Hasta la victoria siempre

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Avem egalitarismul in sange

Un studiu realizat de cinci profesori, printre care James Fowler, constituie un argument puternic in favoarea ideii ca egalitarismul tine de natura umana. Cercetatorii au aratat ca in comportamentul uman exista, bine intiparit, asa-numitul „efect Robin Hood”, ce consta in impulsul de a prefera redistribuirea veniturilor intr-un grup, o atitudine negativa fata de cei care castiga mai mult decat media, precum si o atitudine generoasa fata de cei mai saraci.

Robin Hoods: Study Determines We Prefer Distributed Wealth
Laboratory game shows people will give up some of their own wealth to ensure equality within a group


Seems we like to give to the poor, but only slightly more than we like to rob the rich, according to a new study published in Nature.

Researchers at the University of California, Davis, selected and randomly separated 120 students into groups of four. Each subject was arbitrarily assigned a certain amount of money; players knew how much money the others in their group had, but not to whom each amount belonged. Each player had the option of using some of his or her money to purchase the right to have the researchers subtract or award cash to another participant.

Subjects played the "game'' with different people in each of five trials Each time, "players'' adopted an egalitarian attitude when distributing the wealth in what study co-author and University of California, San Diego, political scientist James Fowler calls the "Robin Hood effect."
"People want to give rewards to the lowest [paid] member of the group and take away from the highest [paid] member of the group," he says. "I think that we were surprised by the magnitude of the punishment." Nearly 70 percent of the players reduced someone else's income at least once, and three quarters of them gave up a little to help someone in a weaker position. The behavior was consistent across all five trials, meaning people did not decide later to just look out for themselves.

"These egalitarian impulses that we have are stronger than we previously realized," Fowler says. He notes that in previous studies, in which participants contributed to a shared fund, the ones who gave the least to the community pool were penalized most often. Those studies, however, were not able to determine whether participants were handing out punishments because of resentment over others' wealth or because they felt they were being cheated. In the current study, personal wealth was an isolated variable and cooperation among the group was removed—that is, there was no community pool to contribute to. "What we show is that anger and annoyance towards people who earn more,'' Fowler says, "cause [participants] to punish nearly as much as they do in public goods games."

"The egalitarian impulse is one of the reasons why we exhibit more cooperation than other species," he adds. "[We are] more likely to punish people that don't cooperate, even when it's not in our best interest."

Ernst Fehr, a professor at the Institute for Empirical Research in Economics at the University of Zurich in Switzerland, says the study shows that a combination of altruistic and egalitarian motives prompts us to punish free riders. "The current results," he says, "are also interesting in view of the anthropological evidence from many small-scale societies that indicates food sharing has been widespread, and that these small-scale societies developed a kind of mini–welfare state that redistributes income through food sharing regardless of hunting success." ”

Aceasta prezentare a studiului a aparut in Scientific American:
http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=E1749043-E7F2-99DF-309373C72149C273&chanID=sa007

Studiul original a aparut in revista Nature, Vol. 446, pp. 794-796, 12 aprilie 2007, si poate fi descarcat on-line la:
http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1008029

La aceasta a doua adresa, rezultatele studiului sunt prezentate astfel:

Abstract:
Participants in laboratory games are often willing to alter others' incomes at a cost to themselves and this behaviour has the effect of promoting cooperation. What motivates this action is unclear: punishment and reward aimed at promoting cooperation cannot be distinguished from attempts to produce equality. To understand costly taking and costly giving, we create an experimental game that isolates egalitarian motives. The results show that subjects reduce and augment others' incomes, at a personal cost, even when there is no cooperative behaviour to be reinforced. Furthermore, the size and frequency of income alterations are strongly influenced by inequality. Emotions towards top earners become increasingly negative as inequality increases, and those who express these emotions spend more to reduce above-average earners' incomes and to increase below-average earners' incomes. The results suggest that egalitarian motives affect income altering behaviours, and may thus be an important factor underlying the evolution of strong reciprocity and, hence, cooperation in humans.”

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Pentru cine e bun capitalismul

Goana dupa bani si profit nu numai ca nu sporeste cu nimic fericirea personala, dar are chiar efecte nefaste asupra intregii societati, prin creearea inegalitatilor financiare, de exemplu, de care am vorbit deja aici pe larg. O solutie pentru remedierea acestei stari de fapt este egalitarismul, un sistem politic ce sustine ca fiecare membru al societatii sa aiba un venit asemanator cu al celorlalti. Una din principalele obiectii aduse acestei propuneri este ca, in acest fel, capitalismul si initiativele economice private de succes ar disparea si, odata cu ele, prosperitatea materiala pe care capitalismul ar aduce-o.
In replica, insa, se poate raspunde ca aceasta prosperitate economica din cadrul capitalismului este oricum distribuita in cea mai mare parte catre minoritatea de bogati posesori ai capitalului si ai mijloacelor de productie, nicidecum catre marea masa de oameni ai muncii, de angajati si salariati. Astfel, majoritatea oamenilor nu ar avea nimic de pierdut daca ar renunta la oranduirea sociala a capitalismului imbratisand o societate egalitarista.

Iata doua articole care explica, statistic vorbind, cum liberalismul si capitalismul nu fac decat sa aduca o prosperitate enorma pentru clasa capitalista, cu pretul stagnarii sau chiar diminuarii bunastarii calselor „de jos”:

Economic Inequality in US

(...)
There is no question that the United States is, by far, the wealthiest nation in the world; there seems little doubt that it, with its system of corporate capitalism, has amassed such a sheer abundance of material goods and productive capacity that it can lay claim to being the wealthiest nation in the history of humankind. What Fukuyama, and George Bush, and Bill Clinton before him (though the latter less so) do not pronounce nearly so boldly - they actually do not pronounce it at all - is who owns this wealth. Or, in more traditional economic terminology, they do not dwell on the manner in which this wealth is distributed.
In the United States today, the wealthiest one per cent of the population owns more than the bottom 95 per cent.
The United States has the greatest disparity of wealth in the entire industrialized world. That fact is a national disgrace, though it is largely invisible both in the media, and in the endless accolades about the wonders of capitalism. While America seems to be enjoying a banquet of unbelievable richness, most Americans do not get a full plate, and a remarkable number go hungry.
In the last quarter of a century when the United States moved from global power to global behemoth, a quarter of a century in which American corporations reaped huge profits while spreading their power and influence all over the globe, American workers made no gains. None. The wages of American workers have, since 1978, been flat or declining. (...)”

Articolul este scris de Huck Gutman, profesor la Universitatea din Vermont, USA.
http://www.commondreams.org/views02/0701-05.htm

Wages in America:The Rich Get Richer and the Rest Get Less
(...)

Stagnating Workers' Wages
In 1979 the American worker's average hourly wage was equal to $15.91 (adjusted for inflation in 2001 dollars). By 1989 it had reached only $16.63/hour. That's a gain of only 7 cents a year for the entire Reagan decade.
But wait. Things get worse! By 1995 it had risen to only $16.71, or virtually no gain whatsoever over the 6 years between 1989 and 1995. During the great 'boom years' between 1995 and 2000 it rose briefly to $18.33 per hour. In other words, from 1979 to 2000, even before the most recent Bush recession, after more than two decades the American worker's average wages increased on average only 11.5 cents per hour per year! With nearly all of that coming in the five so-called 'boom' years of 1995-2000, and most of that lost once again in the last three years. And that includes for all workers, even those with college degrees.
The picture is worse for workers who had no college degree. That's more than 100 million workers, or 72.1% of the workforce. For them there was no 'boom of 1995-2000' whatsoever. Their average real hourly wages were less at the end of 2000 than they were in 1979! And since 2000 their wages have continued to slide further.

The Great Productivity Swindle
Management is always quick to say in contract negotiations, 'give us more productivity and we can afford to give you a bigger raise'. But this has been a false promise from 1979 to 2000, and an even bigger lie under George Bush II.
With 1992 as base year, productivity was at 82.2 in 1979. It grew to 94.2 by 1989 and 116.6 by the year 2000. In the past year, moreover, it has exploded, putting it over 120. That's a nearly 40% increase since Ronald Reagan took office nearly 25 years ago!
The 100 million American workers without college degrees, whose real take home pay today is less than it was 25 years ago, certainly can't be said to have shared in that 40% productivity gain. And the other 20 million or so with college degrees whose pay rose modestly at best certainly shared in very little of that nearly 40% productivity gain.
So who got all the money?

CEOs & Executive Compensation
Considering just the period from 1989 to the present yields an obscene result. The median executive salary (cash pay and bonuses) of American CEOs rose by 79% from 1989 to 2000, and has continued to accelerate right through the current Bush II recession! And that's only the median. The average CEO cash and direct compensation growth is even higher than 79%.
But wait! That's only CEO wage or 'cash' compensation. How about management incentives, stock options exercised, the value of new stock grants, special supplemental pensions, etc. etc. The growth of this 'direct compensation' of CEOs from 1989 to 2000 was no less than 342%!. 212% of that growth occurred in the 'boom years' of the late 1990s.
Put in real money terms, the median pay for an American CEO was $2,436,000 in 1989 and $10,775,000 by 2000.
The growth in CEO compensation has been unstoppable, and is accelerating faster every year. In 1965, CEO pay was 26 times that of their average worker. In 1980, as noted, 40 times. In 1989, it was 72 times. In 1999 it had risen to 310 times, and today, as per the above data from the accounting firm, Towers Perrin, survey it has reached 500 times. (...)”

Fragmentele fac parte dintr-un articol semnat de Jack Rasmus, doctor in economie politica.
http://www.kyklosproductions.com/articles/wages.html

Asadar, in ciuda unei cresteri importante a productivitatii, muncitorii din „capitala capitalului”, America, castiga la fel ca acum 30 de ani, in schimb veniturile celor din varful corporatiilor au crescut cu 79%! Intr-adevar, capitalismul, sistemul cladit pe lacomie si egoism, individualism si elitism, nu este o varianta viabila pentru marea masa de muncitori. Asadar, spre egalitarism!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Capitalismul e pentru psihopati

Dr. Susan Rosenthal are peste 30 de ani de practica in domeniul medical. Luandu-i in considerare experienta in a pune diagnostice, e interesant si, totodata, sugestiv faptul ca domnia sa ii caracterizeaza pe capitalisti ca fiind psihopati. Conform Dr. Rosenthal, capitalismul, in goana sa dupa profit si dupa depasirea concurentei, incurajeaza un coportament anti-social pana la limitele patologiei.

