Hasta la victoria siempre

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Consumerismul capitalist, reteta dezastrului planetar

Saitul http://www.mindfully.org/ este o utila colectie de date ce prezinta scurt si concis starea in care se afla lumea azi. O astfel de colectie de informatii se refera la realitatea din tarile consumeriste, exemplificand aici cu cazul SUA, tara cea mai reprezentativa a capitalismului mondial. Cateva date deci:

" * Americans constitute 5% of the world's population but consume 24% of the world's energy. On average, one American consumes as much energy as 2 Japanese, 6 Mexicans, 13 Chinese, 31 Indians, 128 Bangladeshis, 307 Tanzanians, or 370 Ethiopians.
P. Ehrlich. Population Bomb
* Americans eat 200 billion more calories per day than necessary -- enough to feed 80 million people.
P. Ehrlich. Population Bomb
* While millions of people around the world starve to death, Americans spend $30 billion a year on diet programs. One-third of the U.S. population is significantly overweight.
A.H. Bill. Facing the Future: People and the Planet. 1998
* The U.S. produces 22% of world's total industrial carbon dioxide emissions.
World Overpopulation Awareness

* The U.S. spent half a trillion dollars in 1998: 50% went toward traditional defense; 6% was spent on education; health, the environment, and justice each received 5%, transportation less than 3%; economic development almost 2%; and agriculture and energy less than 1% each
A.H. Bill. Facing the Future: People and the Planet. 1998
* 56% of U.S. farmland is used to produce beef; 80% of corn and 95% go to feeding livestock in the U.S., while one-third of total world grain output is fed to livestock.
P. Ehrlich. Population Bomb
* Although the fastest population growth is happening in Africa an American's impact on the environment will be over 250 times greater than a Sub-Saharan African. With only one-twentieth of the world's population, Americans consume 20% of its resources.
P. Ehrlich. Population Bomb
* By most calculations we have used more natural resources since 1955 than in all of human history to that time.
B. McKibben. A Special Moment in History, Atlantic Monthly, May98
* Today's world food supply supplies 2,700 calories per person per day. Although that could feed the world, our distribution of that food neglects 20% of the population.
A.H. Bill. Facing the Future: People and the Planet. 1998
* Commercial energy consumption: 1 person in the industrialized world = 10 people in the developing world.
P. Ehrlich. Population Bomb
* It is estimated that an average of only 0.1% of the pesticides used on crops reaches pests; 99.9% of the pesticides poison the ecosystem
P. Ehrlich. Population Bomb
* It is estimated that "the richest 225 people in the world today control more wealth than the poorest 2.5 billion people. And that the three richest people in the world control more wealth than the poorest 48 nations
A.H. Bill. Facing the Future: People and the Planet. 1998 "


Asadar, in ultimii 50 de ani, SUA, capitala capitalului, a consumat mai multe resurse decat in toata istoria. Ce s-ar intampla insa daca fiecare tara ar consuma la fel de mult ca SUA, care desi reprezinta doar 5% din populatia omenirii, consuma un sfert din resursele totale? Conform unui raport al New Economics Foundation, ale carei descoperiri au fost facute publice la 26 martie 2008:

"It would take more than five Earths to be able to sustain the world population if everyone consumed resources at the same rate as the United States, according to the New Economics Foundation (NEF). NEF stated that the world reached "ecological overdraft" for 2007 on October 6 -- in other words, more resources were consumed between January 1 and October 6 than the planet can replenish in one year. NEF refers to this date as Ecological Debt Day. Ecological Debt Day came on October 9 in 2006 and October 12 in 2005. According to NEF, Ecological Debt Day has been earlier every year since ecological overdraft began in the 1980s.
NEF noted that the gulf between consumption rates in the First and Third Worlds has also widened. For the United States' consumption rates to be sustainable if mimicked by the entire human population, NEF says, it would take 5.3 Earths. At the consumption rate of France or the United Kingdom, it would take 3.1. The numbers for other nations include 3.0 for Spain, 2.5 for Germany and 2.4 for Japan."
Sursa: http://www.naturalnews.com/022890.html

Asadar, daca nerfericita ciuma consumerista din tarile capitaliste s-ar raspandi in intreaga lume, am avea nevoie de la 2,4 pana la 5,3 planete Pamant pentru a putea acoperi aceste nevoi materialiste ale fiecarei tari in parte.

Solutia--reducerea drastica si fortata a consumului in tarile dezvoltate:
Conform savantului Jared Diamond, profesor de geografie la Universitatea din California, stoparea prefigurarii dezastrului planetar este impunerea unor limite severe consumului din tarile "civilizate":

"No, we could have a stable outcome in which all countries converge on consumption rates considerably below the current highest levels. Americans might object: there is no way we would sacrifice our living standards for the benefit of people in the rest of the world. Nevertheless, whether we get there willingly or not, we shall soon have lower consumption rates, because our present rates are unsustainable.
Real sacrifice wouldn't be required, however, because living standards are not tightly coupled to consumption rates. Much American consumption is wasteful and contributes little or nothing to quality of life. For example, per capita oil consumption in Western Europe is about half of ours, yet Western Europe's standard of living is higher by any reasonable criterion, including life expectancy, health, infant mortality, access to medical care, financial security after retirement, vacation time, quality of public schools and support for the arts.
Ask yourself whether Americans' wasteful use of gasoline contributes positively to any of those measures. Other aspects of our consumption are wasteful, too. Most of the world's fisheries are still operated non-sustainably, and many have already collapsed or fallen to low yields — even though we know how to manage them in such a way as to preserve the environment and the fish supply.
If we were to operate all fisheries sustainably, we could extract fish from the oceans at maximum historical rates and carry on indefinitely. The same is true of forests: we already know how to log them sustainably, and if we did so worldwide, we could extract enough timber to meet the world's wood and paper needs. Yet most forests are managed non-sustainably, with decreasing yields. Just as it is certain that within most of our lifetimes we'll be consuming less than we do now, it is also certain that per capita consumption rates in many developing countries will one day be more nearly equal to ours. These are desirable trends, not horrible prospects. In fact, we already know how to encourage the trends; the main thing lacking has been political will."
Articol aparut in 2 ianuarie 2008 in New York Times:

In concluzie, consumerismul capitalist este un flagel cancerigen, care daca s-ar intinde in intreaga lume, ar duce cu rapiditate la sfarsitul vietii pe Terra. Tarile bogate pot rezista in acest ritm numai datorita saraciei crunte, inumane, din restul tarilor. Daca Immanuel Kant intreba "ce s-ar intampla daca un act de vointa ar deveni lege univerasala?", intrebam si noi "ce s-ar intampla daca sistemul capitalismului consumerist ar deveni lege universala?"

Monday, April 28, 2008

Consumerismul bogatilor, moartea saracilor

Un articol publicat la 1 iulie 2007 de Anita Purcell-Sjoelund pentru Agentia de Presa Franceza (AFP) atrage atentia, folosindu-se de cercetarile lui Johan Rockstroem, de la prestigiosul Stockholm Environment Institute, ca rata exacerbata a consumerismului din tarile bogate poate duce la un adevarat genocid pe scara mare in tarile in curs de dezvoltare. Mai exact, impactul ecologic al consumerismului din tarile bogate va reduce in 20 de ani la jumatate productia de hrana din Africa.

"Food production in developing countries will halve in the next 20 years unless wealthy nations lower their rate of consumption, the Stockholm Environment Institute warned at a weekend conference. [...]
The livelihoods of more than three billion people in the world are being undermined by the wealth of the privileged few, the institute’s executive director, Johan Rockstroem, warned.
“The risk is that we might halve … food production in sub-Saharan Africa because of our lifestyles,” he told AFP on the sidelines of an international conference on climate change and sustainable development, held in the Swedish town of Taellberg.
Rockstroem said that as wealthy countries increase consumption they also increase their exploitation of the world’s natural resources, and in turn emit more greenhouse gases. That ultimately speeds up the desertification of sub-Saharan Africa and other parts of the world. According to scientists and experts, greenhouse gas emissions are continuing to rise by two percent a year despite hundreds of environmental agreements, including the Kyoto Protocol.
The Stockholm Environment Institute is one of the world’s top five research organisations in climate change and it is pushing for a broader dialogue on social and economic change.
“We have come to the end of the road of sustainable development as we know it today. Science alone cannot deal with this. The risk of environmental refugees, the risk of societal collapse is imminent,” Rockstroem said. “We need to make massive changes in the equity and stewardship of the planet which goes way beyond climate change,” he added."

