Hasta la victoria siempre

Friday, August 31, 2007

Rezumatul Dr.-ului Gregg D. Jacobs

Gregg D. Jacobs este Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, an Insomnia Specialist in the Sleep Disorders Center at Harvard's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and a Senior Research Scientist at Harvard's Mind/Body Medical Institute.

Intr-un articol in care vorbeste inclusiv despre concluziile lucririi "The Overspent Amercican", la care tocmai m-am referit, Dr. Jacobs sumarizeaza bine multe din chestiunile punctate in acest blog, precum consumerismul sau munca sustinuta.

"Consumerism, Happiness and Health
By Dr. Gregg D. Jacobs

The adage that money can't buy happiness has been forgotten in our consumer society. Harvard University economist Juliet Schorr, author of The Overspent American, has described this "new consumerism," which equates contentment with the acquisition of material goods. Fueled by the technology of advertising—which seduces us with the message that who we are is tied to what we own, and that happiness is available if we spend and acquire—we are acquiring material goods at a greater rate: luxury homes, luxury cars, fancier gadgets and designer clothes.

Two incomes, zero happiness
In the quest for material goods, we find ourselves on a treadmill of earn and spend, earn and spend. And because we are spending and acquiring more, we must work more. We now spend more time working than ever before. Two-income families have become the norm, which means we have less time for leisure, ourselves, each other, our families and children.
One study of married, dual-income couples found that the number of hours spent working has risen almost seven hours a week over the past twenty years; and, that the pressure to manage the demands of work is highly stressful. It is not uncommon for parents today to work twelve or more hours per day, never seeing their children except on weekends. As a result, Western society has become, according to T. Berry Brazelton, the renowned Harvard pediatrician, the least child-and family- oriented society in the world. He believes materialism and acquisitions are a root cause of parents not knowing their children and the children not knowing their parents.
When Westerners were asked in a national survey what they believed would improve their quality of life, “more money” was the most frequent response. And in a survey of a quarter million students entering college, 75% of respondents reported that it was very important or essential that they become financially wealthy. In fact, making a lot of money outranked objectives such as helping others, developing a meaningful philosophy of life, and raising a family. And yet, in another survey of eight hundred college alumni, those who preferred a high income and job success to having close friends or a fulfilling marriage were twice as likely to describe themselves as “fairly” or “very” unhappy.

More goods are less good
For some, "more and bigger" is equated with “happiness and better.” Acquiring more things takes center stage in life and becomes more important than family or job. Recent studies by Dr. Richard Ryan and Dr. Tim Kasser, professors of psychology at the University of Rochester and Knox College, respectively, suggest not only that seeking satisfaction in material goods is unfulfilling, but people for whom affluence is a primary focus also tend to experience a high degree of anxiety and depression, a lower sense of well-being, and greater behavioral and physical problems.

Affluence itself is not the problem, but rather living a life where affluence is the focus. Extrinsic goals such as money and material possessions take away from goals that reflect genuine human needs: social relationships and internal skills such as self-awareness that are crucial for well-being. The more people strive for extrinsic goals such as money, the less robust their well-being. Subscribing to values that focus on materialism can actually make us sick.

The influence of affluence
Affluence does not increase happiness. Although affluence has climbed steadily over the past four decades, we are not happier. According to Dr. David Myers, an expert on the topic of subjective well-being and a professor of psychology at Hope College, the number of people reporting themselves as very happy has declined slightly over the past forty years. Myers notes that we are twice as rich and no happier compared to forty years ago, while the divorce rate has doubled, teen suicide tripled, reported violence almost quadrupled, and depression rates have soared, particularly amongst teens and young adults.
Compared to their grandparents, today's young adults grow up with much more affluence, slightly less happiness, and much greater risk of depression. Myers terms this conjunction of material prosperity and social recession the “modern paradox.” In his mind, it is hard to avoid a startling conclusion: our increased affluence over the past forty years has not been accompanied by any increased subjective well-being. This conclusion challenges modern materialism by suggesting that increased affluence has not boosted well-being.
In short, modern life is built on materialism, which has not improved well-being and may be detrimental to mental health. And because who we are is tied to what we own, our society thrives on individualism. We place an extreme amount of importance on individualism and exalt the self, in part, because individualism is profitable, and therefore powerful. However, we can no longer ignore what is now an established medical fact: the more people are seduced by materialism and extrinsic goals such as money, the more they deviate from things such as altruism and close social ties, which are vital to health."


Pe scurt, lucrurile functioneaza cam asa:
capitalism=>manipulare prin advertising=>consumerism=>cresterea numarului de ore muncite=>efecte sociale si individuale nocive: familie si copii neglijate, relatii sociale scazute, anxietate, depresie, deci nefericire.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Sa suflam si in iaurt

Conform analizelor "oficiale", iaurtul Danone de care v-am mai zis, cica nu ar depasi limita maxiam admisa pentru substanta cancerigena numita "dioxina". Asta nu inseamna ca iaurtul ar fi neaparat mai putin periculos:

Reactiile din partea publicului, deloc usor de pacalit, nu au intarziat sa apara:

"Ca simplu consumator, ma declar sceptic in ce priveste calitatea si continutul acestor produse. Cat despre analize, ce s-a intamplat, s-a evaporat dioxina cat a stat in carantina?“, se intreaba un forumist.
Pe de alta parte, chiar daca autoritatile au anuntat ca iaurtul retras saptamana trecuta de pe piata nu este periculos, romanii s-au aratat ingrijorati totusi ca analizele de laborator nu infirma existenta dioxinei, ci arata ca aceasta se gaseste in produsele examinate intr-o concentratie sub limita maxima admisa. „Potrivit rezultatelor analizelor, date publicitat ii miercuri dimineata, valoarea dioxinei in iaurturi se incadreaza in limite normale cu alte cuvinte, putina dioxina nu strica? Daca mananc 10 iaurturi pe zi, cu siguranta depasesc limita normala de dioxina“, a sustinut alt forumist, indreptatit sa puna astfel problema avand in vedere ca medicii avertizeaza asupra faptului ca un consum pe termen lung de produse care contin dioxina - chiar si daca aceasta nu depa- sesete concentratia admisa - este periculos pentru sanatate.

Potrivit directorul Institutului de Chimie Alimentara, dr. Gheorghe Mencinocopschi, consumul pe termen lung de produse care contin dioxina provoaca tulburari hormonale si determina aparitia cancerului de prostata si a celui de san. Pe de alta parte, expunerea la o concentratie ridicata de dioxina afecteaza grav ficatul, sistemul nervos si pielea. Medicii mai atrag atentia ca odata ingerata, aceasta substanta se depune in tesutul gras si este eliminata greu de organism, timpul de injumatatire a cantitatii depozitate fiind de aproape sapte ani. Scandalul iscat in jurul iaurtului cu fructe produs de Danone, despre care existau suspiciuni ca ar fi daunator sanatatii a adus in atentia opiniei publice si calitatea produselor alimentare existente pe piata autohtona."

Lucian Mandruta a scris la randul sau un articol in care explica de ce, indiferent de rezultatele analizelor, rational este sa incetam a mai consuma produsele firmei in cauza:


Munca multa, saracia omului

Juliet B. Schor este Senior Lecturer on Economics precum si Director of Women's Studies la Universitatea din Harvard. Totodata, domnia sa este autoarea lucrarii "Overworked American: The Unexpected Decline of Leisure" (1991).
Acolo se explica modul in care "cultura" capitalista, care a dus la aparitia maniei consumerismului, ii determina pe locuitorii "capitalei capitalului", SUA, sa munceasca mai mult pentru a obtine banii necesari pentru a consuma mai mult.
Care sunt insa efectele maririi numarului de ore lucrate, adica a muncii in exces?

