay rights score: -1 out of 10
Religious Tolerance score: 8 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents:: 5.1 (44 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents:: 38.8 (49 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage:: 35%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life:: 78%

48, Kansas
Tolerance score: 38 out of 100
Hate crime score: 12 out of 40
Discrimination score: 18 out of 40
Gay rights score: 0 out of 10
Religious Tolerance score: 8 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents:: 5.6 (46 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents:: 23.0 (41 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage:: 37%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life:: 71%

49, Arkansas
Tolerance score: 37 out of 100
Hate crime score: 15 out of 40
Discrimination score: 17 out of 40
Gay rights score: -1 out of 10
Religious Tolerance score: 6 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents:: 2.7 (28 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents:: 23.9 (43 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage:: 29%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life:: 63%

50, Wyoming
Tolerance score: 32 out of 100
Hate crime score: 16 out of 40
Discrimination score: 8 out of 40
Gay rights score: 2 out of 10
Religious Tolerance score: 6 out of 10
Hate crime incidents per 100,000 residents:: 1.5 (15 out of 50 states)
Discrimination cases filed per 100,000 residents:: 201.9 (50 out of 50 states)
Population in support of same-sex marriage:: 37%
Population that believes many religions lead to eternal life:: 63%

Gun Violence & Regulation (Data, Analysis, Rhetoric)

“But I actually want to address his first point because it is so profoundly stupid. Why should we criminalize anything because the criminals are going to ignore the law anyway? Think about that in other contexts. Why should we criminalize murder or rape because people are going to kill and rape anyway? But wait a minute. Then, one of the reasons to criminalize it is so we can prosecute them.”
~ Cenk Uygur

I should preface this entire blog post with the delaration that I, like Cenk Uygur, am a liberal who supports gun rights and yet frames these rights within their corollary of social responsibility. I don’t know that regulation is good, but regulation does seem unavoidable in its necessity… given human nature and the state of modern civilization. Everything in this blog follows from that understanding. My biases are entirely out in the open and they aren’t above being questioned.

(By the way, if you’re interested in seeing the material I posted in direct response to the Tuscon shooting, see my other post here.)

– – –

The data about guns and violence is complex and difficult to analyze, but for argument’s sake let’s assume we could make a clear conclusion that gun regulation was effective (an argument that is confirmed by at least some of the data). Assuming this, how many gun advocates would change their minds? Probably very few. Gun advocates who argue against all regulation are a minority. If being for gun regulation is liberal, then most Americans are liberal (well, most Americans are liberal on many if not most issues: US Demographics & Increasing ProgressivismPublic Opinion on Tax Cuts for the Rich85% Oppose Cutting Social Security (Poll), Health Reform & Public Option (polls & other info), and Claims of US Becoming Pro-Life).

My frustration is that the far right gun advocates want to portray the debate as an issue of banning all guns. They do the same thing with other issues as well: banning all drugs or legalizing all drugs, banning all abortions or legalizing all abortions, et cetera. There is no middle ground in this black and white worldview.

This would appear to be a dishonest debating tactic, but it feels honest to many who see the issue this way. They truly believe in their worldview. As they see it, the gun violence issue isn’t the central issue. They perceive their right to own and carry guns as an inalienable right. Even the most basic regulation ensuring public safety is an infringement and is perceived as an erosion of gun rights that will inevitably lead to banning all guns. If those with a record of crime, violence, or insanity can’t legally buy guns, these people fear that the state will begin to label all gun advocates as violent and insane criminals. They fear the govt, they fear liberals, they fear everything. In a world where everything is a potential threat, they have to be able to defend themselves. Anything outside of their paranoid fantasy is meaningless to them. Yes, this view is only held by far right extremists and that is the problem as these people usually dominate any discussion.