"Cultivation of the psychopath

If one were to design a human being that was perfectly suited to the capitalist system, that person would be a psychopath — someone who is disconnected from emotions, having no empathy and no compassion.
The American Psychiatric Association defines a psychopath as someone who exhibits “a pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others” as indicated by three or more of the following:
• failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest.
• deceitfulness, as indicated by repeated lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure.
• impulsivity or failure to plan ahead
• irritability and aggressiveness as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults.
• reckless disregard for safety of self or others.
• consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations.
• Lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another.

The documentary film, The Corporation, explains how this definition applies to corporations. Lying, cheating, stealing, hurting people, having a short-term outlook, aggressive behavior, and lack of remorse are standard business practices, making the psychopath the ideal corporate executive. [...]

The capitalist can maximize profit only by putting business interests ahead of human needs. To make it in business, all capitalists must behave as if they are psychopaths, whether they are or not."

Pentru a-si sustine punctul de vedere, Dr. Rosenthal da mai multe exemple, printre care cel al faimosului Harry Ford:

"Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Corporation, built an automotive empire by sacrificing human lives. He once stated, “I am not in the business of making cars. I am in the business of making profit.” This stance required Ford executives to function like psychopaths. Let’s say you had a choice between manufacturing a dangerous vehicle or a safe one. What if the dangerous vehicle was more profitable, even after you included the cost of killing and injuring a certain number of people and generating a predictable number of lawsuits?

In the late 1960’s, the Ford motor Company launched the Pinto, knowing that a rear-end collision of more than 30-miles-an-hour would jam its doors and cause a fuel-tank explosion that would incinerate the occupants trapped inside. When asked about the Pinto’s exploding gas tank, a Ford engineer admitted:
That’s all true [that the car tends to explode in minor accidents]. But you miss the point entirely. You see, safety isn’t the issue, trunk space is. You have no idea how stiff the competition is over trunk space.
Do you realize that if we put a Capri-type tank in the Pinto you could only get one set of golf clubs in the trunk?

Ford developed a six-dollar modification to the Pinto that would prevent the gas tank from exploding.
The company then did a cost/benefit analysis, based on how many people might die from exploding gas tanks and how much money Ford would have to pay for each death (about $200,000 per person). This sum turned out to be less than the cost of modifying the fuel tanks of all Pintos, so Ford chose not to apply the modification. How many people died as a result? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began investigating automobile fires shortly after the Pinto began rolling off the assembly line. Every year, 400,000 cars were catching fire and burning more than 3,000 people to death. Even though Ford made only 24 per cent of the vehicles on American roads, its cars accounted for 42 percent of collision-ruptured fuel tanks.
It took ten years for the Department of Transportation to declare that the Pinto had a “safety-related defect.”
One and a half million vehicles were recalled, and the Ford motor Company was charged with reckless homicide. However, the judge acquitted Ford on the basis that it could not be convicted for doing what it was designed to do — make a profit."

Asadar, capitalismul nu doar ca incurajeaza un comportament bolnav si nociv socialimente, dar este responsabil si pentru un numar impresionant de decese.

Acest text, al Dr. Rosenthal, se gaseste in cartea sa "Power and Powerlesness", ce poate fi citita integral la adresa:
http://powerandpowerlessness.com/powerandpowerlessness.pdf

In mod cert, noi interventii pe acest blog se vor baza pe textele excelente semnate de Susan Rosenthal.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Prosperitatea nefericirii

Multi adepti ai capitalismului folosesc ca argument in favoarea lor faptul ca acest sistem politico-economic duce la o libertate sporita pentru consumator. In speta, ei fac referire la multitudinea de produse care se gasesc pe piata: zeci si sute de tipuri de suc de portocale, zeci si sute de tipuri de monitoare, zeci si sute de oferte dintre cele mai diverse. Astfel, continua ei, spre diferenta de societatea comunista romaneasca, de ex., in care se gaseau maxim cateva sortimente pentru fiecare produs, captalismul este superior deoarece ne da posibilitatea de a alege dupa pofta inimii.

Argumentul este convingator doar la o prima vedere, deoarece studii recente, efectuate de, printre altii, psihologul american Barry Schwartz, autorul lucrarii „Why More is Less”, http://www.amazon.com/Paradox-Choice-Why-More-Less/dp/0060005688 , dovedesc ca cei preocupati de a face cea mai buna alegere, atunci cand au o multitudine de produse din care pot alege, sunt vadit mai putin satisfacuti decat cei carora abundenta de bunuri le este in mare parte indiferenta.

Schwartz explica aceasta teorie, denumita „paradoxul alegerii” in articolul „The Tyranny of Choice”. Incepe prin a arata ca, in ciuda progreselor materiale inregistrate de societatea capitalista, fericirea nu doar ca nu a crescut, dar chiar a scazut simtitor in privinte importante.

„(...) increased choice and increased affluence have, in fact, been accompanied by decreased well-being in the U.S. and most other affluent societies. As the gross domestic product more than doubled in the past 30 years, the proportion of the population describing itself as “very happy” declined by about 5 percent, or by some 14 million people. In addition, more of us than
ever are clinically depressed. Of course, no one believes that a single factor explains decreased well-being, but a number of findings indicate that the explosion of choice plays an important role.
Thus, it seems that as society grows wealthier and people become freer to do whatever they want, they get less happy.
In an era of ever greater personal autonomy, choice and control, what could account for this degree of misery?”

Ce?, intr-adevar. Unul din raspunsuri e urmatorul: oamenii care iau in serios abundenta de produse de pe piata in sensul de a dori sa faca cea mai buna alegere, sufera cel mai mult, deoarece:

„People who score highest on the test—the greatest maximizers—engage in more product comparisons than the lowest scorers, both before and after they make purchasing decisions, and they take longer to decide what to buy. When satisficers find an item that meets their standards, they stop looking. But maximizers exert enormous effort reading labels, checking out consumer
magazines and trying new products. They also spend more time comparing their purchasing decisions with those of others.

Naturally, no one can check out every option, but maximizers strive toward that goal, and so making a decision becomes increasingly daunting as the number of choices rises. Worse, after making a selection, they are nagged by the alternatives they have not had time to investigate. In the end, they are more likely to make better objective choices than satisficers but get less satisfaction from them. When reality requires maximizers to compromise—to end a search and decide on something—apprehension about what might have been takes over.

We found as well that the greatest maximizers are the least happy with the fruits of their efforts. When they compare themselves with others, they get little pleasure from finding out that they did better and substantial dissatisfaction from finding out that they did worse. They are more prone to experiencing regret after a purchase, and if their acquisition disappoints them, their
sense of well-being takes longer to recover. They also tend to brood or ruminate more than satisficers do.

Does it follow that maximizers are less happy in general than satisficers? We tested this by having people fill out a variety of questionnaires known to be reliable indicators of well-being. As
might be expected, individuals with high maximization scores experienced less satisfaction with life and were less happy, less optimistic and more depressed than people with low maximization
scores. Indeed, those with extreme maximization ratings had depression scores that placed them in the borderline clinical range.”

Articolul poate fi citit in totalitate la adresa:
http://www.swarthmore.edu/SocSci/bschwar1/Sci.Amer.pdf

Iata, asadar, inca o dovada ca societatile materialiste, axate pe producerea in abundenta de produse, nu sunt capabile sa asigure fericirea oamenilor, ba chiar din contra.

Asadar, limitarea tipurilor de sortimente de pe piata nu doar ca inseamna mai putina munca si mai mult timp liber pentru fiecare, dar este in sine un izvor de multumire si satisfactie.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Capitalismul la lucru

Capitalismul este un sistem politic ce are la baza lacomia umana, exacerbata, si care de cele mai multe ori duce in practica la inegalitati sociale monstruoase, dupa principiul "saracii tot mai saraci, bogatii tot mai bogati". Cateva exemple in acest sens ni se dau in articolul de mai jos, din care observam ca expresia "exploatarea omului de catre om" nu numai ca nu e o vorba goala, dar chiar e de mare actualitate.

"Haine de lux confectionate de muritori de foame

Marile companii de moda din Marea Britanie isi platesc lucratorii din tarile sarace atit de prost incit nu le asigura nici macar supravietuirea.

Marile companii de design vestimentar din Regatul Unit le ofera angajatilor din tarile sarace salarii atit de mici incit nu le asigura nici macar supravietuirea. Asta reiese dintr-un raport publicat ieri de organizatia umanitara War on Want si preluat de cotidianul “The Guardian”. Potrivit documentului, cei mai “zgirciti” angajatori celebri sint grupurile Matalan si Mothercare. Acestia isi platesc lucratorii din Bangalore cu 13 penny pe ora. O suma derizorie cu care muncitorii nu reusesc nici macar sa supravietuiasca si sint obligati sa apeleze la ajutoarele umanitare oferite de guvern. In plus, angajatii sint supusi unui program de munca extenuant - 48 de ore de lucru pe saptamina.

Nici alte firme celebre de moda nu sint mai darnice cu angajatii din Lumea a Treia. Potrivit raportului War on Want, salariile oferite de Primark, H&M, Gap si Marks&Spencer sint “dezamagitoare”. La fel sint lefurile celor care lucreaza pentru grupul Arcadia (care detine brandurile Topshop, Topman, Dorothy Perkins, Evans, Miss Selfridge si Wallis).
In medie, echipele de confectioneri din Bangladesh cistiga 7% din venitul unui angajat britanic. Lucratorii din India obtin 11 procente din cistigul englezilor, iar cei din China si Vietnam, 14 la suta.

Raportul organizatiei War on Want este intitulat sugestiv “Sa curatam industria designului”. El a fost lansat vineri, cu citeva zile inainte de inceperea saptaminii de moda de la Londra. Documentul subliniaza discrepantele imense dintre sumele exorbitante de bani oferite unor designeri celebri si salariile mizere pe care le incaseaza muncitorii din fabricile de confectii. “Acest raport scoate in evidenta retorica goala a marilor companii vestimentare care vorbesc despre imbunatatirea tratamentului pentru muncitori, in vreme ce angajatii lor ramin captivi intr-o saracie lucie”, a declarat Simon McRae, unul dintre liderii organizatiei War on Want."

Articolul, scris de Irina Moldovan pentru Cotidianul, editia din 15 septembrie, poate fi citit in intregime aici:
http://www.cotidianul.ro/index.php?id=13990&art=35682&cHash=0193558c41

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Sanatate + Ecologie = Anticonsumerism

"Traieste sanatos ca sa protejezi planeta

Folositi bicicleta in locul masinii si consumati produse autohtone.