Egalitarismul si moderatia, impreuna cu condamnarera ferma a consumerismului, se contureaza tot mai clar ca fiind singurele solutii pentru evitarea unui dezastru de mari proportii pentru omenire. Articolul din care am citat, impreuna cu opiniile altor experti care sunt de acord cu cele spuse de Johan Rockstroem se gasesc la adresa:

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Flagelul muncii in exces, cauzat de mania consumerista

In articolul lor „Why Do People Overwok: Oversupply of Hours of Labor, Labor Market Forces and Adaptive Preferences”, ce va aparea in lucrarea „Effects of Work Hours and Work Addiction: Strategies for Dealing with Them”, editata de R. Burke and G. Cooper, autorii Lonnie Golden si Morris Altman sustin ca pornirile consumeriste sunt principala cauza a muncii in exces.
Sa urmarim intai care sunt efectele daunatoare ale muncii in exces:

Efectele daunatoare ale muncii in exces
„The potential adverse welfare effects stemming from long hours of work per se, such as psychological health and physical health, are becoming ever better documented (e.g., Sparks and Cooper, 1997; Thierry and Jansen, 1998; Burawoy, et al, 2001; Van Der Hulst and Geurts 2001; Spurgeon, 2003; Kodz, 2003; Caruso et al. 2006). Frequent overtime and long work days can be a major cause of stress, chronic fatigue, repetitive motions and exposures to harmful chemicals, leading to chronic or acute health conditions and even occupational burnout (Sparks, Cooper, Fried and Shiron, 1997; Spurgeon and Harrington, 1997; Barnett et al., 1999; Fenwick and Tausig, 2000, Haight, 2001)).
Evidence abounds that long work hours generally contribute to higher rates of accident rates and thus a greater risk of injury and illness, although this may be attributable at least somewhat to prior health, demographic and compensation characteristics (Allen et al, 2007). For similar reasons of fatigue or work stress, among workers who work overtime hours, depending on factors such as the shift timing, rest breaks and sector of employment, the accident rate typically begins to rise somewhere between the 9th and 12th hour in a day at work (e.g, Rosa 1995; Hanecke et al., 1998; Dembe et al, 2005). Those who experience higher levels of overwork levels report a higher scale of stress and depressive symptoms and that their health and self-care are not good (Galinsky, et al, 2005). By crowding out desired but unattained non-work time, families are more likely to experience work-family imbalance or interference (Clarkberg, 2001) and higher levels of stress (Fenwick and Taussig, 2001). For example, over 30 percent of workers who worked over 60 weekly hours experience severe work-family conflict (Cornell University IWS, 1999). More indirectly and longer term, there may be some adverse ecological impacts of more hours spent at work, to the extent that it enhances energy consumption, carbon emissions and the pace of adverse climate change (Schor, 2005; Rosnick and Weisbrot, 2006).
The most direct estimates are that 26 percent report recently "feeling overworked" and more than half of workers feeling so sometime in the last 3 months (Galinsky, et al, 2005).
Generally, despite adding to the individual’s income and the national output level,
overemployment creates four separate types of potential spillover costs: Accident risks that result in injury, illness or adverse public health and safety; time squeeze on family, relationships,
children and social capital development; underemployment and negative employment effects; Negative effects on average productivity per hour at the organizational and/or national levels. Feeling driven to work longer is generally more likely to be associated with negative well-being at work outcomes, in contrast to work enjoyment as the prime motivation (Burke, 1999).”

Asadar, munca in exces are efecte dintre cele mai adverse asupra vietii personale si sociale, printre care stres, slabiciune, predilectie spre comportamente riscante, rate crescute de accidentari si raniri, deteriorarea contactelor sociale cu familia, prietenii etc.
Care este insa principala cauza a muncii in exces? In opinia celor doi autori, ea este mentalitatea consumerista si materialista, adica pe sleau spus, goana dupa bani: oamenii muncesc mult mai mult ca sa se imbogateasca.

Consumerismul, cauza principala a muncii in exces:
„Rising consumerism is the primary force behind a rising proportion of full-time workers engaged in very long hours of workweeks (in Australia, see Drago et al, 2005). Arguably behind this is the intensified marketing and advertising that may create tastes for more market goods and services. This creates a perpetual outward movement of the household’s income target. The cumulative effects of intensifying promotional efforts for products eventually lead workers to prefer more income to purchase these now familiar products or services (George 1997; Fraser and Paton, 2003; Cowling and Poolsombat, 2007). As new commodities are introduced, what was once considered a luxury, amenity or novelty item gradually becomes a new want to satisfy. Bandwagon effects suggest that individuals derive satisfaction from consuming goods and services that others are consuming (Altman 2001). (...)
Inegalitatile sociale duc la randul lor la cresterea fenomenului „overwork”
„In particular, income and cars are found to be highly positional; however, more leisure time provides virtually no gain in relative rank (Carlsson and Martinsson, 2007). One reference group for workers regarding their income target may be family. More hours may be motivated by keeping pace with or siblings (e.g., Neumark and Postlewaite, 1998). Individuals also tend to emulate the consumption patterns of their most affluent reference groups. In the context of recently rising income inequality, with the top income bracket pulling away from the rest, this requires that less well-off individuals or households desire to work more hours in order to gain income to protect their relative position in consumption levels (Altman 2001; Pingle and Mitchell 2002). Alternatively, they accumulate more consumer or household debt (Frank, 1999). However, this eventually leads to a desire for more work in order to avoid high-interest balances or risk of personal bankruptcy. Indeed, those who work overtime when it is not mandatory tend to be from relatively higher income households (Golden and Wiens-Tuers, 2006).”

Care sunt insa remediile acesti isterii a muncii in exces? Lonnie Golden si Morris Altman argumenteaza pentru redistribuirea veniturilor, ceea ce inseamna ca cei care in prezent muncesc mai mult si castiga mai mult sa fie astfel descurajati, taxe marite pe produsele de lux si ceel de consum, incurajarea economisirii, precum si marirea perioadei legale de concedii.

„To the extent the sources of longer desired hours reflect underlying, external institutional structures and incentives, they can be more fruitfully addressed with public policy changes. This would entail adopting a tax system with more progressive tax rates, higher taxes on luxury consumption goods and services and lower taxes on household savings, and by transforming payroll taxes from a quasi-fixed to purely variable cost to employers (Frank, 1999; Hamermesh and Slemrod, 2005). Efforts to reverse patterns of persistent long work hours could occur along legal limits and legalized rights. For example, countries with more generous vacation standards do tend to feature shorter annual work hours (Altonji and Oldham, 2003) and those with shorter working time standards and regulations granting requests for reduced workweeks do have a more intensified desire for even shorter work hours (Bielinski et al, 2002; Rakoff, 2002; McCann, 2007).”

Sa spunem deci nu consumerismului, nu inegalitatilor de venit si statut, ferindu-ne astfel in buna masura si de pericolul caderii in munca in exces. Articolul din care am citat poate fi gasit integral la adresa: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1081245

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Sa ne ferim de individualism si materialism

Richard Eckersley

Richard Eckersley este membru al National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at the Australian National University. In articolul "Is modern Western culture a health hazard?", aparut in International Journal of Epidemiology, 2006:35, 252-252, Oxford University Press, Eckersley combate doua dintre trasaturile definitorii ale capitalismului, individualismul si materialismul.

Materialismul combatut
"The psychological and sociological literatures suggest powerful effects of culture on psychological well-being. Take materialism, by which I mean attaching importance or priority to money and possessions (and so broadly equate here with consumerism), and which underpins consumption-based economies. Many psychological studies have shown that materialism is associated, not with happiness, but with dissatisfaction, depression, anxiety, anger, isolation, and alienation.
Human needs for security and safety, competence and self-worth, connectedness to others, and autonomy and authenticity are relatively unsatisfied when materialistic values predominate.
People for whom ‘extrinsic goals’ such as fame, fortune, and glamour are a priority in life experience more anxiety and depression and lower overall well-being than people oriented towards ‘intrinsic goals’ of close relationships, self-knowledge and personal growth, and contributing to the community.
People with extrinsic goals tend to have shorter relationships with friends and lovers, and relationships characterized more by jealousy and less by trust and caring. As materialism reaches increasingly beyond the acquisition of things to the enhancement of the person, the goal of marketing becomes not only to make us dissatisfied with what we have, but also with who we are. As it seeks evermore ways to colonize our consciousness, the market both fosters and exploits the restless, insatiable expectation that there must be more to life. In short, the more materialistic we are, the poorer our quality of life."

Ultimele cuvinte ale cercetatorului australian sunt graitoare: sporirea materialismului echivaleaza cu scaderea calitatii viatii, ceea ce inseamna ca goana dupa averi, lux si placeri costisitoare este o reteta pentru nefericire.

Impotriva individualismului
"Sociologists note that individualization has transformed identity from a ‘given’ into ‘task’; it has replaced determination of social standing with, in Bauman’s words, ‘compulsive and obligatory self-determination’. The individualized life is a fate, not a choice; we cannot choose not to play the game.
This process has had a range of consequences: a heightened sense of risk, uncertainty, and insecurity; a lack of clear frames of reference; a rise in personal expectations, coupled with a perception that the onus of success lies with the individual, despite the continuing importance of social disadvantage and privilege; and a surfeit or excess of freedom and choice, which is experienced as a threat or tyranny.
To cite Bauman again, there is ‘a nasty fly of impotence in the ointment of freedom’, an impotence that is all the more upsetting in view of the empowerment that freedom was expected to deliver. Psychology offers at least two mechanisms by which individualism not only reduces social connectedness and support, but also diminishes personal control.
First, Twenge has argued that a lack of control over one’s life can be part of a defensive strategy to maintain self-esteem. The modern individual needs high self-esteem and one way tomaintain that high self-esteem is to believe that the things that threaten it are beyond one’s control. Second, building on the work of Ryan and co-workers, I have suggested that Western individualism confuses autonomy (the ability to act according to our internalized values and beliefs) with independence (not being reliant on or influenced by others). Someone who holds collectivist values is behaving autonomously, but not independently, when acting in the interests of the group. (Or, to put it somewhat differently, ‘thinking for ourselves’ has been redefined as ‘thinking of ourselves’.)
The confusion of autonomy with independence encourages a perception by individuals that they are separate from others and the environment in which they live, and so from the very things that affect their lives. Themore narrowly and separately the self is defined, the greater the likelihood that the personal influences and social forces acting on us are experienced as external and alien. The creation of a ‘separate self’ could be a major dynamic in modern life, impacting on everything from citizenship and social trust, cohesion and engagement, to the intimacy of friendships and the quality of family life. So the issue here is not just a matter of the changed relationship between the individual (as an entity) and society, but of the way in which the individual self is construed. In other words, the result is not only increased objective isolation, but also more subjective
loneliness (even in company or within relationships); out of regard for privacy—our own and others’—we may fail to seek supportwhen we need it, or hesitate to offer it to others when we should."

