Meeetings

Regular meetings of the Sheffield Equality Group are held on the second Thursday of the month at Quaker Meeting House. Sheffield Equality Group meetings aim to be an open and inclusive space for discussion and action to address issues of income inequality.
 
Thursday 10th February, 7pm at Quaker Meeting House

Planning for the March 11th public meeting on tax and inequality. Plus: report back from national Equality Trust day, and equality in Sweden – some short films and discussion.
 
Friday 11th March, 7pm at the Cathedral
Public meeting on tax and economic inequality, with speakers including John Christensen of the Tax Justice Network.
 

Links

In more unequal societies, gated (non)communities become more desirable – a short film
 
Yes, bonuses do work – but for fruit-pickers, not City bankers
 
Gap between rich and poor – the Eighth Wonder of the World
 
The battle against benefit cuts and poverty pimps
http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/laurie-penny/2011/01/benefit-cuts-disabled-work
(if you’re interested in campaigning around welfare and benefit cuts, please get in touch)
 
What is progress? Could our societies grow richer but everyone get more miserable?
 
And, as requested, *that* Paul Scriven video…
 

Meeting Notes

Present: Leela, Graham, Jack, Jason, Jean, Kate
Apologies: Alice, David P, Marion, Neil
 
There was some reflection on the anti-tax-avoidance demo. Thought it was important to communicate everyday messages to people in the high street, rather than trying to persuade those in power. Those handing out leaflets found it a good way of talking to and engaging people. Would be good to hand out leaflets stating what the Coalition is doing, and what is the way forward – myth-busting with somewhere to go after having read the leaflet. Some thought the shouting and sit-down protest were not very effective, but the anti-tax-avoidance-carols were good, and you need some kind of event to focus on. Perhaps a big round of “Money Can’t Buy You Love”
 
Spreading the word…
Buy a flashing message at Bramall Lane.
Get letters/stories in the Metro.
 
Presenting the Spirit Level
We divided up into two groups for the second half to discuss presenting the evidence from the Spirit Level. This was to improve our own understanding, our confidence in talking about the evidence, and figure out ways that would engage people with it. Graham and Jean presented the evidence as a discussion between an advocate and sceptic, with the advocate talking about the evidence, and the sceptic presenting alternative arguments.
 
Advocate: “Mental illness is associated with higher rates of inequality, whereas in other countries it isn’t”.
Sceptic: “You give Japan as an example, but mental illness is not diagnosed in the same way there, and Japan has a high incidence of certain mental illnesses”.
Advocate: “But you can take Japan out and still have a strong relationship”.
 
We found that was quite effective, as you often have those doubts in your mind, so rather than a stream of arguments for, it is good to hear arguments against.
 
Jason, Kate, and Leela focussed on the impact of inequality on children, to get across the message in a clear way, saying that “if you want to do right by your kids, you have to do right by everyone, you can earn £50k and your kids will still be miserable, in a more equal society your kids are happier even if you don’t work every hour under the sun”.
That it’s not about being the best, but wanting the best for your neighbours. Getting to greater equality is not an impossible dream; “We have had more equality before, but we have forgotten what we have learned after 1945 in creating the welfare state, letting Thatcher, then Major, then Blair increase inequality. We had greater equality before, we can have greater equality again”.
And finally – “if we survive 2012, we’re all moving to Sweden.”