It’s fine that these people have their own worldview. I don’t hold that against them per se. But I do hold it against them that their worldview is forced onto the entire country. These far right gun advocates have immense influence because the NRA and gun corporations have immense amount of wealth and large numbers of lobbyists. They’ve been so effective at controlling the narrative that they’ve even persuaded the moderate majority. If you ask many gun owners, they’ll give you an inconsistent response. Most of them support reasonable regulation, but whenever the gun advocacy narrative is brought up (which is often in the media) they will have a knee-jerk response of saying they’re against ‘regulation’ interpreting it as a codeword for banning guns. This is the power of a narrative. This is also how conservatives have won the health care reform debate. If you ask Americans, most support health care reform (specifically ideas such as public option or single payer). But if you frame the debate with push-polling questions, most Americans say they are against health care reform (against Obamacare, against Government controlled health care, et cetera).

The problem is that minority of far right gun advocates and the majority of average regulation advocates aren’t even talking about the same thing. There is a middle ground that rarely gets discussed and when it gets discssed it is framed as being far left. We can have gun ownership legalized, we can have even have more people owning more guns. None of that contradicts having more effective regulation. I’m fine with someone having a houseful of guns within reasonable limits… just as long as they don’t have a record of crime, violence, and/or insanity… just as long as certain weapons are banned such as machine guns, grenade launchers, bazookas, flame throwers, etc. The thing is that most Americans agree with me, but finding agreement in public debate is so difficult because the rhetoric used to frame the debate just muddies the water, inflames emotions, and polarizes opinions. The results of this rhetoric that we see in the media and in politics doesn’t correspond to what most people think and believe. Research shows that, for example, politicians in Washington are more polarized in their positions than are the American public that they supposedly represent. How can a democracy function when minority groups control all aspects of political debate and policymaking?

The debate isn’t about banning all weapons versus legalizing all weapons. The debate isn’t even about ‘strong’ regulation versus ‘weak’ regulation. Most Americans want to have the right to own guns and to have reasonable regulation to ensure public safety. So, the only worthwhile debate is what kind of regulation is effective. We can have few regulations if those regulations are effective and if they are enforced consistently. On the other hand, having lots of ‘strong’ regulations would be meaningless if they are badly designed and/or aren’t enforced. I’ve presented the real debate here in this post. So, why is this real debate so rarely heard in the media? Or why, when heard in the media, is this real debate so easily derailed by rhetoric? Who benefits by not having a real debate? That is obvious: those who make a lot of money off of guns (meaning the gun makers and sellers including the lobbyists and politicians who work for them).

To be fair, sometimes real debate does happen in the mainstream media and sometimes a rightwing gun advocate will openly speak about regulation:

A further problem is that the complex data on guns is in the context of even more complex data about violence in general. Many people will point out that the rates of violence have been decreasing since the 1980s, but that misses the point that our present ‘low’ rates are still massively higher than the rates of violence in the 1960s. In fact, our present ‘low’ rates of violence are about the same as the high rates of violence during Prohibition.

http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/uscrime.htm

Also, research shows that the recent decrease of violence is largely caused by factors that have nothing to do with gun regulation or tough-on-crime policies.

https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2010/09/05/jimmy-carter-clean-air-act/

https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2010/11/24/abortion-crime/

These other factors are conveniently ignored or dismissed by gun advocates and other conservatives because it supports a liberal vision of society. Thom Hartmann recently discussed the correlation between violence and income inequality which I’ve discussed in the past.

https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2010/07/22/study-bosses-getting-meaner/

https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2010/08/27/capitalist-us-vs-socialist-germany/

https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2010/08/31/10-states-with-ridiculously-low-unemployment-and-why/

I noticed this blog post which I could connect into the issue of inequality:

http://www.sciencebuzz.org/blog/do-guns-make-you-safer-or-put-you-more-danger

Various people have tried to resolve this issue over the years, with little success. When the Brady list came out recently, blogger Jay Tea noted that some states with strict gun laws (such as California) actually had higher rates of gun death, while some states with looser laws (such as Utah) had much lower rates. (The “rates” are gun homicides per 100,000 people, and not total deaths. This allows us to compare large states and small states fairly.)