Daca locuiti la numai doi kilometri de serviciu, incercati sa va treziti mai devreme, ca sa puteti merge fie pe jos, fie pe bicicleta la serviciu. In cazul in care sunteti prea departe de birou, folositi metroul, autobuzul ori tramvaiul, astfel incat sa va mai puteti deplasa si pe jos. Veti proteja mediul, veti economisi bani si veti avea nevoie de mai putine sedinte la fitness. La orele de varf, emisiile de dioxid de carbon sunt exagerate. Pe o distanta de un kilometru, metroul emite 65 de grame de dioxid de carbon, autobuzul 66 de grame, iar bicicleta zero.
Nu are rost sa va enervati in trafic, sa cheltuiti bani pe parcari, sa suportati blocaje si eventuale amenzi. „Mersul pe jos sau pe bicicleta va ajuta sa va mentineti greutatea, mobilitatea articulatiilor si forta”, explica medicul de familie Remus Lupu.

Duceti copilul la scoala pe jos
Veti face impreuna miscare si il veti invata pe cel mic sa fie activ, ceea ce inseamna ca va deveni un adult sanatos. Deoarece va trebui sa va treziti cu 20 de minute mai devreme, este indicat sa pregatiti copilul pentru scoala de seara si tot atunci sa-i faceti si sandviciurile. Daca va plictiseste mersul pe jos, incercati sa-l faceti atractiv. Luati cu voi iPod-ul si ascultati muzica.
„Miscarea imbunatateste circulatia, mentine tensiunea in limite normale si previne pierderea calciului din oase”, subliniaza medicul de familie Remus Lupu beneficiile mersului pe jos.

Mancarea gatita, mai buna decat cea semipreparata
De preferat este mancarea gatita in casa pentru ca nu trebuie ambalata si cea cumparata din zona in care traiti pentru ca nu trebuie transportata pe distante mari. Ganditi-va cate mile se strabat si ce impact are transportul diferitelor alimente asupra atmosferei! In plus, imaginati-va ce energie se consuma ca urmare a procesarii alimentelor, ambalarii, depozitarii si refrigerarii lor. Asadar, sfatul specialistilor este sa cumparati produse autohtone, indiferent ca este vorba despre legume, fructe, carne de pui, porc ori vita. „Produsele aduse din strainatate nu ar rezista transporturilor lungi daca nu ar contine amidon, aditivi, conservanti si nu ar fi tratate cu hormoni”, spune specialistul in alimentatie Gheorghe Mencinicopschi de la Institutul de Cercetari Alimentare din Bucuresti.
Potrivit profesorului Mencinicopschi exista o teorie care subliniaza ca organismul reactioneaza cel mai bine la produsele din zona in care o anumita persoana s-a nascut. „Marul romanesc este bun pentru romani, dar nu si pentru brazilieni”, exemplifica el. Un alt sfat ca sa nu risipiti resurse este sa nu cumparati mai mult decat puteti consuma si sa va orientati catre magazinele situate cat mai aproape de casa.

Comenzile on-line va scapa de oboseala
Daca aveti de ales intre a calatori cu avionul si a calatori cu trenul, este bine sa stiti ca acesta din urma polueaza mai putin mediul. In cazul in care va place sa va faceti cumparaturile in alte capitale europene decat in cea in care locuiti, luati in considerare faptul ca anumite produse le puteti comanda si on-line. Veti scapa de controalele de securitate, de oboseala, veti economisi bani si veti proteja mediul.

Antipoluare
Mediul sanatos previne cancerul si alergiile

Este de preferat sa aveti o casa cu geamuri mari, care sa va poata furniza cat mai multa lumina naturala. Alte sfaturi: nu uitati luminile aprinse, folositi becuri economice, aplice sau veioze! Daca mediul va fi sanatos, sansele de a combate „bolile poluarii” vor fi mai mari. Medicii din toata lumea au tras deja un semnal de alarma, dupa ce studiile au dovedit ca astmul, alergiile ori cancerul sunt influentate de nivelul poluarii."

Articol scris de Mihaela Naftanaila pentru numar din 14 septembrie 2007 al cotidianului Evenimentul Zilei.
http://www.evz.ro/article.php?artid=322497

Fetisul consumerismului

Clive Hamilton este Executive Director and public face of The Australia Institute, a left leaning Australian think tank. He has a BA in Pure Mathematics from the Australian National University, a BEc (First Class Honours) in Economics from the University of Sydney and a PhD in economics from the University of Sussex.

Pe saitul sau, http://www.growthfetish.com/ , Hamilton evidentiaza grava problema care macina societatea de azi, boala consumerismului.

"Our houses are bigger than ever, but our families are smaller. Our kids go to the best schools we can afford, but we hardly see them. We've got more money to spend, yet we're further in debt than ever before. What is going on?
The Western world is in the grip of a consumption binge that is unique in human history. We aspire to the lifestyles of the rich and famous at the cost of family, friends and personal fulfilment. Rates of stress, depression and obesity are up as we wrestle with the emptiness and endless disappointments of the consumer life.
Affluenza pulls no punches, claiming our whole society is addicted to overconsumption. It tracks how much Australians overwork, the growing mountains of stuff we throw out, the drugs we take to ‘self-medicate' and the real meaning of ‘choice'. Fortunately there is a cure. More and more Australians are deciding to ignore the advertisers, reduce their consumer spending and recapture their time for the things that really matter."


Deosebit de interesanta este paralela pe care Hamilton o face intre consumerism si superstitiile unor popoare subdezvoltate. Autorul ajunge sa asemuiasca obsesia consumerismului cu un fetis, o credinta irationala in puterile magice avute, in mintea adeptilor acestei noi religii, de bani si obiecte.

"In the 1930s and 1940s Papua New Guinea witnessed a proliferation of religious movements predicting an imminent new age of plenty. The people believed that the new age would be initiated by the arrival of ‘cargo’ sent by supernatural beings—a belief that grew from observing planes and ships that arrived from nowhere and brought cargo to colonial officials. Sometimes
members of cargo cults built symbolic landing strips and warehouses, in preparation for the arrival of cargo, and abandoned traditional sources of sustenance as a mundane distraction.


Westerners might mock cargo cults as primitive superstition, but there are strong parallels with the modern growth fetish. Cargo cults and the growth fetish both invest magical powers in the properties of material goods, possession of which is believed to provide for a paradise on earth. This state can be attained through more cargo or more money; each has prophets whose role is to persuade ordinary people to keep the faith, to believe that more cargo or more money will arrive and will take believers to a plane of ecstasy. While the colonialists who ruled over the cult members were defined by their possession of large amounts of cargo, those who rule over people in the grip of the growth fetish are defined by their ownership of large amounts of money, and in both groups there is a widespread belief that anyone can join the elite by acquiring similar magnitudes of cargo or money."

Asadar, oamenii preocupati de achizitionarea continua de bunuri materiale si de a castiga sume mari de bani nu doar ca au probleme mentale, precum lipsa de incredere in sine, de care vorbea, printre altii, Tim Kasser, dar se pare ca sunt stapaniti si de superstitii, dintre cele mai grobiene.

Va invit sa citi mai multe despre parerea economistului Clive Hamilton despre capitalism, consumerism si alte nenorociri la adresele de mai jos, unde puteti gasi cateva capitole din doua din cartile sale, "Growth Fetish" si "Affluenza":

http://www.growthfetish.com/download.htm

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Sa desfiintam parcarile

Viena este un oras care a rezolvat problema traficului si a redus considerabil poluarea. Cum a reusit? Desfiintand parcarile si fortandu-i pe oameni sa renunte la masinile personale in avantajul transportului in comun.
Este o solutie excelenta nu doar pentru prezervarea sanatatii oamenilor, eficientizarii circulatiei si pastrarea aspectului orasului, dar este totodata si o lovitura data consumerismului, caci oamenii sunt descurajati sa-si mai achizitioneze automobile.

Soluţia: desfiinţarea parcărilor

Totul a pornit de la preocuparea autorităţilor locale vieneze faţă de numărul din ce în ce mai mare de locuitori care părăseau oraşul din cauza poluării şi a traficului. "Mulţi plecau în afara Vienei şi riscam să devenim un oraş american, unde centrul este ocupat de sediul firmelor.
În plus, pierdeam foarte mult la bugetul local", spune inginer Rudolf Salomon, de la Serviciului Public de Transport din cadrul Primăriei Viena. El adaugă că imediat s-a hotărât restrângerea spaţiului pentru parcări, în niciun caz crearea unor noi locuri de parcare, pentru că "cu cât faci mai multe parcări, cu atât atragi mai multe autoturisme şi aglomerezi zona". (...)

Oamenii îşi procură tichetele de parcare de la aparatele instalate pe stradă, le completează cu data la care a început staţionarea şi, dacă au depăşit perioada legală de parcare, plătesc o amendă de 24 de euro. "Aproape nimeni nu şi-a permis să încalce această regulă, pentru că nu-ţi poţi permite să dai la fiecare o oră şi jumătate atâţia bani", completează Susanne Debelak, de la Primăria Viena. De la acest punct, oficialii din administraţia locală austriacă au început să-i motiveze pe vienezi să renunţe la autoturismele personale şi să circule cu transportul în comun sau cu bicicleta.
Au reuşit, pentru că în orice tramvai, autobuz sau metrou te-ai urca, vezi oameni înstăriţi, îmbrăcaţi la costum, care merg la servi­ciu confortabil, lăsându-şi maşina acasă. Un alt scenariu greu de imaginat în Bucureşti, pentru că la noi problema o constituie companionii din transportul public, deseori hoţi de buzunare, care îţi fac drumul un calvar.”

Fragmentele sunt culese dintr-un articol aparut in Adevarul, la 11.09.2007, semnat de Miruna Olteanu.
http://www.adevarul.ro/index.php?section=articole&screen=index&id=325463&search=trafic+rutier+ca+la+viena

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Munca, printre cele mai neplacute activitati zilnice

S-a demonstrat stiintific ca munca este una dintre cele mai putin satisfacatoare activitati zilnice. Dovada sta studiul intitulat "A Survey Method for Characterizing Daily Life Experience: The Day Reconstruction Method", aparut in decembrie 2004 in prestigioasa publicatie Science, realizat de o echipa formata din 5 cercetatori de talie mondiala, condusa de Daniel Kahneman, castigator al premiului Nobel pentru economie si specialist in psihologie hedonista, profesor la Princeton University.