"Contrary to the views of some researchers, the rise of work is not confined to a few, selective groups, but has affected the great majority of working Americans. Hours have risen for men as well as women, for those in the working class as well as professionals. They have grown for all marital statuses and income groups. The increase also spans a wide range of industries. Indeed, the shrinkage of leisure experienced by nearly all types of Americans has created a profound structural crisis of time.
While academics have missed the decline of leisure time, ordinary Americans have not. And the media provide mounting evidence of "time poverty," overwork and a squeeze on time. Nationwide, people report their leisure time has declined by as much as one third since the early 1970s. Predictably, they are spending less time on the basics, like sleeping and eating. Parents are devoting less attention to their children. Stress is on the rise, partly owing to the “balancing act” of reconciling the demands of work and family life…"

Asadar, cresterea numarului de ore muncite este un fenomen caruia i-a cazut prada o imensa parte a societatii capitaliste americane. Iar urmarile sunt cresterea stresului, o mai slaba atentie acordata nevoilor fundamentale precum somnul si mancatul, precum si propriilor copii.

Sa intram in detalii:

"However scarce academic research on the rising workload may be, what we do know suggests it has contributed to a variety of social problems. For example, work is implicated in the dramatic rise of "stress." Thirty percent of adults say that they experience high stress nearly every day; even higher numbers report high stress once or twice a week. A third of the population says that they are rushed to do the things they have to do—up from a quarter in 1965. Stress-related diseases have exploded, especially among women, and jobs are a major factor. Workers' compensation claims related to Stress tripled during just the first half of the 1980s. Other evidence also suggests a rise in the demands placed on employees on the job. According to a recent review of existing findings, Americans are literally working themselves to death—as jobs contribute to heart disease, hypertension, gastric problems, depression, exhaustion, and a variety of other ailments."

Cresterea stresului, determinata de cerintele din ce in ce mai mari ale angajatorilor, determinate, la ranmdul lor de frenezia consumului din partea publicului, au dus la o escaladare exorbitanta a unor boli cauzatoare de moarte, precum bolile de inima, stomac, depresie etc.

Mai departe:

"The juggling act between job and family is another problem area. Half the population now says they have too little time for their families. The problem is particularly acute for women: in one study, half of all employed mothers reported it caused either "a lot" or an "extreme" level of stress. The same proportion feel that "when I'm at home I try to make up to my family for being away at work, and as a result I rarely have any time for myself." This stress has placed tremendous burdens on marriages. Two-earner couples have less time together, which researchers have found reduces the happiness and satisfaction of a marriage. These couples often just don't have enough time to talk to each other. And growing numbers of husbands and wives are like ships passing in the night, working sequential schedules to manage their child care. Among young parents, the prevalence of at least one partner working outside regular daytime hours is now close to one half. But this "solution" is hardly a happy one. According to one parent: "I work 11-7 to accommodate my family—to eliminate the need for babysitters. However, the stress on myself is tremendous."

Grava afectare a vietii de familie este o alta urmare a muncii in exces. Consecinta cu atat mai grava cu cat, dupa cum am vazut, viata de familie este, in mod normal, o sursa importanta de fericire si satisfactie.

Autoarea incheie optimista:

"…By understanding how we came to be caught up in the cycle of work-and-spend, perhaps we can regain a reasonable balance between work and leisure."

Nu e suficient insa doar sa intelegem cum am ajuns in aceasta situatie, ci sa gasim de urgenta calea de iesire din cercul vicios: munca-si-consumerism.
Sa renuntam deci, pana cand nu ne nenorocim de tot, la munca in plus si la cauza ei, consumerismul, sa abandonam cat putem placerile scumpe (bijuterii, aparatura sofisticata, automobile, imbracaminte de firma) si sa apreciem mai mult timpul nostru liber, in care ne asteapta adevaratele placeri si fericiri, precum familia, prietenii, sportul, cultura etc.

Articolul din care am citat, un fragment din cartea "Overworked American: The Unexpected Decline of Leisure", se gaseste la:

Cititi-l in intregime.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Catastrofa umanitara provocata de inegalitatile financiare

In articolul lor „Income inequality and mortality in metropolitan areas of the United States”, publicat in American Journal for Public Health. 1998 July; 88(7): 1074–1080, autorii J. W. Lynch, G. A. Kaplan, E. R. Pamuk, R. D. Cohen, K. E. Heck, J. L. Balfour si I. H. Yen concluzioneaza:

„CONCLUSIONS: Higher income inequality is associated with increased mortality at all per capita income levels. Areas with high income inequality and low average income had excess mortality of 139.8 deaths per 100,000 compared with areas with low inequality and high income. The magnitude of this mortality difference is comparable to the combined loss of life from lung cancer, diabetes, motor vehicle crashes, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, suicide, and homicide in 1995. Given the mortality burden associated with income inequality, public and private sector initiatives to reduce economic inequalities should be a high priority.”

Deci zonele cu inegalitati mari de venit si un venit mediu scazut au o mortalitate atat de ridicata in comparatie cu zonele cu venit mediu ridicat si inegalitati scazute, incat diferenta data este comparabila cu suma mortilor cauzate de cancer la plamani, diabet, accidente rutiere, SIDA, sinucidere si omucidere.
O singura concluzie se impune: inegalitatile economice trebuiesc reduse drastic, si cat mai urgent prin deposedarea bogatasilor si redistribuirea veniturilor catre saraci (prin taxe progresive, de exemplu) , astfel incat venitul mediu sa creasca iar diferentele de venit sa scada.

Inegalitatea sociala, o calamitate asupra populatiei

Noi studii demonstreaza nu doar ca inegalitatile de venit si statut in societate afecteaza grav coeziunea sociala si ridica numarul omuciderilor, dar contribuie decisiv la proliferarea multor alte dezastre sociale:

„In 1996, Harvard and Berkeley published separate studies that examined income inequality in all 50 states. (3) According to Bruce Kennedy, the lead researcher of the Harvard study, "The size of the gap between the wealthy and less well-off, as distinct from the absolute standard of living enjoyed by the poor, appears to be related to mortality." (4)

Both studies found that states with higher income inequality have all the following social problems:

* Higher death rates for all age groups.
* Higher rates of homicide.
* Higher rates of violent crime.
* Higher costs per person for police protection.
* Higher rates of incarceration.
* Higher rates of unemployment.
* A higher percentage of people receiving income assistance and food stamps.
* More high-school dropouts.
* Less state funds spent per person on education.
* Fewer books per person in the schools.
* Poorer educational performance, including worse reading skills, worse math skills.
* Higher infant mortality rates.
* Higher heart disease.
* Higher cancer rates.
* A greater percentage of people without medical insurance.
* A greater proportion of babies born with low birth weight.
* A greater proportion of the population unable to work because of disabilities.
* A higher proportion of the population using tobacco.
* A higher proportion of the population being sedentary (inactive).
* Higher costs per-person for medical care.

The correlation between income inequality and mortality rates for all ages was significant. (Berkeley found a correlation of 0.62, with P -- the chance that the correlation could be zero accidentally -- being less than 0.001; Harvard found a correlation of 0.54, with P less than 0.05.) (5)

Both studies found that each state's average or median income did not predict its mortality rate. But inequality turned out to be a significant predictor, and remained so even after accounting for such possible confounding factors as smoking and drinking rates, household size and household income.

The last one is especially important, because it means that the death rate is correlated not only to absolute poverty, but relative poverty as well.Dr. George Kaplan, the lead researcher of the Berkeley study, says: "People might assume that states with higher income inequality have more poor people, and we know that poor people have higher death rates. [But] the evidence in these two studies suggests that the increased death rates in those states are not due simply to their having more poor people. Income inequality seems to be increasing mortality rates among nonpoor people as well, and we are investigating that possibility." (6)Elsewhere, Kaplan says: "This effect on health wasn't just happening to poor people; middle-class people were affected too. When we accounted for income differences, there was still a strong relationship between income inequality and mortality rates." (7).”

