Turning inequality therapeutic

In: Uncategorized

15 Aug 2010

Michael Marmot – one of the world’s leading experts on health inequalities – exhibits the redefinition of inequality in therapeutic terms in an article in today’s Observer.

* First, he makes the correct observation that the poor tend to suffer more from ill-health than the rich.

* Then he argues it is necessary to get to the root causes of these problems.

* But for him tackling the root cause it not a question of economic development. It is instead government intervention to modify the behaviour of the poor:

“Rather than simple exhortations to behave better, we need to address these more fundamental causes of ill-health. That does not mean there is nothing to be done in the short term. In my review, we drew on the evidence of the success of interventions at population level to prevent people from starting smoking and helping them to quit: smoking bans, reducing smuggling, restricting advertising and placement, workplace interventions, group therapy, counselling, self-help materials, nicotine replacement therapy and social support, and abolishing prescription charges for nicotine-replacement therapy.”

So rather than a political response to tackle inequality the proposed solution is greater intervention by the authorities in the everyday lives of the poor. This is what often passes for “left wing” nowadays.