Asadar, individualismul promovat de gandirea vestica ajunge sa aiba efecte negatice precum o crestere a comportamentelor riscante, ceea ce duce la deteriorarea securitatii personale. Cel mai important, individualismul a ajuns sa erodeze conexiunile sociale. Fapt care la randul lui duce la minimizarea importaneti valorilor sociale veritabile.

Individualismul si materialismul erodeaza valorile autentice
"Comte-Sponville gives these as ‘the great virtues’: politeness, fidelity, prudence, temperance, courage, justice, generosity, compassion, mercy, gratitude, humility, simplicity, tolerance, purity,
gentleness, good faith, humour, and, finally, love (which transcends virtue). He says that a virtuous life is not masochistic or puritanical, but a way of living well and finding love and peace. ModernWestern culture undermines, even reverses, universal values and time-tested wisdom.
The result is not so much a collapse of personal morality, but a loss of moral clarity: a heightened moral ambivalence and ambiguity, a tension or dissonance between our professed values and lifestyles, and a deepening cynicism about social institutions. Without appropriate cultural reinforcement, we find it harder to do what we believe to be ‘good’; it takes more effort. And, conversely, it becomes easier to justify or rationalize bad behaviour. There are positive (reinforcing) feedbacks in the process: anti-social values weaken personal and social ties,which, in turn, reduce the ‘hold’ of amoral code on individuals because these ties give the code its
‘leverage’; they are a source of ‘moral fibre’."

Iata cum individualismul si comportamentul materialist dauneaza legaturilor inter-sociale, care se stie ca sunt un drum verificat spre fericire.

" To give two examples of the extent of these shifts, the average American child in the 1980s reported more anxiety than child psychiatric patients in the 1950s, and the average college student in 2002 felt less control over their lives than 80–90% of college students in 1962.
Using a range of indicators (for the anxiety study these included divorce rate, birth rate, women’s age at first marriage, proportion of people living alone, crime rate, and youth suicide rate), Twenge links most of these trends to rising individualism and freedom through declining social connectedness and increasing environmental threat. Economic factors such as unemployment and poverty seem not to be involved."

Astfel, cresterea individualismului are efecte nocive precum slabirea conexiunilor sociale, a coeziunii si solidaritatii, care duc la randul lor la anxietate si slabirea securitatii personale.

Efectele asupra sanatatii populatiei
"Health authorities now accept that there is strong and consistent evidence for a causal association between depression, social isolation and lack of social support, and heart disease; and that the increased risk posed by these factors is of a similar order to that ofmore conventional risk factors such smoking, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
39 Mortality among people who are socially isolated is two to five times higher than for those with strong ties to family, friends, and community. Cultural factors, especially materialism or consumerism, are also implicated in adverse social trends such as growing obesity and inactivity, which, in turn, are linked to a wide range of physical health problems including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.[...]
Several recent studies have also found population or ecological effects that are attributable to culture. A cross-country study of crime found that tolerance for a set of ‘materially self-interested’ attitudes—such as keeping something you have found, lying in your own interest, or cheating at tax—was higher in men, younger people, larger cities, and had increased over time, mirroring patterns of criminal offending. These values were also associated with national crime victimization rates, more strongly so than were social trust and inequality. The relationships of inequality and social trust with crime were conditional on the prevalent values of society; thus inequality per sewas onlymodestly associatedwith higher crime, but when it occurred in societies that were characterized by high levels of self-interested values its effects became more pronounced. [...] from fourth in 1990 to second in 2020. In high-income countries, depression and other neuropsychiatric conditions account for more of the disease burden than heart disease or cancer. Suicide, which has been called the mortality of depression, ranks in the 10 leading causes of death in these countries."

Individualismul si materialismul, produsele artificiale ale marketingului
"This ever-increasing consumption is not natural or inevitable, but culturally ‘manufactured’ by a massive and growing media-marketing complex. For example, big business in the United
States spends over US$100 0 billion a year on marketing—about twice what Americans spend annually on education, private and public, from kindergarten through graduate school.
This spending includes ‘macromarketing’, the management of the social environment, particularly public policy, to suit the interests of business.
Psychologists who have studied cults and mind control warn that even the brightest and best of us can be recruited or seduced by social situations and conditions to behave in ways that are contrary to our values and dispositions, to engage in actions that are immoral, illegal, irrational, and self-destructive. As Zimbardo has said, many agents of mind control ‘ply their trade daily on all of us behind many faces and fronts’; we need to learn how to resist them and to weaken their dominance."

Asadar, individualismul, materialismul, consumerismul, sporite de publicitatea capitalista, duc la izolare sociala, inegalitate, obezitate, criminalitate, sinucidere. Solutia la toate aceste probleme? Fara indoiala, egalitarismul colectivist si moderatia, renuntarea la egoista cautare a imbogatirii si deschiderea spre comunitate.

Articolul lui Richard Eckersley poate fi descarcat in intregime de la:

Friday, April 25, 2008

Sporirea banilor si a statutului, surse de depresie

Dintr-un articol recent din revista de drept ABAJournal aflam ca incercarea studentilor de a acumula cat mai multi bani si de a ajunge la o firma importanta de avocatura cauzeaza stres si anxietate.

"Stress during law school can cause anxiety and depression, especially if students focus on the need to make money and land a big-firm job. [...] As part of its online toolkit for schools, an article (PDF) advises students to focus on the right priorities—and money isn't one of them. Two of the most common sources of stress—high debt and a heavy workload—are unavoidable, says the article by Florida State law professor Lawrence Krieger. But even more damaging are attitudes about the need to be in the top 10 percent of the class and land a job at a big firm upon graduation. “Scientific research for the past 15 years has consistently shown that a primary focus on external rewards and results, including affluence, fame and power, is unfulfilling,” Krieger writes. “These values are seductive—they create a nice picture of life but they are actually correlated with relative unhappiness. Instead, people who have a more ‘intrinsic’ personal/interpersonal focus—on personal growth, close relationships, helping others or improving their community—turn out to be significantly happier and more satisfied with their lives.” Krieger says research shows that only two motivations for choosing a job create satisfaction: to do enjoyable work, or to do work that supports the person’s fundamental values or makes a higher goal possible. “If you primarily seek to do your best, improve yourself and your community, and be caring or respectful towards other people, you will be able to attain those goals and hence you create only manageable demands on your system,” he writes."

Evident, ceea ce e valabil pentru studentii la drepot e valabil si pentru restul studentilor si chiar al oamenilor. Mai putin materialism si ambitii de ascensiune sociala reduse, in corelatie cu preocuparea pentru comunitate si valorile spirituale este un sfat ce nu da gres in cautarea fericirii.

Profesorul Vani Borooah confirma: banii nu cumpara fericirea

Profesorul Vani Borooah este doctor in economie aplicata si preda la School of Public Policy, Economics and Law University of Ulster. In articolul sau “What Makes People Happy? Some Evidence From Northern Ireland”, aparut in Journal of Happiness Studies, vol. 7, pp. 427-465, 2006, Borooah confirma ceea ce stia de mult: aportul adus de bani fericirii personale e neglijabil.
Din contra, multumirea cu ceea cei ai, sanatatea, traiul alaturi de pereche, relatiile inter-sociale si lipsa preocuparilor materiale sunt conditii esentiale in atingerea fericirii. Dintr-o prezentare a studiului sau, aparuta pe saitul Universitatii din Ulster, aflam:

" Money cannot buy you happiness, according to new research from UU economist Professor Vani Borooah. The most important sources of happiness are good health and freedom from financial worries, Professor Borooah found. He studied more than 3,000 interviews from the Poverty and Social Exclusion in Northern Ireland survey and the results of his research were published recently in the Journal of Happiness Studies.

Among his findings were:

- Of the 1,950 people who described themselves as happy, only 41% regarded their standard of living as high. The key to happiness was satisfaction with one’s standard of living.
- Health – particularly mental health - played a vital role in happiness. People with even mild mental health problems were more likely to be unhappy than people suffering from severe physical health problems such as heart conditions or back pain. At least one third of those with severe physical health problems described themselves as happy, but only 4% of those with severe mental health problems said they were happy. Some 60% said they were unhappy.
- Freedom from financial worries was a major factor in happiness. People who were divorced or separated or widowed were more likely to be unhappy because of the financial implications of their new status.
- People living in rural areas were more likely to be unhappy than those living in towns or cities. Rural isolation was a major contributory factor to their unhappiness."

Sunt necesare alte prioritati decat cresterea economica si incurajarea imbogatirii private
"Professor Borooah said the research has important implications for policy makers. Too much emphasis is placed on generating wealth, particularly private wealth. Instead there should be more attention paid to devising policies which would lead to greater happiness, for example, by tackling mental health problems – one of the greatest sources of unhappiness. [...] Professor Borooah said: “There is an undue concentration of both public and private resources on raising national income: ‘undue’ because making people richer does not necessarily make them happier or, at any rate, not by enough to justify the outlay of resources in raising income.
“Now that we are able to measure what makes people happy, we should be working towards creating those factors rather than working toward income generation."

