February 2016 – Minutes

CLJP Minutes –February 9, 2016
Monticello Room, Westminster Canterbury

Present: Chip Sanders, Carroll Houle, John Peale, Hal Horan, Bob McAdams, Dave Warren, Peter Weatherly, Eugene Locke, Jim McDonald, Carol Muntz, David McFarlane, Bill Kenner, Betty Kenner

Guests: Wilma Bradbury, Helen Reynolds, Al Reynolds

Sanders opened the meeting with prayer and introduced the guests.

The Minutes of January 12, prepared by Horan, were approved.

Treasurer’s Report: Horan, reporting for Taylor Beard: Since the January 12 balance of 4,451.52, an income of 120.00, consisting of 60.00 dues each paid by Jean Hammond and Carl Matthews, with no expenses for the month, resulting in a balance of 4,571.52

McAdams announced that Virginia Inter-Generational Model United Nations (VIGMUN) will hold its Second Annual Conference on Saturday, February 13,hosted by the University of Virginia’s International Relations Organization and held in Newcomb Hall, starting at 8:30 and ending at 5:00.  The conference is open to high school and college youth as well as adults. There is a 20.00 fee for adults and a 10.00 fee for students.  McAdams along with a youth will represent Saudi Arabia.   Al Reynolds stated that he and a student would be the delegation from France.  For more information and the full schedule contact Bob McAdams at Rsm1539@earthlink.net or 973-9224.

Warren moved that 50.00 be made available as a scholarship for 5 students.  The motion carried.

Program: Continuing with The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, Bloomsbury Press, 2009

McAdams presented the statistical analysis for Wilkinson and Pickett’s findings of a strong correlation between income inequality and social ills in developed countries, country compared with country and, in the U.S.A, state by state. He provided printouts at each table of the book’s charts, with equality of income placed at the bottom or horizontal level from countries that are better (left) to countries that are worse (right) and a vertical line going up from the most equal countries to the least equal.  Japan and the Scandinavian states were at the bottom and the UK, Portugal and the U.S.A at the top.

When McAdams took the horizontal line of income inequality off the chart the vertical line also disappeared leaving a jumble of irrelevant data.

Peale followed the statistical presentation with a discussion of the “so what” of the figures presented.  Can even a strong correlation lead to a proof that income inequality either causes or is a major cause of social ills?  Cases have been advanced to counter the income inequality conclusion, advancing such arguments as the information age with its computers, soft ware, robots, etc. winning over the industrial age, leaving many workers with no marketable skills or that the prosperous period after World War II through the 1970s was an historical anomaly and therefore incapable of maintaining itself.

Then you have the old philosophical argument between Hume’s billiard balls and Kant’s “causality a category of the mind”  as to whether a cause can be proven at all.

The issue in a nut shell: would far less income inequality lead us to a healthier society?  If not, what factors would?

In the lively discussion that followed Matthews made the point that a lot of nations were left out of the book, such as those in Africa, South America and the Middle East, a criticism Peale said others have stated.  Matthews went on to say that for many countries like Kenya the issue is not income inequality but no income!  He also reminded the group that when companies send their factories overseas, they contribute to raising the standard of income for that country, showing how problematic the issue of justice be.

Finally, the question was posed, what action should the group take?  Two projects were advanced, one was an Ollie course on income inequality or a study of The Spirit Level and a forum guaranteed to be very interesting and engaging for the broader community.

McAdams also suggested that we invite other local groups centered on issues of peace and justice and go, ourselves, to their meetings.

Peale reminded the group of past presentations of income inequality: Sanders excellent take on Joseph Stieglitz’s The Price of Inequality (Sept. 8 Minutes) and of Peale’s lively look at Michael J. Sandel’s What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets (Oct. 13 Minutes)

Peale also stated that overtures to economists on the faculties of the Darden School of Business or the McIntire School of Commerce to speak to us have so far been unsuccessful.

The meeting adjourned at 1:58 pm.

Respectfully Submitted
Hal Horan