Hasta la victoria siempre

Friday, December 18, 2009

Cu consumeristii la psiholog

In materialul „Money or mental health: the cost of alleviating psychological distress with monetary compensation versus psychological therapy”, Health Economics Policy and Law, 2009, doi specialisti in psihologie sustin o concluzie plauzibila: consilierea psihologica este de zeci de ori mai eficienta in imbunatatirea starii de bine decat primirea unor cresteri consistente de bani.
Intr-un rezumat facut pe saitul Science Daily se arata:

„Chris Boyce of the University of Warwick and Alex Wood of the University of Manchester compared large data sets where 1000s of people had reported on their well-being. They then looked at how well-being changed due to therapy compared to getting sudden increases in income, such as through lottery wins or pay rises. They found that a 4 month course of psychological therapy had a large effect on well-being. They then showed that the increase in well-being from an £800 course of therapy was so large that it would take a pay rise of over £25,000 to achieve an equivalent increase in well-being. The research therefore demonstrates that psychological therapy could be 32 times more cost effective at making you happy than simply obtaining more money.”

Asadar, o terapie psihologica tinuta timp de 4 luni are aceleasi efecte pentru psihicul uman ca si o cresterea a salariului cu 25.000 lire sterline. Ce concluzie tragem de aici? Aceea ca fericirea umana poate fi obtinuta prin mijloace mult mai la indemana si mai putin costisitoare, financiar si din punct de vedere al resurselor, decat consumerismul actual.
Din nou, cei de la Science Daily puncteaza corect:

„Governments pursue economic growth in the belief that it will raise the well-being of its citizens. However, the research suggests that more money only leads to tiny increases in happiness and is an inefficient way to increase the happiness of a population. This research suggests that if policy makers were concerned about improving well-being they would be better off increasing the access and availability of mental health care as opposed to increasing economic growth. This research helps to highlight how relatively ineffective extra income is at raising well-being.”

Culmea ironiei, in ultimii 50 de ani de isterie consumista, nu numai ca fericirea nu a crescut, dar numarul de bolnavi psihici s-a marit exponential. Din chiar materialul celor doi psihologi, aflam ca „Mental health is deteriorating across the world – improvements to mental health care might be a more efficient way to increase the health and happiness of our nations than pure income growth.”

Thursday, December 17, 2009

O confirmare recenta

Studiul „From wealth to well-being? Money matters, but less than people think”, The Journal of Positive Psychology, 4 (6), 523-527, trei cercetatori, adica Lara B. Aknin; Michael I. Norton; Elizabeth W. Dunn, demonstreaza falsitatea credintei, raspandita in randul persoanelor obisnuite, fara cunostinte de psihologie, potrivit careia banii ar spori semnificativ fericirea.
In introducerea materialului, ce trei puncteaza:

„While numerous studies have documented the modest (though reliable) link between household income and well-being, we examined the accuracy of laypeople’s intuitions about this relationship by asking people from across the income spectrum to report their own happiness and to predict the happiness of others (Study 1) and themselves (Study 2) at different income levels. Data from two national surveys revealed that while laypeople’s predictions were relatively accurate at higher levels of income, they greatly overestimated the impact of income on life satisfaction at lower income levels, expecting low household income to be coupled with very low life satisfaction. Thus, people may work hard to maintain or increase their income in part because they overestimate the hedonic costs of earning low levels of income.„

Asadar, oamenii muncesc mult pentru a castiga sau mentine un stadiu material cat mai ridicat, cand de fapt fericirea nu depinde, nici macar in cazul gospodariilor modeste material, de sporirea averii.
Autorii conchid: "We demonstrate that adult Americans erroneously believe that earning less than the median household income is associated with severely diminished happiness," the researchers said. "[This is] a false belief that may lead many people to chase opportunities for increased wealth or forgo a reduction in income for increased free time."

Asadar, o mare parte din actiunile pe care le luam in sensul imbunatatirii situatiei materiale devint inutile, daca nu chiar daunatoare, caci nu fac decat sa ne limiteze timpul liber. Dupa cum se scrie pe blogul Research Digest, tinut de The British Psychological Society,

„With dogged determination we lie, rob, borrow, gamble and sometimes work too, in the hope of boosting our income. So zealous is our pursuit of money, it's as if we think it will somehow make us happier. Strangely enough, whilst psychologists and economists have conducted numerous studies showing that the relationship between income and happiness is weak, only one prior study has asked what lay people really believe about money and happiness (and this was focused on middle-income, working women). It's into this empirical desert that Lara Aknin and colleagues arrive with a survey of hundreds of North Americans of mixed age, gender and wealth. Aknin's team have found that people do indeed overestimate the link between money and happiness, especially at lower levels of income.”

De retinut deci faptul ca un nou studiu, cat se poate de recent, verifica cele spuse pe bolgul nostru: banii nu sporesc semnificativ fericirea nici a celor bogati, nici macar a celor mai putin bogati; credinta in efectele benefice ale materialismului este una iluzorie, chiar daca destui o accepta. Renuntarea la materialism, munca in exces si preferarea activitatilor de timp liber sunt confirmate ca alegeri rationale ale celui (celei) ce urmareste sporirea propriei fericiri.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Egalitarism si creativitate

Egalitarismul sustinut pe acest blog propune impunerea unei limite maxime de castig financiar. O critica populara a acestei pozitii este ca astfel se loveste in motivatia oamenilor de a munci si, implicit, in progresul social, tehnologic, artistic: fara motivatia unui castig/profit financiar cat mai mare, cum ar putea societatea sa avanseze, cum ar mai putea fi oamenii motivati sa creeze, sa descopere si sa inventeze lucruri noi? 

Voi presupune aici, de dragul agumentului, ca ceea ce se numeste progres e dezirabil. Am aratat in postari precum „O privire sceptica asupra „progresului” sau „Progres economic si deteriorare sociala” ca progresul tehnologic si cel economic se pare ca nu au avut efectul scontat, nu au sporit substantial sau relevant fericirea umana. 

Cunoscutul John Zerzan scrie in acest sens ca:

„For what has progress meant, after all? Its promise began to realize itself, in many ways, from history's very beginning. With the emergence of agriculture and civilization commenced, for instance, the progressive destruction of nature; large regions of the Near East, Africa and Greece were rather quickly rendered desert wastelands. In terms of violence, the transformation from a mainly pacific and egalitarian gatherer-hunter mode to the violence of agriculture/civilization was rapid. "Revenge, feuds, warfare, and battle seem to emerge among, and to be typical of, domesticated peoples," according to Peter Wilson. And violence certainly has made progress along the way, needless to say, from state weapons of mega-death to the recent rise in outburst murders and serial killers. Disease itself is very nearly an invention of civilized life; every known degenerative illness is part of the toll of historical betterment. From the wholeness and sensual vitality of pre-history, to the present vista of endemic ill-health and mass psychic misery-more progress.”

Distrugerea ecosistemelor, violenta sociala, degenerarea fizica au insotit, in viziunea lui Zerzan progresul, viziune asemanatoare cu cea a unui alt ganditor cunoscut, Jared Diamond, de care am scris in O privire sceptica asupra progresului.

Trecand insa peste aceste observatii generale, putem raspunde punctual la critica de mai sus astfel. In primul rand, nu e deloc clar ca in ultimele decenii, in tarile capitaliste, unde teoretic inventatorii si creatorii pot castiga sume nelimitate de bani, au aparut inventii si acte de creatie substantiale.

Astfel, in The Myth of Technological Progress, Scott Locklin scrie:

„What was technological life like 50 years ago? 50 years ago was 1959. The world of 1959 is pretty much the same world we live in today technologically speaking. This is a vaguely horrifying fact which is little appreciated. In 1959, we had computers, international telephony, advanced programming languages like Lisp, which remains the most advanced programming language, routine commercial jet flight, atomic power, internal combustion engines about the same as modern ones, supersonic fighter planes, television and the transistor.”

Asadar, de cinci decenii, lumea capitalista a fost incapabila de a mai inventa ceva relevant. Iata asadar ca motivatiile financiare puternice nu garanteaza sub nicio forma stimularea creativitatii. Alfred Nordmann concura, subliniind si futilitatea noilor progrese stiintifice:

„I’d argue that I have seen less technological progress than my parents did, let alone my grandparents. Born in 1956, I can testify primarily to the development of the information age, fueled by the doubling of computing power every 18 to 24 months, as described by Moore’s Law. The birth-control pill and other reproductive technologies have had an equally profound impact, on the culture if not the economy, but they are not developing at an accelerating speed. Beyond that, I saw men walk on the moon, with little to come of it, and I am surrounded by bio- and nanotechnologies that so far haven’t affected my life at all. Medical research has developed treatments that make a difference in our lives, particularly at the end of them. But despite daily announcements of one breakthrough or another, morbidity and mortality from cancer and stroke continue practically unabated, even in developed countries.”

Se poate raspunde ca aceasta seceta de inventii noi relevante din ultimii 50 de ani se explica prin aceea ca deja omenirea nu mai are nevoie de noi avansuri semnificative in domenii precum constructiile, informatica, transporturile, comunicatiile, entertainment-ul. Este evident insa ca in acest caz, insa critica de mai sus pica: de ce sa mai acuzam egalitarismul ca nu duce la noi inventii si progres tehnologic cand acesta practic nici nu mai sunt de dorit?

In al doilea rand insa, problema principala cu critica egalitarismului de la care am pornit este ca ignora esenta actului inovator. Inovatiile, descoperirile, creatiile semnificative pornesc de la pasiunea pentru un anumit domeniu al persoanei creatorului. Nu banii, care sunt o motivatie exterioara, ci interesul interior, personal, al inovatorului, este adevaratul motor al innoirilor.

La termenul invention, enciclopedia wikipedia noteaza:

„Play can lead to invention. Childhood curiosity, experimentation and imagination can develop one's play instinct--an inner need according to Carl Jung. Inventors feel the need to play with things that interest them, to explore, and this internal drive brings about novel creations. Inventing comes straight from the heart, it's a passion. "I never did a day's work in my life, it was all fun". Thomas A. Edison. Inventing can also be an obsession.”