Mai multe despre descoperirile lui Vani Borooah puteti citi la: http://news.ulster.ac.uk/releases/2007/2957.html

Inegalitatile financiare sporesc si perpetueaza coruptia

Printre efectele negatice ale odioasei goane dupa bani si imbogatire este si coruptia. Aceasta este concluzia unui studiu efectuat de Jong-Sung You, PhD Candidate in Public Policy and Doctoral Fellow of Inequality
and Social Policy Program at Harvard University si Sanjeev Khagram, Visiting Professor at the Institute for International Studies at Stanford University. Materialul, intitulat "A Comparative Study of Inequality and Corruption" si aparut in American Sociological Review, 2005, vol. 70 (Febr.:136–157), este sumarizat de autori dupa cum urmeaza:

"This article argues that income inequality increases the level of corruption through material and normative mechanisms. The wealthy have both greater motivation and more opportunity to engage in corruption, whereas the poor are more vulnerable to extortion and less able to monitor and hold the rich and powerful accountable as inequality increases. Inequality also adversely affects social norms about corruption and people 's beliefs about the legitimacy of rules and institutions, thereby making it easier for them to tolerate corruption as acceptable behavior. This comparative analysis of 129 countries using two-stage least squares methods with a variety of instrumental variables supports the authors 'hypotheses using different measures of corruption (the World Banks' Control of Corruption Index and the Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index). The explanatory power of inequality is at least as important as conventionally accepted causes of corruption such as economic development. The authors also found a significant interaction effect between inequality and democracy, as well as evidence that inequality affects norms and perceptions about corruption using the World Values Surveys data. Because corruption also contributes to income inequality, societies often fall into vicious circles of inequality and corruption."

Mai exact, cum se explica faptul ca in societatile deja inegale, inegalitatile tind sa creasca si coruptia sa se inmulteasca?

"A central theoretical argument in the literature maintains that corruption is a function of motivations and opportunities (Klitgaard 1988; Rose-Ackerman 1978, 1999). As income inequality increases, the rich have more to lose through fair political, administrative, and judicial processes. With the increased inequality, the rich also have greater resources that
can be used to buy influence, both legally and illegally (Glaeser, Scheinkman, and Shleifer 2003). The rich, as a class or as interest groups, can use legal lobbying and political contributions or bribery (grand political corruption) to influence law-making processes. The rich, as interest groups, as firms, or as individuals, may use bribery or connections to influence law-implementing processes (bureaucratic corruption) and to buy favorable interpretations of the law (judicial corruption).
As inequality increases, most of the population will be relatively poorer, and likely will demand more extensive redistribution through higher levels of progressive taxation (Meltzer and Richard 1981). As the redistributive pressures increase, the rich correspondingly will have greater motivation to use political corruption to lower the tax rates and bureaucratic corruption to further circumvent the collection of taxes."

Altfel spus, cu cat inegalitatyile sporesc, cu atat se consolideaza o minoritate ultra-bogata, care pentru a stopa justele si echilibratele practici redistributioniste ale majoritatii, se folosesc de puterea lor pentru a manipula clasa politica in scopul obtinerii de legi favorabile lor. Astfel, societatile inegale ajung sa avantajeze o minotitate in detrimentul majoroitatii.

Concluziile studiului
1. Inegalitatile financiare, scad eficienta economica
"First, corruption is likely to be an important channel through which inequality adversely affects economic growth. Inequality increases corruption, which in turn deters investment and growth. Although Alesina and Rodrik (1994) and Persson and Tabellini (1994) argued that the adverse effect of inequality on economic growth is attributable to high rates of taxation and redistribution, our results suggest an alternative explanation, with corruption as a causal pathway."

2. Acceptarea inegalitatilor favorizeaza doar o minoritate sociala in detrimentul majoritatii
"Second, our findings may help to explain why higher levels of market income inequality are not associated with higher levels of redistribution, contrary to the prediction of the median voter theorem (Iversen and Soskice 2002; Meltzer and Richard 1981). Inequality increases corruption, especially in democracies, and corruption produces policy outcomes closer to those preferred by the rich than those favored by the median voter. Hence,
taxation and redistribution in high-inequality societies will be lower than predicted by the median voter theorem. Thus, inequality tends to persist without convergence across countries over time."

3. Redistribuirea veniturilor, arma impotriva coruptiei
"However, redistribution may turn vicious circles into virtuous circles. Democracy (or political equality) is not sufficient to curb corruption without economic equality, and democratization in highly unequal societies may even generate increased corruption in the short run. One task of politics and public action is to shape institutions and social conditions so that people behave honestly because they believe that the basic structure their society is just (Elster 1987). Corruption may not be destiny after all."

Sa taiem deci din radacini animalica dorinta de inavutire, inegalitatile sociale, coruptia si restul relelor ce rezulta de aici. Spre egalitarism!
Articolul din care am citat poate fi citit integral aici:

Foamea de bani, o poluare sociala

Merita sa ne intoarcem la scrierile lui Richard Layard, un economist eminent, specializat in studiul realatiilor dintre venituri si fericire, director of the Well-
Being Programme in the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics. In articolul sau numit "Wealth and happiness: striking a balance", aparut in Wealth Management, 2004, Layard sustine ca dorinta de bogatii nu doar ca nu sporeste fericirea sociala, dar din contra, este ca o dependenta ce are efecte negative, indepartandu-i pe oameni de adevaratele surse de fericire, precum relatiile interpersonale. Concluzia este ca trebuie sa descurajam flagelul muncii in exces in goana dupa bani, asa cum procedam si in cazul altor vicii, precum fumatul.

So why has extra income brought such little extra happiness? There are two main reasons.
The first is rivalry, or keeping up with the Joneses. We compare our
income and living standards with others. We want to be better off
than others. That is one reason why people work so hard. Also,
richer people are happier than poorer, because they are relatively
richer. But society as a whole can-not become relatively richer – relative to itself.
There is also habituation. We compare our income with what we are used to. If I live better today, I shall feel worse next year unless I keep up with this year’s standard. So I am on a treadmill where, each time I improve myself, I set myself a higher hurdle for the future."

Sa descurajam munca in exces
"Both the pollution and the addiction matter because huge sacrifices of private life are made in pursuit of higher income. If much of this sacrifice is self-defeating, we should discourage it in the standard way that we discourage other forms of pollution and addiction – by taxing it. We do not think of cigarette taxes as distorting because they cause people to smoke too little. Nor should we think of income taxes or VAT as distorting because
they make people work too little. They are efficient because they prevent people working in a way that is self-defeating. So they are a key
element in promoting a sensible work-life balance."

Sa redistribuim averile celor bogati catre cei saraci
Banii celor bogati nu ii fac mai fericiti, nasc in societate o goana fara sens dupa statut, si pot spori semnificativ fericirea celor defavorizati. Tot atatea argumente pentru egalitarism si redistribuire.

"Our knowledge on all this is not yet so precise that we can say exactly what level of tax would be the most efficient and non-distorting. But many existing studies on the role of income aspirations in happiness would justify present levels of tax on pure efficiency grounds. On top of this there is the equity argument for redistributive taxation.
If you take £1 from a rich person and give it to a poor person, it helps the poor person more than it hurts the rich. This old argument is now confirmed by empirical research on happiness. It applies within countries but also across countries. For countries above $15,000 per capita per year
a rise in average income has very little effect on average happiness
But countries below $15,000 are less happy than richer ones, and
extra income has a clear effect on national happiness. That is the basic case for Third World aid.
Returning to rivalry, the key problem is that the amount of status in society is fixed. Any gain to the winner is automatically matched by an equal loss to the loser. We should question social arrangements that exacerbate the
salience of status. Over-focussing on interpersonal comparisons can
increase envy, and thus reduce overall happiness."

Cum relatiile inter-umane sunt cele capabile de a ridica fericirea, competitiile si cursa spre imbogatire trebuie descurajate caci produc rivalitate in loc de prietenie: "If we are serious about happiness, we have to realize that human relationships are its prime source. So policymakers should always ask ‘Will this policy make people feel the world is a friendlier place?’ Pursuing this thought leads to many surprising conclusions."

Articolul lui Richard Layard se gaseste la adresa:

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Inca o dovada ca renuntarea la materialism sporeste fericirea

Helen Cherrier este doctor al Universitatii din Arkansas si printre pozitiile pe care le-a ocupat se numara cea de lector la Universitatea din Sydney, profesor la Westminster, Londra, in prezent fiind profesor la Universitatea Luiss Guido Carli, Roma. Printre ariile sale de cercetare se afla studiul comportamentelor consumatorilor.
La randul sau, Caroline Lego Munoz este profesor asistent la Universitatea Fairleigh Dickinson din New Jersey, cu aceeasi specializare ca si Cherrier.
In numarul din 12 iulie 2007 al publicatiei academice Journal of Research for Consumers, cele doua cercetatoare au publicat articolul intitulat " A Reflection on Consumers’ Happiness: The Relevance of Care for Others, Spiritual Reflection, and Financial Detachment", in care demonstreaza ca altruismul, medidatia si scaderea interesului fata de bunurile materiale sporesc fericirea personala.
Prezint mai jos, pas cu pas, desfasurarea textului:

Magnitudinea materialismului in prezent si de ce el e incapabil de a spori fericirea

"The concept of happiness is often linked with the concept of materialism, which is defined as “the importance a consumer attaches to worldly possessions” (Belk 1984, p. 291). A materialistic individual believes that material possessions provide the greatest source of satisfaction and dissatisfaction. Today’s consumer society is awash in luxurious products, enabling almost everyone access to what was once unattainable, despite the considerable individual and societal costs (Frank 1999). Conspicuous consumption has been further advanced in Western society by the rampant exposure to glamorous lifestyles (via catalogs, television, magazines, etc.) and the “cal -and-raise-the-Joneses” mentality (Easterbrook 2003, p. 140).

Within consumer research, there are two major ways of measuring materialism and its effect on happiness: materialism conceptualized as a value (Richins and Dawson 1992) and materialism perceived as a personal trait (Belk 1985). Although Richins and Dawson (1992) and Belk (1985) take two different approaches to materialism (trait versus value), they share a basic understanding of materialism and conclude with similar findings. Belk (1985) found negative correlations between materialism and happiness and between materialism and life satisfaction.
Similarly, Richins and Dawson (1992) correlated materialism with various aspects of life satisfaction and concluded that high scorers on materialism were less satisfied with their lives. Economists have also addressed materialism by illustrating the relationship between income and “material aspirations.” More specifically, as income increases throughout the consumer’s life, his or her aspirations related to material goods increase as wel , often resulting in frustration (Easterlin 2001; Frey and Stutzer 2002). In other words, as consumers earn more, they continue to want more and their levels of subjective wel -being remain the same."