Acolo se arata ca dintr-o lista de 16 activitati zilnice, munca ocupa locul 15 din punct de vedere al satisfactiei pe care o da. Ea este surclasata, in ordine, de sex, socializare, relaxare, meditatie, mancat, sport, privit la TV, cumparaturi, gatit, vorbit la telefon, dormit, ingrijirea copiilor, internet si treburi casnice. Singurele activitati care sunt, cu putin, mai neplacute decat munca sunt a fi singur si a petrece timp in compania sefului. Studiul poate fi gasit la adresa:
http://sitemaker.umich.edu/norbert.schwarz/day_reconstruction_method

Cateva reactii in presa, apartinand atat autorilor studiului, cat si jurnalistilor:

"Professor Norbert Schwarz, a University of Michigan psychologist and co-author of a study published in the journal Science, explained [...] “If you want to improve your wellbeing, make sure that you allocate your time wisely. Thinking about one’s time allocations may be the most effective way to improve one’s life. We find, for example, that commuting is a very negative experience that takes up considerable time every day. Income, however, has relatively little influence on daily feelings. You may be better off arranging for more sleep than working for a pay rise,” Schwarz said."

http://sitemaker.umich.edu/norbert.schwarz/files/drm_sunday-times_5dec04.pdf

"What happens when high-income earners aren't contemplating their position in the financial pecking order? Consider a June 30 article in Science magazine by Daniel Kahneman, Alan Krueger, Norbert Schwarz, Arthur Stone and Prof. Schkade.

The five professors analyzed data for 374 workers who were asked every 25 minutes during the workday about the intensity of various feelings. Those with higher incomes didn't report being any happier, but they were more likely to say they were anxious or angry.
The five professors also studied government data detailing how folks divvy up their waking hours. They found that people with higher incomes tend to spend more time working, commuting and engaging in obligatory nonwork activities, such as maintaining their homes. All of these are associated with lower happiness. "People who are richer aren't having a better time," Prof. Schkade concludes. "But if you ask them about their lives, they report being a little more satisfied" than those who are less affluent.

This raises the question: If more money won't make us much happier, what will? [...] Choose time over money. Cutting back the hours you work will likely leave you happier, even if it means less pay. What about the fall in your standard of living? It may hurt less than you imagine. True, you are thrilled when you buy a new car. Soon enough, however, the good feelings fade and you're taking the new car for granted. Academics call this "hedonic adaptation.""

http://sitemaker.umich.edu/norbert.schwarz/files/drm06_wsj_money_and_happiness.pdf

Evitati telefoanele mobile

Noua tehnologie a aparaturii electronice fara fir, din care fac parte numeroase gadgeturi scumpe, se dovedeste a fi periculoasa pentru sanatate iar oamenii politici responsabili incet sa ia masuri.

"Evitaţi folosirea telefoanelor mobile!

Un specialist în computere se uită cu interes la un adaptor USB fără fir, fără să ştie riscurile medicale pe care le implică folosirea lui
Programul de protecţie a cetăţenilor faţă de efectele negative ale radiaţiilor electromagnetice, iniţiat de guvernul german, la iniţiativa ministrului mediului, Sigmar Gabriel, prevede o serie de măsuri guvernamentale privind impunerea unor măsuri de protecţie la nivelul fabricanţilor de tehnologie Wi-Fi, precum şi recomandări făcute explicit populaţiei.
Cel mai aspru discurs rostit vreodată de un oficial împotriva dezvoltării tehnologiilor Wi-Fi (fără fir) a fost rostit de ministrul german al mediului, remarca, ieri, cotidianul britanic "The Independent", anticipând că recomandările fără echivoc făcute populaţiei germane vor provoca un veritabil "cutremur" şi în celelalte ministere de profil din Europa.

Legăturile prin fir sunt mai sănătoase
"Cetăţenii trebuie să evite produsele tehnologiilor Wi-Fi", se spune limpede în comunicatul Ministerului Mediului german, aprobat de guvernul cancelarului Angela Merkel. "Ori de câte ori este posibil, utilizatorii de telefoane mobile trebuie să prefere telefonia fixă şi să vorbească la mobil cât mai puţin timp şi numai dacă este strict necesar", mai spune raportul privind protecţia cetăţenilor împotriva radiaţiilor electromagnetice.
Guvernul de la Berlin avertizează că noile telefoane fără fir, folosite în multe apartamente în mod nejustificat, aparatura fără fir a computerelor sau micile dispozitive de supraveghere sonoră a bebeluşilor creează un adevărat "electrosmog", în care trăim şi ne îmbolnăvim fără să ne dăm seama de ce. Recomandările propun revenirea "de urgenţă" la tehnologiile convenţionale, prin fir, pentru a evita dezvoltarea unor grave maladii la copii şi adolescenţi.

Ecologiştii au somat guvernul
Reacţia Ministerului Mediului de la Berlin vine după ce membrii Partidului Ecologist au somat guvernul să îşi exprime o poziţie clară în legătură cu acest subiect, pe care majoritatea guvernelor îl evită. Ecologiştii au cerut explicit să se explice populaţiei care sunt riscurile folosirii excesive a telefoanelor mobile şi a altor aparate fără fir, pentru ca fiecare individ să fie corect informat şi să-şi poată lua măsuri de siguranţă.
De asemenea, ecologiştii au cerut interzicerea telefoanelor mobile în mijloacele de transport aglomerate, unde se ajunge adeseori la situaţia în care un călător vorbeşte la telefonul mobil chiar lângă capul altor călători. "The Independent" lau­dă iniţiativa germană şi aminteşte guvernului de la Londra că nu a acordat sprijinul necesar unui britanic care a făcut avertizări similare.
Este vorba de Sir William Stewart, de la Oficiul pentru Protecţia Consumatorilor, care a conceput până acum două rapoarte în care a explicat limpede pericolele pe care le prezintă folosirea telefoniei mobile şi a recomandat evitarea tehnologiei Wi-Fi în şcoli. În Germania, demersul ministrului Sigmar Gabriel este susţinut de Oficiul Federal al Protecţiei împotriva Radiaţiilor, care a dat publicităţii studii ce dovedesc că recomandările guvernului sunt întemeiate."

Articol aparut in ziarul Adevarul, din ziua de 10.09.2007 si scris de Sabina Tudor.
http://www.adevarul.ro/articole/evitati-folosirea-telefoanelor-mobile/325343

Socialism si democratie

In textul de mai jos se explica, oferindu-se argumente asemanatoare cu cele ale lui Chomsky, de ce democratia este esentiala socialismului si de ce regimurile auto-intitulate socialiste de pana acum nu au avut succes de durata. Mai mult, faptul ca in capitalism se permite existenta unor indivizi extrem de bogati, inseamna ca oranduirea capitalista e anti-democratica, deoarece acesti oameni obscen de bogati si puternici sunt cei care fac jocurile, inclusiv in politica, si nu omul obisnuit.

"How can democracy and Socialism exist at the same time?

First of all, the idea that Marxism and democracy are opposites is false. The fact is that under capitalism (which is usually referred to as "democracy") there is no real democracy. Yes, you can vote every few years in the presidential and congressional elections. But look at who stands in those elections. Only those who have enough money to do so. Who finances their campaigns? The big corporations. So you do not have a REAL choice. In practice, there is democracy only for the rich and powerful - bourgeois democracy.
More important than that, the government which is elected does not really have much choice of what policies to follow. When the 3 richest people in the US have a combined wealth equal to more than 115 million ordinary Americans, they are the ones who really run the country. [...]

Under socialism on the other hand, the economic resources of the country and world would not be in private hands, but in the hands of the majority of the population who would run and control them democratically. This would be a REAL democracy where the people would have real control over their lives. They would be able to democratically elect their representatives in government, and at the same time these representatives would have real power over the economy, to really change things. These officials would be subject to immediate recall if they did not satisfactorily do the jobs they were elected for. The people would then elect someone else who they thought would do things better. Also, these elected officials would not earn any more than a skilled worker. [...]

A further complication to this issue is that people generally identify Marxism with the regime which existed in the Soviet Union. As you can see there was no democracy of any kind there. We say that that was NOT socialism. It was Stalinism, that is, a regime where the economy was in the hands of the state, but the citizens had no way of participating in running it. The bureaucratic caste took control over the state apparatus, and used it in their own interests. This had nothing to do with socialism and in fact, in order to come to power Stalin had first to kill hundreds of thousands of socialist and communist militants, including most of the members of the central committee of the Bolshevik Party who organized the Russian Revolution in 1917. But the bottom line is that genuine socialism and genuine Marxism are based on the ultimate democracy - workers' democracy - democracy by and for the vast majority of people. As Leon Trotsky said, "socialism needs democracy like the human body needs oxygen." "
http://www.newyouth.com/archives/theory/faq/democracy_and_socialism.asp

Saturday, September 8, 2007

In URSS nu a fost socialism

Multi oameni confunda fostul regim dictatorial din fosta Uniune Sovietica cu socialismul, cu marxismul. Ei nu pricep ca marxismul inseamna democratica "dictatura a proletariatului", pe cand regimul din fosta URSS a insemnat dictatura unei minoritati birocratice, care nu a facut decat sa ia locul fostei burghezii exploatatoare. Echivalarea fostelor regimuri totalitatre cu marxismul nu e decat o minciuna, de care capitalistii se folosesc pentru a-i convinge pe oameni cat de rau este socialismul si cat de necesar e capitalismul.

Noam Chomsky, faimosul ganditor, explica:

"The Soviet Union Versus Socialism

When the world's two great propaganda systems agree on some doctrine, it requires some intellectual effort to escape its shackles. One such doctrine is that the society created by Lenin and Trotsky and molded further by Stalin and his successors has some relation to socialism in some meaningful or historically accurate sense of this concept. In fact, if there is a relation, it is the relation of contradiction.
It is clear enough why both major propaganda systems insist upon this fantasy. Since its origins, the Soviet State has attempted to harness the energies of its own population and oppressed people elsewhere in the service of the men who took advantage of the popular ferment in Russia in 1917 to seize State power. One major ideological weapon employed to this end has been the claim that the State managers are leading their own society and the world towards the socialist ideal; an impossibility, as any socialist -- surely any serious Marxist -- should have understood at once (many did), and a lie of mammoth proportions as history has revealed since the earliest days of the Bolshevik regime. The taskmasters have attempted to gain legitimacy and support by exploiting the aura of socialist ideals and the respect that is rightly accorded them, to conceal their own ritual practice as they destroyed every vestige of socialism.

As for the world's second major propaganda system, association of socialism with the Soviet Union and its clients serves as a powerful ideological weapon to enforce conformity and obedience to the State capitalist institutions, to ensure that the necessity to rent oneself to the owners and managers of these institutions will be regarded as virtually a natural law, the only alternative to the 'socialist' dungeon.
The Soviet leadership thus portrays itself as socialist to protect its right to wield the club, and Western ideologists adopt the same pretense in order to forestall the threat of a more free and just society. This joint attack on socialism has been highly effective in undermining it in the modern period.