Asadar, inegalitatile sociale ne omoara, la propriu, nu doar prin cresterea numarului de omucideri in societate, dar si din cauza maririi numarului de cazuri de cancer, boli de inima, dependenti de tutun, toate combinate cu cresterea preturilor pentru ingrijirile medicale.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Se poate masura fericirea?

Una dintre obiectiile pe care oamenii care nu sunt specialisti in psihologie o au fata de studiile despre fericire este ca fericirea nu poate fi masurata obiectiv. Aasadar, continua ei, nu putem avea incredere in concluziile studiilor care sustin ca odata trecut pragul saraciei, banii nu mai influenteaza pozitiv fericirea.

Robert Lane, profesor emerit de stiinte politice la Universitatea din Yale si autor al lucrarii "The Loss of Happiness in Market Democracies" (Yale, 2000), explica de ce aceste critici nu se justifica. Intr-adevar, stiinta contemporana are metode satisfacatoare de a masura, obiectiv, fericirea oamenilor:

"Isn't happiness an elusive concept? How do you define it in your book?

It is an elusive concept. It is a feeling of subjective well-being, and that doesn't always have an objective reference, doesn't leave a trail of evidence. It's hard to get data on it. The industry that's now called "quality of life research" -- with many practitioners, two journals and a large group of scholars -- goes about it by first asking quite directly, "How happy are you? Would you say, taking everything into consideration, that you're very happy, fairly happy or not too happy?" Well, that's a rather simple-minded question. It taps an instant mood, and it's influenced by weather and whether your football team wins.
But it nevertheless is a strong indicator of other things that should go with it. If you don't have headaches, if your life is going well, then you say you're happy. Another approach asks for an evaluation, cognitive more than just emotional -- "Taking all things together, how satisfied are you with your life?" That means you're appraising your life, not just how you are now. That's quite close to the happiness question, but there are differences. Of the two, the second is the better question. Then there is something called "positive affect balance," that gets people [to describe] the things that have happened to them recently that make them feel good, and the things that have happened that make them feel bad. You get a balance.

Are the participants' responses valid? Well, you ask their friends. You find out that, yes, their self-reports are fairly accurate. Ask their parents, their children, their teachers. They're fairly accurate.

There are also physiological measures. Positive affect -- that is, happiness -- is a left-lobe phenomenon; negative affect is a right-lobe phenomenon. You can get those measures [by magnetic resonance imaging]. They know whether people are faking it or not.
All of these ways of trying to validate these questions have pretty well satisfied people that self-reports on mood and satisfaction are accurate."


Sunday, August 26, 2007

George Carlin despre capitalism si consumerism

Inimitabilul actor, autor si stand-up comedian George Carlin explica legatura dintre sistemul capitalist, materialism, consumerism si manipulare:


Copiii si materialismul

Nu doar relatia dintre adulti si materialism a fost studiata de catre psihologii contemporan, dar si cea dintre copii si intentia de a detine numeroase bunuri materiale.

In studiul lor „Growing up in a Material World: Age Differences in Materialism in Children and Adolescents”, publicat in Journal of Consumer Research, volume 34 (2007), autorii Lan Nguyen Chaplin and Deborah Roedder John argumenteaza ca si in cazul copiilor, inclinatia spre materialism e cauzata de un nivel scazut al respectului de sine:

„Children who come from families with ineffective communication styles, with parents who do not provide a supportive atmosphere, and peers who exert too much influence in their lives are quite likely to experience low self-esteem. Children and adolescents are vulnerable to feelings of low self-esteem in these environments, leading to the search for something that will make them feel better about themselves. Material possessions fulfill this role for many children and adolescents, as they focus on material goods as a way to enhance their poor self-images.”

Cum putem sa-i ajutam pe copii si adolescenti sa depaseasca aceasta faza materialista? Aceeasi autori explica:

„For many constituents, the key question is what can be done to diminish materialism among children and adolescents? The ideas receiving the most attention appear to be those centered around placing constraints on media and advertising exposure—such as bans on advertising to children, bans on corporate marketing in public schools, and parental limits on TV exposure. Our results suggest that strategies aimed at increasing self-esteem among tweens and adolescents would be effective.
In fact, we found a simple selfesteem manipulation to be so powerful among adolescents that it decreased their focus on material goods to the level of much younger children. Peer acceptance was the basis of our self-esteem manipulation, but there are many ways to influence feelings of self-worth and self-esteem in children and adolescents (Brooks and Goldstein 2001). Parents, teachers, peers, and other concerned adults can participate in this endeavor.
Giving children or adolescents a sense of self-worth and accomplishment seems to be quite an effective antidote to the development of materialism.”

Studiul poate fi citit in totalitate la adresa:

Alt studiu, aceeasi concluzie

Un studiu realizat de Dr. Robert Arkin, profesor de psihologie la Universitatea din Ohio, duce la acereasi concluzie ca cea citata in studiul lui Kasser si Sheldon: apucaturile materialiste si consumeriste sunt produse de probleme mentale precum nesiguranta de sine, iar oamenii care sufera de o preocupare accentuata spre materialism au o viata calitativ inferioara:

Investing in Things? One more thing money can't buy.
Empirical evidence of the link between self-doubt and materialism.

The idea that we compensate for insecurity or low self-esteem with our checkbook is so widely accepted that it's a cultural cliché: Why else would we consider a middle-aged man in a Ferrari to be a midlife crisis on wheels?
Now there is empirical evidence of the link between self-doubt and materialism.

Robert Arkin, Ph.D., of Ohio State University, found that undergraduate students who identified themselves as chronic self-doubters were far more likely to agree with statements such as "I like to own things that impress people," and "The things I own say a lot about how well I'm doing in life." A second study found that increasing a sense of self-doubt heightened the materialistic tendencies of subjects already prone to insecurity.

"Self-doubt is very unpleasant, so people cope by investing themselves in something. Materialism is one such investment," says Arkin. The results, published in Psychology and Marketing, also link materialism to a sense of anomie or uncertainty about one's place in society (as opposed to doubt about one's own abilities or identity). In both cases, the Ferrari is a poor buffer: Arkin points out that psychological tests repeatedly link a materialistic worldview to lower levels of life satisfaction.


Friday, August 24, 2007

Cum capitalismul provoaca nefericire

In articolul lor "Of Wealth and Death", publicat in Psychological Science, Tim Kasser si Kennon Sheldon argumenteaza ca impulsul consumerist dat de capitalism are efecte nocive asupra oamenilor si societatii:

"In the contemporary world, capitalistic economic systems and their accompanying “culture of consumption” are quickly expanding into “developingmarkets” around the globe.With these systems come ideologies that suggest to individuals that they are worthy members of their cultures to the extent that they make a great deal of money and spend that money on consumer goods.The “darkside” to such a value system, however, is that the strong valuing of wealth and possessions is associated with lower well-being, worse interpersonal relationships, and a lower quality of life (Belk, 1985; Carver&Baird, 1998; Kasser&Ryan, 1993, 1996, in press; Richins & Dawson, 1992; Sirgy,1998).
Further, a materialistic value orientation is associated with less socially productive and more antisocial behavior(Cohen&Cohen, 1995; Kasser&Ryan,1993) and a tendency to quickly deplete scarce resources (Sheldon&McGregor, inpress), thus affecting everyone’s quality of life".