Erorile marketingului

"First, marketers assume that happiness is reached by focusing on pleasurable experiences and minimizing pain (Belk 1985). Yet, happiness is a product of not only satisfaction but also regrets, doubts, pain, and sorrow (Ahuvia and Friedman 1998). Consequently, need satisfaction cannot directly be correlated to consumer happiness because it is solely affiliated to positive emotion, whereas consumer happiness is affiliated to both positive and negative emotions. Moreover, recent studies in consumer behavior note that consumption is becoming more a result of desires than of needs or wants (Belk, Ger, and Askegaard 2003). Yet, “desire does not desire satisfaction. To the contrary, desire desires desire. The reason images are so desirable is that they never satisfy” (El iot 1997, p. 288). Here, happiness is not reached through satisfaction but through the entertainment of desires."

Asadar, comportamentul consumerist e incapabil sa sporeasca fericirea, caci el se concentreaza doar de placere, pe cand fericirea este creata, pe termen lung, inclusiv prin aportul adus de experientele neplacute si, in plus, consumerismul nu mai satisface nevoile, ci doar creaza la infinit dorinte noi, care nu satisfac in sine niciodata.

Prea multe optiuni scad satisfactia
"The second assumption relates to the freedom of choice and its relation to happiness. In most marketing literature, the freedom to choose, which includes convenient shopping, product availability, and variety, helps consumers satisfy their needs (Ng 1997). Freedom of choice facilitates consumer need satisfaction, but too many choices can prove to be detrimental. This aspect of “consumer hyperchoice” can be experienced as a form of tyranny and promotes discontentment rather than happiness. A high number of alternatives from which to choose can create conflicts, fear of loss, and lower levels of decision satisfaction (Desmeules 2002; Schwartz 2004; Kaun 2005; Mick, Broniarczyk, and Haidt 2004). Hence, consumer happiness does not necessarily relate to a higher number of alternatives from which to choose. "

Astfel, numarul exagerat de mare de produse de pe piata nu fac decat sa produca temeri ca am pierdut deoaerece nu am facut alegerea optima, creaza conflicte si, per total, minimizeaza satisfactia.

Veniturile conteaza doar pana cand sunt satisfacute nevoile de baza
"As noted earlier, later studies have concentrated on the relationship between happiness and income and have found that while there is a positive relationship between income and well-being, the correlation is not strong in wealthier countries (Diener et al. 1993; Diener and Suh 2000). In particular, time series research found that income growth did not increase with
happiness for many industrialized nations (Easterlin 1995) and that it takes more income to be as happy today than it did in previous decades (Easterlin 2001). One explanation of this occurrence is that wealthier nations hit a point of “diminishing returns” when it comes to income growth and well-being (Diener and Seligman 2004). After a point of meeting “basic” needs, consumers’ happiness doesn’t benefit appreciatively with increased income (Diener and Biswas-Diener 2002)."

Aceasta critica a consumerismului se leaga perfect de restul cercetarilor legate de raportul venituri-fericire, care afirma ca banii cresc fericirea doar atunci cand persoana are suficienti incat sa depaseasca pragul saraciei, dar nu mai au un aport semnificativ odata ce acest prag e depasit.

Capitalismul, incapabil sa sporeasca fericirea
"In opposition to this theory of economic progress and financial capital, other researchers emphasize that the desire for money and/or wealth is exhausting and can relegate people to, among other things, a state of perpetual unhappiness and increased levels of stress (De Graaf, Naylor, and Wann 2001; Thoits and Hannan 1979). Easterbrook (2003, p. 177) notes that “what people really want in life — love, friendship, respect, family, standing, fun — is not priced and does not pass through the market. If something isn’t priced you can’t buy it, so possessing money may not help that much.” These findings and observations are consistent with Max
Weber’s view of capitalist societies in which individuals are instruments of the economics of the market; they are possessed and even alienated by the economic system. Following this perspective, Fromm (1975) argues that the capitalist man is no longer capable of happiness - the modern man only negotiates or trades and ultimately suffers from a non-creative disposition.
Here, money and its economic power conflict rather than promote happiness. This viewpoint has recently appeared in studies on voluntary simplicity, downshifting, or simple living (Cherrier 2002; Cherrier and Murray 2001)."

Explicatia e deci simpla: banii nu mai sporesc fericirea odata ce e depasita saracia lucie, iar ceea ce sporeste fericirea peste acest punct, adica relatiile interumane, respectul, relaxarea etc. nu pot fi achizitionate de pe piata, deci nu se pot cumpara. Aceasta inseamna ca sistemul capitalist, bazat pe mercantilism si consumerism, actioneaza in gol.

Adevaratele cai spre fericire: meditatia, grija fata de ceilalti, scaderea interesului pentru materialismul financiar

In his research on happiness, Fromm sees the modern man as an instrument of the market who will not be happy unless he practices certain self-discipline and lays down a number of rules of conduct (Fromm 1960, 1975). According to Fromm, discipline, concentration, patience, and real
dedication are the four most important criteria to live a happy life (Fromm 1975). Drawing upon this work, Hadot (1981, 2002) related Fromm’s concept of self-discipline to the importance of spiritual exercise for happiness. For Hadot, in order to live a happy life, individuals have to
question the meaning of life and follow their spiritual needs. We therefore define spiritual reflection for the purposes of this study as, ‘a personal search, journey, or quest to connect with one’s true or authentic self.” As such, spirituality reflection comes to include the set of feelings, tastes, practices, objects, values, knowledge, beliefs, and experiences which are associated with the search for connection with an authentic self."

Astfel, descoperirea nevoilor spirituale, psihice, realizata prin introspectie si cunoasterea de sine, au un rolm esential in procesul de crestere a fericirii proprii dar nu pot fi achizitionate de pe piata.

Grija fata de ceilalti

"The relationship between caring for others and happiness has been discussed by a number of scholars. As Foucault (1997) noted, happiness can only be accomplished with relationships of dependence to others. For Foucault, caring for oneself “involves complex relations with the
other, because this ethos of freedom is also a way to be able to care for others” (1997, p. 287). Foucault elevates care for others and curiosity to two of the prime elements of living a good life (1997). Etzoni (1997, 2001) expands this viewpoint to include the creation of a communitarian
environment and the development of global communities as ways to enhance happiness. Thus, each author emphasizes the importance of caring for others in relation to living a happy life. Recent happiness literature also documents the impact of others on one’s happiness. Specifically, Veenhoven’s (2002) analysis of the World Database of Happiness notes a strong correlation between happiness and the capability to care for others."

Consumerismul e insa antitetic grijii fata de restul lumii, caci nu incurajeaza cumpararea produselor ecologice si se adreseaza lacomiei consumatorului, ceea ce in sine minimizeaza grija fata de ceilalti: "Unfortunately, the current consumer marketplace makes it difficult for socially responsible consumption behavior to occur, and consumer hyperchoice may even “reduce willingness to engage in altruistic and pro-social behaviors” (Mick et al. 2004, p. 209)."

Scaderea interesului materialist, o cale spre fericire

"Increased wealth comes with a price for some: material aspirations grow (Easterlin 2001; Frey and Stutzer 2002), stress increases (Thoits and Hannan 1979), relationships are tested (Smith and Razzell 1975), and less time can be devoted to leisure (Diener and Biswas-Diener, 2002).
In essence, individuals are experiencing a “consumer hyperchoice” shopping environment marked by “ever-increasing” consumer shopping, purchase options, day-to-day demands, and decreased time (Mick et al. 2004). As Mick et al. (2004, p. 209) summarize, the effects of hyperchoice could include “diminishment of mindfulness or attentional control,” judgementalism impatience, and incivility. Beyond impacting the quality of consumers’ interactions, individuals have less time available to devote to their family, community, and leisure activities. For example, Americans specifically work more than those in many other industrialized, wealthy
nations (Sennett 1998). What free time that does remain is primarily reserved for watching television (2.58 hours on average a day), compared to socializing with friends (.78 hours on average a day) (American Time Use Survey 2006). Thus, the end result is less time spent caring for others and reflecting on one’s life, as well as the diminishing quality of these interactions.

Easterbrook (2003) suggests that “waking up from the American dream” needs to happen for consumers. In other words, material goods and personal freedom do not equal happiness; happiness needs to “come from elsewhere.” There is some evidence that consumers are starting to realize the financial and consumption costs of desiring more. For example, American television is replete with shows devoted to reducing credit card debt and limiting clutter in the home. Industries predicated on organizing one’s “stuff” have blossomed (e.g., The Container Store, Real Simple magazine, etc.). Inglehart (1977) proposed that values antithetical to materialism are occurring with more frequency within industrialized nations. These “postmaterialism” values embrace self-expression, sense of community, quality of life, and eschew materialistic values such as purchasing and achievement. Empirical research by Inglehart (1997) indicates that the number of individuals embracing post-materialist values has increased within industrialized nations.

Research addressing the outcomes of setting an excessive value on money may explain the surge in postmaterialism. Findings revealed that the cost of prioritizing money in one’s life (i.e., “I firmly believe money can solve all of my problems” and “I would do practically anything legal for money if it were enough”), results in lower levels of well-being (Kirkcaldy, Furnham, and
Martin 1998). Lastly, Max Weber (1968) strongly prescribed individuals’ detachment from money accumulation, citing that it is the controlling tool for the ones in power."

Pe scurt, mania consumerista, a celor care alearga constanta dupa placeri costisitoare, nu face decat sa reduca interesul pentru viata sociala, timp liber, meditatie etc., sa duca la munca in exces si deci scade fericirea.