One may take note of another device used effectively by State capitalist ideologists in their service to existing power and privilege. The ritual denunciation of the so-called 'socialist' States is replete with distortions and often outright lies. Nothing is easier than to denounce the official enemy and to attribute to it any crime: there is no need to be burdened by the demands of evidence or logic as one marches in the parade. Critics of Western violence and atrocities often try to set the record straight, recognizing the criminal atrocities and repression that exist while exposing the tales that are concocted in the service of Western violence. With predictable regularity, these steps are at once interpreted as apologetics for the empire of evil and its minions. Thus the crucial Right to Lie in the Service of the State is preserved, and the critique of State violence and atrocities is undermined.

It is also worth noting the great appeal of Leninist doctrine to the modern intelligentsia in periods of conflict and upheaval. This doctrine affords the 'radical intellectuals' the right to hold State power and to impose the harsh rule of the 'Red Bureaucracy,' the 'new class,' in the terms of Bakunin's prescient analysis a century ago. As in the Bonapartist State denounced by Marx, they become the 'State priests,' and "parasitical excrescence upon civil society" that rules it with an iron hand.
In periods when there is little challenge to State capitalist institutions, the same fundamental commitments lead the 'new class' to serve as State managers and ideologists, "beating the people with the people's stick," in Bakunin's words. It is small wonder that intellectuals find the transition from 'revolutionary Communism' to 'celebration of the West' such an easy one, replaying a script that has evolved from tragedy to farce over the past half century. In essence, all that has changed is the assessment of where power lies. Lenin's dictum that "socialism is nothing but state capitalist monopoly made to benefit the whole people," who must of course trust the benevolence of their leaders, expresses the perversion of 'socialism' to the needs of the State priests, and allows us to comprehend the rapid transition between positions that superficially seem diametric opposites, but in fact are quite close.

The terminology of political and social discourse is vague and imprecise, and constantly debased by the contributions of ideologists of one or another stripe. Still, these terms have at least some residue of meaning. Since its origins, socialism has meant the liberation of working people from exploitation. As the Marxist theoretician Anton Pannekoek observed, "this goal is not reached and cannot be reached by a new directing and governing class substituting itself for the bourgeoisie," but can only be "realized by the workers themselves being master over production."

Mastery over production by the producers is the essence of socialism, and means to achieve this end have regularly been devised in periods of revolutionary struggle, against the bitter opposition of the traditional ruling classes and the 'revolutionary intellectuals' guided by the common principles of Leninism and Western managerialism, as adapted to changing circumstances. But the essential element of the socialist ideal remains: to convert the means of production into the property of freely associated producers and thus the social property of people who have liberated themselves from exploitation by their master, as a fundamental step towards a broader realm of human freedom.

The Leninist intelligentsia have a different agenda. They fit Marx's description of the 'conspirators' who "pre-empt the developing revolutionary process" and distort it to their ends of domination; "Hence their deepest disdain for the more theoretical enlightenment of the workers about their class interests," which include the overthrow of the Red Bureaucracy and the creation of mechanisms of democratic control over production and social life. For the Leninist, the masses must be strictly disciplined, while the socialist will struggle to achieve a social order in which discipline "will become superfluous" as the freely associated producers "work for their own accord" (Marx). Libertarian socialism, furthermore, does not limit its aims to democratic control by producers over production, but seeks to abolish all forms of domination and hierarchy in every aspect of social and personal life, an unending struggle, since progress in achieving a more just society will lead to new insight and understanding of forms of oppression that may be concealed in traditional practice and consciousness.

The Leninist antagonism to the most essential features of socialism was evident from the very start. In revolutionary Russia, Soviets and factory committees developed as instruments of struggle and liberation, with many flaws, but with a rich potential. Lenin and Trotsky, upon assuming power, immediately devoted themselves to destroying the liberatory potential of these instruments, establishing the rule of the Party, in practice its Central Committee and its Maximal Leaders -- exactly as Trotsky had predicted years earlier, as Rosa Luxembourg and other left Marxists warned at the time, and as the anarchists had always understood. Not only the masses, but even the Party must be subject to "vigilant control from above," so Trotsky held as he made the transition from revolutionary intellectual to State priest. Before seizing State power, the Bolshevik leadership adopted much of the rhetoric of people who were engaged in the revolutionary struggle from below, but their true commitments were quite different. This was evident before and became crystal clear as they assumed State power in October 1917.

A historian sympathetic to the Bolsheviks, E.H. Carr, writes that "the spontaneous inclination of the workers to organize factory committees and to intervene in the management of the factories was inevitably encourage by a revolution with led the workers to believe that the productive machinery of the country belonged to them and could be operated by them at their own discretion and to their own advantage" (my emphasis). For the workers, as one anarchist delegate said, "The Factory committees were cells of the future... They, not the State, should now administer."
But the State priests knew better, and moved at once to destroy the factory committees and to reduce the Soviets to organs of their rule. On November 3, Lenin announced in a "Draft Decree on Workers' Control" that delegates elected to exercise such control were to be "answerable to the State for the maintenance of the strictest order and discipline and for the protection of property." As the year ended, Lenin noted that "we passed from workers' control to the creation of the Supreme Council of National Economy," which was to "replace, absorb and supersede the machinery of workers' control" (Carr). "The very idea of socialism is embodied in the concept of workers' control," one Menshevik trade unionist lamented; the Bolshevik leadership expressed the same lament in action, by demolishing the very idea of socialism.

Soon Lenin was to decree that the leadership must assume "dictatorial powers" over the workers, who must accept "unquestioning submission to a single will" and "in the interests of socialism," must "unquestioningly obey the single will of the leaders of the labour process." As Lenin and Trotsky proceeded with the militarization of labour, the transformation of the society into a labour army submitted to their single will, Lenin explained that subordination of the worker to "individual authority" is "the system which more than any other assures the best utilization of human resources" -- or as Robert McNamara expressed the same idea, "vital decision-making...must remain at the top...the real threat to democracy comes not from overmanagement, but from undermanagement"; "if it is not reason that rules man, then man falls short of his potential," and management is nothing other than the rule of reason, which keeps us free. At the same time, 'factionalism' -- i.e., any modicum of free expression and organization -- was destroyed "in the interests of socialism," as the term was redefined for their purposes by Lenin and Trotsky, who proceeded to create the basic proto-fascist structures converted by Stalin into one of the horrors of the modern age.

Failure to understand the intense hostility to socialism on the part of the Leninist intelligentsia (with roots in Marx, no doubt), and corresponding misunderstanding of the Leninist model, has had a devastating impact on the struggle for a more decent society and a livable world in the West, and not only there. It is necessary to find a way to save the socialist ideal from its enemies in both of the world's major centres of power, from those who will always seek to be the State priests and social managers, destroying freedom in the name of liberation."

Articolul, aparut in Our Generation, Spring/Summer, 1986, e de gasit on-line la:
http://www.chomsky.info/articles/1986----.htm

Socialistul Chavez vrea ziua de lucru redusa la 6 ore

Presedintele socialist al Venezuelei, Hugo Chavez, un om care se gandeste la binele clasei muncitoare, propune ca ziua obligatorie de lucru sa fie scurtata la 6 ore.

"CARACAS (Reuters) - President Hugo Chavez proposed a constitutional change on Wednesday to reduce Venezuela's maximum workday to six hours as part of broader legal changes to advance his self-styled socialist revolution."

http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSN1523027720070816

Stire aparuta pe fluxul agentiei Reuters la data de 16 august 2002.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Dr. Gilbert pune punctul pe i

Daniel Todd Gilbert (born November 5, 1957) este Harvard College Professor of Psychology la Universitatea din harvard.

Intr-un interviu legat de cartea sa "Stumbling on Happiness", profesorul Gilbert expune, pe scurt, un argument sustinut pe acest blog in favoarea socialismului:

"Reporter: The Mother Jones article "Reversal of Fortune" argues that for a long time, westerners have believed that economic growth, fueled by individuals working hard and pursuing more and more cash and goods, makes everyone happy. But recent economic trends show that economic growth is making the rich richer and doing nothing to affect the poor and middle classes -- wages at the bottom of the American economy have stayed stagnant, in real dollars, since the 70's. The GNP curve is up while "life satisfaction" indexes have stayed the same. Yet people don't clamor for change. Your thoughts?

Daniel Gilbert: Nothing surprising here. Money makes a huge difference to the happiness of poor people. If you live in a cardboard box under a bridge, money can improve your happiness dramatically. But once you have a decent middle-class existence -- food, shelter, security, and all the rest -- money does less and less for you until eventually it does nothing at all. The irony, then, is that in a "rich get richer" society, the people who are getting the money are the people for whom it can do the least, and the people who are not getting the money are the people for whom it could do the most. If a single dollar bill can buy one unit of happiness for a rich person and one hundred units of happiness for a poor person, on whom should that dollar be spent?"

Intr-adevar, daca bogatia nu are nicio influenta asupra fericirii individului, in schimb banii conteaza enorm pentru cel care traieste sub pragul saraciei, este logic sa oferim celui sarac banii celui bogat, pentru a maximiza fericirea generala.

Acelasi Daniel Gilbert excplica, succint, cum se face ca sistemul capitalist inca mai functioneaza:

"Reporter: You have an extremely interesting explanation for why capitalism exists in Chapter 11. Care to explain?

Daniel Gilbert: I argue that for economies like ours to thrive, people must work for goods and services. People only work for things that make them happy. So societies have to convince their members that goods and services will do this. They often don't make us happy, of course, and so the question is who engineers this great lie? I explain that there is, in fact, no conspiracy to delude us. Rather, the great lie arises all on its own. How this happens is a bit complicated but I explain it in my book with lucid, insightful, and charming prose. Ooops. You were supposed to say that, not me.

Reporter: So if capitalism depends on people being deluded into thinking that producing and consuming are routes to happiness and yet the wealthy are no happier than the middle class, which you argue in your book -- why do people continue to buy in?

Daniel Gilbert: The Japanese have a lovely saying about fools: "He asks an elm tree for pears." When money doesn't buy the happiness we thought it did, we tend to think we must not have earned enough of it. It takes special circumstances before we question whether we might be asking money for something it can't provide."

Intr-adevar, cand vedem ca banii nu ne fac mai fericiti, nu ne gandim sa cautam fericirea in alta parte, ci o cautam tot in finante. Consideram ca daca am avea ceva mai multi bani am deveni in sfarsit mai fericiti si tot asa ne amagim la infinit. Solutia este spargerea acestui cerc vicios si renuntarea la a mai cauta fericirea in bani si bunuri materiale.

