It is entirely true that there are inequalities in this world. It could be true that they are too large, that this distance between rich and poor is too large. I am not one of those who thinks that this is true of the rich countries today, not in general. For a quick shufti at our current society makes it obvious that the inequalities in most of the things that matter simply are not there.
There is no one who goes uneducated as a result of poverty for example – something that was not true 120 years ago or in any century before that. Absent people with significant mental or addiction problems there is no one actually going hungry – hungry not in the sense of being a bit peckish but in that of serious malnutrition brought about by the lack of resources to gain access to food. No would be pensioner has to work until they drop, children are no longer sent up chimnies and all that.
We simply are not in an era of Victorian inequality. Sure, some have more baubles than others but the access to the basics of life, food, education, clothing, health care, is as egalitarian as it ever has been among our species since at least hunter gatherer days.
Except for the one thing in Britain:
The pandemic is no exception. With large houses, holiday homes, and mountain retreats, the wealthy have plenty of options for lockdown. Those with yachts have even greater ability to self-isolate. Poorer people have less space, less choice, and even less access to sunshine.
Well, yes, one of those inequalities that has increased is housing. Government policy, by not allowing building through the issuance of planning permissions, has made British housing grossly expensive. Government has also gone further:
Britain builds the smallest new housing in Europe. Some 80 square metres is the average of a new dwelling. We’re told that there is a thriving industry in three quarters sized furniture specifically designed and sold to be installed in show homes – to make them appear less of the chicken coops they are.
Some 3% of our green and pleasant land is covered with housing. As we’ve noted here before more of Surrey is underneath golf courses than is under that housing that isn’t allowed to be built there. For the planners have decreed that Britons must be herded into that smallest housing in Europe in order to preserve the Green Belt. Or perhaps be punished for the temerity of whatever sins it is we’re all guilty of.
The richer among us can buy that older housing which is of a reasonable size. The poorer are stuffed into those rabbit hutches. As a matter of deliberate government policy. So, when are we going to change this inequality?
Probably around the time we insist that the planners live in what they’ve planned which would be interesting….