In ultima parte a articolului, cele doua cercetatoarea demonstreaza empiric, ca medidatia, grija fata de societate si mediul inconjurator si svaderea atasamentului material sporesc fericirea.
"This investigation of financial detachment calls into question the equation of a happier life with more money and fulfilled material needs. It therefore reinforces previous consumer research that has illustrated that materialism is negatively related to happiness (Belk 1995; Richins 1994; Richins and Dawson 1992; O'Connell 2002; Tatzel 2003). It also lends support to economic research that found weak correlations between income and happiness (Diener et al. 1993; Diener and Suh 2000)."

Detaliile tehnice referitoare la realizarea si concluziile studiului, impreuna cu alte critici ale consumerismului, echivalarii detinerii de mari sume de bani cu fericirea, impreuna cu alte beneficii ale activitatilor non-materialiste se gasesc in articol, la adresa: http://www.jrconsumers.com/Consumer_Articles?f=11948

Fericirea la nivel de natiuni

Nici cand privim si comparam fericirea natiunilor, nu putem conclude ca veniturile ridicate ar spori-o. Ne convingem de acest lucru citind articolul "The Psychology of Happiness", publicat de Dr. David Myers in enciclopedia cu peer-reviex scholarpedia. Textul a fost aprobat pentru publicare de Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky.

Sunt oamenii din tarile bogate mai fericiti?
"There is some tendency for prosperous nations to have happier and more satisfied people (though these also tend to be countries with high literacy, civil rights, and stable democracies). But the correlation between national wealth and well-being tapers off above a certain level."

Deci exista o oarecare tendinda ca populatiile din tarile bogate sa fie mai fericite, dar asta doar pana la un anumit nivel, dupa care stagneaza. In plus, Myers sugereaza ca educatia, respectarea drepturilor omului si stabilitatea democratica pot fi adevaratele surse ale acesti oarecare cresteri comparative in satisfactie a celor ce traiesc in tarile bogate fata de cei din tarile sarace.

In cadrul tarilor, sunt bogatii mai fericiti ?
"Although many researchers have found the correlation between personal income and happiness "surprisingly weak" (as Ronald Inglehart report in 1990), recent surveys indicate that across individuals as across nations, the relationship is curvilinear: the association between income and happiness tapers off once people have sufficient income to afford life's necessities and a measure of control over their lives."

Pe scurt, banii aduc fericirea doar pana cand reusesc sa scoata omul din saracie lucie si ii permit sa-si satisfaca nevoile de baza si sa aiba un anumit control asupra propriilor vieti.

Creste fericirea unui popor odata cu cresterea bogatiei nationale?
"The answer is plainly no. Americans love what their grandparents of a half century ago seldom knew: air conditioning, the Internet, MP3 players, and bigger houses. Yet they are no happier. The same is true in other countries, economist Richard Easterlin has reported. Economic growth in affluent countries has not demonstrably improved human morale. Ditto China, where Gallup surveys since 1994 reveal huge increases in households with color TV and telephones, but somewhat diminished life satisfaction. Such results have led Ed Diener and Martin Seligman to collaborate with the Census Bureau in devising new "national indicators of subjective well-being."

Concluzia lui Myers este fara echivoc: nu, bogatia si abundenta nu sporesc catusi de putin fericirea unui popor.

Care sunt explicatiile acestei neputinte constatate a veniturilor de a spori fericirea? David Myers raspunde: capacitatea noastra de adaptare la bogatie si comparatiile sociale.

"Psychologists have sought to explain why objective life circumstances -- especially positive experiences -- have such modest long-term influence on happiness. One explanation is our human capacity for adaptation. Sooner than we might expect, people will adapt to improvements in circumstances and recalibrate their emotions around a new "adaptation level." Thus, finds Daniel Gilbert in his studies, summarized in Stumbling on Happiness, emotions have a shorter half-life than most people suppose. Nevertheless, some psychologists, such as Sonja Lyubomirsky and her colleagues, draw from happiness research in designing interventions that aim to increase happiness.

Happiness reflects not only our adaptations to recent experiences but also our social comparisons. As people climb the ladder of success, they tend to compare upward. And with increasing income inequality, as in contemporary China, there will likely be more available examples of better off people with whom to compare. In experiments, people engaged in comparing downward─by comparing themselves with those impoverished or disfigured─express greater satisfaction with their own lives."

Iata asadar inca o dovada ca goana dupa bogatie este irationala nu doar la nivel individual, dar si national, si ca accentul pus pe continua dezvoltare economica nu merita efortul. Tarile ar face bine sa urmareasca, din punct de vedere economic, ca intreaga populatie sa iasa din saracie si sa aiba un minim peste aceasta. Inegalitatile, care duc la comparatii intre oameni si la invidie, si imbogatirea trebuiesc reduse prin instaurarea egalitarismului. In acest fel va fi asigurata si o democratie stabila si veridica, deoarece nu va mai exista o minoritate de ultra-bogati care sa-si impune vointa in politica, medie etc. Cand acumularea continua va fi descurajata, oamenii se vor intoarce la adevaratele surse de fericire: timpul liber, relatiile inter-umane, sportul, educatia etc.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Haul se adanceste, saracia creste

Capitalismul, sistemul socio-politic manat de sporirea profitului personal si de dorinta de imbogatire si accedere pe scara sociala, se dovedeste inca o data unul disfunctional. In timp, acesta sporeste odioasele inegalitati socio-financiare, marind prapastia dintre saraci si bogati. In timp ce o ultra-minoritate isi multiplica exponential averile, lucru care insa nu o face mai fericita, o mare parte a populatiei este tinuta in saracie si o alta mare parte este amenintata de spectrul saracirii.
Cateva date statistice culese din surse recente:

Prapastia intre bogati si restul se adanceste
"Income inequality, by many measures, is now greater than it has been since the 1920's. The top 1 percent of earners in the United States made 19 percent of all income in 2005, up from 8 percent in 1975, according to an analysis by Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty, two economists.[...] In 1947, the median family - the one making more than half of all other families and less than half of all other families - made $23,400, according to the Economic Policy Institute. Over the next three decades, median-income more than doubled, to $47,400 in 1977. In 2005, the median family made $58,400. (All these numbers are adjusted for inflation.)

Meanwhile, the incomes of earners at the 99.99th percentile of the income distribution -- those making more than 9,999 out of every 10,000 other earners -- have soared over the last three decades, from less than $2 million in the late 1970's to about $10 million now.
So pay has risen for most families in the last 30 years, but as not as quickly as it did in the decades after World War II and not nearly as quickly as it has for the affluent."

Selectie dintr-un articol semnat David Leonhradt, 16 decembrie 2007, aparut in The New York Times: http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/i/income/income_inequality/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier

Americanul de rand saraceste
Dar oare aceasta crestere a veniturilor familiilor medii are vreo consistenta? Nu cumva in ciuda acestei cresteri, puterea de cumparare a americanului de rand e in scadere? Ba bine ca nu:

"* By the end of 2007, 36 percent of consumers' disposable income went to food, energy and medical care, a bigger chunk of income than at any time since records were first kept in 1960, according to Merrill Lynch.

* People are treating themselves less often. The National Restaurant Association says 54 percent of restaurants reported declining traffic in January, and the government says eating at home increased last year for the first time since 2001.

* Financial planners say that more than ever, parents are calling for advice on how to deal with grown children who have moved back in with Mom and Dad after losing a job or just to save money.

* Less trash is being set on the curbs of Mesa, Ariz., where surging home foreclosures are leaving more houses empty. That means fewer homeowners paying the city $22.60 a month for pickup. And William Black, the city's solid-waste management director, says people aren't throwing out as many appliances and bulk items, like furniture. They're sticking with what they have.

* Nearly 9 million households now have upside-down mortgages, and for the first time ever, aggregate mortgage debt is bigger than the total value of homeowner equity — bigger by $836 billion, according to research by Merrill Lynch."

* An analysis of government data by the Washington Post found that prices for basic staples like groceries, gasoline and health care have risen 9.2 percent since 2006. This means a family of four, which made $45,000 a year, is spending an extra $972 annually, assuming it did not cut back on such items because of higher prices. During that same period average earnings for non-managerial workers rose by only 5 percent, translating into a de facto wage cut for tens of millions of Americans.

* Middle-income families are being forced to spend $378 more per year on gasoline and an extra $38 on fuel oil. The price for dairy products has risen 15 percent since 2006, fruit and vegetable prices are up 10 percent, and cereals and bakery products are up 8 percent.

* Even though productivity is increasing, inflation-adjusted median family income has fallen 2.6 percent since 2001—chopping nearly $1,000 off a family’s yearly income.

* Food stamp rolls have reached a record high in Ohio, with 1.1 million people—or 10 percent of the state’s population—receiving federal subsidies, according to the state welfare agency. Caseloads have nearly doubled since 2001, when an estimated 628,000 people were in the program, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services."

Sursele: http://www.wsws.org/articles/2008/mar2008/life-m26.shtml
si http://abcnews.go.com/Business/WireStory?id=4508624&page=1 , ambele datand martie 2008.

Redistribuirea veniturilor, nu continuarea cresterii economice

Prof. Richard Wilkinson, 2005

Despre studiile cercetatorului Richard Wilkinson, profesor in cadrul Division of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Nottingham, am mai scris. O voi face insa din nou, caci in articolul sau "The Impact of Inequality: empirical evidence", publicat in Renewal, 2006; 14(1): 20-6, Wilkinson trece in revista efectele pe care inegalitatile sociale si financiare le au asupra societatii.
Articolul incepe prin a puncta beneficiile egalitarismul in comparatie cu nocivitatea liberalismului, care permite oamenilor sa-si sporeasca indefinit veniturile proprii:

Beneficiile egalitarismului
"In societies where income differences between rich and poor are smaller, the statistics show not only that community life is stronger and people are much more likely to trust each other, but also that there is less violence – including substantially lower homicide rates, that health is better, life expectancy is several years longer, prison populations are smaller, birth rates among teenagers are lower, levels of educational attainment among school children tend to be higher, and lastly, there is more social mobility. In all these fields, where income differences are narrower, outcomes are better (Wilkinson 2005).