Interviul cu Dr. Gilbert se gaseste la:
http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2007/03/stumbling_on_happiness.html

Din nou despre efectele nocive ale inegalitatilor financiare

Dennis Raphael este Ph.D., C.Psych., Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Toronto.
Intr-o prelegere tinuta in mai 1999, Dr. Raphael are de spus lucruri interesante despre rapostul dintre inegalitatile financiare existente intr-o societate si starea de sanatate a populatiei.

Inegalitatile economice duc la saracirea populatiei

"Poverty Is Related to Economic Inequality

Poverty is related to economic inequality. Nations with high economic inequality have higher rates of poverty.(11) When economic inequality increases, poverty increases, and both are on the rise in Canada. The Growing Gap Report (12) points out that in 1973 the richest 10% of families in Canada made 21 times more than the poorest 10% of families. By 1996, the richest 10% of families made 314 times more than the poorest 10% of families. While Canada has always been an unequal society, the effects of economic inequality have always been kept in check by the presence of strong social programs that compensated for this. However, since 1993, with the weakening of social programs, the after taxes gap has begun to grow; Statistics Canada reported that while during the 1980's the real income of most Canadians has decreased and child poverty increased, the rich in Canada became richer.(13)"

Inegalitatile economice afecteaza sanatatea tuturor membrilor societatii

"We would not however expect the well-off in highly unequal societies to begin showing
deteriorating health. But this appears to be happening. For example, after decades of rapidly increasing economic inequality, the most well-off in Britain now have higher death rates among adult males and infants than the least well-off in Sweden.(30-31)
According to an editorial in the British Medical Journal “What matters in determining mortality and health in a society is less the overall wealth of that society and more how evenly wealth is distributed. The more equally wealth is distributed the better the health of that society.”(32). This is also so in American communities: more economic inequality is associated with greater death rates among the well-off as well as the poor.(33) As another example, homicide rates in USA states are correlated with degree of economic inequality.(34)"

Inegalitatea financiara dezintegreaza societatea

"In Unhealthy Societies: the Afflictions of Inequality (29), Richard Wilkinson shows that societies with greater economic inequality begin to “disintegrate” -- that is, they show evidence
of decreased social cohesion and increased individual malaise. These are all precursors of increased illness and death. Kawachi and Kennedy(35) make the case that economic inequality contributes to the deteriorating of what has been termed social capital, or the degree of social cohesion or citizen commitment to society. Kawachi and Kennedy argue that the well-off grow wealthier, but become subject to the same threats that the less-well off experience --deteriorating health and educational systems, increased crime and violence, and greater danger on the roads --among others. All of which is associated with a lack of personal control; an important predictor of illness and death."

Inegalitatea duce la decaderea serviciilor sociale

"Economic Inequality is Associated With Lack of Health and Social Services

First of all, societies that tolerate high levels of inequality tend to provide less health and social services. The means by which this relationship comes about seem to involve the presence of smaller tax bases for the provision of health and social services. In the Wealthy Banker’s Wife: The Assault on Equality in Canada (28) Linda McQuaig contrasts the European approach to health and social services with that of the United States. In Behind Closed Doors: How the Rich Won Control of Canada's Tax System -- And Ended Up Richer (40), she documented how the tax system was shifted in Canada to favour the rich. Increasingly then, Canadian society is heading towards the American model of increasing inequality, lowered tax bases, and decreased services.
Lest Canadians be misled to believe that lower tax rates will benefit them, it should be recalled that in most cases tax breaks especially favor the well off. The Ontario income tax reductions area prime example of this. If you were in the richest top half of 1% of families you benefitted by $15,586. If you were among the poorest 10% of Ontario families you received $150.(12)
However to pay for these tax cuts, the services that are being reduced are the ones most likely to be needed by those receiving the least tax relief."

Inegalitatile financiar duc la degradarea societatii civile

"Economic Inequality is Associated With Decay of Civil Society

Wilkinson provides compelling evidence of how societies with high levels of economic inequality begin to show characteristics of what he termed “the symptoms of societal disintegration.”(29) Some of these symptoms in Britain have included increased alcoholism, crime rates, deaths by road accidents and infectious diseases, lowered reading scores, drug offences, family functioning, and decreased voter turnout among others. The form that societal disintegration takes in each society may be unique.(34) In the United States economic inequality is related to unemployment, incarceration, homicide, low birthweight, smoking, income assistance, use of food stamps, less spending on education, and disability. In Canada, little attention has been paid to considering the economic inequality and health elationship beyond documenting the lower health status of those living in poverty.
Even without the careful studies that are needed, in Canada we see around us signs of civil decay. There are record levels of poverty and homelessness. The effects have been especially severe in Toronto children now live in poverty, an increase of 66% since 1989.(41) There are decreasing percentages of Canadians turning out to vote in Federal Elections.(42) Percentage turnout in Federal elections was 75.3% in 1984 and by 1997 has decreased to 67%. In Nova Scotia the figures have been 85% and 73% respectively.
The idea of social capital is becoming an important idea in this debate. If, as the World Bank argues social capital “refers to the institutions, relationships, and norms that shape the quality and quantity of a society's social interactions... Social capital is not just the sum of the institutions which underpin a society – it is the glue that holds them together”(43) we can begin to consider how economic inequality may be loosening the glue of Canadian society."

Studiul profesorului Daniel Raphael poate fi gasit in intregime la adresa:
http://www.utoronto.ca/qol/IHpaper1.PDF

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Egalitarismul financiar imbunatateste sanatatea in societate

Egalitarismul financiar nu garanteaza doar o stopare a goanei nefiresti si nebunesti dupa bani, dar si o crestere simtitoare a sanatatii populatiei.

Economic equality is best medicine
Health of societies mostly relies on political and economic policies, not the individual treatment of disease

The headlines read that rich Americans aren't as healthy as poor Brits, despite our spending twice as much money on health care as they do. Our newborns die at the highest rates of any rich country, even with our ever-advancing medical technologies. The feds report our mortality rates have never been lower. The United Kingdom study director suggests it is the nature of an unequal society in the United States that affects everybody, while experts over here are puzzled. What is going on? (...)

Our federal government, in its Institute of Medicine 2003 report "The Future of the Public's Health in the 21st Century," states on page 59: "more egalitarian societies (i.e. those with a less steep differential between the richest and the poorest) have better average health." This remarkable finding has emerged from research carried out over the last 25 years, and the science is as good as that linking smoking and poor health. (...)

What is it about a bigger differential between the richest and poorest that leads to worse average health? Intuitively, we can see that not everyone shares the same stress in a bigger-gap society and those lower down suffer more of the slings and arrows of misfortune rained down from above. There is less caring and sharing in society when the gap is in our face.
Other research findings demonstrate that individual behaviors are not as important for our health as political policies that impact the gap between the rich and the poor. These behaviors are those we have learned since about toddlerdom: diet, exercise and not smoking. They are good ideas but when compared with economic justice, these individual practices are relatively unimportant. For example, the healthiest country in the world, Japan, has the highest proportion of men smoking among all rich countries. Obviously smoking is not good for your health but compared with the less steep differential, it is not as important a factor. As a doctor who used to badger people about this habit, it was very difficult for me to reconcile this finding. Studies demonstrate the individual behaviors are not that important for our health. Health care, even universal health care, has been shown to have little or no overall impact on a nation's health.
The spending on health care in the United States makes up nearly one half of all monies paid for health care worldwide. Despite that, we who live in the USA, the richest country in world history (with half of the globe's billionaires), die younger than we should. To understand this conundrum, the first step we must take is to recognize that health and health care are two very different concepts -- despite sounding so similar. Health of societies is mostly determined by political and economic policies while health care can only prevent and treat individual diseases.
The United States used to be one of the healthiest countries in the world when egalitarian principles were near the horizon. President Kennedy told us not to ask what our country can do for us but to ask what we can do for our country. His request came after a decade of policies in which the poor made relatively more economic gains than the rich, something Robin Hood might have admired. For example, in the United States the general population shared its income growth with returning World War II veterans and subsidized their re-entry into society. Back then we were one of the healthiest countries in the world -- but not for long. The rich and powerful interpreted the president's remarks to mean, "What can ordinary people do for us?" During the last 30 years the rich have gotten much richer, and we have strayed far from egalitarian ideals.
The increasingly steep differential between the richest and poorest is the reason why we are as healthy as Cuba, the country we have been strangling for almost 47 years. While our health as a nation has been improving, other countries are seeing better and faster results. People in more than 25 countries, including nearly all the rich nations and a few poor ones as well, live longer and healthier lives than we do. (...)

Economic justice is the medicine we need. In today's situation, this requires overturning all the recent federal legislation that gives ever more to the rich. The work of the Hood Robins (who take from the poor and give to the rich) is bad for our health, as our own Institute of Medicine acknowledges. Perhaps we should demand a Health Impact Assessment like other countries, to track the toll in human lives sacrificed by political policies that favor the rich over the poor.
This state's Washington Health Foundation is unique in the nation for trying to make Washington state the healthiest in the country. According to a composite indicator used to rank the health of states, we have fallen to 15th place while Minnesota is first and Louisiana is last. To effect real change and improve health through this country, I suggest we strive to make Louisiana first in the nation. That state has among the highest infant death rates, the shortest length of life, the highest homicide rates, the highest teen birth rates and the biggest gap between rich and poor. Katrina's aftermath was no accident. By concentrating on improving health in this country's worst off state, everyone will do better.
The last 40 years have seen an unbridled giveaway to the minority of the wealthy and powerful, as politicians distorted Kennedy's words and did what they could for the rich of America. It is now time for the majority, who make up the bottom 80 percent of this nation, to ask what our country can do for us. Everyone's health, both rich and poor, will benefit from this old-fashioned idea: economic justice.”

Articolul din care am cules aceste fragmente este scris de Stephen Bezruchka, M.D., MPH, is with the Department of Health Services, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, at the University of Washington.
Textul intreg e de gasit la:
http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/opinion/275142_focus25.html

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Sa mai si radem: mai bine la puscarie decat la munca

Mai bine la puscarie decat la munca:

In inchisoare: Iti petreci timpul intr-o celula 8/10 m.
La job: Iti petreci timpul intr-un spatiu 6/8 m.

In inchisoare: Ai 3 mese pe zi (GRATIS).
La job: Ai o pauza pentru o masa pe care o platesti.

In inchisoare: Iti dau liber pentru buna-purtare.
La job: Iti dau mai multe de facut pentru buna ta purtare.