However, Mr. Tea failed to note that the reverse is also true — that there are also states with strict laws that have low rates of gun violence, and states with loose laws that have high rates.

So, which is it: do gun controls make you safer, or put you in more danger?

The author of that blog makes the point that no clear causal relationship can be ascertained proving the benefit of either pro-gun or pro-regulation. However, he was leaving out the data about inequality. Compare (look below) the maps of inequality and poverty to the maps of gun deaths and permits… and notice the fairly consistent georgraphic patterns. Utah has one of the lowest income inequalities in the country and California (like much of the Southern US) has high income inequality. According to The Spirit Level by Wilkinson and Pickett, Utah has one of the best ratings in the US in terms of the index of health and social problems (in the Top 10). California is much worse than Utah, but California looks fairly good on many standards when compared to the strongly conservative states in the Southwest and Deep South.

I was initially confused why the above quote mentions California as having higher rates of gun death because one of the maps below shows California gun deaths to be lower per capita. The article that the gun deaths map below comes from explains the differences of data: “The map above charts firearm deaths for the 50 states plus the District of Columbia. Note that these figures include accidental shootings, suicides, even acts of self-defense, as well as crimes.” (By the way, data shows a reverse correlation between murder and suicide; in any given society, people will be more likely to either kill themselves or kill others but not usually both in equal rates; so, combining both murder and suicide rates is possibly a more accurate way of making comparisons of overall violence.) The above quote is only referring to the data on homicides (which seems to imply that California has extremely low rates of non-homicidal gun deaths). Anyway, including or excluding California, the pattern still holds with most of the states with a few possible anomalies such as Nevada.

http://www.visualizingeconomics.com/2007/07/17/united-states-income-inequality-map/

Gross Domestic Product by Industry

http://www.visualizingeconomics.com/2007/08/11/united-states-poverty-map/

% in Poverty Income Map

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/11/01/the-geography-of-gun-deaths-/69354/

preventionEDIT.jpg

http://www.usacarry.com/concealed_carry_permit_reciprocity_maps.html

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/images/newsgraphics/2011/0110-guns/permits.jpg

Here is an interesting diagram showing some correlated factors:

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/11/01/the-geography-of-gun-deaths-/69354/

It’s obvious the US has a violent culture when looking at the bigger picture of comparisons between countries, although it’s also clear that certain regions of the US are more violent than others. This violence can’t be directly blamed on guns, but it can’t be denied that our worship of guns (along with general glorification of violence in the media) plays a part. The more violent society gets the more people buy guns. And the more gun laws are loosened the more shooting rampages occur. It’s a vicious cycle that will continue as long as we ignore the fundamental causes. One of these causes is the economic disparity which correlates to an increase of social problems such as violent crime and an increase of social mistrust. Research shows that this type of conflict-ridden atmosphere predisposes people toward more a more conservative and even authoritarian worldview.

So, those in favor of conservative and/or authoritarian policies have an incentive to encourage such social conflict and violence. Those who make money off of the gun industry and the military-industrial comple have a vested interest to encourage this culture of violence. The increasing economic disparity isn’t an accident but is the result of specific political agendas. I’m not saying it’s a conspiracy, but I am saying people tend to act in their own interests. When a minority gains most of the power, they will tend to create a world that conforms to their personal biases.