That is a lot to attribute to inequality, but all these relationships can be demonstrated with the data, they are statistically significant, and cannot be dismissed as chance findings. Some have already been shown in large numbers of studies – there are over 170 looking at the tendency for health to be better in more equal societies and something like 40 looking at the relation between violence and inequality (Wilkinson & Pickett 2006). [...] The relationships tend to be strongest among problems like violence, the health of men of working age, and teenage pregnancies, which show the sharpest class differences and are most closely related to relative deprivation. None of these findings are based on comparisons with some purely hypothetical utopian society with perfect equality. Far from it. All the data come from comparisons between existing market democracies and sometimes even from comparisons between different regions or provinces within the same country – such as among the 50 states of the USA."

Asadar, printre principalele avantaje avute de societatile in care membrii castiga la fel si in care ierarhizarea este mai neinsemnata, viata comunitara este mai inchegata, increderea inter-umana este sporita, violenta scade dramatic, numarul detinutilor din inchisori este mai mic, gradul de educatie printre tineri este mai bun. Sa urmarim acum ce se intampla in societatile ce cuprin diferente semnificative de venit si statut social in randul populatiei:

Stresul si anxietatea, produsele inegalitatilor
"The emerging picture shows that stress increases our vulnerability to so many diseases that it has been likened to more rapid ageing.
The evidence of the effects of psychosocial risk factors, working through the biology of chronic stress, raised the possibility that health inequalities reflected not just the effects of the purely physical hazards to which people were exposed, but also the psychological and emotional impact of living in those circumstances. Very soon this picture received powerful confirmation from studies of non-human primates (Sapolsky 2004). Although among humans you cannot unambiguously separate out the effects of social status from better material conditions, among animals you can. Studies in which social status among macaque monkeys was experimentally manipulated by moving animals between groups while ensuring material conditions and diets were kept the same, showed that the stress of low social status can produce physiological effects similar to those associated with low status in humans. Since then, studies of other non-human primates species have shown that the stress effects of social status vary according to the nature of the dominance hierarchy and the quality of social relations. Three components of this picture were then in place. We had evidence a.) that it was relative income within countries that mattered (rather than differences in living standards between countries); b.) that there were powerful psychosocial risk factors for disease; and c.) evidence from animal studies that social status itself – working through stress as it clearly did in the animal studies – could be a major influence on health. [...]

But how does inequality really get to us? Why are we so sensitive to it? Some pointers to the mechanisms involved are provided by the psychosocial risk factors for health. Foremost amongst these, as we saw earlier, are three intensely social factors: low social status, weak friendship networks, and poor quality of early childhood experience – all are strongly associated with poor health. Given that we know these work through chronic stress, the research seems to be telling us that these are the most pervasive sources of chronic stress in affluent societies. That is an important point to keep in mind.
However, thinking more about these three sources of chronic stress, we can perhaps see an important underlying story. There is little doubt that the insecurities we may carry with us from a difficult early childhood can be exacerbated by the insecurities of low social status. To put it simply, neither helps self-confidence or make you feel valued. Friends come into the picture because they provide positive feedback: they enjoy your company, laugh at your jokes, seek your advice, etc.. In contrast, not having friends, feeling excluded, and thinking people avoid sitting next to you, fills most of us with self-doubt. We worry about being unattractive, boring, unintelligent, socially inept, and so on. Perhaps the underlying message from the psychosocial risk factors for poor health is that the most widespread and potent kind of stress in modern societies centres on our anxieties about how others see us, on our self-doubts and social insecurities. As social beings, we continuously monitor how others respond to us, so much so that it is sometimes as if we experienced ourselves through each other’s eyes. Shame and embarrassment have been called the social emotions as they shape our behaviour to meet acceptable standards and spare us from the stomach-tightening we feel when we have made fools of ourselves in front of others.
Confirming this picture are the findings from a review of over 200 experiments in which cortisol, a central stress hormone, was measured among volunteers while they were subjected to various stressors such as loud noises, mathematical problem solving, public speaking etc.. The aim of the review was to find out what kinds of stressors led most reliably to a rise in cortisol. The authors concluded that we are most sensitive to “Tasks that included social-evaluative threat (such as threats to self-esteem or social status), in which others could negatively judge performance.” [...]
The development of individualism and the break up of settled, life-long, communities must have increased our vulnerability to these social evaluation anxieties. Research going through the huge numbers of studies measuring anxiety levels in young people in the period 1952-93, concluded that “The average American child in 1980 reported more anxiety than child psychiatric patients in the 1950s” (Twenge 2000). Without a stable environment of long standing relationships we constantly face new evaluative threats from others: we try to put on our best public face and create a good impression. “Social evaluative threats” are involved in everything from embarrassment and loss of face in a personal context, to issues to do with low social status as they are ratcheted up by inequality in the wider society. Interestingly, the literature on violence points out how often issues of respect and loss of face are the triggers to violence. The reason why violence is more common were there is more inequality is not only because inequality increases status competition, but also because people deprived of the markers of status (incomes, jobs, houses, cars, etc) are naturally particularly sensitive to how they are seen. Similar processes are involved in the social gradient in children’s educational performance. A recent study for the World Bank showed that while children in rural India were unaware of the caste differences between them, high and low castes performed equally well when asked to solve a series of puzzles; but when made aware of the differences, the performance of children from low castes was substantially reduced.

We can see then that increased social hierarchy and inequality substantially raises the stakes and anxieties about personal worth. We all want to feel valued and appreciated, but a society which makes large numbers of people feel they are looked down on, regarded as inferior, stupid and failures, not only causes suffering and wastage, but also incurs the costs of antisocial reactions to the structures which demean them."

Pe scurt, inegalitatile de venit si de statut divid societatea, daunand legaturilor si coeziunii sociale, esentiale sanatatii psihice. Totodata, ele accentueaza importanta pe care o dam evaluarii celorlalti, in sine o sursa de stres si anxietate. Iar atunci cand riscam sa ramanem jos sau chiar la nivel mediu in structura sociala, suntem mai predispusi la avea impresii negative in ce ne priveste, ceea ce ne scade stima de sine, simtul controlului si capacitatile intelectuale.

Inegalitatile nasc monstrii: consumerismul si materialismul
Inegalitatile sociale presupun existenta unor "straturi" inferioare ale societatii, de care toate lumea incearca sa scape cu disperare. Acesta disperare, exacerbata de publicitatea din capitalism, ii motiveaza pe toti sa incerce sa acumuleze cat mai multe bunuri materiale, dar nu pentru ele ar fi un bun in sine, odata ce o limita midesta e trecuta, ci doar pentru a nu fi considerati in vreo zona inferioara social. Astfel, inegalitatile genereaza si perpetueaza pe scara mare un comportament risipitor, lacom, daunator mediului inconjurator si psihicului uman.

"Finally, inequality makes it harder to limit economic activity to levels which are environmentally sustainable. We have already mentioned that, despite its urgency in poorer countries, there is little evidence that continued economic growth brings any real increases in wellbeing to the populations of the rich developed countries. As Gross National Income per head rises we no longer see rises in measures of happiness or economic welfare, and although longevity continues to increase, those increases are unrelated to national rates of economic growth.
However, although economic growth brings few real benefits and poses a serious environmental threat, most people want increased wealth more than almost anything else. Given the concern with status, and the use of consumption to express status, much of the desire for higher incomes is of course a desire for the advantages and position enjoyed by the better off in our own societies. Several economists have provided detailed evidence suggesting that status competition is a very important driver behind the desire for ever higher levels of consumption (Frank 1999). Indeed, as income differences widened in the US, it looks as if they increased the pressure to consume: aspirational incomes and debt went up, while savings went down.
Advertisers, endlessly suggesting that products enhance attractiveness, sophistication and exclusivity, are very aware of our social insecurities. They know that we hope – consciously or not – that our purchases will shore-up our self image and social identity. If what we want is an income which improves our standing and social attractiveness in relation to others, then it is simply not legitimate to treat our individual desires for higher incomes as if together they amounted to a societal desire for economic growth. Consumerism is driven substantially by social neuroses and insecurities fanned by inequality and increased competition for status.

Redistribuirea veniturilor, nu continuarea cresterii economice
Care este solutia la toate aceste probleme, de la stres si anxietate ridicate, pana la valori mari ale indicelui de violenta, slaba educatie si mortalitate? Egalitarismul socio-economic, grabit in practica prin redistribuirea veniturilor din topul piramidei sociale spre baza.

"The first thing to recognise is that we are dealing with the effects of relative rather than absolute deprivation and poverty. Violence, poor health or school failure are not problems which can be solved by economic growth alone – by everyone getting richer without redistribution. Across the richest 25 or 30 countries there is no tendency whatsoever for health to be better among the most affluent rather than the least affluent countries. The same is also true of levels of violence, teenage pregnancy rates, literacy
and maths scores among school children, and even obesity rates. Rich countries have reached a level of development beyond which further rises in absolute living standards do not help reduce social problems nor add to wellbeing or happiness. This contrasts with the situation in poorer countries where further development still brings real benefits.
Although in rich countries none of these social problems are helped by further rises in income brought by economic growth, within each country their incidence remains closely associated with income. The implication is that income matters where it serves as an indicator of social status, but not when it tells us that Americans have bigger cars and television sets than Europeans. The lower the social status, the more common these problems become. What makes a difference is the scale of social status differences and divisions within a society. So for example, why the USA has the highest homicide rates, the highest teenage pregnancy rates, the highest rates of imprisonment, and comes about 26th in the international league table of life expectancy, is because it also has the biggest income differences. In contrast, countries like Japan, Sweden and Norway, although not as rich as the US, all have smaller income differences and do well on all these measures. Even among the 50 states of the USA, those with smaller income differences perform as well as more egalitarian countries on most of these measures."