Mai mult, cei doi autori argumenteaza ca oamenii preocupati prioritar de acumularea de bogatii materiale sufera de anumite dezechilibre mentale, dand dovada de o nesiguranta si frica excesive:

"Theorists from humanistic, existential, and organismic traditions have long suggested that people highly focused on making money and consuming resources suffer from an underlying feeling of insecurity.
Forexample, humanistic and existential theorists such as Fromm
(1976), Maslow (1954), and Rogers (1964) believed that when parents fail to provide safe, nurturing environments, children develop feelings of insecurity that may manifest themselves through strong desires for wealth and possessions. Similarly, Deci and Ryan (1991) suggested that when individuals fail to have their psychological needs met, they compensate by focusing on extrinsic rewards for fame and money.
Some research supports these ideas. For example, materialistic values in adolescents are positively correlated with being raised by a cold, controlling mother (Kasser, Ryan, Zax, &Sameroff, 1995) and experiencing divorce in one’s family (Rindfleisch, Burroughs, &Denton, 1997). Cross-cultural research also demonstrates tha tconditions, such as poverty, that breed insecurity in nations are associated with a strong focus on materialistic values (Abramson& Inglehart, 1995).
Themes of insecurity are also evident in qualitative analyses of materialists’ dreams. Compared with people who do not highly value wealth and possessions, materialists are more likely to have dreams that involve falling, an inability to overcome danger, and images of death (Kasser&GrowKasser, 2000)."

Articolul poate fi gasit la adresa:

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Iaurt cu otrava

Desi iaurturile Danone cu arome de fructe nu sunt deloc ieftine (aproximatic 30.000 lei/buc.), se pare ca unele dintre ele sunt pline de o substanta extrem de periculoasa pentru sanatate, motiv pentru care au si fost retrase de pe piata:

"Autorităţile sanitar - veterinare din Capitală au decis să retragă din magazine două tipuri de iaurturi produse de compania Danone: cu vişine şi fructe de pădure. Este vorba despre produsele din două loturi de iaurt cu fructe, cele care au ca date de expirare 11 şi, respectiv, 20 septembrie.
Acestea ar conţine o cantitate neprecizată de dioxină. Directorul Institutului de Cercetare Alimentară, Gheorghe Mencinicopschi spune că această substanţă toxică este una dintre cele mai periculoase. Specialiştii susţin că cel mai probabil substanţa a ajuns în produsele lactate prin intermediul unui aditiv, E 412, provenit din India. Acest aditiv alimentar poate produce afecţiuni neuro-toxice, poate ataca ficatul, rinichii, iar pielea poate căpăta un aspect bolnav. Iaurturile au fost deja retrase din marile magazine din Bucureşti.

[...] Deşi alerta asupra contaminării cu dioxină a fost dată pe 14 august, ANSVSA a verificat loturile de iaurt abia în data de 17 august, conform comunicatului Danone."

Ce-i face fericiti pe tineri

In ciuda aparentelor, se pare ca generatia MTV este departe de a fi indoctrinata de omniprezentul cult al banilor si ca este capabila sa gaseasca lucruri de calitate in activitati si optiuni care implica foarte putin bunurile materiale.
Conform unui studiu citat de CNN, tinerii cauta cu precadere si sunt satisfacuti de activitatile sociale (timp petrecut cu familia, parintii, prietenii, mariajul etc.) decat de bani.

"Ce-i face fericiti pe tineri?

Sexul, drogurile si rockul nu ii fac fericiti pe tineri.
Aceasta este concluzia la care au ajuns cercetatorii americani, in urma efectuarii unui studiu citat de CNN. Contrar asteptarilor, familia si dragostea sunt cele care aduc fericirea reprezentantilor generatiei MTV.

Dorinte - Un studiu efectuat pe 1.280 de persoane cu varste intre 13 si 24 de ani, de catre Associated Press si MTV, a scos la iveala faptul ca petrecerea timpului in sanul familiei este una dintre cele mai importante surse de fericire printre tinerii americani. 20% dintre tinerii chestionati considera familia unul dintre cele mai importante lucruri, in timp ce 73% considera ca relatia cu parintii ii face fericiti.

Nu sex, ci dragoste
Tinerii cu varste cuprinse intre 13 si 17 ani considera activitatea sexuala un motiv de fericire. Goana dupa sex se mai tempereaza odata cu varsta. Tinerii cu varste intre 18 si 24 de ani sunt constienti de faptul ca relatiile sexuale pot aduce fericirea pe moment, dar nu pe termen lung. Majoritatea participantilor la ancheta, in proportie de 92%, cred in casatorie si isi doresc copii.

Banii nu aduc fericirea
Desi banii joaca un rol important in calea spre fericire, doar un sfert dintre tineri considera ca ar fi mai fericiti daca ar avea mai multi bani, in timp ce 49% cred ca ar fi aproape la fel de fericiti si cu mai putine resurse financiare.

De ce se tem tinerii
Ingrijorare In urma acestui studiu s-a constatat ca tinerii sunt cu 10% mai stresati decat adultii. Cei cu varste cuprinse intre 13 si 17 ani considera scoala una dintre cele mai mari surse de stres. Pentru tinerii din categoria de varsta 18-24 ani, jobul si aspectele materiale sunt printre principalele motive de ingrijorare. Doar 29% dintre cei chestionati se tem de riscurile ce pot interveni in timpul calatoriilor. 25% dintre subiecti se tem de atacurile teroriste care se pot intampla in timpul calatoriilor. In privinta viciilor, 45% dintre participanti s-au declarat mai fericiti in urma consumului de droguri."

Articolel este scris de Iulia Roman si a aparut in ziarul "Compact", la data de 22 august.

Puteci citi in engleza despre acest studiu la adresa:

Succesele socialistului Hugo Chavez

Marti, 21 august, conf. univ. dr. Anton Caragea a publicat un editorial in care vorbeste despre un posibil sfarsit al oranduririi capitalist-consumeriste si, in paralel, despre succesele socio-economice ale presedintelui venezuelean Hugo Chavez.

"Viitorul incepe la Caracas
de Anton Caragea

Voi comite o crimă de les majestate, de neiertat pentru un cronicar modern în România, anume nu voi scrie nimic despre Băsescu, chiar nimic despre Tăriceanu şi, în general, nimic despre politicienii români. De data aceasta prefer să vă vorbesc despre ceva ce chiar are semnificaţie şi chiar mă interesează, pentru că face parte din marele joc al ideilor şi nu din jocul amatorilor de pe malurile Dâmboviţei.

Vreau să vă atrag atenţia asupra unor evenimente care chiar ne pot schimba viaţa şi care înseamnă ceva în lumea aceasta, în vreme ce micile gâlcevi de la noi chiar nu ar trebui să intereseze pe nimeni. În Venezuela se joacă cea mai mare partidă politică a secolului, liderul local Hugo Chavez încearcă să ducă la bun sfârşit o revoluţie socială care poate arunca în aer capitalismul în întreaga lume.

Hugo Chavez naţionalizează absolut orice investiţie străină în ţara sa, refuză să ofere bogăţiile naţionale ale Venezuelei oricui altcuiva decât celui mai bun ofertant şi realizează programe sociale care pun pe masa săracilor pâinea mult dorită, oferă cerşetorilor un adăpost şi după 200 de ani de cădere economică şi suferinţe Venezuela cunoaşte în sfârşit un lider care este interesat de soarta majorităţii, nu doar de cei ce pot face afaceri.

Modelul domnului Chavez, de democraţ ie electorală respectată cu scrupulozitate, de libertate de exprimare şi de garantare a tuturor drepturilor civile în paralel cu o politică socială generoasă şi cu lovituri dure date marilor concerne internaţionale, pare de un deceniu un succes incontestabil. Toate încercările SUA şi ale milionarilor Venezuelei, de a scăpa de revoluţia lui Chavez şi de milioanele sale de susţinători, au eşuat ruşinos până acum, iar dacă modelul lui Chavez se răspândeşte în întreaga Americă Latină atunci capitalismul de tip american va avea zile grele.