Here is a further problem. We can only clearly ascertain the correlations between violence and inequality by making comparisons, but I found certain comparisons being dismissed by gun advocates:

http://www.hnn.us/articles/871.html

Concomitantly, the U.S. should be compared not to Western Europe but to other high-murder-rate nations such as Russia. There, severe and severely-enforced gun bans applied to a largely unarmed population succeeded in virtually eliminating gun murders — so other weapons were substituted. In only four of the 35 years 1965-99 was Russia’s murder rate (barely) lower than ours, while in another 10 the rates were almost identical. But in 21 years the Russian rate was higher, and in seven the Russian rate was more than twice the U.S. Today it is almost four times higher.

http://www.firearmsandliberty.com/cramer.murder.html

When gun control advocates argue for banning or severely restricting gun ownership, the comparisons drawn are usually the United States vs. Britain, Canada, or Japan. The argument presented is that availability of guns causes high crime rates. Occasionally, similar comparisons are made with different American states — though usually such comparisons are made by their opponents, since state by state murder rate comparisons can be used (just as inaccurately) to “prove” that gun control laws increase crime rates.

That comparisons of such widely differing nations, cultures, and legal systems as Japan, Britain, and the United States are absurd should be obvious. But even ignoring these obvious differences, there is plenty of evidence that such comparisons are ignoring significant factors besides firearms availability. As an example, compare American and British rape rates. Unlike murder, rape seldom involves a gun. While 62% of murders in the U.S. in 1981 involved a firearm, only 7% of rapes did so. [1] Therefore, if crime rates in the U.S. and Britain can be fairly compared, we should find that British rape rates were equal to U.S. rape rates, minus the 7% of U.S. rapes committed with guns.

The 1984 British Crime Survey reported 2,288 rapes in England and Wales — an area with a population of 49 million people! This gives 4.67 rapes per 100,000 people. [2] By comparison, America’s rape rate for 1987 was 73 per 100,000 females [3] , or 36.5 per 100,000 people. Subtracting the 7% of U.S. rapes that are committed with firearms gives 34 rapes per 100,000 people — far higher than Britain’s rate. Britain’s very low rape rate must be more than just the absence of firearms — much more.

Similarly, there were 662 murders in England and Wales in 1984 [4] . This gives 1.35 murders per 100,000 people. The U.S. murder rate in 1987 was 8.3 per 100,000 people [5] . Even if we assume that:

1. In the absence of firearms, not a single murderer using a firearm in the U.S. would have used another weapon to commit murder (very unlikely);

2. further assuming that not a single privately owned firearm was used to prevent a murder from happening in the U.S. (very unlikely);

3. assuming that not a single murder in Britain involved a firearm (not true);

subtracting out the 59% of murders committed with firearms in the U.S. in 1987 [6] still gives a rate of 3.4 per 100,000 – – two and a half times higher than Britain. How valid is it to compare British and U.S. murder rates?

We shouldn’t make comparisons with countries that are better than the US based on a wide variety of data because such comparisons would be ‘unfair’. Give me a break! That is the whole point. These countries don’t have the problems the US has and so we should look to why those countries succeed where the US fails. Of course, such data would undermine the rightwing arguments. It’s just ‘unfair’ that reality has a liberal bias.

Another correlation can be made with the military. It’s conservative policies (which are supported by most Republican politicians and many conservative Democrats as well) that have been the major factor behind the rising inequality. And it’s conservative ideology that has always presented the Military-Industrial Complex as a patriotic institution that must be promoted no matter the cost (in lives or taxes). The far left has always been against these things, but you rarely see leftwingers in mainstream media and mainstream politics (a rare exception being Bernie Sanders).

So, besides the problems of inequality, what are some of the other problems of the culture of violence? The most obvious result is the growth of the Military-Industrial Complex, the militarization of the police, a failing War on Drugs, the highest per capita prison population in the world, and the creation of a system of powerful gangs, cartels, and smugglers. Here is an example of how this plays out in the real world:

My complaint of the rightwing vision of society is that it can end up as a self-fulfilling prophecy.

https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2010/04/14/far-rights-self-fulfilling-prophecy-secessionism-militias-paranoia-violence/

Maybe I’m being unfair to conservatives. However, my criticisms are mostly limited to the far right. My criticisms only seem to apply to all conservatives because the far right has come to dominate and define conservatism. Nonetheless, the data I’ve seen shows that even most NRA members and most gun owners support gun regulation.

http://www.mayorsagainstillegalguns.org/html/media-center/pr012-09.shtml

Here is a major confusion to this debate.

