In the US, the richest 0.1 per cent of people own roughly the same as the bottom 90 per cent; in the UK, the 1000 richest are wealthier than the poorest 40 per cent. On both sides of the Atlantic, inequality is at its highest level since 1928.
Surprisingly, these are about the only statistics in Katharine Round’s film The Divide. You would expect more, seeing as it was inspired by the 2009 book The Spirit Level, a graph-heavy manifesto linking wealth and social outcomes by epidemiologists Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett.
Instead, film maker Round dwells on the human story behind the numbers, and tells it very effectively. The film follows seven people in the UK and the US as it explores what happens to everyone when the rich get richer. By weaving these stories with news archive from 1979 to the present day, The Divide creates a lyrical, psychological and tragi-comic picture of how economic division creates social division.
Russ Beaton, Professor Emeritus of Economics from Willamette University
Russ Beaton obtained his B.A. from Willamette University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Claremont University, all in economics. He taught at California State Fullerton and Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, B.C., before returning to Willamette, where he was a professor of Economics for 33 years, and professor emeritus since 2003. While at Willamette, he specialized in areas such as environmental economics, urban land economics, and energy economics, and has done several studies focusing on urban growth boundary policies. He participated in the structuring and passing of Oregon’s land use laws, and has consulted to several state agencies, including ODOT, Department of Land Conservation and Development, Department of Energy, and Department of Economic Development. He has co-authored three books in the area of sustainable development, and is working on a fourth. He also concentrates on gardening, grand parenting, and playing tennis. He is currently the President of Salem City Club.