Ţările Americii Latine au o datorie de circa 100.000 de miliarde de dolari, ori Chavez spune simplu, nimeni să nu mai plătească nimic, destul au fost jefuite ţările Americii Latine, aceşti bani sunt rezultatul corupţiei, afacerilor ilegale şi furtului. Dacă planul lui Chavez are succes, atunci adio dolar, adio Bursa de Valori de la Washington, adio toate instrumentele capitalului. De aceea Statele Unite au încercat două lovituri de stat, şase tentative de asasinat şi desfăşoară o campanie de izolare fără precedent a lui Hugo Chavez pentru că, dacă el învinge, tot ceea ce Statele Unite consideră sacru şi intangibil se sfărâmă. În 1918, un scriitor american, John Reed, mergea la Moscova, unde revoluţ ia lui Lenin avea doar câteva luni şi spunea el „merge în viitor, să vadă dacă funcţionează“. Oare dacă mergem la Caracas, mergem în viitor şi oare viitorul funcţionează?"

Realiuzarile exceptionale pe plan social si economic ale presedintelui socialist venezuelean Hugo Chavez sunt confirmate de un studiu recent, aparut luna trecuta, realizat de realizat de Center for Economic and Policy Research. Acolo se argumenteaza nu doar ca economia Venezuelei nu se bazeaza prioritarpe exportul de petrol (pe care, BTW, Chavez in trimite in tari precumChina, Cuba, Argentina etc., deci nici vorba de „bani capitalisti"), dar si ca progresele socio-economice realizate de socialistul Chavez sunt cat se poate de remarcabile si adevarate:

„Venezuela has experienced very rapid growth since the bottom of therecession in 2003, and grew by 10.3 percent last year. The mostcommonly held view of the current economic expansion is that it isan "oil boom" driven by high oil prices, as in the past, and isheaded for a "bust." The coming collapse is seen either as a resultof oil prices eventually declining, or as a result of the government'smismanagement of economic policy.

There is much evidence to contradict this conventional wisdom. Venezuela suffered a severe economic growth collapse in the 1980s and1990s, with its real GDP peaking in 1977. In this regard it issimilar to the region as a whole, which since 1980 has suffered itsworst long-term growth performance in more than a century. HugoChávez Frias was elected in 1998 and took office in 1999, and thefirst four years of his administration were plagued by politicalinstability that had a large adverse impact on the economy. (SeeFigure 2). This culminated in a military coup that temporarilytoppled the constitutional government in April 2002, followed by adevastating oil strike from December 2002-February 2003. The oilstrike sent the economy into a severe recession, during whichVenezuela lost 24 percent of GDP.

But in the second quarter of 2003, the political situation began tostabilize, and it has continued to stabilize throughout the currenteconomic expansion. The economy has had continuous rapid growth sincethe onset of political stability. Real (inflation-adjusted) GDP hasgrown by 76 percent since the bottom of the recession in 2003. It islikely that the government's expansionary fiscal and monetarypolicies, as well as exchange controls, have contributed to thecurrent economic upswing.Central government spending has increased from 21.4 percent of GDP in1998 to 30 percent in 2006. Real short-term interest rates have beennegative throughout all or most of the recovery (depending on themeasure—see Figure 4).

The government's revenue increased even faster than spending duringthis period, from 17.4 to 30 percent of GDP over the same period,leaving the central government with a balanced budget for2006. The government has planned conservatively with respect to oilprices: for example, for 2007, the budget plans for oil at $29 perbarrel, 52 percent under the average $60.20 dollars per barrel thatVenezuelan crude sold for last year. The government has typicallyexceeded planned spending as oil prices come in higher than thebudgeted price, so it is possible that spending would be reduced ifoil prices decline. (...)

The poverty rate has decreased rapidly from its peak of 55.1 percentin 2003 to 30.4 percent at end of 2006, as would be expected in theface of the very rapid economic growth during these last threeyears. (See Table 3). If we compare the pre-Chávez poverty rate (43.9percent) with the end of 2006 (30.4 percent) this is a 31 percentdrop in the rate of poverty. However this poverty rate does nottake into account the increased access to health care or educationthat poor people have experienced. The situation of the poor hastherefore improved significantly beyond even the substantial povertyreduction that is visible in the official poverty rate, whichmeasures only cash income.

Measured unemployment has also dropped substantially to 8.3 percentfor June 2007, its lowest level in more than a decade; as compared to15 percent in June 1999 and 18.4 percent in June 2003 (coming out ofthe recession). Formal employment has also increased significantlysince 1998, from 44.5 to 49.4 percent of the labor force. e. It alsomakes it extremely difficult for the economy to diversify away frompres nt rate ). Over the last three months it appears to havestabilized at 19.4 percent.It does not appear that the current economic expansion is about toend any time in the near future".

Monday, August 13, 2007

George Pruteanu despre ceausism si capitalism

Exista argumente ca pana si societatile totalitare, insa in care principiul egalitatii financiare este respectat intr-o masura mare iar goana dupa profit interzisa, sunt superioare in multe privinte celor capitaliste.

Un articol in care profesorul George Pruteanu demonteaza cateva mituri despre neajunsurile sistemului ceausist, se gaseste la adresa:
http://www.curentul .ro/curentul. php?numar= 20070726& art=58971

Citez de acolo:

„Ca să înlăture afirmaţia "Ceauşescu a făcut metroul", T.C. Zarojanu (voi folosi sigla TCZ) scrie: "Ceauşescu n-a construit nimic". Niciun şef de stat n-a construit, el, nimic. Dar unii şefi de state au dispus construirea unor lucruri în favoarea mulţimilor, alţii au dispus mai puţin sau deloc.

"Cuştile de beton în care ne-a vîrît comunismul", adică blocurile, "sunt făcute prost". Şi eu stau într-o astfel de "cuşcă de beton". Atît putea ţara, nu plecau banii în conturi străine. Aceste "cuşti de beton" se dădeau de pomană şi au ridicat mult standardul de viaţă a sute de mii de familii. Azi se vînd cu multe zeci de mii de euro, deci au valoare. Ceauşescu le-a făcut "ca să-i adune pe supuşi în dormitoare comune". Oare Băsescu urmăreşte acelaşi lucru? Şi acum se construiesc blocuri, mai mari decît cele din vremea împuşcatului, numai că apartamentele de acolo nu se vor mai repartiza gratuit, ci se vor vinde, cui are bani, pe sute de mii de euro. Oare tot pentru "supraveghere şi control"?

"Locul de muncă era asigurat". "Nu e adevărat, scrie TCZ. Se asigura un loc de luat salariul". Asta e joacă de vorbe. Cum "nu e adevărat"? Orice absolvent de facultate primea o repartiţie, mai bună sau mai rea, după notă. Iar salariul nu se lua degeaba, medicul opera, zidarul zidea, profesorul preda, scriitorul publica ş.a.m.d. Şomajul (am trecut şi eu prin el, findcă eram "nealiniat") nu era nici 0,1%. Iar salariile veneau întotdeauna la timp, naiba ştie cum, dar veneau. Cînd, o dată, n-au venit, în Valea Jiului (azi, Jalea Viului), a ieşit bucluc mare.

"Tata mi-a spus cu seninătate că doar din cînd în cînd se întrerupea curentul electric". Adică n-ar fi aşa, insinuează TCZ. Eu spun, sub cuvînt de onoare că, în toată viaţa mea de pînă-n 1989, dacă am trăit 4-5 întreruperi de curent care să dureze mai mult de cîteva ore, foarte probabil din motive pur tehnice, nu politice. Am avut parte de mult mai multe din 1989 încoace, din aceleaşi motive tehnice.

"Sistemul comunist (...) a trăit ruşinea de a fi singura formă social-economic-politică din istorie de la care un şir de popoare au decis să se întoarcă la forma anterioară!" Nu e chiar aşa simplu. Mişcările de stradă din 1989 au antrenat cîteva sute de mii de oameni, nu "poporul". Ideea anticomunistă a fost adăugată ulterior. Oamenii erau exasperaţi de necazurile ultimilor 10 ani (mărunte faţă de cele de azi) şi voiau să-l dea jos pe Ceauşescu, sperînd că va veni mai-binele. Erau în necunoştinţă de cauză.