The liberal/conservative divide is often a urban/rural divide. This is particularly clear with the gun issue. Research shows that when you have highly concentrated populations violence tends to increase… no matter what laws and regulations are in place. Conservatives will point out that liberal urban areas have high crime rates, but the liberalism doesn’t cause the crime rates. Liberalism and crime rates are both caused (or contributed to) by concentrated populations (or, at least, there is some kind of correlation, causal or not). An example of this is research showing that people who grow up around diverse cultures (i.e., urban areas) tend to be more socially liberal as adults (I’ve seen this research a number of times but I was unable to locate it; I think I might have included it in a previous blog). More importantly, the liberal desire for gun regulation is in response to gun violence and not the cause of it. Highly concentrated populations with high economic disparity will inevitably have high rates of violence. It makes no sense to blame the solution as the cause. Gun regulation is desired when gun violence is out of control. It’s like blaming Progressivism for causing the Robber Barons.

Part of the confusion comes from comparing states without controlling for all variables.

Conservative states tend to be more rural and rural regions tend to have less gun crimes or less reported gun crimes (although it should be pointed out that rural areas have equal rates of gun deaths as urban areas, but they tend to be different kinds of gun deaths: suicides, ‘accidents’, et cetera). Liberal states tend to be more urban and urban areas in general tend to have higher rates of gun violence. So, there is an urban/rural divide when it comes to gun regulation. However, if we just compare urban areas in liberal states to urban areas in conservative states, liberal urban areas (which tend to have comprehensive gun regulation) have lower rates of gun violence. I assume this has to do with liberal urban areas tending to have lower income inequality than conservative rural areas.

A related factor is that rural conservative states with loose gun laws often are the source of illegal or unregulated gun purchases that are behind the large number of unregistered guns in urban liberal states. An example is that many unregistered guns in Chicago come from Indiana.

http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/article_7b3c4234-e066-5c7d-b8f7-877667c35f69.html

Gun advocates will sometimes point out that the data is complex. If they can’t prove their own preferred conclusions based on the data, they’ll claim that no conclusions at all can be made. So, they think we should just throw out all the data and go back to first principles (which reminds me of two previous posts: Conservative Mistrust & Ideological Certainty (part 1) and (part 2)). They assume their own ideology is the default position. They argue that the data and analysis is just a distraction from our Second Amendment rights. This simpleminded view misses the point that even the Second Amendment is complex. There is no refuge for the simpleminded. The complex can be denied by embracing ignorance and ideology, but that doesn’t make the complexities go away.

Let’s look at the entire wording of the Second Amendment:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

The first few words clarifies the original intention of the founders. First, they realized it was the role of the government to regulate guns. Second, they supported a militia because they were originally against having a standing army. Combined together, they wanted a “well regulated Militia” meaning they realized having unregulated militias and unregulated gun use was dangerous. The founders did worry about an oppressive government and so so a well regulated militia serving the role of protecting the population from abuse of power, but the founders also worried about populist revolt. They didn’t want what happened to the French to happen to them. They were the business and intellectual elite of their day. If a populist revolt were to happen, they knew they’d be among the first targets of violence. For this reason, they made sure to clarify that regulation was centrally important, i.e., law and order. The founders were far from being radical gun rights advocates.

Obviously, we no longer live in the world the founders lived in. Even the founders had to backtrack on their dislike of a standing army. It was in their lifetime that a standing army was created and has existed ever since. However, if were to go by their original wording and intentions, we should immediately dismantle the entire military and create a “well regulated Militia”. What this would mean is that those who are trained militia members would have the right and responsibility to own a gun and these militias would be under the authority of (i.e., regulated by) the government (both state and federal).