In inchisoare: Un gardian iti deschide si inchide usile.
La job: Tre' sa cari cardul de securitate dupa tine ca sa le inchizi / deschizi singur.

In inchisoare: Poti sa te uiti la TV si sa joci jocuri.
La job: Te dau afara daca faci asta.

In inchisoare: Ai propria toaleta.
La job: Tre' sa o imparti cu ceilalti.

In inchisoare: Familia si prietenii te pot vizita.
La job: Nici macar nu poti vorbi la telefon cu ei.

In inchisoare: Cheltuielile sunt platite de contribuabili fara sa trebuiasca sa muncesti.
La job: Iti platesti toate cheltuielile mergand la job si apoi iti deduc taxe din salariu ca sa intretina detinutii.

Daca n-ar fi asa "pidosnici" aia de prin inchisoare, mai ca mi-ar fi dat de gandit textul de mai sus. :)

Automobilul-o fita criminala

A-ti cumpara automobil este o actiune irationala din mai multe puncte de vedere: trebuie sa muncesti sute de zile intregi numai pentru a-l achita, sunt scumpe si benzina, si piesele de schimb, si service-ul (acesta din urma fiind si cronofag), cu masina te deplasezi mai greu in oras decat cu metroul, de ex., care e si mult mai ieftin, e greu sa gasesti locuri de parcare, risti amenzi etc.
Argumentele date in general pt. achizitionarea unei masini personale nu conving: de ex., nu se poate spune ca e la indemana atunci cand te intorci tarziu de la o petrecere, caci asta inseamna sa te bucuri doar partial de eveniment (sa nu consumi absolut deloc alcool, sa nu fii obosit la volan etc.), iar la iesirile din Bucuresti, trenul (eventual microbuzul) este un mijloc comod, relativ ieftin si care nu prezinta pericol de accidente. In caz de anumite urgente exista intotdeauna taxiul ori posibilitatea de a inchiria o masina.

Un alt motiv foarte important insa de a nu va cumpara masina este poluarea enorma pe care automobilele o cauzeaza, deteriorand vizibil atat sanatatea noastra cat si a mediului inconjurator.

"„Noi consideram ca aproximativ 70% din poluarea din Bucuresti este cauzata de trafic, nu atat la nivel de emisie, ci mai degraba pentru ca emisia are loc la nivelul solului si dispersia e mai greu de realizat. Avem cateva zeci de valori orare, la o ora, depasite in centru”, a explicat Gabriel Ciuiu, seful Serviciului Monitorizarii Calitatii Aerului din cadrul APMB.
Conform datelor transmise de organizatia ecologista Eco Europa, traficul rutier bucurestean produce peste 2.000.000 tone de substante nocive anual, cu efecte extrem de grave asupra starii de sanatate a locuitorilor, provocand si deteriorarea accentuata a factorilor de mediu. [...]

Spatiul verde, injumatatit
Capitala a ajuns in situatia aceasta din cauza numarului crescand de masini si a distrugerii spatiilor verzi. Daca in 1990 erau 34 de milioane de metri patrati de spatiu verde in Bucuresti, acum „plamanul verde” a ajuns la jumatate, 17 milioane de metri patrati, cu tot cu cele 14 cimitire din Bucuresti, umbrite de pomi, ce insumeaza 131,3 ha care nu au ajuns cladiri de birouri sau blocuri.
„Studiile de urbanism au indicat cu exactitate existentul si necesarul de spatiu verde din Bucuresti: 2.794,5 hectare, cifra propusa spre realizare inainte de 2025. Exista, intravilan, la ultima masuratoare, doar 1.044 de hectare”, a explicat Dragos Stan, presedintele Eco Europa.

Plamanii bucurestenilor, in pericol
Substantele nocive pe care le respiram provoaca afectiuni pulmonare. Pulberile au actiune alergica, cancerigena, infectanta, iritanta si fibrozanta. Ozonul afecteaza aparatul respirator (dificultate respiratorie, reducerea functiilor plamanilor si astm), irita ochii, provoaca congestii nazale, reduce rezistenta la infectii. Oxizii de azot provoaca la om si animale, in concentratii mici, iritarea aparatului respirator, cu arsuri si sufocari, tuse violenta insotita de expectoratie de culoare galbena.
La concentratii mari apar simptome severe de asfixiere, convulsii si blocarea respiratiei. Conform medicului Florin Mihaltan, presedintele Societatii Romane de Pneumologie, in Bucuresti exista o legatura clara intre poluare si afectiunile respiratorii.
„Poluarea aduce intr-adevar o frecventa la internare pentru probleme respiratorii. In momentul de fata avem pacienti cu astfel de probleme care nu sunt fumatori. Exista intr-adevar un studiu care arata ca fiecare al saptelea copil sufera de astm, insa astmul poate avea cauze multiple. Cu siguranta, insa, ca si poluarea aerului este una dintre ele”, a aratat Florin Mihaltan."

Articolul din care am selectat aceste fragmente se numeste "Otravurile Capitalei", este scris de Andrei Udisteanu si a aparut in Evenimentul Zilei din data de 26 iunie 2007.
http://www.evz.ro/article.php?artid=311229

EDIT duminica, 7 octombrie:

Tocmai am gasit un articol in care se dau cinci motive pentru a nu-ti cumpara masina.
Unele au fost amintite mai sus deja, precum pretul si poluarea. Alte trei sunt date mai jos:

"2. Mersul cu masina ingrasa.
Mergand pe jos sau cu bicicleta, faceti si sport. Mersul pe jos va ajuta sa va mentineti greutatea in limite nomale si sa dormiti mai bine noaptea. Multi conducatori auto platesc bani frumosi la sala, sa mearga pe banda sau pe bicicleta. Cati realizeaza ca o pot face zilnic, pe gratis?

3. Mersul cu masina va poate innebuni. La propriu.
Daca va petreceti doua - trei ore pe zi in masina, va puteti confrunta cu diverse stari de anxietate. Aglomeratia si lipsa unui loc de parcare sunt doar cativa dintre factorii de stres care ii afecteaza pe soferi. Mersul pe jos imbunatateste starea psihica si va tine departe de antidepresive si de efectele lor secundare.

4. Mersul pe jos este o ocazie sa intalniti oameni noi.
Mergand pe jos este un mod excelent sa va faceti noi cunostinte. Va puteti considera fericiti ca, in timp ce asteaptati autobuzul, puteti schimba cateva vorbe cu cei care se afla in statie. Conducatorii auto nu au asemenea ocazie. Milioane de oameni nu scot un cuvant ore intregi, in drumul spre sau dinspre serviciu."

Articolul este scris de Veronica Radulescu:
http://biz.hotnews.ro/articol_85197-Top-5-motive-sa-nu-va-cumparati-masina.htm

EDIT, 16 IANUARIE 2008:
Un nou motiv de ce achizitionarea unui automobil este un act irational si daunator la adresa societatii este ca in viitorul apropiat, numarul de masini este estimat sa creasca alarmant, ceea ce inseamna si mai multe ambuteiaje, deci circulatie ingreunata inclusiv pentru proprietarii de automobile, plus poluare marita, inclusiv, evident, pentru proprietarii de masini si familiile lor:

"
ÎN 2010 AM PUTEA AVEA 1.475.000 VEHICULE! Numărul mare de maşini înmatriculate în ultimii ani este o altă mare problemă cu care se confruntă Capitala şi care se accentuează mai mult cu fiecare zi. Nu mai este o surpriză pentru nimeni traficul de coşmar şi aglomeraţia de care ne lovim zi de zi.

Potrivit unei estimări prezentate în cadrul bilanţului, în anul 2010, numărul maşinilor înmatriculate în Capitală ar putea ajunge la 1.475.000 de vehicule, calculele fiind făcute pe baza datelor comparative anuale, cu punct de plecare anul 1992, când, în Bucureşti erau înmatriculate 409.947 maşini."
http://www.jurnalul.ro/articole/114135/bilant---%C3%AEn-2010-bucurestiul-va-fi-sufocat-de-masini!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Semnati petitia pentru 6 ore de munca pe zi, 4 zile pe saptamana

Muncitori din toate tarile, uniti-va! Semnati petitia pentru 6 ore de munca pe zi, 4 zile pe saptamana.
http://www.petitiononline.com/6hourday/petition.html

Votati pentru mai mult timp de socializare cu familia si prietenii, implicare in viata comunitatii, mai mult timp pentru cultura, sporturi si recreatie, hobbiuri si relaxare. Nu mai munciti ca sa sporiti profiturile capitalistilor, ganditi-va la interesele voastre, reduceti-va ziua de munca la sase ore, si saptamana de munca la 4 zile!

Join working people of the world for Justice
The core principles of Capitalism are rooted in INEQUALITY, SLAVERY & THEFT. The maintenance of oppressive governments and economic systems over Free People to benefit a small group of wealthy and powerful individuals does not serve the COMMON GOOD. Nor is it the wisest and best use of the world's labor and resources.

Capitalists need raw materials/natural resources, cheap land and labor, and "new markets." This is the new TYRANNY that now dominates world governments to serve the interests of GLOBAL CORPORATIONS and WEALTHY INDIVIDUALS that seek to monopolize natural resources; maintain and expand the Capitalist-Slave system; plan for wasteful production to maximize profits at the expense of human lives, the natural environment, all forms of life, and world peace.

Land and labor are the only true sources of all wealth.
It is long over-due that workers have more input into the management and use of their labor and natural resources, instead of being at the mercy of the capitalists. All workers should unite in demanding the shortening of the work day and work week. The 6 hour day must be implemented as quickly as possible in order for it to be a success for workers united in political and economic action.

O initiativa a Free Socialism:
http://www.freesocialism.org/

Dr. West explica de ce munca sustinuta nu merita efortul

Intr-un excelent articol intitulat "Definition of the good life", publicat in iarna lui 2006 in publicatia "Reform", Dr. Caroline West, profesor de filosofie la Universitatea din Sydney explica de ce nu e cazul sa ne stresam prea tare cu munca.
Dupa ce indica cele doua motive care ne determina sa muncim mult, in speta imbogatirea si intentia de a-i depasi pe altii in venit si statut social, Dr. West explica de ce, in final, chiar si dupa ce reusim sa atingem aceste scopuri, nu suntem mai fericiti decat inainte. Lipsa de satisfactie si fericire provine in primul rand ca atunci cand toata lumea incearca sa depaseasca pe toata lumea, efortul si numarul de ore muncite ajung sa creasca exponential doar pentru a ne pastra diferenta de venit si statut in fata celorlalti. Multi ajung in fata noastra, multi raman in urma, stresul si efortul cresc si, in final, marea majoritate a oamenilor ajung sa sufere.