Articolul citat poate fi gasit integral la adresa:

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Mai bogati, dar nu mai fericiti

Ieri, 9 aprilie, ziarul Telegraph a anuntat rezultatele studiului Social Trends efectuat de The Office for National Statistics (ONS) din Marea Britanie. Pe scurt, cercetarea a aratat ca desi britanicii sunt mai bogati si mai sanatosi decat acum 20 de ani, fericirea lor nu a sporit.

We're wealthier than in 1987, but no happier

British families are healthier and twice as well off as they were two decades ago but are no happier, according to an official survey. Life expectancy has increased significantly over the past 35 years for both men and women, while the number of people dying from heart disease and strokes has markedly declined, figures have disclosed.
Household wealth and expenditure also doubled in Britain between 1987 and 2006, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said in its Social Trends survey. Yet despite this boost in health and wealth, levels of contentment remain virtually unchanged. Between 1973 and 2006, people's satisfaction levels have hovered around an average of 86 per cent.
The ONS said the plateau effect was an example of the "Easterlin Paradox", in which the relationship between income and happiness declines after a certain level of wealth is reached.
"In the UK, as in the United States and many other countries, life satisfaction overall has levelled off, despite increasing real economic wealth," said Paul Allin, an ONS spokesman.”

Cum se explica si ce demonstreaza aceasta stare de fapt? Dupa cum a scris publicatia, de asemenea britanica, Darlington and Stockton Times, in articolul „The richer we get, the unhappier we become”, publicat la 12 mai 2006:

„The reasons are varied, but two key ones concern expectations (the more we have, the more we take it for granted and the more we want) and comparisons with others (if others get better off, the more we need in order to feel as good as before).
Despite perhaps living in a society of "instant gratification", it seems less and less of us are truly happy. This has serious policy implications for governments, and serious implications for us as individuals.”

Asadar, doua dintre trasaturile capitalismului, lacomia de bani si inegalitatile financiare, nu fac decat sa mentina starea de multumire a populatiei la acelasi nivel, ceea ce face si ca o mare parte a energiei si resurselor consumate pentru cresterea economica sa fie risipite. Sa o recunoastem, capitalismul nu e un sistem rartional si e incapabil de a spori fericirea umana, ci doar risipa.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Patru studii indica aceeasi concluzie: odata trecut pragul saraciei, banii in plus aduc satisfactii din ce in ce mai mici

Primul studiu la care ma voi referi este cel intitulat „How Our World Can Become Happier”, a aparut pe prestigiosul sait the happinesshow, o adevarata biblioteca de resurse asupra chestiunii fericirii si este semnat de George Ortega, producator de televiziune specializat in documentare despre fericire. Iata ce scrie Ortega legat de relatia bani-fericire:

„Happiness is commonly understood to be a fundamental goal in life. In fact, respondents in England have rated happiness as their most important component of Quality of Life; even more important to them than money, health, and sex (Skevington, MacArthur, & Somerset, 1997). However, the average American is only 69 percent happy, and happy only 54 percent of the time (Seligman, 2002). (...)
While we might be inclined to attribute this greater happiness to greater wealth, or related advantages, Diener, Horwitz, and Emmons (1985) found that Americans with a net worth of over $125 million were only trivially happier than randomly selected controls, and that 37 percent of the people on Forbes' list of wealthiest Americans were less happy than the average American. Also, personal wealth in the U.S. has more than doubled since W.W.II, however, Americans are no happier today than they were in 1945 (Myers, 2000). In fact, Nigeria is now the happiest nation in the world, followed by Mexico, Venezuela, El Salvador, and Puerto Rico, with the U.S. ranked 16th. (World Values Study Group, in press).”

Trei idei merita retinute aici: fericirea este un scop fundamental al vietii, marii bogatasi sunt doar foarte putin (trivially) mai fericiti decat oamenii obisnuiti alesi la intamplare si o buna parte dintre cei extrem de avuti (37%) sunt chiar mai nefericiti decat restul.

Al doilea studiu la care ma voi referi este cel semnat de Max Haller and Markus Hadler, intitulat „How Social Relations and Structures can Produce Happiness and Unhappiness: An International Comparative Analysis” si aparut in Social Indicators Research, Volume 75, Number 2 / January, 2006. Iata ce scriu cei doi autori in prezentarea articolului:

„The focus of this paper is on micro- and macrosocial conditions favouring or inhibiting the emergence of happiness and satisfaction. It is hypothesized that dense and good basic social relations, occupational involvement and success, sociocultural (religious and altruistic) orientations and participation are conducive to happiness and life satisfaction; the same should be true at the macrolevel for economic prosperity, relatively equal social structures, a well-established welfare state and political democracy. The latter conditions, however, should be more important for life satisfaction than for happiness. A comparative, multilevel regression analysis of happiness in 41 nations around the world is carried out (using the World Value Survey 1995–1997). Both our general assumption and most of the specific hypotheses could be confirmed. It turned very clearly that “happiness” and “life satisfaction” are two different concepts. It could be shown that microsocial embedding and sociocultural integration of a person are highly relevant for happiness. However, contrary to earlier studies, we find that macrosocial factors like the economic wealth of nation, the distribution of income, the extent of the welfare state and political freedom are also relevant, particularly for satisfaction. What counts most is the ability to cope with life, including subjective health and financial satisfaction, close social relations, and the economic perspectives for improvement in the future, both at the level of the individual and at that of the society. These abilities are certainly improved by favourable macrosocial conditions and institutions, such as a more equal income distribution, political democracy and a welfare state. ”

Retinem asadar ca relatiile inter-sociale, ocuparea unui loc de munca, satisfactia financiara si atitudinile altruiste sporesc atat fericirea personala cat si pe cea nationala. Dupa cum explica cercetatorii, cel mai propice mediu social pentru dezvoltarea acestor caracteristici este egalizarea veniturilor, democratia politica si statul asistential.

Al treilea studiu citat aici este “How Are Income and Net Worth Related to Happiness”, scris de Michael J Roszkowski, Phd., and John Grable Phd si publicat in The Journal of Financial Services Professionals, 2007, VOL 61, pages 64-80. Ce concluzii emana acest studiu?

„* There is little difference between middle class and wealthy when it comes to happiness correlation between income and happiness is only about .20, meaning that income can only explain about 4% of the differences in people’s happiness.

* Moreover, the link between income and happiness is due mainly to the difference in happiness between the poor and the middle class rather than between the middle class and the rich.

* When the poor are able to overcome poverty, they do experience greater happiness but those in the middle as they progress financially experience little measurable increase in happiness.

* Contrary to the marketers of luxury items, having more of them doesn’t make you happier once you’ve achieved a middle class lifestyle. With each increase in income there is a “progressively smaller return in happiness.”

* If you make more money than your neighbors, or keep pace with them you will feel a little happier than if you do not.

* High levels of debt in the upper and middle class affect the feeling of happiness that might normally come with more wealth. People that are worried about money will find it a greater challenge to be happy, but financial success does not necessarily make people happy in all areas of their lives.”

Pe scurt, banii sporesc fericirea odata ce pragul saraciei este trecut, dar bogatia are efecte pozitive minime asupra bunastarii, chiar si prin prisma depasirii competitorilor, fapt ce aduce din nou un grad redus de satisfactie celor care reusesc.

Al patrulea studiu este denumit „The Pursuit of Happiness”, a aparut in Survey Research Methods, 2007, Volume 1, No. 2. Autorul, Timothy Bechtel, noteaza:

„Research on the efect of aggregate income on aggregate happiness is ambiguous. At the national level, happiness in the USA remained flat between 1972 and 1994. Over this period, however, real income increased considerably (Lane 2000; Ott 2001). In contrast, at the international
level, recent studies have shown a moderate positive correlation over countries between national subjective well being and national per capita income (Diener et al. 1995; Frey and
Stutzer 2002; Layard 2005). (...)
At the individual level Ferrer-i-Carbonell and Frijters (2004) have carried out a panel analysis revealing income to have a small positive eect on happiness. This income efect has also been shown by Schyns (2002) in a two-level analysis similar to panel analysis. In her study personal life satisfaction is enhanced by individual income, as well as by a broader economic prosperity in the form of real GDP. Small positive eects of income on happiness have also been summarized by Cummins (2000) who reports bivariate correlations over individuals between subjective well being (SWB) and personal income. These correlations were observed in studies between 1970 and 1999 in various national populations and various demographic sub-populations. The
average correlation between SWB and personal income in low-income groups was 0.257, whereas this average correlation within higher income groups was 0.135. Cummins
(2000:150-151) notes that these results ". . . demonstrate that personal income is a very important element in the maintenance of SWB, most particularly for people who are poor".

Altfel spus, bogatia are ori zero efecte ori efecte moderate asupra fericirii nationale, iar in cazul indivizilor, banii conteaza doar cand ridica persoana din saracie.

Care ar fi concluzia finala a celor patru articole mentionate?
Saracii trebuie ajutati sa iasa din saracie, odata acest nivel depasit nu e cazul sa incurajam imbogatirea, relatiile sociale, reducerea somajului, altruismul si garantia ca nu se va mai cadea in saracie sunt cai spre sporirea fericirii iar tendintele egalitariste si statul asistential asigura cel mai bine aceste deziderate in practica.