The Second Amendment, however, doesn’t inherently give the right for every person to carry any and all weapons they want without any government regulation.

http://www.newsweek.com/blogs/the-gaggle/2011/01/18/assault-weapons-ban-would-not-violate-second-amendment.html

There is a lot of bogus invocation of the Second Amendment going on right now. But there is no ambiguity in the judicial precedent: the assault-weapons ban does not violate the Second Amendment. When Kim Strassel of The Wall Street Journalcomplains that “New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has piped up, again, in favor of expanding the sort of burdensome restrictions his city places on the Second Amendment to the nation as a whole,” she is using weasel words to invoke the Constitution on a subject with no relevance to it. Even the most conservative jurists held for decades that the Second Amendment was meant to protect state militias rather than an individual right to own weapons. More recently, the Supreme Court overturned total bans on all gun ownership, such as the Washington, D.C., law overturned in Heller v. District of Columbia by a 5-4 decision. But Heller did not establish an individual right to own all weapons. Members of the narrow majority on the Supreme Court who believe that the Second Amendment establishes an individual right to bear arms would not hold that the Constitution protects one’s right to own a nuclear submarine. So it is not true that any gun ban automatically “burdens” the Second Amendment. The question is whether it affects the limited right to self-defense that the conservative majority now says the Founders intended. Banning any possession of handguns by law-abiding citizens, even in the home, is so far the only law that the high court has held violates the Second Amendment. Such extreme bans are only passed in large liberal cities such as D.C. and Chicago where crime is a persistent concern. No federal law that could ever actually be passed by the U.S. Congress approaches such a level of restriction. There is simply no precedent to support the claim that laws preventing civilians from obtaining weapons that can fire 30 bullets without reloading would violate the Second Amendment. This does not mean that one cannot have a valid concern that even constitutional laws place an undue burden on one’s freedom, but that is a question of values and public-policy tradeoffs, not constitutionality.

I don’t claim to have it all figured out. The more I look at the data the less certain I am. For example, I noticed John Lott coming up a lot in my websearches, especially his book More Guns, Less Violence. Looking at the Wikipedia page, there is tons of research that either supports or challenges his conclusions (although there apparently is more research on the side of challenging).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/More_Guns,_Less_Crime

Trying to make sense of the data is difficult, but I think it’s worth the effort because otherwise we will just be arguing past eachother based on our various biases. I do think we need to take the data, all the data seriously… and not dismiss it because it’s inconvenient or too confusing to fit our preconceived ideologies. But it seems like rational debate is next to impossible. I try to remain intellectually humble and openminded, but I find myself polarized and frustrated by all the rhetoric.

So, I could be wrong about what makes sense to me at the moment. As far as I can tell, gun violence and gun regulation don’t necessarily have a causal connection, although there does seem to be some correlations related to economic disparity (which, in turn, is correlated to the degree of conservatism of a state). I have no absolute conclusions based on such confusing statistics and demographics… and, for that reason, I’m dissatisfied and annoyed by those who are satisfied with absolute conclusions (and absolute ideologies). Regulation might not solve the problem, but at least some basic regulation seems like a necessary ‘evil’ until (if ever) the more fundamental problems in our society are remedied.


Anyway, for the apparent minority of people who care about the complexity of the facts and issues, here are some interesting and helpful links:

http://social.jrank.org/pages/1257/Violent-Crime-Guns-Plenty.html

http://social.jrank.org/pages/1255/Violent-Crime-Guns-Gangs.html

http://social.jrank.org/pages/1250/Violent-Crime-Century-Murder.html

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2011/01/12-0

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/01/the-psychogeography-of-gun-violence/69353/

http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/070628/dq070628b-eng.htm

http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2003/07/0728.php

http://www.crab.rutgers.edu/~goertzel/mythsofmurder.htm

http://islandia.law.yale.edu/ayers/Ayres_Donohue_article.pdf

http://home.uchicago.edu/~ludwigj/papers/IJLE-ConcealedGunLaws-1998.pdf

http://faculty.arts.ubc.ca/nfortin/econ495/dugganjpe98.pdf

http://pricetheory.uchicago.edu/levitt/Papers/LevittUnderstandingWhyCrime2004.pdf

http://www.daviddfriedman.com/Academic/drugs_and_violence/Drugs_and_violence.html

http://www.protesteasygunslies.com/kates_mauser.pdf

http://works.bepress.com/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1017&context=john_donohue

http://works.bepress.com/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1065&context=john_donohue

http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2011/jan/10/gun-crime-us-state

http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/content/27/2/214.full.pdf

