My Lord Archbishop,
I do hope that you have been misquoted in today’s Daily Telegraph. On the off chance that you have not may I offer a small deal? One that should make both of us considerably more use to the rest of the population.
I promise not to spout nonsense about the Sky Fairy, a subject upon which I am less than well informed. In return, you will need to promise to keep silent on subjects where you are in possession of little knowledge.
I use as my example your statement upon inequality and happiness, a subset of that difficult subject, economics:
He argued that it is clear that the British is “not happy” and that “fairer” countries such as China, Japan and Netherlands also have more contented populations.
There is a significant error in that.
The Archbishop was drawing from “The Sprit Level” by Prof Richard Wilkinson and Prof Kate Pickett, which uses happiness indices from different countries to link social and health problems to inequality.
Yes, we know where the idea comes from.
“How many of you would like to be happy?” he asked his audience.
“You need to be a fairer society to be happy – at the moment, Britain is not happy.
“If you look at the figures globally, China is happiest, then Japan, then the Netherlands – because they are the most equal societies.
There are two problems with this statement of yours. The first is that your source, that book, is, how shall we put this, somewhat controversial. Using the word “controversial” here to mean political drivel of the highest order. But let us leave that aside, politics can indeed descend into a shouting match of one side against the other and the evidence be damned.
What is rather more worrying is that you seem not to have read the source you are quoting from, and if you did, you’ve most certainly not understood it. This is not unsusual among those who do not know their economics when spouting about economics but one would hope that an Archbishop recalled Job 6:24 at least occassionally.
China is most definitely not one of the world’s happiest countries. It is also most definitely not one of the most equal. Indeed, it’s actually considerably more unequal than the US or the UK. About as much more unequal than those two as they are than Sweden and Denmark in fact.
So our little deal. I’ll keep silence where I am ignorant. And where you are markedly ill informed you keep your gob shut too. Sound fair?
Yours from the ex-Papist side of the line,