"99,99% din produsele şi serviciile existente azi nu existau deloc în 1989". Asta e poate cea mai stupefiantă afirmaţie din articol, punctul de vîrf al deformării înşelătoare. Am luat-o în serios, m-am ridicat de la birou şi mi-am parcurs migălos tot apartamentul, din bucătărie în baie, din sufragerie pe balcon. Şi n-am găsit decît trei obiecte pe care nu le puteam avea în 1989: calculatorul, telefonul mobil, cuptorul cu microunde. Nu le puteam avea nu din cauză că era mai rău comunismul de atunci decît capitalismul de acum, ci pur şi simplu pentru că nu apăruseră pe lume, nici în Est, nici în Vest. În rest, lucruri şi servicii pe care le aveam în ´89 le am şi acum (desigur, uneori altele, modele noi): aparat foto, aragaz, pîine, maşină, unt, fotoliu, telefon, poştă, cărţi, frizerie, haine, televizor şcl. [...]

Cu tot entuziasmul său, TCZ nu răspunde întrebării pe care singur şi-o pune, "dacă un om cu venituri modeste îşi permite să plătească utilităţile care i se oferă acum; dar asta e o altă problemă".
Nu e altă problemă. E Problema. Un sistem care nu-i permite unui om să-şi asigure banala întreţinere (deci supravieţuire) şi în care unul poate fi de "un miliard de ori" mai bogat decît altul NU e un sistem bun."

Am cules mai jos alte opinii ale profesorului George Pruteanu legate de perioada ante-decembrista:

"Comunismul făcea o grămadă de porcării şi de tîmpenii, dar mi se pare inadmisibil de fals să se spună că atunci era beznă şi acum ar fi lumină. Multe din relele de atunci s-au îngroşat (minciuna, corupţia joasă şi înaltă), altele s-au înmiit (infracţionalitatea, sărăcia), au apărut rele noi (şomaj, drog, prostituţie, crimă organizată, probleme interetnice, trivialitate publică), cultura de masă e catastrofal împuţinată şi alterată, aşa că, la cîntărire, pentru omul de rînd, diferenţele nu-s spectaculoase în favoarea lui azi..."

"Cum să nu văd înspăimîntătoarea prăbuşire a prestigiului culturii în capitalismul românesc faţă de ce era în comunismul românesc? Să tac cînd bag de seamă că vulgaritatea şi grosolănia publice erau în anii „epocii de aur” a suta parte din ce sunt azi? Să admit că e mai bine că avem prostituate la toate colţurile şi pe toate centurile, în toate gazetele şi pe toate ecranele, decît aproape deloc înainte? Să uit că „întreţinerea” mă costa, la o casă cît toate zilele, a zecea parte din salariul meu de lector universitar, iar azi, în iarnă, pentru apartamentul de bloc de 70 de mp, mi-a venit o factură de 6 milioane, cît nu cîştigă pe lună un profesor? Să întorc capul cînd observ că e de zece ori mai multă contraselecţie acum decît atunci, că p.c.r.-ul (pila, cunoştinţa, relaţia) funcţionează infinit mai abitir, că ajung şefi şi VIP-uri tot felul de mediocrităţi, cînd nu, de-a dreptul, nişte tîmpiţi, bine susţinuţi de partide sau de parale? Să mi se pară că atmosfera de vraişte şi brambureală, dezorientare şi inconsistenţă, lehamite şi frivolitate din şcoală chiar poate purta numele de Învăţămînt şi Educaţie? Să spun că sunt mai bune cultul porcesc al banului, mitocănia exhibată nonşalant zi de zi, ceas de ceas şi în proporţie de masă, jmecheria triumfătoare, analfabetismul progresiv, criminalitatea tot mai amplă şi mai sofisticată, sărăcia tot mai acută şi mai întinsă?"

"Nu mai puţin şocantă şi răsturnătoare de prejudecăţi maniheiste este teza ultimului capitol al studiului (al lui Daniel Barbu, intitulat "Destinul colectiv, servitutea involuntară, nefericirea totalitară" n.m.) : "Mitul nefericirii totalitare". Tradusă în termeni "pe şleau", ea susţine că în comunism nu ar fi fost chiar aşa de rău cum se spune sau că, în orice caz, mai rău i-ar fi fost unui număr mult mai mic de oameni decît numărul celor cărora le-a fost mai bine: "totalitarismul ne este prezentat de cele mai multe ori după o logică a asediului ca un regim impus prin represiune unei societăţi aflate într-o permanentă, deşi discretă, stare de refuz. Datele disponibile astăzi indică însă că represiunea pare să nu fi jucat rolul politic central care-i este îndeobşte atribuit. Astfel, chiar îndelung discutatul deceniu 1950-1960 nu a fost marcat decît în chip marginal de represiune" (p.192) - şi autorul calculează că "vom putea clasa în categoria celor afectaţi de represiune în diferite grade nu mai mult de 1.500.000 de persoane, sau maximum de 8% din populaţia totală" (p.193), în timp ce, analizînd indicatori economici (p.194) şi sociali (p.196), proporţia celor care ar fi avut de cîştigat de pe urma comunismului ar fi "între 20% şi 70%". Şi, din nou, o concluzie fermă, fie şi arhi-prudentă statistic: "Făcînd de două ori media, s-ar zice că lunga guvernare comunistă a reprimat, exclus şi marginalizat în jur de 6% din populaţia României, dar a adus (...) beneficii materiale şi simbolice pentru cel puţin 45% din populaţie" (p.194)."

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Efectele nocive sociale ale goanei dupa bani

Goana dupa bani si inavutire nu are efecte negative doar asupra celor care se angajeaza pe acest drum, dar si asupra societatii ca intreg. Intr-adevar, inegalitatile sociale, aduse de ambitia unora de a se imbogati, au efecte sociale devastatoare, precum scaderea coeziunii sociale si cresterea ratei omuciderilor.

"Effects of inequality

Social cohesion
Research has shown a clear link between income inequality and social cohesion. In more equal societies, people are much more likely to trust each other, measures of social capital suggest greater community involvement, and homicide rates are consistently lower.
One of the earliest writers to note the link between economic equality and social cohesion was Alexis de Tocqueville in his Democracy in America. Writing in 1831: Among the new objects that attracted my attention during my stay in the United States, none struck me with greater force than the equality of conditions. I easily perceived the enormous influence that this primary fact exercises on the workings of society. It gives a particular direction to the public mind, a particular turn to the laws, new maxims to those who govern, and particular habits to the governed... It creates opinions, gives rise to sentiments, inspires customs, and modifies everything it does not produce... I kept finding that fact before me again and again as a central point to which all of my observations were leading.

In a 2002 paper, Eric Uslaner and Mitchell Brown showed that there is a high correlation between the amount of trust in society and the amount of income equality. They did this by comparing results from the question “would others take advantage of you if they got the chance?” in U.S General Social Survey and others with statistics on income inequality.
Robert Putnam, professor of political science at Harvard, established links between social capital and economic inequality. His most important studies (Putnam, Leonardi, and Nanetti 1993, Putnam 2000) established these links in both the United States and in Italy.
On the relationship of inequality and involvement in community he says: Community and equality are mutually reinforcing… Social capital and economic inequality moved in tandem through most of the twentieth century. In terms of the distribution of wealth and income, America in the 1950s and 1960s was more egalitarian than it had been in more than a century… [T]hose same decades were also the high point of social connectedness and civic engagement. Record highs in equality and social capital coincided. Conversely, the last third of the twentieth century was a time of growing inequality and eroding social capital… The timing of the two trends is striking: somewhere around 1965-70 America reversed course and started becoming both less just economically and less well connected socially and politically. (Putnam 2000 pp 359)

In addition to affecting levels of trust and civic engagement, inequality in society has also shown to be highly correlated with crime rates. Most studies looking into the relationship between crime and inequality have concentrated on homicides - since homicides are almost identically defined across all nations and jurisdictions. There have been over fifty studies showing tendencies for violence to be more common in societies where income differences are larger. Research has been conducted comparing developed countries with undeveloped countries, as well as studying areas within countries.
Daly et al. 2001 found that among U.S States and Canadian Provinces there is a tenfold difference in homicide rates related to inequality. They estimated that about half of all variation in homicide rates can be accounted for by differences in the amount of inequality in each province or state.