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/01/sudan-vs-the-united-states-cultures-of-gun-violence/69655/

http://www.tampabay.com/news/politifact-us-has-more-gun-deaths-than-other-large-countries/1145669

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/221032/international_gun_laws_show_firearm.html?cat=17

http://www.shmoop.com/right-to-bear-arms/original-meaning-of-the-second-amendment.html

http://www.spectacle.org/996/2d.html

http://www2.law.ucla.edu/volokh/common.htm

http://www.bsos.umd.edu/gvpt/lpbr/subpages/reviews/Williams404.htm

http://extremehonesty.tribe.net/thread/7d6b44ae-7394-40f9-85c5-4ae32f120235

http://www.thomhartmann.com/forum/2010/11/negative-rights-bill-rights

Poor & Rich Better Off With Democrats

Why elections matter, in one graph
By Ezra Klein

I’ve been trying to figure out how to link to Timothy Noah’s series on inequality, which falls under the rubric of “things you should read that I have nothing to say about.” One thing I can say is that Noah, Catherine Mulbrandon and Slate have put an enormous amount of work into creating visuals to accompany the articles, and the results are really impressive. This graph, for instance, is the best visualization I’ve seen of Larry Bartels’s striking data showing how different income groups do under Republican and Democratic presidents:

bartelschart.gif

Much more here.

– – –

This reminded me of two other issues.

First, the deficit has increased with every recent Republican president and decreased with Clinton. Is that an accident that all economic brackets improve under Democrat leadership which is precisely when the deficit has also decreased? I really don’t know what the connection would be, but it definitely undermines the Republican argument that they are the party of ‘fiscal responsibility’ (see: ).

I heard a discussion on the radio the other day. It was about Clinton’s surplus. Gore and Bush had two polar campaign pledges. Gore said he’d put the surplus into a lockbox to save for a rainy day and to put towards social security. Gore’s plan makes sense considering that the surplus was created partly through Clinton’s emphasizing saving over spending. Bush, on the other hand, said he’d give the surplus away with tax cuts. After Bush was elected, 9/11 happened. He could’ve adapted to changing circumstances and saved the surplus, but he didn’t. He created the tax cuts and on top of that he started two wars. That is the complete opposite of ‘fiscal responsibility’. This makes me think of Reagan doing tax cuts while building the military which was the very thing that created our permanent deficit in the first place.

Of course, Bush’s wasting the surplus turned out to be a horrible idea. It would’ve been nice if the surplus had been saved for the rainy day that did come after Bush wasted all the surplus plus some. Yeah, government is the problem… when a Republican is president.

Now, the second piece of data I’m reminded of is related to economic inequality. Of course, as the deficit grew under all these Republicans, the wealth disparity grew which translates into the rich getting richer while the poor get poorer.  But that wasn’t directly what I was thinking about. It’s not just that the rich benefit because, according to the data from The Spirit Level (which I mention in my post ), the rich don’t benefit in all ways. Even the rich in a society with high wealth disparity are worse off in terms of social problems.

For example, take obesity which is a major health problem in the modern world and is related to many health problems from diabetes to heart disease. In high wealth disparity societies, there are higher rates of obesity and even the rich are more obese in these societies. One possible explanation is that societies with many social problems create more stress in the lives of people living there. The human body when growing in stressful conditions responds by increasing fat production as a survival measure.

