Segments in this Video

Meet the Panelists (02:33)


BBC correspondent Sean Curran explains the debate format and introduces human rights activist Peter Tatchell, philosopher Jamie Whyte, Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman, and Oxford development economist Frances Stewart. They will address the question of whether wealth and inequality benefits all of us.

Peter Tatchell: The Pitch (02:17)

The 80 richest individuals have as much wealth as the poorest 50% of the world's population. Tatchell blames the global economic system for this disparity and argues for a global wealth tax. He proposes that nations donate 10% of military spending to fight poverty.

Jamie Whyte: The Pitch (03:56)

Whyte presents the happiness economics theory that having more income does not increase satisfaction, but rather decreases leisure time and increases inequality. He then presents a scenario in which an individual is taxed for working more hours and criticizes the assumption that welfare and happiness are linked.

Paul Krugman: The Pitch (02:22)

Krugman does not believe a global wealth tax is realistic. He points out the Obama Administration's rollback of tax cuts and redistribution of money through healthcare as evidence of successfully strengthening social welfare without harming the economy.

Frances Stewart: The Pitch (02:36)

Stewart argues for greater equality from an environmental sustainability perspective. Carbon emissions increase with economic growth, and inequality encourages economic growth. Poor countries want to "catch up" to wealthy countries, creating a growth "treadmill." She credits Costa Rica with balancing environmental, economic, and social welfare.

Theme One: Growth and Inequality (03:30)

Krugman says statistics suggest that lower inequality is good for economic growth. A stronger social safety net may reduce entrepreneurial incentives, but it also provides resources for young people. Those with inadequate healthcare and nutrition are less productive, later in life.

Happiness vs. Welfare (01:47)

Whyte agrees that resources for young people can level the playing field. However, he argues for welfare in cash, so that people can decide for themselves how to spend it.

Finite Global Resources (03:35)

Tatchell questions the presumption that economic growth and GDP are indicators of economic success; people often feel happiest in middle income countries. He says we are reaching planetary limits, and calls for a sustainable economic model in which everyone has a basic quality of life.

Inequality and Social Conflict (02:51)

Stewart calls for wealth redistribution for political sustainability. She argues that we are in an economic growth paradigm and politicians do not want to challenge corporate interests. Whyte argues that inequality decreases in importance as a society gets richer, due to the real value of money.

Second Theme: Wealth Creators (03:20)

Krugman argues that Ayn Rand's theories have given many U.S. politicians a false sense of economic reality. He explains how Wall Street caused the financial crisis that damaged GDP. Since deregulation in the 1980s, the financial sector has not contributed to economic growth.

Investing in Public Services (04:41)

Stewart argues that global education is the key to wealth creation. Whyte discusses how people in finance get rich without innovating or contributing to society. Tatchell suggests freeing money from tax havens to fund education and job training. Whyte argues that Western higher education is a racket.

Third Theme: Should We Aspire to Equality? (03:54)

Stewart argues that social and racial inequality contributes to political instability, and calls for abolishing corporate tax havens. Tatchell argues that extremely wealthy people have a moral obligation to society. People stuck in poverty cannot contribute to the economy. National disparities stem from colonialism and unfair trade.

Improving Public Welfare (03:35)

Krugman says increasing taxes on wealthy Americans to benefit healthcare has had a positive impact on 15 million Americans, despite political backlash. He worries about the influence of the super-rich on the U.S. political system.

Credits: The Wealth Delusion: Happiness and Inequality (00:07)

Credits: The Wealth Delusion: Happiness and Inequality

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The Wealth Delusion: Happiness and Inequality

Part of the Series : Institute of Art and Ideas: Cutting Edge Debates and Talks from the World's Leading Thinkers
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Most of us would like to be richer. But surveys suggest the super rich are no happier than the rest of us and mental disorders and unhappiness increase with inequality. Do we need a more equal society, and a global tax on wealth, or does wealth benefit us all as a driver of investment and growth?

The Panel

Nobel Laureate and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, human rights activist Peter Tatchell, philosopher Jamie Whyte and Oxford development economist Frances Stewart debate wealth and well-being.

Length: 42 minutes

Item#: BVL115763

ISBN: 978-1-63521-116-0

Copyright date: ©2015

Closed Captioned

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