Fajnzylber et al. (2002) found a similar relationship worldwide. Among comments in academic literature on the relationship between homicides and inequality are: The most consistent finding in cross-national research on homicides has been that of a positive association between income inequality and homicides. (Neapolitan 1999 pp 260)

Economic inequality is positively and significantly related to rates of homicide despite an extensive list of conceptually relevant controls. The fact that this relationship is found with the most recent data and using a different measure of economic inequality from previous research, suggests that the finding is very robust. (Lee and Bankston 1999 pp 50)."


Un economist de talie mondiala vorbeste despre bani, fericire si egalitarism

Am scris deja aici despre opiniile lui Richard Layard privind relatia dintre bani si fericire. Cum insa o personalitate de talia domniei sale merita o atentie speciala, prezint mai jos un material format exclusiv din interventiile sale.

Cine e Richard Layard? "Peter Richard Grenville Layard known as Richard Layard, (born 15 March 1934), is a British economist. He was founder-director in 1990 of, and is a current programme director at, the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics."

Ce are el de zis referitor la bani, fericire si structura optima sociala?

„Lord (Richard) Layard, the LSE's director of the centre for economic performance, has this week delivered three startling lectures which question the supremacy of economics. It doesn't work. Economies grow, GDP swells, but once above abject poverty, it makes no difference to
citizens' well-being. What is all this extra money for if it is now proved beyond doubt not to deliver greater happiness, nationally or individually? Happiness has not risen in western nations in the last 50 years, despite massive increases in wealth. […]

Optimists - or progressives like Layard, will see in this research a far better road map to happiness, which lies in the common good. Happiness is easier to find in collective things than in the short-lived pleasures of shopping. Here is affirmed what the left always knew."


Si daca o publicatie precum The Guardian nu e credibila pentru voi, hai sa-l ascultam direct pe Layard:

„Over the last 50 years, we in the west have enjoyed unparalleled economic growth. We have better homes, cars, holidays, jobs, education and above all health. According to standard economic theory, this should have made us happier. But surveys show otherwise. When Britons
or Americans are asked how happy they are, they report no improvement over the last 50 years. More people suffer from depression, and crime—another indicator of dissatisfaction—is also much higher.

These facts challenge many of the priorities we have set ourselves both as societies and as individuals. The truth is that we are in a situation previously unknown to man. When most people exist near the breadline, material progress does indeed make them happier. People in
the rich world (above, say, $20,000 a head per year) are happier than people in poorer countries, and people in poor countries do become happier as they become richer. But when material discomfort has been banished, extra income becomes much less important than our
relationships with each other: with family, with friends and in the community. The danger is that we sacrifice relationships too much in pursuit of higher income."

Exact ceea ce spuneam cu alte prilejuri pe acest blog, Layard confirma faptul ca:

1. fericirea nu a crescut in ciuda progresului tehnologic si economic.
2. odata ce treci de linia saraciei lucii (in care de abia iti permiti
sa iei o paine), situatia materiala are prea putin de-a face cu fericirea.
3. relatiile sociale sunt o sursa mult mai importanta decat banii pt.
fericire si nu trebuie sacrificate pt. vanarea de „extra income".

Dar nu cumva Layard este simpatetic si cu egalitarismul? Ba bine ca nu:

Lastly, on income, what does happiness research say about equality? It confirms the oldest and most obvious argument for redistribution – that it takes a pound from someone who values it little and gives it to someone who values it more.
It is therefore a major way of increasing total happiness – and it is more effective the poorer the recipient. So development aid to the Third World (if well spent) comes high on the list of public spending, as does child poverty at home.
But when all is said, a happy life is about a lot more than money can buy and , besides adequate income, happiness research points to six main factors affecting happiness: mental health, satisfying and secure work, a secure and loving private life, a secure community, freedom,
and moral values."\

Ghetoul de lux

Daca aveti impresia ca un produs cu cat e mai scump cu atat e mai bun, gandire ce sa face sa ocoliti din start produsele ieftine, e cazul sa cititi articolul de mai jos.

„Primul cartier rezidenţial de la periferia Capitalei, care încă îi lasă cu gura căscată pe muritorii de rând, se dovedeşte a fi o amară păcăleală pentru cei care au dat sute de mii de euro pentru o casă aproape izolată
„Ghetoul de lux", cum numeşte arhitectul Ştefan Dumitraşcu zona Pipera-Tunari, continuă să se extindă, în ciuda faptului că infrastructura nu face faţă ritmului de construcţie. În plus, la fiecare ploaie, străzile devin nişte uliţe pline de noroi, pivniţele se transformă în bazine cu apă, iar drumul de doar trei kilometri către Bucureşti poate dura şi mai bine de o oră.
Specialiştii în urbanism dau verdictul: ceea ce ar fi trebuit să devină cartierul de lux al bucureştenilor mutaţi în Voluntari s-a transformat într-o zonă unde proprietarul se trezeşte că nu are apă, canalul nu duce niciunde, iar ţeava de gaz e prea mică! Până şi muncitorii care lucrează la vile nu se arată invidioşi. „Pe lângă traficul din Pipera, e parfum ce se întâmplă pe Moşilor sau Ştefan cel Mare în fiecare zi", a spus Mihai, 32 de ani, care lucra la o casă din Pipera.

„Au fugit de dracu’ şi au dat de ta-su"
Bucureştenii care s-au refugiat din oraş în cartierele de la marginea Capitalei „au fugit de dracu’ şi au dat de ta-su", după cum a spus Ion Popp, primul dezvoltator imobiliar din Bucureşti, preşedintele firmei Impact. „Luxul nu e de la gardul meu până la baie, ci şi în afara gardului, unde găsesc mizerie, iar serviciile publice nu sunt de lux", a spus Popp. El consideră că vina pentru structura şubredă a zonei Pipera o poartă autorităţile locale. „Autoritatea locală are o­bligaţia să dezvolte reţeaua de apă, canal şi drumuri de acces şi nu se construieşte într-o zonă care nu este ata­şabilă unei reţele edilitare. În 99% din cazuri nu se întâmplă aşa ceva şi din acest motiv toată ţara este un şantier", a mai explicat preşedintele Impact.
Deşi Popp a adăugat că, într-adevăr, în zona Pipera, ritmul de construcţie a fost mult mai mare decât capacitatea de a investi a autorităţilor locale, el găseşte ca unic perdant în această afacere locuitorul din noile cartiere rezidenţiale. „Pentru că nu toţi developerii au capacitatea să facă aceste investiţii, cetăţeanul se trezeşte că nu are apă, canalul nu duce niciunde, iar ţeava de gaz e prea mică", a mai explicat developerul român.

„Totul e plin de praf"
Pe lângă drumurile prea înguste şi prea puţine pentru a prelua traficul dinspre Voluntari, reţelele edilitare lipsesc, apa nu este potabilă, iar internetul pică la fiecare rafală de vânt. „Nu avem fosă septică, ceea ce este total neigienic, nu avem canalizare, apa o cumpărăm, dar cel mai mare neajuns este faptul că totul e plin de praf pentru că se construieşte foarte mult în zonă. Nici nu pot pune rufele la uscat afară, pentru că se murdăresc. Când ţi-e lumea mai dragă cade şi internetul", a spus Adriana Bahmuţeanu, unul dintre VIP-urile care locuiesc în Pipera. Ea a mai adăugat că traficul infernal se traduce prin „o oră şi jumătate ca să ies de aici", dar şi faptul că deratizarea şi dezinfecţia sunt făcute tot de proprietari. „Este un dezavantaj să locuieşti aici, nu recomand nimănui să se mute aici", s-a mai plâns Adriana Bahmuţeanu.