Albert Einstein rezuma perfect cand spune: „The state of mind which enables a man to do work of this kind (inventing) is akin to that of the religious worshiper or the lover; the daily effort comes from no deliberate intention or program, but straight from the heart".

Ca dovada ca geniul creator nu are nevoie de stimulente exterioare pentru a-si desavarsi creatia este chiar numarul imens de inventatori care au trait si murit saraci.

Huberman and Sweezy, in "Introduction to Socialism," Monthly Review, noteaza:

„Look at these names: Remington, Underwood, Corona, Sholes. You recognize three of them immediately as successful typewriter manufacturers. Who was the fourth, Mr. Christopher Sholes? He was the inventor of the typewriter. Did his brain child bring him the fortune it brought to Remington, Underwood, or Corona? It did not. He sold his rights to the Remingtons for $12,000. Was profit Sholes’ incentive? Not according to his biographer: "He seldom thought of money, and, in fact, said he did not like to make it because it was too much bother. For this reason he paid little attention to business matters." Sholes was only one of thousands of inventors and scientists who are always so absorbed in their creative work that they "seldom thought of money."”

Sholes, inventatorul masinii de scris, a dat omenirii aceasta ustensila ce a facut istorie fara insa a fi motivat de bani, pe care, ce-i drept, i-au facut afaceristii capitalisti de pe urma lui.

Louis Chevrolet, Alfred Vail (inventatorul codului Morse), Charles Goodyear (inventatorul cauciucului vulcanizat), Nikola Tesla (peste 800 de patente), Thomas Edison, Jan Ernst Matzeliger, Roger Bacon (inventatorul lupei), etc. se alatura multor altor nume din domeniul artistic ca Mozart, Cervantes, Van Gogh, Nietzsche, Eminescu etc. care au murit in saracie si au fost asa de obicei si in timpul vietii. 

Cum vom raspunde deci, pe scurt, pretentiei ca egalitarismul nu ar stimula inovatia, creativitatea si progresul material si spiritual al omenirii?

1.     1. Nu este clar ca progresul material este dezirabil. 2. In statele capitaliste nu s-a mai inventat nimic relevant de 50 de ani. 3. Nu e clar ca mai avem nevoie de inventii in numeroase domenii cheie (mai degraba distribuirea roadelor acestor inventii e problema). 4. Actul creator este intrinesc, fiind motivat din interior, si nu financiar. 5. Nenumaratele exemple de creatori de geniu din toate domeniile dovedesc ca inovatia si progresul se pot realiza, si inca la cel mai inalt nivel, si fara stimulente financiare.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Eram mai fericiti in socialism

Jurnalul National a publicat la 30 octombrie articolul Fericirea şi satisfacţia românilor în prezent, comparativ cu perioada de dinainte de 1989. Citam de acolo:

„Cât de fericită şi mulţumită este, în prezent, populaţia în vârstă de peste 38 de ani (adică cei care au trăit ca adulţi şi înainte de 1989) faţă de perioada comunistă? (...)

Proporţia populaţiei care se considera "foarte fericită" şi "destul de fericită" înainte de 1989 era de 72% (din care 12% "foarte fericită"), faţă de 21% ponderea celor care se considerau "nu prea fericiţi" (19%) şi "foarte nefericiţi" (doar 2%). Aceiaşi oameni se consideră "fericiţi" în prezent în proporţie de 47% (4% "foarte fericiţi") şi "nefericiţi" în proporţie de 51% (7% "foarte nefericiţi").”
Adica azi sunt cu 30% oamenii mai putin fericiti decat atunci, iar cei total nefericiti sunt de aproape 4 ori mai multi! Totalul celor nefericiti este azi 51%, in comparatie cu 21% inainte de 1989. Deci avem de peste doua ori mai multi nefericiti acum.

Tot din Jurnalul:
„În mod similar, şi satisfacţia sau gradul de mulţumire al oamenilor faţă de felul în care trăiesc este semnificativ pozitivă ca percepţie când ne referim la ce era înainte de 1989, comparativ cu situaţia prezentă. Astfel, felul în care trăia populaţia este apreciat ca "foarte mulţumit" şi "mulţumit" de 77% (16% "foarte mulţumit") faţă de 20% ponderea celor care consideră că erau "nemulţumiţiî şi "foarte nemulţumiţi" în acea perioadă (doar 3% "foarte ne­mul­ţu­miţi").”

Un sistem politico-social care a multumit 77% din populatie este clar ca a fost unul binefacator, chiar daca perfectibil. Pe de alta parte, un sistem ulterior, care a aproape a injumatatit numarul de oameni fericiti, a dublat proportia celor nefericiti si l-a triplat pe cel de foarte nefericiti nu se poate numit, in niciun caz, un regim superior, dezirabil, in folosul poporului.

Iata cum, in ciuda numeroaselor probleme asociate cu ceausismul, regimul dinaintea lui decembrie 1989, mult mai egalitarist decat cel de azi, a fost capabil de performante umane net superioare celui de azi, in care domina consumerismul si inegalitatile sociale.

Si tot legat de o comparatie intre ce era inainte de 1989 cu ce este in prezent in Romania, va recomand un excelent articol peblicat pe blogul L`Avant-garde si intitulat `Ce-am avut, ce-am pierdut, ce-am castigat - partea a doua`.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Lectii de fericire din Bangladesh

Este prima postare in care prezint concluziile unui studiu ce demonstreaza slaba legatura dintre bani si fericire pe care eu insumi nu le-am luat initial in serios. Mai exact, dintr-un articol publicat la 12 martie 2009 pe saitul http://www.daijiworld.com si intitulat "London: World Happiness Survey - Bangladesh is Happiest Nation in World!" aflam ca un studiu efectuat de London School of Economics arata ca Bangladesh este cea mai fericita natiune de pe planeta.

"Would you believe it, Bangladesh is the happiest nation in the world! The United States, on the other hand, is a sad story: it ranks only 46th in the World Happiness Survey. That's way behind India, the fifth happiest place in the world, and others including Ghana and Latvia, Croatia and Estonia. Research led by London School of Economics professors into the link between personal spending power and the perceived quality of life has conclusively proved that money can buy everything but happiness. The study revealed that people in Bangladesh, one of the poorest countries in the world, derive far more happiness from their small incomes than, for example, the British (32nd on the list) do from their relatively large bank balances."

Iata deci ca oamenii din Bangladesh, cu venituri banesti infinit mai mici decat britanicii, de exemplu, sunt considerabil mai multumiti de viata lor. In plus, pana si India, Gana, Letonia sau Croatia prezinta niveluri de multumire mai mari decat Marea Britanie si chiar mult mai mari decat SUA! Pe aceeasi tema "In fact, people in most rich countries including Austria, Netherlands, Switzerland, Canada, Japan and others are much more unhappier than their poorer counterparts in countries like the Dominican Republic and Armenia."

Exista in continuare o legatura pozitiva intre bani si fericire in tarile sarace, dar care se estompeaza dupa un anumit prag modest, peste care conteaza relatiile inter-umane, sanatatea si satisfactia la locul de munca: "The new study shows that such a link still exists in poor countries because a small increase in income can mean large improvements in lifestyle. However, beyond a certain income-level that direct relationship breaks down. According to the research, happiness in rich countries now is far more dependent on close personal relationships, good health and job satisfaction."

Inca neincrezator in rezultatele unui studiu ce plaseaza statul Bengal in topul natiunilor fericite si multumite de viata lor, cu un venit pe cap de locuitor in 2006 de 1400$ (media internationala fiind de 10,200$), caut un alt material pe aceasta tema si gasesc un alt studiu, numit
"Well-being, Happiness and Why Relationships Matter: Evidence from Bangladesh", realizat de trei cercetatori (Laura Camfield, Kaneta Choudhury si Joe Devine de la Wellbeing in Developing Countries ESRC Research Group, University of Bath) si publicat in prestigioasa Journal of Happiness Studies, martie 2009.
Dintr-o versiune draft a lucrarii, accesate aici, aflam mai multe detalii:

"Although Bangladesh is known as one of the poorest and most densely populated countries in the world, qualitative research and anecdotal evidence suggests its people report levels of happiness that are higher than those found in many other countries. This includes ‘developed’ countries where people have larger per capita incomes and can access a wider range of public services and goods."

Un alt citat ce merita retinut este trimiterea autorilor la un alt studiu, in care se evidentiaza nivelul ridicat de satisfactie de viata a locuitorilor din zonele defavorizate ale Indiei: "For example Biswas-Diener and Diener’s (2001) study of the life satisfaction of slum dwellers in Calcutta finds inter alia that the respondents report satisfactory social lives, rewarding family
lives and a belief that they lead moral lives. Thus they conclude that “while the poor of Calcutta do not lead enviable lives, they do lead meaningful lives” (Biswas-Diener and Diener, 2001:349)."

Care este insa secretul fericirii populatiei din Bangladesh?
"Our findings from Bangladesh confirm the view that other factors besides income are important contributors to wellbeing. Participants in the research clearly value their family and community relationships, their competences and achievements, the knowledge that they have done all they can to fulfil their obligations and responsibilities in life, and that they have acquired a level of social respect and recognition. Of these, it is the centrality of various types of relationships that emerges strongly from our findings. This is consistent with other studies internationally, which suggest that relationships are highly correlated with subjective wellbeing. This may be because ‘relatedness’ is a ‘fundamental psychological need’ and central to eudaimonic as well as hedonic wellbeing."