In al doilea rand, Dr. West arata ca oamenii sunt extrem de adaptabili cand vine vorba de posesiuni materiale precum masini, case luxoase etc. de care ajung astfel sa se plictiseasca repede. Pe de alta parte, s-a demonstrat in cadrul psihoplogiei ca relatiile interumane si hobbyurile sunt surse de fericire indelungata, astfel incat rational este sa minimalizam cat se poate munca si importanta statutului si averii, si sa ne preocupam de amintitele placeri de durata.

"The toll of working long hours
One reason why many of us are tempted to work ever longer and harder is because we tend to attach status to high levels of income. There is a tendency to envy people who earn more than we do (in the sense that we want what they have), but not those who have more leisure than we do. The result is that we frequently trade off our leisure time for increased income. However, the benefits of extra income don’t translate into increased feelings of wellbeing. There are a number of reasons for this. Two of them relate to deeply engrained aspects of our psychology: our habits of comparison and adaptation.

Comparison. How good we feel about our own life depends not simply on its intrinsic quality, but how it compares to the lives of others who we identify with, or are surrounded by. A person
who shares your qualifications but earns double your income, will leave you feeling like you’re underachieving. Reverse the situation and you feel pretty good about yourself.
Unsavoury though it may be, it makes us feel good when we are doing better than others in our reference group, and bad to be doing less (even when ‘less’ is objectively pretty good).
This creates a strong psychological incentive to work harder, and longer, in order to get more income than your compatriots, in order to feel good about your life and achievements. When everyone else is doing the same, this then becomes self-defeating: everyone has to work harder and harder just to maintain their position relative to others and those who get left behind feel considerably worse. The result is that everyone is a lot more exhausted, and most are no happier.

Adaptation. The second reason extra income typically buys us no extra happiness is because we quite quickly adapt to increased material affluence—we soon get used to our new car or house, and revise our expectations. (Less than one year on, for example, even major lottery winners are no happier than they were previously.) Psychologists refer to this as the ‘hedonic treadmill’ because, once we’re on it, we have to keep running faster and faster just to stay in the same place.
Importantly, however, the current psychological evidence suggests we don’t adapt to everything in this way. Close convivial relations with friends and family, and the pursuit of projects or hobbies that absorb us, are among the things that bring us lasting pleasure.

Longer working hours may certainly increase overall gross domestic product, but the evidence suggests that it does not increase productivity per hour, and it generally makes us (not to mention those around us) quite a bit less happy than we (and they) would otherwise be. Many of the hours in a long working day are frequently less than enjoyable, and leave us tired, residually anxious and grumpy. It is also the absence of other, typically more enjoyable, goods in life that are foregone by hours spent at work.
These points were well appreciated by the economist John Maynard Keynes and the novelist William Thackeray, both of whom were exceptionally productive (in terms of both quantity and quality of output) but who worked for less than four hours a day. “Three hours a day is quite enough to satisfy the old Adam in most of us,” wrote Keynes, who preferred to spend the rest of his day in long contemplative walks and conversation with friends."

Articolul se gaseste in intregime la adresa:
http://www.arts.usyd.edu.au/departs/philos/documents/staff/caroline_west_reform_88.pdf

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Munca lunga, moarte sigura

Munca multa este antipatica celui care a ales fericirea fara bani, caci oamenii muncesc mult pentru "idealuri" materialiste, precum sporirea averii si cresterea statutului social.
Cum, dupa cum am putut observa de nenumarate ori pe acest blog, cam tot ce are de-a face cu practicile materialiste nu poate duce decat la nefericire, boala si moarte, nu ar trebui sa ne mire ca tot mai multi cercetatori si autori trag semnale de alarma in acest sens. Un exemplu:

"Work until you drop: how the long-hours culture is killing us

In Japan they call it karoshi and in China it is guolaosi. As yet there is no word in English for working yourself to death, but as more and more people put in longer hours and suffer more stress there may soon be.

This week, an American survey concluded that long working hours increased an individual's chances of illness and injury. It noted that for those doing 12 hours a day, there was a 37% increase in risk compared to those working fewer hours. [...]

The American study, published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine, points out that overtime and extended work schedules are associated with an increased risk of hypertension, cardiovascular disease, fatigue, stress, depression, musculoskeletal disorders, chronic infections, diabetes and other general health complaints. In Japan, most karoshi victims succumb to brain aneurisms, strokes and heart attack.

Professor Cary Cooper, a stress expert at Lancaster University Management School, says the risk is not just confined to those who work more than 60 hours but hits those that put in more than 45.
"If you work consistently long hours, over 45 a week every week, it will damage your health, physically and psychologically. In the UK we have the second-longest working hours in the developed world, just behind the States and we now have longer hours than Japan," he says. [...]

Derek Simpson, the general secretary of Amicus, the manufacturing, technical and skilled persons' union, agrees with Prof Cooper. "UK employees work the longest hours in Europe, yet all the evidence shows that long working hours are bad for our health, equality, our families and for society. People's jobs are by far the biggest single cause of stress, and stress-related illness is the silent killer in our workplaces, impacting on workers' physical and mental health.

As well as being bad for individuals, our long-hours culture is also bad for business because lower working hours relate directly to higher productivity. It is no coincidence that the UK has the least-regulated economy in Europe and is the least productive in the industrialised world.

The number of people working over 48 hours has more than doubled since 1998, from 10% to 26%. And one in six of all workers is doing more than 60 hours.
Roger Vincent, a spokesman for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, says that overwork inevitably leads to lapses in concentration and therefore accidents."

Fragmentele sunt luate din articolul "Work until you drop: how the long-hours culture is killing us", scris de Audrey Gillan, aparut in The Guardian, in ziua de 20 august 2005.
http://money.guardian.co.uk/work/story/0,1456,1552801,00.html

Tinerii incep sa se destepte

Am citit de curand un articol publicat in The Times care mi-a dat noi sperante ca lucrurile se pot indrepta spre mai bine intr-un viitor relativapropiat. Se pare ca tinerii au inteles deja pericolele care ii pandesc daca apuca sa paseasca pe calea materialismului si consumerismului si incep sa opteze pentru un stil de viata simplu din punct de vedere material, insa deosebit de profitabil din punctul de vedere al fericirii si satisfactiei.

"Young adults slowing down, leaving the rat race behind

Sandi Garcia was living her dream - or so she thought. With a marketing degree from the University of Wyoming, she moved to Florida, started climbing the corporate ladder and was making good money.
There was only one problem - she was miserable. She was up at 6 a.m. and getting home from work just in time to watch the late-night news, and she often worked weekends, too."I got burnt out pretty quickly," said the 26-year-old, who longed for a life that was "calmer and simpler." She found it back in her native Cheyenne, Wyo., where she now has plenty of time to ski, volunteer at an animal shelter and enjoy her friends and family.

Experts said Garcia is one of a growing number of Americans -- particularly people in their 20s and 30s -- who are making a conscious decision to slow down and cut back on all that overwhelms them."It's true among people of all ages. But it's much stronger, much more notable among the younger generations," said Bruce Tulgan, a Connecticut-based consultant who tracks generational relationships and trends in the workplace.

The simple life
They're simplifying at home. Pierce Mattie, a 28-year-old New Yorker, recently sold his car, moved into a smaller apartment and gave away much of his wardrobe."It feels great," he said, noting that having "so much junk I don't use" was stressing him out.

They're also dramatically changing their work lives.
Gregg Steiner, a 29-year-old in Sherman Oaks, Calif., escaped the busy high-tech world to work at home, and sold his beach home near Malibu - he said he grew tired of never having time to spend there. He also couldn't stand commuting two hours a day."I hate traffic. I hate dressing in a suit. I hate sitting under fluorescent lighting," said Steiner, who now does customer service via the Web for Pinxav, his family's diaper rash ointment business.
Tulgan said all those gripes are common for young professionals."The idea of working in a particular building with certain hours seems ridiculous to them," he said.
He and other generational experts said that doesn't mean young people are lazy. They just want flexibility."It's much more likely they're going to tell you that they'd like more control over their schedule -- and more time for the life part of life," said Tulgan, whose books include "Managing Generation X."

Michael Muetzel, another author who has studied twentysomethings, calls it a movement toward family and social activities."Why not put your trust and resources in things that you absolutely can trust?" he said.
Indeed, trust is an issue for many young Americans. While they're into volunteering at a local level, they have little faith in such institutions as Social Security or government in general. Many, given recent scandals, don't trust the political process or corporate America.
"A lot of us saw our parents or knew other people's parents who were laid off. There was loyalty to the company, and people were getting huge salaries, and all of the sudden it disappeared," said Garcia, who now works for the Wyoming Business Council.

Different priorities
So while their parents' generation may have focused on trying to "have it all," many in Gen X and Y are taking a step back to reassess and prioritize."I see my parents; they just worked so much, and I don't think they had much chance to enjoy stuff the way they would have liked to," Garcia said.
Katherine Josephs said she, too, had to do some soul-searching.The 29-year-old from Miami was a journalist for Money magazine in New York but quit her job after a road trip to the Pacific Northwest. She found a part-time job and moved in with her parents while figuring out what to do next.
Later this year, she'll head to a small town in Colorado to write and get a degree in ecopsychology, a field that explores the connection between the environment and personal well-being."I'll be spending most of my time outdoors and transporting myself on a bike and letting my spirit dictate my actions -- not Madison Avenue execs," Josephs said.

Some researchers are finding benefits in a simpler life."The upshot is that people who value money and image and status are actually less happy," said Tim Kasser, a psychologist at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., who has researched the phenomenon.
He said they often report being less satisfied with life and are more likely to experience depression, anxiety and such physical symptoms as back aches and headaches.
Those who weren't focused on possessions, fame and fortune were, overall, more content with life and felt better, too."We found this in people from age 10 to 80 all around the world," said Kasser, author of the book "The High Price of Materialism."

Kasser heads the research committee for The Simplicity Forum, a group of authors, speakers and leaders interested in "voluntary simplicity," also the title of a 1981 book that some say is the movement's bible.Garcia has never heard of the movement or the book. Like many others her age, she just listened to her gut and found the simpler life she craved in Wyoming, the state she once wanted to escape."Someone told me that you can never appreciate what you have until you've left," she said. "I never thought that was true -- but now I really do."

Articolul este scris de Martha Irvine si a aparut la 26 ianuarie 2004.
http://www.thetimesonline.com/articles/2004/01/26/news/region_and_state/8faec83d942254ba86256e2600821e40.txt