Speculă pe două planuri
Potrivit arhitectului Ştefan Dumitraşcu, zona Pipera oferă tabloul complet al unui eşec urbanistic. „Este un ghetou de lux, lipsesc aproape în totalitate spaţiile şi facilităţile publice", a spus Dumitraşcu. El a mai precizat că în zonă s-au dezvoltat două tipuri de speculă: cea a terenurilor şi cea imobiliară, casele de sute de mii de euro fiind supraevaluate tocmai din cauza lipsei de utilităţi şi facilităţi.
„S-a mers pe principiul de a investi minim şi a scoate profit maxim. Şi chiar s-a reuşit", a mai spus Dumitraşcu. ”

Articolul e scris de Diana Oprita, a aparut in ziarul Adevarul, nr. 5318, din data de 8 august 2007.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Unde ne-a adus consumerismul...

Less supply, more demand
Lying behind this historic shift in global fortunes is a fundamental reversal in the balance between resource supply and demand. For most of the 20th century, global stockpiles of vital materials like oil, natural gas, coal and basic minerals expanded as giant multinational corporations (MNCs) poured billions of dollars into exploring every corner of the Earth in the drive to locate and exploit valuable deposits of extractible materials. This permitted consumers around the world to increase their consumption of virtually everything, safe in the knowledge that even more of these commodities would be available next year and the year after that, and so on infinitely into the future. But this condition no longer prevails.
Many of the world’s most promising sources of supply have been located and exploited, and all of the additional billions spent by MNCs on exploration and discovery are producing increasingly meager results. Ever since the 1960s, the most fruitful decade in the worldwide discovery of new oilfields, there has been a steady decline in the identification of new deposits, according to a recent study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Even more worrisome, the rate of oil field discovery fell below the rate of global petroleum consumption in the 1980s, and since then has fallen to approximately half the rate of consumption.
This means we are increasingly relying on deposits found in previous decades to slake our insatiable thirst for petroleum — a pattern that cannot continue for much longer before we will begin to experience an irreversible and traumatic decline in the global supply of oil. The same is true of other vital resources, including natural gas, uranium, copper and many minerals. There may be adequate stocks of these materials on global markets today, but the MNCs are not finding enough new deposits of these commodities to replace what we’re consuming. So future shortages are inevitable.
Water is somewhat different, in that we receive a fresh supply of it each year through evaporation from the oceans and precipitation on land — but even this precious resource will become scarcer in the years ahead due to population growth, urbanization, industrialization, the over-exploitation of underground aquifers and global warming (through persistent drought and the accelerated evaporation of rivers and lakes).
This contraction in the global supply of vital resources will affect our lives in myriad ways.
On a personal level, it will force us to consume less — for example, by buying smaller, more fuel-efficient cars and smaller, more energy-efficient homes. We will have to make other accommodations as well: fewer long-distance trips to the seaside or distant amusement parks, fewer long-distance airplane rides, lowered thermostats in winter and so on. These cutbacks will be minor inconveniences for some, but significant hardships for others — especially the poor, the elderly and others on a fixed income. Farmers will have a particularly hard time, as the cost of virtually everything associated with modern, mechanized agriculture — diesel fuel, pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, food supplements — will become far more expensive.”

Consumul in exces a dus, asadar, la limitarea, in anumite cazuri drastica, a unor resurse naturale vitale, iar viitorul ii va forta pe tot mai multi sa adopte un stil de viata din ce in ce mai putin axat pe bunurile materiale si pe consum. Pana aici, sa zicem ca nu ar fi o consecinta chiar dezastruoasa, oamenii vor avea mai multe sanse sa descopere fericirea care nu e legata de acumulare materiala. Chiar daca aceasta „revelatie” se va face cu forta, cu pretul secatuirii planetei si cu pericolul de a ne apropia de situatia in care pana si apa va fi un bun de lux.

Cea mai mare problema insa este perspectiva unor conflicte armate si politice la nivel mondial asupra resurselor care au mai ramas:

Less stuff, more conflict
At the national level, we can expect a significant change in foreign policy. As supplies of energy and other basic necessities become scarce, senior officials will come under enormous pressure to “solve” the problem by any means necessary, including the use of military force. In the case of energy, this could lead to future wars over oil. Even if oil were not the only motive for the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the United States has long sought to maintain a dominant position in the oil-rich Persian Gulf area, and a permanent U.S. military presence in Iraq will facilitate American efforts to seize the oil of Iran and neighboring countries if a decision were ever made to do so.
The Department of Defense is also beefing up its capacity to “project” military power into the oil-producing areas of Africa and the Caspian Sea basin. No one in official circles will admit that “guarding foreign oil fields” is the ultimate objective of Pentagon war plans, but it is becoming increasingly evident that the American military is being reconfigured to accomplish exactly this task.
Nor is the United States alone in thinking along these lines. China also seeks to enhance its capacity to project power into foreign oil-producing areas. And Russia, with a surplus of energy, seeks to exploit its advantageous position in order to extract concessions from less privileged nations.
Future shortages of water are also likely to prove a source of international friction and conflict. Egypt, which relies on the Nile River for virtually all of its water, has threatened to attack Sudan and Ethiopia if they proceed with plans to dam the Nile and divert some of its waters into irrigation schemes desperately needed to feed their rapidly growing populations. Israel has also threatened to go to war with neighboring Arab states if they move ahead with plans to dam the Yarmuk River (one of the tributaries of the Jordan) or otherwise jeopardize Israel’s already over-stretched water supply. Such threats — and possibly actual outbreaks of conflict — are likely to become more common as the demand for water rises and global supplies dwindle.”

Textul citat in ghilimele sa gaseste la adresa http://www.pww.org/article/articleprint/10308/ si este scris de Michael T. Klare, professor of peace and world-security studies at Hampshire College and the author of “Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America’s Growing Dependence on Imported Petroleum.”

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Pierderile celui care munceste mult pentru bani mai multi

"But shouldn't people that work harder get more?
Well, yes in theory but they do not always. People, as they work more and harder hours, sure they get more money. But what they are losing is themselves. This is a theory proposed by Karl Marx in his Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844. Marx states that the more man works for a product or a company, he loses more of himself. He has no time to spend finding himself but yet sacrifices himself to the company for which he works. He becomes like a slave for that company. So if a person works more, they may get more money, but lose all thier own time and sacrifice it to their employer. So if everyone works equal, reasonable amounts as regulated by the government (and I'm getting out of Marx here) then they do not lose themselves to an employer and they get paid proper amounts. Also, many people work more simply to be more recognized by their employer to be preferred over another employee so that one will not get laid off or one will get another position. And sometimes these people do not get pay for their extra hours. So no, people that work harder do not always get more, and that is what one problem with capitalism is."


O prejudecata raspandita este ca socialismul este un sistem politic care ar pune un accent exagerat pe munca. E interesant insa de observat ca atat Marx, cat si sustinatorii sai contemporani au o atitudine echilibrata in aceasta privinta si ca, de fapt, mecanismele capitalismului imping oamenii spre exces de zel (avand in vedere ca in capitalism valoarea unei persoane e data de averea pe care o detine si ca muncitorii sunt obligati sa fie cat mai pe placul sefilor lor, a caror interes e sa micsoreze masa de muncitori, pentru a plati mai putine salari, simultan cu a -i "stoarce" cat mai mult pe muncitorii ramasi). Urmarile acestui exces, din pacate, nu intarzie sa apara, dupa cum bine indica si textul de mai sus.
Adevarat, socialismul se apleaca in mod special asupra "oamenilor muncii", dar aceasta sintagma nu trebuie interpretata ca "oameni obsedati de munca", ea referindu-se pur si simplu la cei care produc.