Pe scurt, relatiile familiale si comunitare, responsabilitatea fata de societate, specializarea in anumite domenii de munca, respectul din partea celorlalti si recunoasterea lor. Iata cum deschiderea fata de nevoile societatii si respectul si atentia fata de aproapele sunt capabile sa sporeasca gradul de fericire al intregii populatii mult peste ceea ce ar spera adeptii materialismului consumersit si individualist de factura capitalista. Iata cum fericirea poate fi atinsa fara stres, fara competitie, fara invidie, consum exacerbat, goana dupa status. Si iata ca nu e necesar sa batjocorim resursele planetei pentru a ne spori starea de bine. Saracul si supra-populatul Stat Bengal devine un exemplu admirabil al fericirii fara bani si o dovada ca o astfel de mentalitate poate fi pusa in practica cu succes la scara unei intregi societati.
Evident, saracia extrema nu este de dorit nicaieri si ea poate fi oricand o amenintare la adresa fericirii, insa devine tot mai clar ca nivelul material necesar si suficient pentru bunastarea fiecarui membru al societatii nu este nici pe departe nevoie sa concureze cu cel al unor tari precum SUA, UK sau Australia.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Capitalismul, o religie

Avand in vedere multitudinea criticilor la adresa capitalismului si dovezile stiintifice din spatele acestor critici, precum si a argumentelor date atat in apararea regimurilor de stanga care au existat dar si a multor din elementele cheie ale programului egalitarist in general (anti-consumerismul, reducerea inegalitatilor economice, redistribuire, ecologism etc.), devine dificil de inteles cum neo-liberalismul continua sa se bucure de incredere.
Ernest Partridge, filosof la Universitatea din California, furnizeaza o explicatie plauzibila: capitalismul functioneaza ca o religie. Cum religiile de obicei interzic sau, in orice caz, trec cu vederea discursul critic rational la adresa lor, si totodata promit lucruri dintre cele mai atragatoare, nu trebuie sa ne mire popularitatea lor si usurinta cu care isi fac adepti.
Care ar fi, dupa Partridge, asemanarile dintre religie si capitalism? Le gasim in articolul „The State Religion” din ianuarie 2002.

„Piata libera”, zeul capitalismului
„The Deity of our new state religion is, of course, "the free market" – omniscient, omnibenevolent and, with the coming globalization of the market through GATT, NAFTA, etc., omnipresent. In the new state religion, the market is faithfully believed to be omniscient, in that no amount of collective practical reason and experience – no careful and deliberate devising of means to the end of "the common good" – can approach, much less exceed, the inscrutable "wisdom of the marketplace." On all matters of common concern, it is best to "let the market decide."”

Piata libera este pentru capitalisti o entitate, o forta de sine statatoare, care stie tot, este peste tot (cu atat mai mult acum, in era globalizarii capitaliste), asupra careia nu trebuie sa intervenim deloc sau, eventual doar foarte putin, prin mecanisme de control. Credinciosii considera ca piata este capabila sa aduca bunastare generala.

Textele sacre ale religiei capitaliste:
„Among the holiest of "conservative" scriptures is Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, for therein is found the doctrine of "the invisible hand," which holds that the individual who "intends only his own gain" will, in the course of maximizing his satisfactions, be "led by an invisible hand to promote... the public interest." Contemporary faithful have extended this doctrine to encompass "trickle down theory" – the notion that when national wealth (produced cooperatively by all participants in the economy) is directed toward wealthy elites, benefits will "trickle down" to the advantage of the less fortunate. "The rising tide raises all boats". In the "conservative" credo, there is no converse "percolate up theory," acknowledging that the disproportionate wealth of the fortunate few is entirely dependent upon the productivity of the rest of us. Such heresy is condemned by the "priesthood" as "class warfare."

Una dintre scripturile venerate de capitalisti este „Avutia natiunilor”, lucrare scrisa de economistul scotian Adam Smith. Printre tezele expuse acolo este ca imbogatirea continua a capitalistilor va duce inevitabil la imbogatirea intregii societati. Orice parere diferita, preum aceea ca marirea decalajului socio-economic dintre bogati si saraci favorizeaza intarirea relatiilor de dominare a celor puternici fata de restul societatii, e respinsa ca erezie de preotimea dogmei capitaliste.

Misionarii dogmei capitaliste:
„The Seminaries are such "conservative" "think tanks" as the American Enterprise Institute, The Hudson Institute, The Heritage Foundation, The Competitive Enterprise Institute, The Cato Institute, among others. Strange to say, most of these are located within that inner circle of Hell, the Washington Beltway, where they enjoy convenient access to centers of power and the national media. There are also a few academic seminaries (usually centered in Departments of Economics and a few Schools of Law), the most prominent of which is at the University of Chicago. However, universities are generally much less hospitable to market theologians than "think tanks," for academic institutions, due to their quaint adherence to principles of open and critical debate (dare we say "the marketplace of ideas"?), have the impiety to subject sacred doctrine to rational inquiry, and to test it against experience in "the real world."”

E sugestiv ca evanghelistii pietei libere in general nu se afla printre cadrele didactice din universitati, unde se cere, printre altele, scepticism, ratiune, obiectivitate, ci in special printre think-tankuri. Cum sunt acestea definite? Conform wikipedia,„Think tank este un termen ce caracterizează o asociaţie sau o organizaţie de persoane specializate sau chiar o singură persoană competentă care oferă, de regulă gratuit, informaţii necesare pentru a crea, amplifica, diminua, înlătura, organiza sau optimiza un anume compartiment funcţional al societăţii, aşa cum ar fi optimizarea structurii militare, economice, politice, culturale la nivel local, regional, statal, continental sau chiar la nivel global.” Organizarea si optimizarea propagandei dogmei capitaliste are, deci, propriile rhink-tankuri, precum The Hudson Institute si Cato Institute.

Diavolul in viziunea teologiei capitaliste
Ca orice religie care se respecta, capitalismul are si un diavol, un inamic suprem, de la care apar toate relele. In cazul nostru e vorba de guvern si, in general, de stat. Cum aceste organisme incearca sa impuna anumite reguli, impozite si limite dumnezeului „Piata Libera”, ele pun la indoiala omniscienta, omnibenevolenta si omnipotenta pietelor. Desigur, demonii sunt bugetarii, lucratorii din aparatul Statului.

„The Devil in our new national religion is the government – described by libertarian philosopher John Hospers as "the most dangerous institution known to man." It follows that Satan's minions are bureaucrats, as they go about their diabolical business of undoing the holy work of the free market, through regulation and progressive taxation.”

Raiul de dupa moarte
Asa cum religiile traditionale vorbesc de o viata dupa moartea fizica, in care pana si ateii se vor convinge cu ochii lor de adevarul celor predicate, tot asa si popii capitalismului vorbesc de un timp ce va sa vina si in care se vor adeveri profetiile lor.

„When asked for a justification of market doctrine, the true believers often give us a "just-you-wait" response – what philosophers call a "post-empirical explanation." For example, when we ask the preacher why we should accept his doctrine of salvation through acceptance of Christ, he replies "you will surely find your answer when you face the Almighty in the hereafter." This response is not very convincing at time-present. Similarly, when economists such as the late Julian Simon are challenged with evidence of resource limits, they typically reply: "human ingenuity combined with economic incentive will always find a solution." Justification? "Just you wait."”

Studiile stiintifice arata ca, in practica, crezul capitalist duce la epuizarea resurselor? Nu-i nimic, avem increderea ca pe viitor capitalismul va duce la descoperirea unor moduri de functionare a economiei care sa nu mai aiba nevoie de resursele din prezent. Arata studiile ca in ultimele decenii, bogatii au ajuns si mai bogati, pe cand saracii au saracit ori, in cel mai bun caz, au stagnat? Avem increderea ca liberalizarea totala a pietei va remedia aceste probleme. Arata studiile ca cultul capitalist a constituit un dezastru pentru fostele tari comuniste si, in general, pentru statele ce nu au practicat imperialismul, colonialismul, neo-colonialismul? Asta e din cauza lipsei lor de respect si apreciere fata de Piata Libera, pe care nu au primit-o cu adevarat in inima lor. Odata ce orice dubiu fata de divinitate va fi spulberat, urmeaza sa vedem prosperitatea mult-asteptata, minunea de care numai Piata Libera e capabila.

In concluzie, se poate argumenta ca sistemul capitalist functioneaza si se raspandeste asemanator unei religii: are o zeitate suprema, omniscienta, omnibenevolenta, omniprezenta, orice interventie profana in lucrarile acesteia este o blasfemie ce nu poate aduce decat rezultate indezirabile, are scripturi sau texte sacre, are misionari, se bazeaza pe profetii si promisiuni de bunastare pentru intreaga societate, ce urmeaza sa se adevereasca atunci cand credinta tuturor va fi suficient de puternica. Evident, atunci cand ratiunea si obiectivitatea probeaza ineficienta Pietei Libere, popii capitalismului vor da vina pe oameni sau pe anumite institutii, asa cum, de pilda, teologii explica existenta raului pe lume pe seama activitatii umane sau a unor entitati precum diavolul (statul sau guvernul, in cazul capitalismului).

Asa cum religia supravietuieste in ciuda argumentelor, se prea poate ca si succesul neoliberalismului sa poata fi explicat la fel.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Banii nu sporesc semnificativ fericirea nici pentru saraci

Articolul „Money Won't Buy Happiness, Study Finds; Poverty-reduction Programs Need To Also Look At Improving People's Well-being”, publicat la 8 sept. 2009, prezinta concluziile profesorului Mariano Rojas legate de bani si fericire. Conform acestuia, banii nu reausesc sa sporeasca fericirea nici macar a celor mai saraci.

„The majority of people rated their lives as satisfactory or more than satisfactory. Not all people who were considered ‘poor' experienced low life satisfaction and not all people who were not considered ‘poor' were happy with their lives. Professor Rojas observed that only 24 percent of people classified as ‘poor' rated their life satisfaction as low. Furthermore, 18 percent of people in the ‘non-poor' category also reported low life satisfaction. It is therefore clear that poverty alone does not define an individual's overall well-being and it is possible for someone to come out of poverty and remain less than satisfied with his life. On the other hand, a person can be satisfied with his life even if his income is low, as long as he is moderately satisfied in other areas of life such as family, self, health, job and economic.”

Oricat ar parea de surprinzator la prima vedere, iata ca numai 24% dintre saraci nu sunt multumiti de viata lor, procent aproape egal cu cel al persoanelor non-sarace, dintre acestia 18% fiind nefericiti.

„Professor Rojas argues that social programs need to recognize that well-being depends on satisfaction in many domains of life, and that many qualities and attributes need to be considered when designing these programs, including leisure, education, the community and consumer skills (learning to spend higher income sensibly).
Professor Rojas concludes: "This paper has shown that it is possible to jump over the income poverty line with little effect on life satisfaction. Income is not an end but a means to an end. There is a big risk of neglecting and underestimating the importance of well-being-enhancing factors when focusing only on income poverty. It is important to worry about getting people out of income poverty, but it is more beneficial to also worry about the additional skills people need to have a more satisfying life."”

Asadar, programele de eradicare a saraciei, care in esenta urmaresc sporirea bunastarii si fericirii, trebuie sa se axese inclusiv pe recreere, educatie si pe eficacitatea cheltuirii banilor. Dupa cum subliniaza Rojas, este foarte posibil sa treci peste limita saraciei fara a deveni mai fericit. Eradicarea saraciei este importanta, dar reprezinta doar o mica portiune din drumul spre fericire.

Intr-o ciorna a studiului citat aici, Rojas enumera cateva motive, explicatii, pentru care banii au un impact atat de slab asupra satisfactiei personale:

Banii nu pot cumpara elemente esentiale ale satisfactiei
„First, not everything of value can be purchased. Income allows for buying economic goods but has little impact on a person’s access to non-economic goods. Recent literature (Bruni and Stanca, 2005; Gui and Sugden, 2005; and Sugden, 2005) states that relational goods (love, emotional support, friendship, correspondence of sentiments, good relations with neighbours
and colleagues, and so on) have a large impact on well-being. In an empirical study based on a survey applied in central Mexico, Rojas (2007a) shows that satisfaction with partner, children and family is crucial for life satisfaction. Because of their nature, relational goods can not be purchased and a market can not exist. The production of relational goods is time intensive, and because of time constraint the production of such goods may end-up conflicting with the production of income.”

Iubirea, sustinerea afectiva, prietenia, relatiile bune cu vecinii si colegii etc. nu se pot cumpara dar sunt fundamentale pentru fericire.

De multe ori, banii nu sunt cheltuiti eficient
„Second, income may not be used efficiently. An increase in income may lead to little or no increase in well-being if persons do not have the skills to use income efficiently. There is a vast literature that questions the rationality of persons, as well as their ability to correctly foresee the well-being impact of their consumption decisions (Scitovsky, 1976; Hsee and Hastie, 2006;
Thaler, 1980, 1992, 2000; Tversky and Kahneman, 1974, 1981, 1986; Loewenstein and Schkade, 1999). Using 1500 observations from a survey in central Mexico, Rojas (2007b) has found that X-inefficiency in the use of income is relatively large and it shows up at all income levels.”

Degeaba ai bani daca nu stii cum sa-i cheltui, iar studiile arata ca nu de putine ori, oamenii nu au aceasta abilitate.

Comparatiile inter-sociale
„Fourth, consumers may not attain satisfaction from their consumption due to their immersion within social structures. The idea that well-being increases with higher income relies on the assumption that well-being depends on absolute consumption but not on relative consumption. Social thinkers such as Adam Smith, Karl Marx, and Thorstein Veblen recognised that needs
may be socially influenced. Recent research (Frank, 1985, 2005; Schor, 2002; Alpizar et al., 2005) has shown that the satisfaction attained from the consumption of some goods is contingent on the consumption of other members of the community (reference groups). Hence, it may be that absolute consumption is not closely related to a person’s well-being.”

Adica nu conteaza atat de mult cat consumi, cat mai ales cat consumi in comparatie cu ceilalti. In aceasta situatie, un milionar care locuieste intr-o comunitate de multi-milionari va fi nefericit, oricat de mult ar consuma individual.

Bogatia satisface nevoi superficiale
„The extent to which consumption impacts on well-being. The ordinal utility approach in economics states that utility is ‘non-decreasing on income’, i.e. a higher income allows for the satisfaction of more wants and desires, which leads to higher utility. However, it is impossible to know how much well-being increases as a consequence of the satisfaction of some wants and desires. It could be that satisfying some additional wants and desires have little impact on a person’s well-being, even if income is used efficiently. Hence, it could happen that an increase in income does not have a strong impact on well-being.”

Nu e deloc clar cat de importanta pentru fericirea noastra e satisfacerea dorintelor care apar atunci cand avem mai multi bani. Se poate ca acestea sa fie simple mofturi, snobisme, care desi scump, nu au un impact considerabil asupra bunastarii noastre.

Trebuie subliniat si accentul pus de Rojas pe importanta recreerii: „The importance of leisure must not be neglected, even at low income levels. Lloyd and Auld (2001) and Lu and Hu (2005) have shown that leisure is an important source of well-being and that its use in social activities is wellbeing enhancing. Klumb and Perrez (2004) provide a survey of the importance of leisure for well-being. Furnham (1991) discusses the principles for leisure satisfaction. Palomar (2000) shows that access to recreational areas and parks is strongly related to psychological well-being
in Mexico City.”

Putem retine din aceasta expunere ca banii conteaza putin pana si pentru cei aflati in saracie. Desi e dezirabil sa fie trecut pragul saraciei, chiar si la aceste nivele scazute materiale, satisfactia de viata poate creste semnificativ doar atunci cand sunt luate in calcul numeroase aspecte non-pecuniare.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Starea statelor ex-socialiste in 2009

La sfarsitul anului trecut, revista britanica The Economist a publicat suplimentul sau anual, „The World in 2009”. Din subcapitolul „Twenty years of capitalism: was it worth it?” , dedicat fostelor tari socialiste, est-europene, aflam lucruri interesante, chiar daca dureroase.

„(...) the region-wide “Life in Transition” survey released by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in 2007 showed that only 30% of people in the region believe they live better today than in 1989. There is a strong nostalgia for the past (both in economic matters and, astonishingly, even in politics). Only 15% believe there is less corruption now than in 1989. Support for core values associated with the transition, such as markets and democracy, is underwhelming.”

Adica in tarile ex-socialiste, conform unui sondaj realizat in 2007 de Banca Europeana pentru reconstructie si Dezvoltare, numai 30% din populatia considera ca au o viata mai buna decat inainte de 1989. Nostalgia este puternica nu doar dupa aspectele economice de atunci, dar si dupa cele politice. Numai 15% cred ca exista mai putina coruptie dupa 17 ani de capitalism, iar sustinerea fata de economia de piata si valorile democratiei (democratiei burgheze, existente in capitalism) se clatina serios.

Costul financiar al tranzitiei de la socialismul anterior anului 1989 la capitalism a fost imens: „(...) it is possible to estimate the opportunity cost of the transition. It is high: between $0.5 trillion and $1 trillion (in 2000 PPP dollars). Assuming, generously, future regional growth of 4-5% a year, it would take another decade for the transition to have been economically “worth it”.”

Atat de mare incat va trebui sa mai treaca un deceniu ca aceasta investitie in economia de piata sa fie atenuata, adica sa inceapa sa fie economic rentabila. Asta, insa, numai daca in fostul spatiu socialist economiile vor creste intr-un ritm constant de 4-5% anual! Actuala criza capitalista se prea poate sa dea complet peste cap astfel de calcule, insa.

Insa costul uman al tranzitiei a fost cu adevarat zguduitor: „It is often said that the transition has been among the most peaceful revolutions in history. However, civil wars have claimed tens of thousands of lives. There has also been a large unseen death toll, especially among men. In most countries, death rates in 2009 will be higher than they were in 1989. Eastern Europe is the only region in the world that has experienced a population decline over the past two decades, of some 7m.
The history and degree of demographic stress varies from country to country, and it should not be forgotten that by its latter years the Soviet Union had already become a demographic disaster area. But much of the region has experienced a calamity in this respect, with many fewer births and many more deaths than would otherwise have been the case. Such changes are clear indicators of societies in extreme stress and have previously been observed only in wartime.
On any estimate, the number of “excess deaths” since 1989 runs into the millions: that is, the number of actual deaths since 1989 is far greater than the number of deaths that would have occurred had pre-transition trends in death rates continued. The vast majority of the excess deaths occurred in Russia and Ukraine.”

Sapte milioane de oameni au pierit din cauza trecerii de la socialism la capitalism, situatie tipica doar pe timp de razboi.

Ce-i drept insa, raportul The Economist insista si asupra cresterii economice din tarile est-europene, crestere semnalata indeosebi dupa 2000. O privire mai atenta arata insa ca acea trambitata crestere economica s-a sprijinit practic exclusiv pe credit si datorii. Economistul Ilie Serbanescu o spune clar, intr-un interviu pentru Cronica Romana, din 10 octombrie 2008:

„- Mandatul lui Tariceanu se apropie de final. A fost un madat de succes... sau nu?
- Dupa parerea mea nu a fost un mandat de succes, cu toate ca nivelul de trai a crescut. Asta este cert, nu o arata numai cifrele ci si viata... Din pacate, nivelul de trai a crescut pe credit si indeosebi pe credit din import, iar acest lucru reprezinta destabilizarea si dezarticularea economiei. Creditul, indiferent sub ce forma este el, trebuie dat inapoi. Si datul acesta inapoi inseamna ca va trebui sa scadem si nivelul de trai, acela care acum a crescut, caci atunci cand incepi sa dai banii inapoi, se plateste de undeva si se plateste din ceea ce ai. Asa, la nesfarsit, ca vom primi iar credite, asta e foarte putin probabil, mai ales in conditiile crizei actuale internationale, cu care Romania nu are legatura dar ale carei consecinte le va prelua fara indoiala. In conditii de criza, banul e cautat, deci banul devine mai rar si mai scump. Si o tara cum este Romania, care are un deficit extern in echivalent PIB de 14%... Ceva imens!...”

Repet, interviul era dat in 2008. Intre timp, Romania a contractat imprumuturi de la Fondul Monetar International, Comisia Europeana, Banca Mondiala si Banca Europeana pentru Reconstructie si Dezvoltare. Altfel spus, prognoza deja pesimista a lui Serbanescu s-a inrautatit vizibil.

Sapte milioane de morti, economii nationale facute zob, dependenta de camatarii internationali, pesimism si neincredere in randul populatiilor est-europene cu privire la eficacitatea pietei „libere”, aceasta este situatia in care ne aflam dupa aproape doua decenii de capitalism. Oare termenul de „tradatori de tara” sau „dusmani ai poporului” este prea puternic pentru partizanii lui „acum este mai bine”?

Falimentarea economiei romanesti socialiste

Profesorul Ion Coja a publicat la 2 septembrie 2009, pe blogul sau, un pertinent articol numit „Jalea din economie”. Autorul aminteste despre perioada ceausista a Romaniei, pe care o considera net superioara economic celei prezente. Ipoteza lansata de domnia sa legata de ce s-a intamplat din 1989 pana in prezent este ca economia romaneasca, ridicata cu truda in socialism dar suficient de performanta incat sa asigure tarii o independenta economica semnificativa, a fost distrusa si falimentata de marea finanta mondiala, care nu a suportat ideea ca o tara sa isi fie auto-suficienta, fara sa apeleze la serviciile camatarilor mondiali.

Cateva citate relevante din articolul lui Ion Coja:
„În 1990 România avea o economie autarhică, suficient de dezvoltată ca să se poată descurca fără să importe mare lucru. În schimb aveam un export cu un excedent dintre cele mai mari din lume. România prin lege nu mai exporta materii prime de niciun fel, ci numai produse prelucrate, care incorporau în ele cât mai multă muncă şi creativitate, dând astfel de lucru la toată lumea. Bunăoară, de ani de zile din România Socialistă nu se mai exporta cherestea sau buşteni, ci numai mobilă sau alte produse rezultate din prelucrarea superioară a lemnului.”

„Succesul politicii economice duse de Ceauşescu avea în spate şi anii îndelungaţi în care biet românul a trebuit să strângă cureaua până le refuz, să dârdâie de frig şi să îndure o serie lungă de umilinţe. Dar aceasta era partea nevăzută a lucrurilor, cealaltă, spectaculoasă, evidentă în statistici şi în mulţimea de construcţii civile şi industriale de pe întreg cuprinsul României, ameninţa să devină un exemplu contagios pentru ţările aspirante la un statut de demnitate naţională! Unde ar ajunge marea finanţă mondială dacă toate ţările ar adopta modelul românesc şi ar interzice prin lege guvernului să mai aibă de-a face cu Fondul Monetar Internaţional sau cu Banca Mondială?!…”

„Ba mai mult, pentru ceea ce făcuse, Nicolae Ceauşescu trebuia şi pedepsit. Crezuse în capacitatea românilor de a-şi industrializa economia, de a o face performantă şi capabilă să concureze pe piaţa internaţională economii şi produse economice cu o mare tradiţie. Pentru potenţialul economic la care România ajunsese, Nicolae Ceauşescu se considera îndreptăţit să ceară pentru România un loc la masa sau în clubul ţărilor dezvoltate! Refuzul şi reţinerea acestora era evident.

Repet: România lui Nicolae Ceauşescu devenise un exemplu periculos, care punea în discuţie sistemul financiar mondial, căci dovedea posibilitatea şi deopotrivă necesitatea ca o ţară care vrea să se dezvolte să o facă fără ajutorul şi asistenţa otrăvită a finanţei mondiale. De aceea experimentul românesc trebuia curmat, iar Ceauşescu pedepsit în mod exemplar: cine va mai face ca el, ca el s-o păţească! Cine va mai îndrăzni să conceapă o dezvoltare economică fără controlul şi asistenţa finanţei mondiale, internaţionale, nu va reuşi decât să-şi ducă ţara la dezastru! …Cam aceasta este învăţătura de minte, mesajul pentru liderii ţărilor mici şi mijlocii al spectacolului de la Târgovişte din 25 decembrie 1989.”

Este suficient sa comparam rolul si importanta avuta de fostele intreprinderi socialiste pentru oameni si pentru intreaga tara cu ceea ce s-a ales de ele in prezent pentru a intelege ca Ion Coja nu este departe de adevar: avem de-a face cu o distrugere sistematica si cinica.

Inteprinderile bucurestene Faur, Semanatoarea, IMGB, Policolor sau Aversa vandute rechinilor imobiliari. De pilda, in zona Semănătoarea se construieste un proiect ce include o zona de birouri cu o suprafata de circa 350.000 de metri patrati, o zona comerciala, cu o suprafata de peste 170.000 de metri patrati, cu un mall, un hipermarket si un hotel de patru stele.
Fostele fabrici Spicul si Titan au fost achiziţionate de dezvoltatorul spaniol Hercesa, proprietarul hotelului Cismigiu, pentru dezvoltarea unor complexuri rezidentiale. Platforma Metav, aflată în portofoliul grupului de firme Altrom, controlat de oamenii de afaceri Gabriel Popoviciu şi Radu Dimofte, a fost transformata intr-o zonă de cladiri de birouri renovate.
Grupul imobiliar israelian Africa Israel Investment a anuntat in 2008 ca a inceput lucrarile de constructie la cel de-al treilea proiect din Romania, localizat pe fostul amplasament al fabricii Laromet Bucuresti. Acesta va cuprinde un mall, locuinte si birouri.

In Timisoara, intreprinderea "Solventul", unul dintre primele combinate petrochimice din tara, cu o istorie de peste 130 de ani, a livrat, anual, in perioada 1960-1989, peste 270.000 de tone de produse chimice. ''Solventul'' oferea, în perioada amintită, 1.600 de locuri de munca. Dupa 1989 a ramas cu 100 de vagoane si cativa kilometri de cale ferata din dotare. Pe terenul intreprinderii ar putea fi construite supermarketuri.

La Hunedoara, din platforma siderurgica a fostului combinat ''Victoria'' sau Sidermet Calan au ramas doar structurile de beton ale cladirilor, in condiţiile in care fierul vechi a fost vandut centrelor de colectare. Priveliştea la intrarea in Calan este dezolanta si poate fi vazuta de orice calator care trece pe Drumul National 66, intre Simeria si Petrosani.
Numarul de angajati din siderurgie si minerit din judetul Hunedoara a scazut cu cateva zeci de mii. Combinatul siderurgic de la Hunedoara a avut „sansa” sa fie cumparat de grupul Mittal Steel. Numarul angajaţilor a scazut dupa 1990, de la peste 12.500 la aproape 2.500.
Mineritul din Valea Jiului a fost afectat de restructurare incepand cu anul 1997, cand au plecat din sistem peste 25.000 de oameni.

In Brasov, din 1989 pana in 2007, productia industriala a scazut cu 65%, la inceputul lui 2007 fiind inchise intreprinderile Tractorul, Steagul Rosu, Rulmentul.

Combinatul de la Targoviste are acum 4.700 de salariati, fata de 11.500, cat avea in 1990.
O altă societate mare din Targoviste, SARO, ce producea strunguri, a fost preluata de americani, devenind Wisconsin Turning Systems, dar a falimentat în 2004.

Compania Romana de Pescuit Oceanic (CRPO) Tulcea, care numara inainte de 1989 peste 7.000 de angajati, are in prezent un singur angajat, care se ocupa de arhiva fostei societati.

Singura fabrica de izolatori electrici din tara, societatea comerciala Alcor din judetul Botosani, a fost transformata in sediu al Serviciului Politiei Rutiere. Fabricile de sticlarie si portelan de la Dorohoi, Stipo si Porţelanul, au intrat in faliment. Toti cei peste 1.000 de muncitori au fost concediati.

SC ARO SA din Campulung Muscel, prima uzina romaneasca producatoare de automobile de teren, a fost declarata in faliment in 2006. Inainte de 1989, uzina de la Campulung Muscel avea peste 11.000 de angajati si ajunsese la o productie anuala de circa 17.000 de autoturisme de teren, dintre care mai mult de trei sferturi ajungeau la export. De la infiintarea sa, in anul 1957, si pana la sistarea activitatii, uzina a produs peste 350.000 de autoturisme.

Combinatul Chimic, Fabrica de Zahar, Intreprinderea de Constructii Montaj Utilaj Greu (ICMUG) sunt doar cateva din marile fabrici care au functionat in judetul Giurgiu inainte de 1989 si care acum sunt demolate sau au ajuns la fier vechi.

Concluzia ii apartine tot Profesorului Ion Coja:
„Pe scurt, guvernanţii de după 1990 nu au urmărit privatizarea economiei româneşti, ci distrugerea acesteia. Dintr-o ţară industrială cu o economie autarhică prosperă, cu excedent în balanţa comerţului exterior, România post-decembristă s-a transformat într-o ţară bananieră de consum, piaţă pentru producţia de marfă a altor ţări, o ţară îndatorată până peste cap finanţei mondiale. România este azi o colonie. Atât prin nivelul economiei, cât şi prin maniera în care este guvernată de partide şi politicieni aserviţi altor interese decât cele autentic naţionale.
România este o ţară ocupată. Ocupată şi redusă la ascultare nu de armatele altor state, nu prin forţa armelor, ci prin forţa tratatelor şi contractelor semnate de guvernanţii noştri. Ei se menţin la putere cu sprijinul discret, dar atât de eficient, al celor care beneficiază de pe urma trădării, a vânzării de Neam şi Ţară.”

Daca demonstreaza ceva cele scrise mai sus, este ca socialismul nu doar ca nu este un sistem economic falimentar, ci, din contra, reuseste sa aiba performante impresionante, construind o economie capabila sa asigure suveranitatea pe plan extern al unei tari mici spre medii. Asadar, adoptarea pe cara larga a anti-consumerismului, egalitarismului si colectivismului nu va insemna nici pe departe saracie si dezastru economic. Din contra, se va putea mentine un nivel de trai decent, chiar daca nu bogat sau luxos, ceea ce, dupa cum se stie de pe acest blog, nici nu e necesar.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Schita pentru o economie a viitorului

Daca aratam in postarea anterioara ca cercetatorul Ted Trainer a dovedit ca nu exista solutii tehnologice credibile care sa evite epuizarea resurselor energetice mondiale spre care duce consumerismului actual si cel estimat pentru urmatorii ani, azi prezint o schita a unei viitoare, alternative economii bazate pe o respingere colectiva a capitalismului consumerist. Textul ii aprtine tot lui Ted Trainer si se numeste sugestiv „The Simpler Way: An Outline of the Global Situation, the Sustainable Alternative Society, and the Transition To It”.

Pe scurt, situatia se prezinta astfel:
„Our industrial-affluent-consumer society is extremely unjust and ecologically unsustainable. The argument below is that these problems cannot be solved in a society that is driven by obsession with high rates of production and consumption, affluent living standards, market forces, the profit motive and economic growth. Most people do not realise the magnitude of the overshoot, the extent to which this society is unsustainable. Because this is so great there must be vast and radical system changes if the big global problem are to be solved. A sustainable and just world order cannot be achieved until we move to very different lifestyles, values and systems, especially to a new economic system.

The alternative we must work for is The Simpler Way, based on frugal "living standards", co-operation, high levels of local economic self-sufficiency, and zero economic growth. The final section below argues that the top priority for people concerned about the fate of the planet should be starting to build these new lifestyles and systems within existing towns and suburbs.”

Cu ce trebuie sa inlocuim actuala ideologie a „pietei libere”, care a nascut monstruoase nedreptati si inegalitati, si care a carei rapacitate ameninta viitorul omenirii si al Terrei? Cu simplitatea voluntara, cooperare, auto-suficienta economica locala, abandonarea idealului nesustenabil al cresterii economice perpetue.

Directiile pe care se impune sa le urmam sunt cele de mai jos:
„* Material living standards must be much less affluent. In a sustainable society per capita rates of resources use must be a small fraction of those in Australia today.

* There must be mostly small scale highly self-sufficient local economies.

* There must be mostly cooperative and participatory local systems whereby small communities control their own affairs, independent of the international and global economies.

* A very different economic system must be developed, one that is under social control, geared to meeting needs as distinct from maximising profits, not driven by market forces, and without any growth.

* None of this is possible without radical change in values, away from competition, self-interest and greed, and to cooperation, participation, giving and non-material satisfactions.”

Adica scaderea pretentiilor materiale, accent pus pe productie locala si comunitati auto-suficiente, descentralizare, cooperare si democratie directa (autogestiune), productie axata pe satisfacerea nevoilor materiale de baza-nu pe profit, abandonarea eticii capitaliste individualiste.

Sa detaliem, alaturi de Ted Trainer, cateva dintre aceste propuneri.

Satisfacerea nevoilor de baza, suficiente pentru un trai decent
„Living more simply does not mean deprivation or hardship. It means focusing on what is sufficient for comfort, hygiene, efficiency etc. Most of our basic needs can be met by quite simple and resource-cheap devices and ways, compared with those taken for granted and idolised in consumer society.
Living in materially simple ways can cut enormous amounts off the money a person needs to earn. Consider housing. A perfectly adequate, and indeed beautiful house for a small family can be built for around $5000. This indicates how The Simpler Way will liberate people from slavery to consumer-capitalist society, enabling most time to be put into more fulfilling activities than earning money.”

Auto-suficienta locala
„We must develop as much self-sufficiency as we reasonably can at the national level, meaning less trade, at the household level, and especially at the neighbourhood, suburban, town and local regional level. We need to convert our presently barren suburbs into thriving regional economies which produce most of what they need from local resources.
The domestic or household economy already accounts for about half the real national output, but this is ignored by conventional economics which only counts dollar costs. Households can again become significant producers of vegetables, fruit, poultry, preserves, fish, repairs, furniture, entertainment and leisure services, and community support.

Neighbourhoods would contain many small enterprises such as the local bakery. Some of these could be decentralised branches of existing firms, enabling most of us to get to work by bicycle or on foot. Much of our honey, eggs, crockery, vegetables, furniture, fruit, fish and poultry production could come from households and backyard businesses engaged in craft and hobby production. It is much more satisfying to produce most things in craft ways rather than in industrial factories. However it would make sense to retain some larger mass production factories and sources of materials, such as mines and steel works and railways.

Almost all food could come from within a few hundred metres of where we live, most of it from within existing towns and suburbs. The sources would be, a) intensive home gardens, b) community gardens and cooperatives, such as poultry, orchard and fish groups, many small market gardens located within and close to suburbs and towns, d) extensive development of commons, especially for production of fruit, nuts, fish, poultry, animal grazing, herbs, bamboo and timber. (...)”.

Un avantaj esential al viziunii propuse de Trainer este o independenta crescuta fata de sectorul financiar. In cuvintele sale,

„One of the most important ways in which we would be highly self-sufficient would be in finance. Firstly The Simpler Way requires little capital. Most enterprises are very small, and it will not be an expanding economy. Virtually all neighbourhoods have all the capital they need to develop those things that would meet their basic needs, yet this does not happen when our savings are put into conventional banks. Our capital is borrowed by distant corporations, often to do undesirable things, and not to improve our neighbourhood.
We would form many small town banks from which our savings would only be lent to firms and projects that would improve our town. These banks could charge low or negative interest, or make grants.
We will couple the banks with Business Incubators which provide assistance to little firms, such as access to accountants, computers and advice from panels of the town’s most experienced business people. These two institutions will give us the power to establish in our town the enterprises and industries it needs, as distinct from being at the whim of corporations and foreign investors who will only set up in our town if that will maximize their global profits, and in any case will not set up firms to produce what we need.
We can therefore take control of our own development and make sure that it is determined by what will benefit the town, cut its imports, minimize ecological impacts, eliminate waste and provide livelihoods.”

Pe scurt, importanta auto-suficientei economice locale, va insemna ca:
„The alternative neighbourhood would be full of familiar people, small businesses, industries, farms, lakes, common projects, animals, gardens, forests, windmills, waterwheels, and familiar people and therefore full of interesting things to do or observe. Consequently people would be less inclined to travel on weekends and holidays, which would greatly reduce national energy consumption.

This shows how the solution to many problems will mostly involve carrots rather than sticks. We will reduce travel not by penalties but by eliminating the need for most of it, by ensuring that work and leisure sites are close to where we live.
To repeat, a high level of domestic and local economic self-sufficiency is crucial if we are to dramatically reduce overall resource use. It will cut travel, transport and packaging costs, and the need to build freeways, ships and airports etc. It will also enable our communities to become secure from devastation by distant economic events, such as depressions, devaluations, interest rate rises, trade wars, capital flight, and exchange rate changes.”

Autorul dezvolta aceasta idee, prezentand inclusiv detalii tehnice despre cum va functiona o astfel de localitate in sectiunea „Land Areas and Footprint”.

Cooperare si participare comunala
„The third essential characteristic of the alternative way is that it must be very communal, participatory and cooperative. Firstly, we must share many things. We could have a few stepladders, electric drills, etc., in the neighbourhood workshop, as distinct from one in every house.
We would be on various voluntary rosters, committees and working bees to carry out most of the windmill maintenance, construction of public works, child minding, nursing, basic educating and care of aged and disadvantaged people in our area, as well as to perform most of the functions councils now carry out for us, such as maintaining our own parks and streets. In addition working bees and committees would maintain the many commons. We would therefore need far fewer bureaucrats and professionals, reducing the amount of income we would have to earn to pay taxes. (When we contribute to working bees we are paying some of our tax.)
Especially important would be the regular voluntary community working bees. Just imaging how rich your neighbourhood would now be if every Saturday afternoon for the past five years there had been a voluntary working bee doing something that would make it a more pleasant place for all to live.
There would be far more community than there is now. People would know each other and be interacting on communal projects. Because all would realise that their welfare depended heavily on how well we looked after each other and our ecosystems, there would be powerful incentives for mutual concern, facilitating the public good, and making sure others were content. The situation would be quite different to consumer-capitalist society where there is little incentive on individuals to care for others or their community.”

Viata publica a unei comunitati evident mai mici in comparatie chiar cu municipiile actuale va fi una impregnata de spirit civic, luarea in comun a deciziilor, cooperare si intr-ajutorare, punerea in comun a ustensilelor necesare muncii.

Trebuie subliniat insa ca un astfel de stil de viata nu este opus tehnologiei moderne, care va continua sa isi gaseasca locul in viata sociala, chiar daca numai acolo unde este cu adevarat necesar, in cercetarea medicala sau sprorirea productiei agricole. Totodata, chiar daca se va reduce consumul de energie electrica, aparate electrice si electronice utileprecum PC-ul sau TV-ul vor continua sa existe: „Based on records from my homestead, a family of three could meet its electricity needs on about .6kWh/day. (Lights, computer, small black and white TV, duct fans, some machinery, but no air-conditioning, electric stove, fridge or washing machine.) This is about 1/50 the typical Sydney household use. The town would therefore need 200kWh/d for domestic needs. The half of this that does not have to be stored might come from a combination of solar PV, solar thermal and wind.”

Merita subliniat ca Trainer nu vorbeste de o abolire a industriei, ci doar de o reducere a sa, inconformitate cu resursele naturale pe care le avem la dispozitie. La fel, nu este vorba de o abolire a statului si a companiilor de stat:

„Only a little heavy industry will be needed, e.g. basic steel, railways, buses, and thus mining and timber industries will be small. There will be little need for shipping or air transport. Most cooking would be by good or gas produced from biomass. (...) it would make sense to retain some larger mass production factories and sources of materials, such as mines and steel works and railways.”

Avantajele adoptarii „Caii simple”
„The Simpler Way will deliver many deeply rewarding experiences and conditions such as a much more relaxed pace, having to spend relatively little time working for money, having varied, enjoyable and worthwhile work to do, experiencing a supportive community, giving and receiving, growing some of one’s own food, keeping old clothes and devices in use, running a resource-cheap and efficient household, living in a supportive and caring community, practising arts and crafts, participating in community activities, having a rich cultural experience involving local festivals, performances, arts and celebrations, being involved in governing one’s own community, living in a nice environment, and especially knowing that you are not contributing to global problems through over-consumption.
Only if these alternative values and satisfactions, which contradict those of consumer society, become the main factors motivating people can The Simpler Way be achieved. Our main task is to help people to see how important these benefits and satisfactions are, and therefore to grasp that moving to The Simpler Way will greatly improve their quality of life. This understanding will be the most powerful force we can develop for bringing about the transition.”

Cu alte cuvinte, valori tipice ale stilului de viata downshifting: timp liber, renuntarea la materialism si consumerism, viata sociala si culturala, grija fata de mediu.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Este energia regenerabila o solutie?

Energia regenerabila se referă la forme de energie produse prin transferul energetic al energiei rezultate din procese naturale regenerabile. Astfel, energia luminii solare, a vânturilor, a apelor curgătoare, a proceselor biologice şi a căldurii geotermale pot fi captate de către oameni utilizând diferite procedee. Sursele de energie ne-reînnoibile includ energia nucleară precum şi energia generată prin arderea combustibililor fosili, aşa cum ar fi ţiţeiul, cărbunele şi gazele naturale. Aceste resurse sunt, în chip evident, limitate la existenţa zăcămintelor respective şi sunt considerate în general (a se vedea teoria academicianului român Ludovic Mrazec de formare anorganică a ţiţeiului şi a gazelor naturale) ne-regenerabile. Dintre sursele regenerabile de energie fac parte: energia eoliană; energia solară; energia apei; energia hidraulică; energia mareelor; energia geotermică etc.

Pentru unii, energia regenerabila poate fi o solutie de salvare de la o disparitie iminenta a stilului de viata consumerist. Se stie ca resursele planetei sunt insuficiente pentru a permite tuturor un stil de viata afluent, materialisto-consumerist. Totusi, oare progresele tehnologice, in speta utilizarea surselor de energie reinnoibile, nu pot reprezenta calea de iesire, astfel incat consumerismul sa poata continua fara insa a duce la accentuarea degradarii mediului inconjurator?

In articolul sau „Renewable Energy: No Solution for Consumer Society”, publicat in The International Journal of Inclusive Democracy, vol.3, no.1, (ianuarie 2007), Ted Trainer explica de ce raspunsul la intrebarea de mai sus este, cel mai probabil, negativ. Aceste surse de energie se dovedesc cu totul insuficiente, astfel incat evitarea unui dezastru planetar inseamna echivaleaza cu evitarea principalei sale cauze, consumerismul.

Sa urmarim, cu cateva exemple, stadiul in care s-a ajuns cu folosirea energiei regenerabile si ce sanse de viito are ea.

Energia eoliana:
„An examination of wind maps indicates that the annual quantity of wind energy that is available could well be considerably greater than demand, but the important question is what fraction of this can be harvested in view of the variability problem; that is, sometimes there is little or no wind. In the past it was usually assumed that for this reason wind might be able to contribute up to 25% of demand. However, the Germans with far more wind mills than any other country, and the Danish with the world’s highest ratio of wind output to electricity consumption, have run into problems “integrating” wind into the grid while wind is supplying only about 5% of demand.

A mill at a good site might run over time at 33% of its maximum or “peak” capacity, but this should not be taken as a performance likely from a whole wind system. Sharman reports that even in Denmark in 2003 the average output of the wind system was about 17% of its peak capacity and was down to around 5% for several months at a time. The E.On Netz report for Germany, the country with more wind mills than any other, also says that in 2003 system capacity was 16%, and around 5% for months. They stress that 2003 was a good wind year.”

Asadar, tari care au inregistrat progrese mondiale in utilizarea energiei date de vant, ca Germania si Danemarca, nu au reusit decat performante modeste.

Energia solara:
„After wind, Europe’s best option for renewable electricity will probably be solar thermal plants located in the Sahara region. These will impose significant transmission losses but their big advantage is their capacity to store energy as heat to generate and transmit electricity when it is needed. However, the magnitude of the potential is uncertain, and especially doubtful in winter. Solar thermal trough systems do not work very well in lower solar incidence. Even in the best locations output in winter is about 20% of summer output. The winter incidence of solar energy in the Sahara is not that impressive, perhaps 6 kWh/m/d towards Libya and Egypt and a long way south of the Mediterranean.
Solar thermal dishes perform better than troughs in winter, but they cost more and their big disadvantage is that because each tracks the sun it is difficult to take heat via flexible couplings to a central generator or store. They are being developed with Stirling engine generators at each focal point, meaning that heat energy can’t be stored to generate electricity when it is needed. Central receiver or tower systems can store, but like troughs they have reduced winter performance.
It is likely that solar thermal systems will be located only in the hottest regions, will have to supply major demand centres by long transmission lines, and will not be able to make a large contribution in winter.”

Evident, doar cateva regiuni de pe Glob sunt suficient de incalzite si expuse razelor solare incat sa se inregistreze un cumul semnificativ de energie, in cea mai mare parte, anotimpul rece scazand considerabil cantitatea de energie obtinuta astfel.

In concluzie, o economie mondiala bazata primordial pe energia eoliana sau solara intampina cel putin doua obstacole decisive:
„Renewables could provide a considerable fraction of electricity demand, probably in excess of 25% in some countries, but a) much of the generating capacity would have to be duplicated in the form of fossil or nuclear plant for use when there is little sun or wind, b) the amount of coal use still required would far exceed safe greenhouse gas emission limits.

There are weighty reasons why we are not likely to have a hydrogen economy. If you make hydrogen from electricity you lose 30% of the energy that was in the electricity. If you then compress, pump, store and re-use the hydrogen the losses at each of these steps will result in something like only 25% of the energy generated being available for use, e.g., to drive the wheels of a fuel-cell powered car.”

Dupa ce Trainer se refera si la alte surse de energie regenerabila, aungand la aceleasi rezultate ca mai sus, conclude:
„All of the above references have been to the difficulty or impossibility of meeting present energy demand from renewables. That is not the focal problem for the evaluation of the energy viability of consumer-capitalist society. The crucial question is can renewables meet the future demand for energy in a society that is fiercely and blindly committed to limitless increases in “living standards” and economic output. The absurdity of this commitment is easily shown.
If 9 billion people were to rise to the “living standards” we in rich countries will have in 2070 given 3% p.a. economic growth, then total world economic output would be 60 times as great as it is now!”

Pe scurt, o crestere de 60 de ori a activitatii economice mondiale echivaleaza cu un dezastru ecologic imposibil de reparat de folosirea energiilor alternative.
Singura solitie de evitare a catastrofei ramane abandonarea consumerismului de tip Occidental:

„Such multiples mean that the problems cannot be solved without enormous reductions in the volumes of industrial/commercial producing and consuming going on, perhaps to 10% of present levels. The numbers are so big that no plausible assumptions regarding technical advance, energy conservation, etc. could show that the problems can be solved without moving to a zero-growth economy on a fraction of present GDP.”

Mai exact,
„consumer-capitalist society is grossly unsustainable. It involves rates of resource use and environmental impact that are far beyond sustainable levels, and could never be extended to all the world’s people.
Consumer-capitalist society is also grossly unjust, imposing a global market system which delivers most of the world’s wealth to the corporations and consumers of the rich countries. A market economy inevitably gears the productive capacity of the Third World to the effective demand of the rich and cannot attend to the needs of people, society or future generations. Again it is obvious that Third World problems cannot be solved until the rich countries stop taking most of the world’s resource wealth; as Gandhi said long ago, “The rich must live more simply so that the poor may simply live.” That is not possible in a society committed to affluence and growth. Thus considerations of sustainability and of justice both lead to the conclusion that the problems cannot be solved without huge and radical systemic change.”

Capitalismul consumerist este un devorator de resurse naturale si un sistem profund nedrept si inegal. Iesirea din impasul ecologic nu poate fi continuarea pe panta progresului si dezvoltarii economice, adica acolo unde duce capitalismul, ci abandonarea economiei bazate de profit si o reducere a cresterii economice. Redistribuirea actualelor realizari economice, laolalta cu o reducere a activitatii economice in general, par solutii indicate.

„a good society cannot be an affluent society. (...) The only way out of this alarming and rapidly deteriorating situation is to move to some kind of Simpler Way. This must involve non-affluent (but quite sufficient) material living standards, mostly small, highly self-sufficient local economies. Economic systems under social control and not driven by market forces or the profit motive and highly cooperative and participatory systems. Obviously, such radical systemic changes could not be made without profound change in values and world view, away from some of the most fundamental elements in Western culture, especially to do with competitive, acquisitive individualism.”

Standarde materiale decente, economii locale, auto-suficiente, aflate sub control social, ce presupun un grad ridicat de participare democratica din partea comunitatilor, aceasta este schita pentru o posibila societate eliberata de valorile sinucigase ale consumerismului si singura care poate promite un viitor indelungat al umanitatii pe Terra. Daca un astfel de viitor ne dorim, e clar ca nu pe utilizarea consistenta a energiilor regenerabile trebuie sa ne bazam, in speranta desarta ca ne va salva de efectele dezastruoase spre care ne conduce capitalismul consumerist.
In urmatoarea postare, vom vedea mai in detaliu in ce consta solutia propusa de Trainer.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Daunatoarea prosperitate

Tim Kasser

Vom intelege cum capitalismul, chiar si atunci cand reuseste sa-si atinga telurile propuse, esueaza. Pentru simplul motiv ca scopurile urmarite cu obstinatie, daca nu chiar obsesie, de acest sistem, in speta cele materiale, nu corespund adevaratelor nevoi psihice umane, ba chiar le umbresc pe acestea. Tim Kasser explica aceste realitati in materialul sau Values and Prosperity. Sa-l urmarim pas cu pas.

Raspandirea materialismului promovat de capitalism
„We as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the
shift from a “thing-oriented society” to a “person-oriented society.” – Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Since the American civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. spoke these words in the late 1960s, it seems clear that Western societies, as well as large swaths of the developing world,
have ignored King’s call and instead become increasingly enamored of the materialistic values
that create a “thing oriented society.” What else might we conclude when news sources and politicians seem increasingly obsessed with economic growth rates and the latest ups and downs of the stock market? What else might we conclude from the increasing power of multi-national corporations, 52 of whom had amassed so much capital by the year 2000 that they competed with nations to be among the world’s 100 largest economic organizations? What else might we conclude from the fact that several hundred billion dollars are spent yearly in the U.S. on dvertising, enticing people to buy more and hinge their worth on their possessions? What else might we conclude from the fact that surveys of entering first-year U.S. college students show hat the percentage who consider it essential or very important to be “financially well-off” has gone from 42% in King’s time to approximately 75% today (Irvine, 2007)?”

Faptul ca averea a 52 de corporatii multi-nationale le plaseaza pe acestea in topul primelor 100 de economii din lume, cateva sute de miliarde de dolari sunt cheltuite anual pe publicitate numai in SUA, ca studentii americani considera din ce in ce mai mult ca bunurile materiale le sunt esentiale, arata ca societatea capitalista pune un accent extrem de puternic pe dobandirea de bunuri materiale si de averi.

Si totusi, acest bombardament neintrerupt de advertising si obiecte, desi marcheaza un succes economic, are efecte in cel mai bun caz nule, in cel mai rau caz negatice asupra buna-starii personale.

„If we consider that people’s well-being and happiness is an important, desirable feature of prosperity, we must confront two empirical facts. First, large scale studies in almost every economically-developed nation indicate that the large increases in economic growth and consumption since the early 1960s have been associated with no increase in people’s personal happiness. Second, dozens of studies document that the more individuals “buy into” the materialistic aspirations and goals encouraged by contemporary society, the lower their happiness and life satisfaction and the more they report being depressed, anxious, and unhappy.”

Asadar, studiile arata atat ca dezvoltarea si cresterea economiilor nu sporesc satisfactia personala, cat si ca aspiratiile materiale scad starea personala de fericire, materialistii fiind mai degraba deprimati, anxiosi si nefericiti. Efectele negative ale consumerismului capitalist nu se opresc aici, ci influenteaza in modul cel mai daunator si viata sociala si protectia mediului:

„And if we consider that close interpersonal and community connections are important
features of a successful society, we must again confront two empirical facts. First, as capitalism
and consumerism have infiltrated more aspects of culture, spreading their ideology of
individualism and self-interest, individuals have become more self-centered and less concerned
about the well-being of others and less involved in their communities. Second, research shows that those who take on the materialistic values encouraged by capitalistic, consumer society are less empathic, less cooperative, and more likely to view others as objects to be manipulated in order to get ahead in life.

And if our values lead us to care about whether or not the Earth will be able to sustain our grandchildren and great-grand-children (as well as other species) with clean air and water,
healthy food, moderate temperatures, and safe places to live, we must again note two empirical facts. First, environmental scientists have reached the conclusion that the high levels of consumption enjoyed by Western societies are not sustainable, as they destroy habitats and biodiversity, pollute the air and water, and are contributing to global climate change (United Nations Environment Programme, 2002). Second, research shows that the more that individuals make on the materialistic values encouraged by capitalistic, consumer societies, the more they personally consume, the less they engage in ecologically-responsible behaviors, and the higher their ecological footprints.”

Pe scurt, mania consumerista se traduce, in termeni sociali, prinegoism,dezinteres fata de ceilalti membri ai societatii si indiferenta, lipsa de implicare in viata comunitatii. Victimele propagandei capitaliste sunt mai putin empatici, mai putin cooperanti si predispusi la a vedea in aproapele lor un obiect pe care il manipuleaza in scopuri proprii. Totodata, stilul de viata Occidental nu poate fi sustinut de planeta, consumerismul si lacomia materiala ducand in practica la distrugerea de habitate, schimbari climatice, poluarea aerului si apei. Preocuparea cu cresterea personala a consumului devine inamicul comportamentului ecologic-responsabil.

Valori capabile sa sporeasca fericirea personala si buna-starea societatii
„(...) goals for financial success, image, and popularity tend to stand in opposition to three other “intrinisic” goals: Self-acceptance (which involves trying to grow as a person), affiliation (which involves having close, intimate relationships with family and friends), and community feeling (which involves trying to help the broader world be a better place). What this finding means is that the more people focus on materialistic aims for money, image, and status, the more difficult it is for them to also focus on growing as a person, intimately connecting with other people, and contributing to the world at large.

This finding about value conflicts is especially important because these intrinsic aims for self-acceptance, affiliation, and community feeling are also the very values and goals that empirical research demonstrates promote personal happiness, positive social involvement, and ecologically sustainable behavior. Specifically, studies show that happier people place a relatively high emphasis on goals for self-acceptance, affiliation, and community feeling; by caring about such aims, the research suggests that people become increasingly likely to create lifestyles for hemselves that satisfy the psychological needs required for psychological thriving. Other research suggests that people focused on these intrinsic goals treat others in more
humane, cooperative, and caring ways, thus benefiting others’ well-being. And finally, studies show that a strong focus on intrinsic goals also conduces to caring more about ecological sustainability and being less greedy with limited resources.”

Asadar, nu numai ca preocuparea cu propria imagine si popularitate, cu imbogatirea personala sunt incapabile de a spori fericirea, dar ele intra in conflict cu valorile intrinseci, demonstrate ca fiind adoptate de oamenii cu un grad de fericire mai ridicat, precum preocuparea cu dezvoltarea intelectuala si spirituala, sociabilitatea, implicarea in viata comunitatii, preocuparea cu binele comun, sporind astfel si fericirea altora.

Simplitatea voluntara, alternativa preferabila consumerismului capitalist
„(...) people express their values by rejecting the “work and spend” consumer lifestyle so dominant today. This trend, variously called “voluntary simplicity”, “cultural creatives”, and “downshifting”, describes a lifestyle in which individuals choose to live a materially simple, “inwardly rich” life unburdened by long work hours and uncluttered by many possessions.
Qualitative reports suggest that such individuals attempt to center their lives around developing their personal interests, spending time with family, volunteering in their community, engaging in personally-meaningful spiritual practices, and living in an ecologically light fashion. As such, it seems that the VS lifestyle provides an excellent prototype of a group of individuals who are trying to avoid materialistic pursuits and instead orient their lives around intrinsic goals.”

Simplitatea voluntara implica un stil de viata ce respinge goana dupa bogatii si munca in exces care o acompaniaza, concentrandu-se pe devoltarea pasiunilor proprii, vietii de familie, vietii in comunitate, ecologiei. Alegerea acestui stil de viata se dovedeste cu adevarat benefica:

„Indeed, the parallel between Voluntary Simplicity (VS) and our theoretical conceptualizations seemed so clear that Kirk Warren Brown and I conducted a study comparing a sample of 200 North American VS practitioners with 200 mainstream Americans matched to the VSrs on age, gender, and geographic location. Consistent with our expectations, the VS group scored substantially higher than mainstream Americans on the relative importance they placed on intrinsic vs. materialistic goals. Our analyses also revealed that VS practitioners were both significantly happier than mainstream Americans and were living in more ecologically sustainable ways. Particularly remarkable were our analyses (using Structural Equation Modeling) that demonstrated that a good deal of the reason why the VS groups were living more ecologically sustainably and were happier than mainstream Americans was that the VS group was more focused on intrinsic and less focused on materialistic values. Such results, though preliminary, are quite promising, as they suggest that when individuals create a lifestyle that is focused on intrinsic values rather than materialistic values, they not only live in more ecologically sustainable ways, but they are happier too!”

Adeptii simplitatii voluntare si downshifting-ului sunt deci dovediti ca fiind mai fericiti decat media, tocmai pentru ca acorda o atentie sporita valorilor intrinseci. Totodata, amprenta lor ecologica este drastic diminuata, ceea ce inseamna ca acest stil de viata este nu doar in armonie cu propria persoana, ci si cu natura.

Timpul liber
Cei care refuza sa intre in nebuneasca cursa dupa obiecte si bunuri materiale, popularitate, vedetism etc. se vor bucura si de o crestere a timpului liber. Cei care prefera insa munca in exces, vor intampina urmatoarele neajunsuri:
„While materialistic values, profit-driven capitalism, and consumerism have been quite successful in creating great material affluence for some, social commentators have noted that an unfortunate side effect has been an increase in “time poverty” for many. The helter-skelter attempt to make more money and consume as much as possible leads many individuals to work long hours and spend more time commuting; further, many businesses and governments implement policies that encourage (if not force) long work hours as a means of enhancing profit and economic growth.

The result is that many people find it quite difficult to pursue their intrinsic goals. For example, long work hours can crowd out the time people have to spend engaging in activities relevant to self-acceptance goals, such as pursuing personal hobbies, reflecting on life, and generally taking care of mind, body, and soul. Commentators also have noted that busy people seem to have less time for their spouses, friends, children, and even pets (deGraaf, 2003), thus reflecting the difficulty of pursuing affiliation goals. And when they experience time poverty, people often are less likely to do activities relevant to community feeling goals such as volunteering, voting, and engaging in behaviors that sustain the Earth.”

Refuzul de a munci in exces are, comfrom lui Kasser, urmatoarele beneficii:
„These observations suggest that another way to orient individuals and society towards intrinsic goals is to place the concept of “time affluence” on an equal footing with material affluence. Some research supports these ideas. For example, Kasser & Brown (2003) reported that life satisfaction was higher in individuals who worked fewer hours; Kasser & Sheldon (in press) expanded on these ideas in a series of four studies. Specifically, Kasser & Sheldon developed measures of material and time affluence to assess individuals’ subjective experience of whether they had enough money and enough time. Results showed that even after controlling for people’s subjective (and actual) wealth, individuals who felt more time affluent reported greater subjective well-being and happiness. What’s more, further analyses (using mediational tests) revealed that when people felt more time affluent, they were more likely to engage in activities that supported their intrinsic values, which in turn explained why such individuals were happier than less time affluent people.
Other research has demonstrated the ecological benefits of time affluence.”

Ce putem conclude din expunerea lui Kasser? Ca desi capitalismul a creat multe bogatii in anumite parti ale lumii, acestea sunt inutile si nu reprezinta decat resurse umane si naturale consumate fara o finalitate pozitiva; ca adeptii simplitatii voluntare, preocupati de valori precum devoltarea propriei personalitati, viata de familie, viata comunitatii, protejarea mediului, timp liber, relaxare, sunt mai fericiti si multumiti de viata lor decat cei manati de lacomia materiala, popularitate etc.; si ca, per total, capitalismul chiar si atunci cand reuseste sa-si atinga telurile, nu face decat sa esueze, deoarece scopurile promovate de acesta, precum consumerismul, vedetismul etc. nu doar ca nu sporesc fericirea, dar nu fac decat sa obtureze adevaratele valori, cele demonsdtrate ca sporind satisfactia personala si colectiva. Imbratisarea stilului de viata al simplitatii voluntare este benefic atat pentru noi ca persoane, cat si pentru societate in general si chiar pentru mediul inconjurator.