My point is that Americans do better financially under Democratic administrations and I don’t think it’s an accident that Democrats value egalitarianism. I also don’t think it’s an accident that most strongly Republican states have high economic inequality and high rates of social problems… and. when Republicans are in power, Americans overall do worse financially. Correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation, but this sure is a whole lot of correlation. If there is another explanation, I’d love to see what it might be.

10 States With Ridiculously Low Unemployment — And Why

I noticed this video a while back which shows how the economic problems mostly hit the coasts and the south first and then slowly moved to the interior of the country. Some of the midwestern and northwestern were barely impacted at all. I particularly paid attention to how Iowa remained strong as the states to the south, east, and north all descended into economic darkness.

I came across an article that explains some of this.

10 States With Ridiculously Low Unemployment — And Why

The 10 states are:

  1. North Dakota
  2. South Dakota
  3. Nebraska
  4. New Hampshire
  5. Vermont
  6. Hawaii
  7. Kansas
  8. Wyoming
  9. Minnesota
  10. Iowa

Some key elements that seem helpful:

  • diverse economy
  • agriculture or another strong sector such as tourism or industry
  • highly educated population

Iowa actually has a lower than average rate of higher education, but that is probably because of a split. There is a lot more agriculture in Western Iowa and a lot more education in Eastern Iowa (I read a few years ago that Iowa City has the highest per capita of highly educated in the country). Most importantly, Iowa balances all of this with a very diverse economy.

I had to check one other factor to see if the data holds up. I’ve recently written about income inequality because of reading the book The Spirit Level. As I expected, according to the data in the book, all these states are among the lowest in income inequality (and among the lowest in social problems). This once again proves the theory that income inequality is bad not simply because it leads to social inequality but because it leads to an unstable economy. Wealthy states like Texas and California were hit hard by the recession maybe because they have some of the highest income inequalities in the country.

The moral of the story: Even if you’re a selfish capitalist or a righteous social conservative, you should still help the poor because in helping them you are helping yourself. If you don’t help the poor, you and your entire community will suffer from your sins. So, quit being an asshole and help the poor.

Mean Bosses & Inequality

The following video shows one of the many dangers of wealth disparity.

I’ve posted about wealth disparity in the past and I was recently reading the book The Spirit Level by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett (here is the official website: The Equality Trust). Here is a video by the authors:

The data shows the correlation between wealth disparity and a wide variety of health and social problems. Some have argued against this apparent correlation being causally related (or, to the extent there is a causal relation, that the results are necessarily negative… arguing, for example, that wealth disparity is inevitable for economic growth), but the research mentioned in the first video further strengthens this correlation (and the negative conditions that result) by putting it in context of the psychology of human behavior. As Cenk Uygur points out, we all have this predisposition to misuse power (whether we meritoriously gained that power or were merely given it), but this predisposition is just a potential that we can guard against.

As a liberal, I’d argue that if you remove the temptation by decreasing the wealth disparity, then you don’t have to worry about people struggling to resist the corrupting influence of too much power. Anyways, as the data shows, societies with high wealth disparities are bad even for the wealthy in that they too suffer greater problems than the wealthy in societies with low wealth disparities. So, it does no one any good… no matter what conservatives may claim about some hypothetical meritocracy.

Even if they were correct that the economy grows quicker with greater inequality, that is hardly a moral argument for inequality (What good is growth merely for the sake of growth?). As the US data shows, even though the economy is growing, this only directly benefits the upper class. This growing economy isn’t increasing the living wage or employment rates of the lower classes.

If you’re wondering about criticisms of the data and correlations from The Spirit Level, here are some relevant links:

http://www.leftfootforward.org/2010/07/debunking-the-rights-attacks-on-the-spirit-level/

http://www.thersa.org/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/328517/Kate-Pickett-and-Richard-Wilkinson-Responses-to-All-Critics.pdf

http://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/saunders-response

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/jul/09/spirit-level-policy-exchange

The next video is a debate the authors of The Spirit Level had with one of their critics:

Here are some further videos: