Hasta la victoria siempre

Monday, December 29, 2008

Sunt familiile bogate (mai) fericite?

Ne-am putea gandi ca cei care strang averi peste averi au macar o viata de familie implinita. Realitatea combate insa aceasta prejudecata. Nici in privinta mariajului, nici in privinta cresterii copiilor, bogatia nu pare sa aiba influente pozitive.

In general, bogatii nu au mariaje reusite
Fapt demonstrat de un studiu efectuat de Russ Alan Prince and Associates, o firma ce se ocupa exclusiv de studierea vietii si obiceiurilor bogatasilor. Faimoasa publicatie Forbes a descris la 10 septembrie 2007, in articolul "The Rich and Unfaithful" unul dintre studiile efectuate de amintita firma, legat direct de casniciile celor avuti.

"Wealth has many perks: great vacations, beautiful houses and nice cars. But if its marital bliss you're looking for, don't expect money to help. Almost half of America's rich say they're unhappy in marriage, a study found. What's worse: More than that say they've been unfaithful in the last three years.Of those confessing to an affair, more were women (61%) than men (43%). The reason cited most frequently by both sexes: variety. That's according to Prince and Associates, a Connecticut firm that tracks the habits of the rich. They asked 433 breadwinners (56% male and 44% female) with a net worth over $1 million about their relationships. Thirty-eight percent of the participants had a net worth of $10 million or more."


Statisticile de mai sus nu difera mult fata de rata infidelitatii in privinta restului populatiei. De aici aflam ca:
"According to a 1994 survey by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, considered to be the most conservative results ever obtained, 21.2% of men and 11.3% of women admitted to having crossed the line. Marriage and family therapists consulted in the preparation of this book believe, without exception, that the actual numbers are far higher. They generally concur with the results of the Kinsey Report which found far higher infidelity rates: 50-60% of middle and upper income males below the age of 60 admitted to having had an extramarital affair; the rate for women in the same group was 40-50%. Other studies provide statistics falling somewhere between these two sets of data." 

Asadar, din randul oamenilor "obisnuiti", maximum 50-60% barbati isi inseala nevasta si maximum 40-50% dintre femei isi inseala sotul. Diferenta este deci, se pare, ca in randul familiilor bogate, femeile sunt mai libertine, insa per total, statisticile nu indica vreun comportament mai putin inclinat spre infidelitate al bogatilor. 

Intorcandu-ne la articolul Forbes, in privinta chestiunii divortului:
"It’s probably not a surprise that 33.7% of the women in Prince's survey group said they were seriously considering divorce, compared to 26.7% of the men. 
Whether all of them carry through with it is another question. According to the U.S. Census, just 8.8% of men were divorced and 11% of women. In 2005, divorced people were 22% of the adult population. The statistics don't account for those who have been divorced multiple times.
Most men responding to the Prince & Associates survey (75%) said cost is their main obstacle to getting a divorce, and 61.5% said they feared it would hurt business dealings and opportunities. Just 7.7% of men cited harm to the kids. Raoul Felder, the celebrity divorce attorney, says this makes a lot of sense, particularly if you have a lot of money and a lot to lose. For starters, there’s this whole thing about equitable division of the assets. And in many marriages, the assets were accumulated after the “I Dos” were said, making them fair game to be divvied up."Divorce itself is a businessman's biggest deal," Felder says. "He's going to lose half he has.""

Se pare deci ca in ciuda averilor colosale, divortul nu e o optiune pentru bogati pentru a evada dintr-o casnicie nereusita, in mare parte din cauza banilor ce ar putea fi astfel pierduti.
Per total, dupa cum scrie avocata specializata in divorturi Janet Langjahr, "for those struggling financially through divorce, it may console them to know that millionaires may not be any happier in their marriages - or divorces. About half of wealthy people describe themselves as unhappy in their marriages, and just as many admit to cheating on their spouses in the last three years."

In concluzie, se parte deci ca bogatia nu garanteaza deloc o casnicie exceptional de fericita, nici o rata a infidelitatii in cuplu mai mica, nici un divort mai usor decat in cazul familiilor modeste financiar.

Copiii bogatasilor nu sunt ocoliti de probleme mentale grave
Asa cum o prima impresie ne-ar putea face sa credem ca banii garanteaza o casatorie mai fericita decat media, tot asa am putea crede ca  sansele copiilor nascuti in familii avute de a fi fericiti sunt mai mari. Nici vorba, lucru demonstrat de Dr. Ed Diener, care in articolul "The Problems and Opportunities of Children of Wealth", evidentiaza cateva dintre problemele pe care un copil bogat le poate avea in viata:

"Some of the Potential Problems Rich Kids Face  
1.  Parents who are aloof or too busy to spend time with their children. Wealthy parents can have many commitments, at work, at recreation, and socially, and these can sometimes leave too little time and energy for children. 
2.  Parents who through example and demands set extremely high expectations for their children’s achievement. Because the parent has excelled, he or she might expect the child to excel to the same degree. However, just because a parent has lots of energy and intelligence and drive for success, does not mean that the child will have the same desires, interests, or abilities as the parent. The child can be overly stressed by a continual pressure to achieve and compete. 
3.  Parents who create a need for high success and income by making luxuries a necessity. That is, luxurious living might be so taken for granted, and considered necessary for happiness, that the child feels that she or he must earn a high income to avoid misery. Thus, the child does not have the option of choosing a career based on his or her strengths and interests, but must seek a high-paying career because it is viewed as necessary to obtain the “required” luxuries of life. 
4.  Parents who insist that their children follow in their footsteps rather than pursuing goals where their unique strengths can be used. Problem: Children are now allowed to use their own strengths, but are forced into the mold that worked for their parents. The strong and successful parent who believes that the child should be just like him or her can do a real disservice to the child’s uniqueness. 
5.  Parents who overvalue materialism, at the cost of other values. Problem: Materialistic values at times interfere with good social relationships, using one’s own talents, and so forth. Too much emphasis on money can squeeze out the value placed on other goals, such as helping one’s community and developing loving relationships. 
6.  Parents who look down on others in society who are not wealthy, as people who are not important. The problem is that if children tend to see others as inferior, and to see the small group of wealthy people as those who really “count,” they gain a skewed view of the world, and cut themselves off from rewarding relationships with the majority of other people. In addition, they obtain a misshapen view of people’s worth and abilities. 
7.  Parents who do not teach their children that joy resides in working toward goals rather than in material prosperity. Problem: The child believes that happiness comes when some material goal is achieved, and this does not usually work well. Being involved in important goal pursuits is important for happiness, and if too much emphasis is placed on material consumption, it can lead to a hedonistic lifestyle without involvement in goal striving. 
8. Children feel high levels of entitlement. If wealthy parents give their children the idea that they are special because of their money, the child might develop an attitude of entitlement that others owe him or her respect and so forth just because of money. Problem: The world often does not recognize them as special, and they are frustrated. An additional problem is that a feeling of entitlement can interfere with the desire for a child to earn respect through his or her own behavior. 
9.  Children expect esteem granted to their parents will be granted to them. Problem: When people grow up they get respect primarily for their own accomplishments, not those of their parents. Thus, the rich child turned adult will be disappointed that they do not automatically receive respect because of their parents’ accomplishments. 
10. Children in rich families might expect to be waited on and do not learn responsibility and hard work. The wealthy child might not learn a work ethic because the parents provide servants who do all of the work, and do not ask the child to do chores and other tasks. Problem: The playboy/playgirl syndrome of adulthood – trying to buy happiness through fun activities, which does not produce happiness for a lifetime. Boredom sets in unless people have goals and activities in which to stay involved. Recreation alone is not usually suffficient for a happy life." 

Iata deci ca un program prea incarcat al parintilor bogati inseamna neglijarea propriilor copii; pretentiile ridicate pot pune asupra o presiune suplimentara; obisnuinta cu luxul poate deveni o nevoie asemenea unui drog care sa ii determine pe copiii sa aleaga meserii banoase, dar nu neaparat pe cele spre care au chemare; o aroganta nejustificata si daunatoare vietii sociale; tendinta de a se baza pe realizarile parintilor fara a avea la randul lor realizari, ceea ce duce la o privire de ansamblu eronata asupra lumii si a propriei personalitati etc. 

Copiii bogati, predispusi la consum de droguri si depresie
La randul sau, Richard Eckersley, profesor la Universitatea Nationala din Australia, afirma in "Forms of poverty: a health and wellbeing perspective" ca tinerii proveniti din familii bogate sunt mai predispusi la consumul de droguri si depresie:
"Moving to the opposite end of the social scale, several recent US studies suggest that children in rich families, a little researched group, are more likely than other children to suffer substance-use problems, anxiety and depression. Researchers suggest two possible explanations: excessive pressures to achieve and isolation from parents, both physical and emotional. They say that comparative studies of rich and poor youth reveal ‘more similarities than differences in their adjustment patterns and socialisation processes’."

Probabil ca unul din studiile la care se refera Eckersley este cel efectuat in 2007 de Healthy Kids Survey, conform caruia:

"Rich kids from Alameda and Contra Costa counties in California were more likely to use alcohol and other drugs than their peers from poor communities, according to data from California's Healthy Kids Survey. The Contra Costa Times reported Feb. 19 2007 that disposable income, disconnected families, and pressure to succeed all contribute to drug use among upscale youth, adding that parents in these communities add to the problem by denying that it occurs. "Perfection is very, very valued in affluent communities," noted Madeline Levine, author of "The Price of Privilege."
More affluent kids also can afford to buy fake IDs and can drive to places where they can pay someone to buy alcohol for them, experts note. Binge drinking and past-month alcohol use among high-school juniors were more prevalent in richer areas of the East Bay than in less-affluent areas, according to the survey, and more juniors from rich towns admitted to having gotten high on drugs. 
"You can make some general assessments that affluent areas have higher alcohol and marijuana use," said Sean Slade, regional manager for the California Healthy Kids Survey."

Concluzii confirmate
Numeroasele si unicele probleme cu care se confrunta tinerii bogati sunt in detaliu analizate si de Sunyia S. Luthar in articolul "The Culture of Affluence: Psychological Costs of Material Wealth", Children Developement 2003; 74(6): 1581–1593. 

"Affluent youth reported significantly higher levels of anxiety across several domains, and greater depression. They also reported significantly higher substance use than inner-city students, consistently indicating more frequent use of cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana, and other illicit drugs.Appraisal of psychopathology among youth in this sample in relation to national norms yielded more startling findings. Among suburban girls in the 10th grade, one in five reported clinically significant levels of depressive symptoms, reflecting rates 3 times as high as those among normative samples. Incidence of clinically significant anxiety among both girls and boys in the suburban high school was also higher than normative values (22% and 26% vs. 17%). Similar patterns were seen for substance use. Of suburban girls, 72% reported ever having used alcohol, for example, as compared with 61% in normative samples, and parallel values for boys’ use of illicit drugs were 59% versus 38%."

Cu privire la slaba relatie parinte-copil din famiile avute si presiunea suplimentara pusa pe umerii acestor tineri, la care se referea cu prioritate si Ed Diener, Luthar scrie:

"Results showed significant associations for all predictors with one or more maladjustment domains—internalizing symptoms, delinquency, and substance use—corroborating the likely role of overemphasis on achievement and isolation from parents in the adjustment disturbances of affluent youth (Luthar & Becker, 2002)."

Alti cercetatori confirma la randul lor: "In a study involving more than 800 American teens, for example, Csikszentmihalyi and Schneider (2000) found a low inverse link between SES (status social superior n.m.)  and emotional well-being. The most affluent youth in this sample reported the least happiness, and those in the lowest SES reported the most."

Cat despre consumul de substante periculoase: "There is also consistent evidence on findings on substance use. Data from the Monitoring the Future study (Johnston, O’Malley, & Bachman, 1998) showed that during preadolescence, family SES had low associations with drug use. By the 12th grade, on the other hand, high-SES youth reported the highest rate of several drugs, including marijuana, inhalants, and tranquilizers. Regarding correlates of drug use, Way, Stauber, Nakkula, and London (1994)found, as did Luthar and D’Avanzo (1999), that high-SES youth (but not their inner-city counterparts) often used substances in efforts to alleviate emotional distress." 

In articolul semnat de Luthar, multe astfel de studii ce confirma gravele probleme psihice ale copiilor bogati pot fi gasite. Un aspect extrem de interesant subliniat in materialul citat este ca progeniturile bogatasilor atrag oprobiul societatii, ceea ce e de asteptat sa le sporeasca stresul si nelinistile psihice:

"The wealthy may actually evoke more widespread dislike than the poor given their status as the keepers of the power rather than those excluded from it (much as the schoolyard bully is usually more disliked than is the victim). Social psychologists have suggested, in fact, that misfortunes of the wealthy can evoke a malicious pleasure in others, for people in general feel some satisfaction in the downfall of those far more successful than they themselves are (a phenomen labeled schadenfreude)."

CA O CONCLUZIE GENERALA, putem spune ca nici casniciile celor bogati, nici copiii lor, nu sunt deloc mai feriti de grave probleme psihologice si serioase neimpliniri, ceea ce ne indreptateste sa intrebam: daca averea nu imbunatateste cu nimic relevant viata de familie, domeniu cheie al fericirii si implinirii umane, atunci ce ar mai putea sa ne motiveze in a o urmari? Nu e mult mai indicat ca odata ce atingem un grad rezonabil de siguranta financiara, sa acordam intreaga atentie chestiunilor familiale si sociale, in detrimentul imbogatirii? Intr-adevar, din nou suntem fortati sa recunoastem ca a cauta fericirea in averi este un consum inutil de energie si resurse, ce ar trebui imediat canalizate spre cu totul alte domenii, ce nu au nimic de-a face cu aspectele pecuniare.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Munca in iadul capitalist

Nu voi scrie aici despre sweatshop-uri, asa cum ar putea sugera titlul, ci despre conditiile de munca din doua tari capitaliste considerate etalon si dintre cele mai bogate, Marea Britanie (UK) si SUA. Vom vedea ca pana si aici clasa muncitoare se afla intr-un asediu permanent, alienarea sociala, stresul, limitarea vacantelor fiind trasaturi ce acapareaza treptat numere semnificative de muncitori.

Instrainarea de familie si de cei apropiati
Am aratat de nenumarate ori ca un factor cheie in sporirea fericirii persinale o are compania familiei si a celor apropiati. Ghinion insa, capitalul nu e de acord. Astfel, in UK, numarul muncitorilor rapititi din sanul familiei de indatoririle de la locul de munca a atins procente ingrijoratoare.

Survey Reveals Work Pressures are Affecting Quality Family
"If you feel that your job is getting in the way of family time you're not alone - a survey commissioned by Beefeater Restaurants reveals that 70.6% of us don't feel we have a positive work/life balance. The survey, carried out by NEMS Market Research, shows that, as a nation, we don't feel we spend enough time with our nearest and dearest.
The results reveal that, even in a culture which claims to prioritise work / life balance, UK companies are falling short in their efforts. A third (33.1%) of full-time workers surveyed didn't feel they spent enough time with their family and friends and cited a busy job and work pressure (83.8%) as the main culprit. When questioned on the impact this had on their lives, more than a third of full-time workers (34.6%) felt that life was passing them by without enjoyment.

Andrew Gammage, Head of Quality and Guest Insight for Beefeater, comments: "It's a sign of our times that a substantial number of those in the UK feel that they can't achieve a work / life balance. "Family time is one of life's luxuries and an important part of personal development. Family and friends become the main vent for worries with work and allow us to get a sensible perspective. We never stop needing these influences as we move through our lives. "We are urging families and friends to champion 'together time' and find reasons to spend more quality time away from the pressures of work." [...]
The NEMS Market Research survey, commissioned by Beefeater, was conducted across the country with a sample size of 1,000."
Epidemia de stres din SUA
"Numerous surveys and studies confirm that occupational pressures and fears are far and away the leading source of stress for American adults and that these have steadily increased over the past few decades. [...]

The NIOSH report on the right is an excellent resource that cites the following:
* 40% of workers reported their job was very or extremely stressful;
* 25% view their jobs as the number one stressor in their lives;
Three fourths of employees believe that workers have more on-the-job stress than a generation ago;
* 29% of workers felt quite a bit or extremely stressed at work;
* 26 percent of workers said they were "often or very often burned out or stressed by their work";
Job stress is more strongly associated with health complaints than financial or family problems.
This information was obtained in the 1990's in large surveys by Northwestern National Life Insurance Co, Princeton Survey Research Associates, St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Co., Yale University and The Families and Work Institute.

More recently, the 2000 annual "Attitudes In The American Workplace VI" Gallup Poll sponsored by the Marlin Company found that:
* 80% of workers feel stress on the job, nearly half say they need help in learning how to manage stress and 42% say their coworkers need such help;
* 14% of respondents had felt like striking a coworker in the past year, but didn't;
* 25% have felt like screaming or shouting because of job stress, 10% are concerned about an individual at work they fear could become violent;
* 9% are aware of an assault or violent act in their workplace and 18% had experienced some sort of threat or verbal intimidation in the past year."

Asadar, 80% dintre angajati se simt stresati la locul de munca, 39% dintre ei simtind nevoia unor actiuni extreme precum lovirea unui coleg (14%), altora (25%) venindu-le efectiv sa urle din cauza suferintelor.
De aceea, violenta la locurile de munca din America devine din ce in ce mai prezenta.

"Violence has become an increasingly serious problem
According to two studies the United States has the dubious distinction of having the highest violent crime rate of any industrialized nation. An average of 20 workers are murdered each week in the U. S. making homicide the second highest cause of workplace deaths and the leading one for females. 18,000 non-fatal violent crimes such as sexual and other assaults also occur each week while the victim is working, or about a million a year. The figures are probably higher since many are not reported.
Certain dangerous occupations like police officers and cab drivers understandably have higher rates of homicide and non-fatal assaults. Nevertheless, postal workers who work in a safe environment have experienced so many fatalities due to job stress that "going postal" has crept into our language. "Desk rage" and "phone rage" have also become increasingly common terms."

Munca mai multa si mai grea
"Americans are working longer and harder
A 1999 government report found that the number of hours worked increased 8% in one generation to an average 47 hrs/week with 20% working 49 hrs/week. U.S. workers put in more hours on the job than the labor force of any other industrial nation, where the trend has been just the opposite. According to an International Labor Organization study, Americans put in the equivalent of an extra 40-hour work week in 2000 compared to ten years previously. Japan had the record until around 1995 but Americans now work almost a month more than the Japanese and three months more than Germans. We are also working harder. In a 2001 survey, nearly 40% of workers described their office environment as "most like a real life survivor program.""

Lipsa de siguranta la locul de munca
"A February 2000 poll found that almost 50 percent of employees were concerned about retaining their job and with good reason. There were massive layoffs due to down-sizing and bankruptcies including the collapse of over 200 dot.com companies. The unemployment rate by the end of the year was the highest it had been in 16 months. Nor have things improved since then.
A report released on September 10, 2001 stated that "more than 1 million Americans lost their jobs this year, 83% higher than last year's total." That was a day before the Twin Towers disaster, which added to the problems of job stress and insecurity for many workers. Since then we have witnessed the collapse of Enron and its tidal wave of repercussions on other companies and their employees. [...]
Nor is the problem limited to the U.S. A 1992 United Nations Report labeled job stress "The 20th Century Disease" and a few years later the World Health Organization said it had become a "World Wide Epidemic."
A 1998 study reported that rapid changes in the workforce had resulted in a staggering unemployment rate of 10% in the European Union and higher rates of job stress complaints. Japan had a similar problem as a result of a major and prolonged recession. A subsequent European Commission survey found that: more than half of the 147 million workers in the European Union complained of having to work at a very high speed and under tight deadlines; approximately half reported having monotonous or short, repetitive tasks and no opportunity to rotate tasks."

Evident, recenta criza capitalista mondiala nu va face decat sa urce nivelul stresului din cauza lipsei de siguranta a slujbelor la cote astronomice.

Conform unui studiu realizat de National Life Insurance Co., patru din zece angajati considera ca serviciile lor sunt "foarte" sau "extrem" de stresante. Sursa aici, capitolul "Work Statistics".

Vacantele si timpul liber, un simulacru
SI ca si cum suferintele indurate de muncitorii Occidentali la locul de munca nu ar fi fost suficiente, pana si vacantele ori concediile au ajuns sa fie legate de problemele de la slujba, pastrand astfel stresul de acolo. Conform unui sondaj efectuat de Clydesdale si Yorkshire Bank,

"Britain’s workers can’t switch off
When asked about their holiday habits almost three-quarters (72%) said that they keep in touch with the office throughout their time off via their mobile phone or Blackberry. The survey which questioned workers from a range of industries across the UK also showed that almost half (43%) believe that it is impossible to balance their work commitments with their private life.
“It is acknowledged that the UK has a culture of working longer hours than virtually all of its European counterparts, but nonetheless it’s astounding that so many people don’t use their holiday time as a means to recharge their batteries.”And it seems that this inability to leave work in the office is also having an affect on our nearest and dearest. Well over half of workers (58%) admit that their interaction with work while on holiday is an annoyance to their families.
“When we see that almost sixty per cent of families have an issue with the amount of time their loved ones are spending on work-related activities, it’s clear that we have a serious issue,” continued Mike Williams. “The boom in the use of mobile phones, Blackberries, and wireless internet means that nowadays we all seem to expect immediate responses. Unfortunately this has resulted in a blur between work time and home life and now it seems many are finding it too difficult to draw the line – and just like mobiles and Blackberries, if we stay switched on too long, sooner or later our batteries will run out.”
Callum Meikle, managing director of behavioural skills consultancy Gofastforward added:“British workers seem to be stuck in the mindset that they can’t afford to take their eyes off the ball when it comes to work.“They feel a real sense of pressure to always be in the loop, even when on holiday. Quite often it comes down a lack of delegation and trust in colleagues.“

Repet, aceastea nu sunt conditiile de munca din Argentina, Brazilia, Bulgaria, Romania sau o alta tara capitalista de mana a doua. E vorba de tarile capitaliste etalon, SUA si UK. Instrainarea, stresul, violenta la locul de munca, sentimentele de disperare, nesiguranta, intensificarea muncii, invazia problemelor profesionale in spatiul intim de acasa si din vacanta sunt tot atatea caracteristici ale muncii in infernul capitalist. Si ca si cum nu ar fi fost suficient ca deja 4 din 10 muncitori sunt extrem de stresati, ca 50% din americani se temeau de pierderea jobului si ca peste jumatate din muncitorii din Uniunea Europeana se plangeau de presiunea insuportabila la care sunt supusi la munca, aceste cifre vor exploda in perioada urmatoare din cauza crizei economiei capitaliste ce vine precum un tsunami peste intreaga lume.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Altruismul si natura umana

Cateva dintre caracteristicile definitorii ale capitalismului sunt individualismul si goana permanenta dupa profitul financiar personal in dauna concurentei. Nu trebuie deci sa mire pe nimeni faptul ca lacomia, materialismul si, intr-un cuvant, egoismul, stau la baza oranduirii capitaliste. Adeptii sai nu fac niciun secret din asta. De pilda, in ultimul numar al publicatiei The Objective Standard (vol 3, nr. 4), Craig Biddle publica un material intitulat "Capitalism and the Moral High Ground". Inspirat de mentorul sau, ganditoarea Ayn Rand, sustinatoare a capitalismului laissez-faire si egoismului etic, Biddle scrie:

"As Karl Marx explained: “The right of man to property is the right to enjoy his possessions and dispose of the same arbitrarily, without regard for other men, independently from society, the right of selfishness.” And as President-elect Barack Obama intimates, who would dare “to make a virtue out of selfishness”? How do so-called advocates of capitalism respond to accusations of its inherent selfishness? Some, such as George Gilder, simply deny it. Selfishness is not the essence of capitalism, writes Gilder, “Altruism is the essence of capitalism. . . . Capitalism begins with giving. . . . The deepest truths of capitalism are faith, hope, and love.”
This, of course, is ridiculous. Capitalism begins not with giving but with producing—and then moves on to keeping, using, and trading the product of one’s efforts for other values in the marketplace. Nor is capitalism based on faith or hope; rather, it is based on reason and long-term planning, which are the means by which businessmen succeed and grow rich. And although love is certainly essential to capitalism, the relevant object of love in this context is money. Capitalism is the system of the selfish pursuit of profit, and to deny this, as Gilder does, is to abuse the meaning of words."

Biddle merita felicitat pentru maniera franca in care a descris sistemul sau favorit, explicand, pe drept cuvant, ca iubirea de bani este mecanismul esential al capitalismului.
In acest punct ne putem insa intreba daca natura umana este cu adevarat adecvata sistemului capitalist: este natura umana inclinata si favorabila egoismului sau altruismului? Este o oranduire cladita pe individualism si egoism conforma cu natura umana sau mai degraba o oranduire a moderatiei, solidaritatii, intr-ajutorarii si cooperarii intre oameni reprezinta mai bine conformatia psihica a umanitatii?

Stephen G. Post este director al Centrului pentru stiinte medicale, ingrijirea bolnavilor si bioetica la Universitatea Brook University, fost profesor la departamentului de bioetica la Universitatea Case Western Reserve si cercetator principal la Institutul Becket, Oxford. Post este si editorul lucrarii "Altruism and Health Perspectives from Empirical Research", aparuta la Oxford University Press.
Un rezumat al acestei lucrari poate fi gasit on-line, cu titlul "It’s Good to be Good: Health and the Generous Heart". In lucrare, Stephen Post prezinta cateva dintre avantajele pe care le are altruismul pentru bunastarea psihica si fizica a omului.

"The data presented here has enormous implications for how we think about human nature, the moral and spiritual life, and well-being. All significant ethical traditions denounce selfishness. “Good” across these traditions has been universally associated with other-regarding virtues and actions, and contrasted with narcissism and solipsism. Virtue is its own reward in the sense that doing good brings benefits to the actor by virtue of participating in the emotional
energy of benevolence. Reciprocal gains may occur, but they cannot be counted on. Fortunately, the good life brings internal rewards to the agent that can be counted on, and these should be experienced without guilt. Generally, these rewards include greater happiness and better health. It’s good to be good, and to grasp this is to know the dynamic of the human essence.
The evidence to be accumulated herein supports the following hypothesis: One of the healthiest things a person can do is to step back from self-preoccupation and self-worry, as well as from hostile and bitter emotions, and there is no more obvious way of doing this than focusing attention on helping others. This transformation of being and of doing seems to promote emotional and physical well-being, and odds are, will add some years to life."

Iata deci ca altruismul nu doar ca sporeste fericirea binefacatorului, ci si sanatatea fizica a sa, putand chiar adauga cativa ani sperantei de viata. Sa urmarim in detaliu demonstratia lui Post:

Altruismul sporeste fericirea binefacatorului
"Dr. Albert Schweitzer once remarked, “The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.” Happiness researchers today would concur with such a statement (Seligman, 2002). In his book on “the happiness hypothesis,” Jonathan Haidt (2006), a social psychologist at the University of Virginia, discusses great ancient ideas about human flourishing – i.e., what makes for a happy and meaningful human life
(www.happinesshypothesis.com). He emphasizes Emile Durkheim’s idea that the ties, bonds, and obligations of our lives are actually mentally and physically good for us, in significant part because they provide opportunities to give. This is especially so in older adults, both because of the increased social isolation of this life stage, and because giving back fits particularly well into the end-of-life story (Haidt, 2006).
David G. Myers (1990), another prominent happiness researcher, defines happiness, or subjective well-being, as a lasting perception that one’s life (or the current part of it) is “fulfilling, meaningful, and pleasant. Myers states: “…happiness makes people less self-focused and more altruistic. But it works the other way around too. Doing good makes us feel good. Altruism enhances our self-esteem. It gets our eyes off ourselves, makes us less self-preoccupied, gets us closer to the unself-consciousness that characterizes the flow state (1990, p. 195). In other words, caring for others creates a psychological momentum and a sense of self-competence that makes us happier. This applies to young people as well as old. The third of adolescents who identify their primary motive as helping others are three times happier than those who lack such motives (Magen, 1996). Thus, the Eriksonian model that places “generativity” exclusively in later life.""

Altruismul ca terapie
"The therapeutic benefits of helping others have long been recognized by everyday people. This concept was first formalized in a highly cited and often reprinted article by Frank Riessman that appeared in 1965 in Social Work. Riessman defined the “helper therapy” principle on the basis of his observations of various self-help groups, where helping others is deemed absolutely essential to helping oneself. These are grassroots groups that nowadays involve tens of millions
of Americans. As the saying goes, “if you help someone up the hill, you get closer yourself.” Riessman observed that the act of helping another heals the helper more than the person helped. In the early 1970s, the “helper therapy” principle was noted in a few premier psychiatry journals as professional researchers found that helping others was beneficial in a variety of contexts, including among teens doing tutoring for younger children (Rogeness & Badner, 1973).
Whether the group is focused on weight loss, smoking cessation, substance abuse, alcoholism, mental illness and recovery, or countless other needs, a defining feature of the group is that people are deeply engaged in helping one another, and are in part motivated by an explicit interest in their own healing. These groups adhere to the view that people who have experienced a problem can help each other in ways that professionals cannot – i.e., with greater empathy and more self-disclosure."

Voluntariatul scade depresia
"In addition to the practice of the “helper therapy” principle that dominates the universe of self-help groups across the United States and Canada, attention has been given to the health benefits of volunteering, especially among older adults. An early study compared retirees over age 65 who volunteered with those who did not (Hunter & Lin, 1981). Volunteers scored significantly higher in life satisfaction and will to live, and had fewer symptoms of depression, anxiety, and somatization. Because there were no differences in demographic and other background variables between the groups, the researchers concluded that volunteer activity helped explain these mental health benefits. Although non-volunteers spent more days in the hospital and were taking more medications, which may have prevented them from volunteering, the mental health benefits persisted after controlling for disability. Other studies confirm similar benefits (Lawler, et al., 2003; Liang, et al., 2001). Volunteering can provide a sense of purpose among older adults who have experienced a loss of major role identities such as being wage-earners or parents (Greenfield and Marks, 2004), and is more strongly correlated with well-being for retirees than for those who continue to hold paying jobs (Harlow and Cantor, 1996).
The mental health benefits of giving in the form of volunteerism – a wider form of giving than charitable donation, include fewer depressive symptoms. Research on volunteering and depression conducted from 1986 to 1994 with 3,617 adults aged 25 years and older assessed depression using a self-report scale. Consistent volunteering was associated with reduced depression in all age groups, and particularly in those aged 65 or older (Musick & Wilson, 2003)."

Altruismul imbunatateste sanatatea psihica si fizica
"With regard to maladaptive social behaviors, it is well documented that volunteering in adolescence prevents teen pregnancy and academic failure, enhances social competence and self-esteem, and protects against anti-social behaviors and substance abuse (Allen, et al., 1997).
Paul Wink and Michele Dillon, in their “Do Generative Adolescents Become Healthy Older Adults?” (2007), present novel findings based on longitudinal data. Do generative qualities in adolescents predict better mental and physical health in adulthood? The authors address this question by examining data gathered from two adolescent research cohorts first interviewed in California in the 1930s and subsequently interviewed every ten years until the late 1990s.
Generativity, defined as behavior indicative of intense positive emotion extending to all humanity, was measured in three dimensions: givingness; prosocial competence; social perspective. It is thus distinguished from altruism in that generative motives for other-regarding behavior need not be entirely selfless. Using this multidimensional measure of generative behavior, the authors were able to isolate a potential mechanism underlying the generativity-
health connection. The results of the study indicated that generative adolescents indeed do become both psychologically and physically healthier adults, and that this health effect is more pronounced in the psychological realm. While parental social class and religiousness were surprisingly unrelated to adolescent generative behavior, they found that positive intra-familial relationships strongly predicted generativity."

Altruismul si vindecarea bolilor de inima
"In 2007 the Corporation for National Service, using health and volunteering data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Center for Disease Control, found that states with a high volunteer rate also had lower rates of heart disease (Corporation for National Service, 2007). This is an interesting association that invites speculation. I conjecture that in states where the focus of the individual is less on the self and its worries, and more on doing “unto others,” there is lowered
stress. This finding may be the reverse dynamic of the known link between emotional hostility and coronary disease. In a study that goes back to 1983, Larry Scherwitz and his researchers at the University of California analyzed the speech patterns of 160 “type A” personality subjects (i.e., always in a hurry, easily moved to hostility and anger, high levels of competitiveness and ambition). His data showed that the incidence of heart attacks and other stress related illnesses was highly correlated with the level of self-references (i.e, “I”, “me”, “my”, “mine”, or “myself”) in the subject’s speech during a structured interview. High number s of self-references significantly correlated closely with heart disease after controlling for age, blood pressure, and cholesterol (Scherwitz, 1983). The researchers suggested that patients with more severe disease were more self-focused and less other-focused. So they recommend that for a healthier heart, be more giving, listen attentively when other talk, and do things that are unselfish."

Altruismul si longevitatea
"In one impressive study that began in 1956, 427 wives and mothers who lived in upstate New York were followed for 30 years by researchers at Cornell University. The researchers we able to conclude that regardless of number of children, marital status, occupation, education, or social class, those women who engaged in volunteer work to help other people at least once a week lived longer and had better physical functioning, even after adjusting for baseline health status. (Moen, et al., 1989).
In another study, volunteers who volunteered for 100 hours or more in 1998 were approximately 30% less likely to experience limitations in physical functioning when compared with nonvolunteers or those volunteering fewer hours per year, even after adjusting for smoking
exercise, social connections, paid employment, health status, baseline functional limitations, socioeconomic status, and demographics (Luoh and Herzog, 2002). In a third example, after making all the same adjustments, researchers who analyzed data from 1,500 adults between 1986 and 1994, and found that volunteering predicted less functional disability 3 to 5 years later (Morrow-Howell, et al., 2003).
Strikingly, just thinking about giving seems to have a physiological impact. [...]
It may also be useful to bear in mind the remarkable studies on mortality reduction and positive emotions such as kindness and tranquility involves the School Sisters of Notre Dame and the careful collection of systematic longitudinal data by the Nun Study. This study facilitated an examination of the relationship between autobiographical writings completed at a young age and longevity (Danner, Snowdon & Friesen, 2001). Sisters who used the greatest number of positive emotion words in their entrance essays as young women lived 6 to 10 years longer than those using the fewest emotion words. The nuns were an ideal population to study this hypothesis because they all had similar diets, housing, and professional responsibilities. This suggests that emotional states over the course of a lifetime can have significant impact on health and mortality. "

Explicatii pentru legaturile cauzale dintre altruism si consecintele benefice descrise mai sus
"The benefit may be explained in part by the simple fact that it is easier to get one’s mind off problems and losses in life by helping others. Altruism is a terrific coping mechanism, and many who have lost loved ones to illness or catastrophe become actively engaged as supporters and activists in voluntary associations related to the lost family member or friend. Positive emotions, such as compassion and care, displace negative ones, such as hostility, rumination, resentment and fear. With the exception of the field of psychosomatics, Western science since the Enlightenment has considered mind and body as unrelated. Today there are few
informed people who do not appreciate the connection between mind and body, and between emotional and physical health. The immune and nervous systems communicate with each other, establishing a clear relationship between emotions and disease (Sternberg 2001). In response to stressful emotions such as rage or anger, the body secretes hormones that prepare it for physical exertion; stress hormones make the heart and lung work faster, tighten muscles, slow digestion, and elevate blood pressure. This is a good thing in short bursts to deal with perilous circumstances. But when the body steps on this accelerator in a continuous response to the constant pressures and anxieties of today’s world, depression is more likely and physical illnesses can easily result from lowered immune resistance.
Psychiatric diseases linked to long-term stress include anxiety, panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder, phobias and depression. Perpetual stressful emotions are like acid searing metal, while positive ones can promote health and healing. Chronic stress has been linked heart and vascular system disease, gastrointestinal conditions, headaches, skin conditions chest infections, and fatigue, among others. Positive emotional states do have a marked physiological impact if only by virtue of displacing negative ones. Inner peace, loving relationships, simple joys, serving others, attentive listening, compassion, and tranquility somehow link together in forming a buffer against a life where the emotional pot of hostility, ill will, rage, anger, and cynicism is always boiling. When we are emotionally caring and connecte in giving behaviors, the negative emotions are displaced by positive ones. The results, as indicated by various measures of stress hormones and immune antibodies are relatively well established – it’s good to be good, and science says it’ s so."

Altruismul si natura umana
"So then what kind of creatures are we? The association between a kind, generous way of life and health-prolongevity can be interpreted in the light of evolutionary psychology. While it is not appropriate here to make a full case for evolutionary altruism, it can be asserted that group selection theory predicts a powerfully adaptive connection between widely diffuse altruism within groups and group survival (Sober & Wilson, 1998). Members of a successful group would likely be innately oriented to other-regarding behaviors. Anthropologists point out that early egalitarian societies practiced institutionalized or “ecological altruism,” where helping others was a social norm , and not an act of volunteerism. There appears to be a fundamental human
drive toward other-regarding actions. When this drive is inhibited, the human being does not thrive. Evolution suggests that human nature evolved emotionally and behaviorally in a manner that confers health benefits to benevolent love and helping behaviors. We seem to prosper under the canopy of positive emotions. These emotions have value to the group in its competition against other groups. Based on preliminary data, it seems that our immune and endocrine systems reflect this evolutionary strategy."

In cloncluzie, stiinta contemporana a verificat efectele altruismului asupra vietii psihice, fizice si sociale ale omului, iar concluziile sunt clare. Altruismul sporeste fericirea, scade depresia, vindeca si previne boli psihice si fizice, creste longevitatea. Se vede, astfel, ca intregul organism uman reactioneaza cum nu se poate mai bine si sugestiv fata de altruism, ceea ce ne indreptateste sa concludem ca altruismul este parte a naturii umane si ca un climat social ce incurajeaza aceasta valoare este mult mai potrivit decat unul in care trasaturi opuse precum lacomia, materialismul si egoismul abunda.
Adevarat, multora convingerea in natura umana altruista li se pare o naivitate. Si, de altfel, ea chiar este in prezent, din cauza climatului social veninos al capitalismului. O lume mai buna si mult mai in concordanta cu adevaratele trasaturi si nevoi umane este insa posibila, iar egalitarismul este o alegere indicata in acest sens.

Capitalismul, mai mortal decat stalinismul

O critica des intalnita a socialismului este legata de numarul de victime nevinovate pe care se spune ca le-a facut. Astfel, se continua, capitalismul, cu toate "neajunsurile" sale, este preferabil, fiind capabil sa asigure mai eficient respectarea drepturilor omului. Am vazut deja, in postari precum "Capitalismul-aliatul libertatii si democratiei?" ca de-a lungul timpului, super-puteri capitaliste au sustinut si chiar adus la putere, in diferite parti ale Globului, dictatori sangerosi pentru ca au sustinut interesele economice atat de prezente in capitalism. Vom vedea azi ca in Rusia, o tara importanta si de aproape 20 de ani capitalista, acest sistem a facut mai multe victime omenesti decat temutele gulaguri staliniste.

Crime staliniste
In octombrie 1993, a aparut in revista academica American History Review (1017-1049) a aparut studiul "Victims of the Soviet Penal System in the Pre-War Years: A First Approach on the Basis of Archival Evidence", semnat de cercetatorii Arch Getty, Gabor Rittersporn si Victor Zemskov. Conform celor trei, numarul victimilor nevinovate din gulagurile staliniste este sensibil mai mic decat cel vehiculat in mod obisnuit.

“Mainstream published estimates of the total numbers of ‘victims of repression‘ in the late 1930s have ranged from Dmitrii Volkogonov's 3.5 million to Ol'ga Shatunovskaia's nearly 20 million. The basis for these assessments are unclear in most cases and seem to have come from guesses, rumors, or extrapolations from isolated local observations. The documental numbers of victims are much smaller”.

Autorii conclud:
“We can conclude that, on the whole, only about 8.4 percent of the sentences of courts and extra-judicial bodies were rendered “on cases of the secret police” and for alleged political reasons between 1933 and 1953. From 1934, when many believe the terror was mounting, to 1937-1938, the camp proportion of “counterrevolutionaries” actually declined. Table 8 shows that so did the proportion in the strict regime camp population of those who had been sent there by specific police bodies. Even though the number of people convicted “on cases of the NKVD” more than tripled from 1934 to 1935, a careful look at the sources shows that many sentences had hardly anything to do with “political” cases. Data on the arrested “counterrevolutionaries” show a 17 percent growth due to an increase in the number of people accused of “anti-Soviet agitation” by a factor of 2.6. As for sentences in 1935, 44.6 percent of them were rendered by regional NKVD “troikas” (tribunals), which did not deal with “political” affairs. Another 43 percent were passed by regular courts, but fewer than 35,000 of the more than 118,000 people concerned had been “counterrevolutionaries.” To be sure, the quantity of “political” sentences increased, compared to the previous year. In 1936, however, the NKVD arrested the same number of “counterrevolutionaries” as in 1934, which does not seem to show steadily intensifying political repression. Similarly, the continually decreasing number of people shot in cases initiated by the secret police and the constantly diminishing share (as well as aggregate number) of “counterrevolutionaries” in hard regime camps between 1934 and 1937 casts doubt on the idea of “mounting” repression in this period."

Asadar, mult blamata persecutie politica din timpul lui Stalin pare sa fi fost considerabil mai neinsemnata decat cred unii. In gulaguri se pare ca s-au aflat mai mult detinuti de drept comun decat oponenti politici. Si nici dintre acestia nu e clar cati erau cu adevarat victime inocente, persecutate pe motive politice, decat indivizi care s-au opus regimului folosind metode ilicite, precum ar fi teroristii din ziua de azi.

Trecand la numarul total de victime din perioada stalinista,
"Turning to executions and custodial deaths in the entire Stalin period, we know that, between 1934 and 1953, 1,053,829 persons died in the camps of the GULAG. We have data to the effect that some 86,582 people perished in prisons between 1939 and 1951. (We do not yet know exactly how many died in labor colonies.) We also know that, between 1930 and 1952-1953, 786,098 “counter-revolutionaries” were executed (or, according to another source, more than 775,866 persons “on cases of the police” and for “political crimes”). Finally, we know that, from 1932 through 1940, 389,521 peasants died in places of “kulak” resettlement. Adding these figures together would produce a total of a little more than 2.3 million, but this can in no way be taken as an exact number."

Sa spunem acum, prin rotunjire, ca numarul total de victime din perioada stalinista este de 2,5 milioane de oameni, si sa mai presupunem, de dragul argumentului, ca absolut toti dintre ei erau victime nevinovate, persecutate pe considerente politice.
Daca impartim 2.500.000 de victime la cei 19 ani (perioada stalinista studiata, intre 1934-1953), obtinem, aproximativ, 131.579 victime pe an.
Sa facem acum comparatia cu recenta perioada capitalista a Rusiei.

Crime capitaliste
Apreciatul economist rus Vladimir Popov, seful Centrului de Cercetare a Universitatii Nationale de Economie din Moscova si profesor de economie la Universitatea Carleton din Ottawa noteaza in articolul sau "Where do we Stand a Decade After the Collapse of the USSR?", un sumar al cartii sale cu acelasi nume:

"The economic performance of the successor states of the former
Soviet Union (FSU) has been disappointing. GDP has fallen by roughly 50 per cent in the FSU from its pre-recession level of
1989 (see Figure). Investment fell by even more. And income inequality has greatly increased—so that most people have seen a real income decline—and life expectancy has dropped sharply (death rates have risen by about 50 per cent).
Russia’s GDP fell by 45 per cent over 1989-98 and death rates increased from 1 per cent in the 1980s to 1.5 per cent in 1994. They stayed at this high level thereafter, which is equivalent to over 700,000 additional deaths annually, a population loss that is equivalent to a major war."

Magnitudinea dezastrul adus de capitalism dupa caderea Uniunii Sovietice este terifianta. Produsul Intern Brut a acestor tari s-a injumatatit, inegalitatile socio-economice au crescut in proportii monstruoase, totul culminand cu cresterea mortalitatii cu peste 50%. Dezastrul s-a materializat in 700.000 de victime omenesti pe an.

Popov continua:
"This output loss is unprecedented in recent history. During the Second World War the national income of the USSR fell by 20 per cent over 1940-42. But national income recovered its 1940 level by 1944 and—despite falling again by 20 per cent over 1944-46 as military industry was converted—it was 20 per cent above its 1940 level by 1948. GDP in Western countries fell by an average of 30 per cent during the Great Depression (1929-33). But by the end of the 1930s it had recovered its pre-recession levels."

Asadar, dezastrul economic si uman din Rusia capitalista a fost mai sever decat pe timpul celui de-al Doilea razboi Mondial.
Afirmatiile lui Valdimir Popov sunt sustinute de Human Development Report for Central and Eastern Europe and the CIS, 1999, raport in care se arata ca:
"Loss of life has been the largest single cost of transition, represented by the decline in life expectancy in several countries of the region—most notably in the Russian Federation and most strikingly among young and middle-aged men. The transition countries of Central Europe have fared much better than those of Eastern Europe. Most regrettably, this reversal of the trend in life expectancy means that several million people who did not survive the 1990s would have done so if life expectancy levels from before the 1990s had been maintained. As a consequence, an estimated 9.7 million men are "missing" from the region. Morbidity levels have also risen. High morbidity is characterized by higher incidences of common illnesses and by the spread of such diseases as tuberculosis—diseases that had been reduced to marginal health threats in the past. Particularly serious has been the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and the rising threat of the HIV/AIDS epidemic."

Asdar, aproape 10 milioane de oameni au murit in timpul tranzitiei de la socialism la capitalism, in mare parte in Rusia dar si in restul fostelor republici sovietice. teroarea economica din capitalismul tranzitiei a fost pe masura. Conform World Development Indicators 1999, publicat de Banca Mondiala, "Even before the crisis, poverty was undermining transition in Eastern Europe and the CIS. In 1989 about 14 million people in the former Communist bloc lived on less than $4 a day. By the mid-1990s that number had risen to about 147 million (from 4 percent of the population in 1988 to 32 percent in 1994)." Saracia deci a crescut de la 4% la 32%!

IN CONCLUZIE:
Am vazut deja ca rata victimelor nevinovate ale stalinismului a fost de 131.579 victime pe an. Sa retinem ca aceasta este o cifra rotunjita si nu e deloc clar ca toti acestia erau victime nevinovate, dar am presupus asa de dragul argumentului. Am vazut ca in primii zece ani de capitalism in Rusia mai ales, dar si in restul republicilor sovietice, victimile din randul populatiei au fost de circa 700.000 pe an. Pe scurt, capitalismul a ucis de mai mult de cinci ori (5,3) mai multi oameni nevinovati decat stalinismul. Acesta nu e o scuza si nici o justificare a stalinismului, dar cei care combat cu atata ardoare comunismul sovietic de la inceputurile sale, sunt fortati sa critice cu mult mai multa atentie genocidul capitalist care a urmat.

Multi cand li se propune egalitarismul ca solutie fata de actualul sistem capitalist-omaterialisto-consumerist, aduc inevitabil in discutie numarul de vieti omenesti pierdute in socialism. Ei ar trebui sa stie ca numartul de victime facute de capitalism este cu mult mai mare, astfel incat egalitarismul, cu reformele si actualizarile care se impun, pare in continuare cea mai buna alegere pentru o lume mai buna.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Bogatasi, lacomie, evaziune fiscala

Intr-un articol numit "In Class Warfare, Guess Which Class Is Winning", publicat la 26 noiembrie 2006 de Ben Stein in New York Times, se scrie despre mega-bogatasul Warren Buffett:

"Put simply, the rich pay a lot of taxes as a total percentage of taxes collected, but they don’t pay a lot of taxes as a percentage of what they can afford to pay, or as a percentage of what the government needs to close the deficit gap. Mr. Buffett compiled a data sheet of the men and women who work in his office. He had each of them make a fraction; the numerator was how much they paid in federal income tax and in payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare, and the denominator was their taxable income. The people in his office were mostly secretaries and clerks, though not all.
It turned out that Mr. Buffett, with immense income from dividends and capital gains, paid far, far less as a fraction of his income than the secretaries or the clerks or anyone else in his office. Further, in conversation it came up that Mr. Buffett doesn’t use any tax planning at all. He just pays as the Internal Revenue Code requires. “How can this be fair?” he asked of how little he pays relative to his employees. “How can this be right?”"

Asadar, marii bogatasi platesc un impozit, raportat la imensa lor avere, considerabil mai mic decat impozitul platit de oamenii cu venituri obisnuite. Interesant este ca insusi Buffett recunoaste ca acest lucru e nedrept si chiar admite ca exista un razboi al claselor sociale, pe care "ai lui", bogatasii, se pare ca il castiga:
"“There’s class warfare, all right,” Mr. Buffett said, “but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”"

Ceea ce este si mai scandalos este ca dupa ce ca bogatasii platesc un procent infinit mai mic fata de posibilitatile lor in comparatie cu oamenii normali, cei mai multi dintre ei sunt vinovati de evaziune fiscala, si inca intr-o masura mai mare decat restul oamenilor.
Astfel, conform profesorului de economie la Universitatea din Michigan, Joel Slemrod,

"the rich are different when it comes to paying taxes: They hide more of their income. The previously unreported study estimates that taxpayers whose true income was between $500,000 and $1 million a year understated their adjusted gross incomes by 21 percent overall in 2001, compared to an 8 percent underreporting rate for those earning $50,000 to $100,000 and even lower rates for those earning less."

In general vorbind deci, evaziunea fiscala creste direct proportional cu averea, bogatasii inseland statul mult mai mult decat muncitorii.
Una din explicatii este ca cei avuti au mai multe surse de venit simultan, ceea ce ingreuneaza sarcina verificarilor fiscale.

"The main reason for the income-related cheating disparity: Higher income folks receive more of their income from sources that are easier to hide, including self-employment earnings; income from rents, partnerships and S corporations; and capital gains. "The distribution of noncompliance lines up pretty closely with who gets income that's hard (for the IRS) to keep track of,'' Slemrod says. Still, he notes, the distribution of income by source doesn't explain all the increased noncompliance at higher income levels.

In its 2001 tax gap study, the IRS estimated that individuals underreported business income by 43% overall. Sole proprietors, who report self-employment income on schedule C of their tax returns, underreported their income a stunning 57%. By contrast, the IRS found, 99% of all wages were reported by individual tax filers. The obvious explanation is that workers have no choice--their employers report their earnings to the IRS and withhold taxes on them."

Iata deci un mod in care sistemul capitalist devine prietenos cu bogatasii in schimb este extrem de strict cu oamenii muncii. Cu cat esti mai bogat, cu atat ai mai multe posibilitati de a-ti multiplica averea, pe cand angajatii sunt sever monitorizati.

Desi s-ar parea ca cei mai bogati dintre cei bogati sunt ceva mai corecti,

"The new study seems to show that the really rich are more tax compliant than the merely well-off, although not nearly as compliant as middle- and working-class wage slaves. Those earning $2 million plus had an 11% underreporting rate. But Slemrod told Forbes that he was "less comfortable" with that finding, noting that the very rich may have made use of techniques that IRS research audits didn't detect.

"I just don't know whether these audits were able to track down really sophisticated noncompliance or Swiss bank accounts. They may underestimate it (noncompliance) at the top,'' he says. Indeed, in the past several years, the IRS has collected billions in back taxes from wealthy taxpayers who used dicey tax shelters to manufacture huge phony losses in the late 1990s, 2000 and 2001",

acest lucru probabil ca se datoreaza unor metode si mai complicate de evaziune fiscala, lucru de altfel verificat in alte ocazii, dupa cum se spune mai sus. Tocmai de aceea "currently, the government is suing UBS for the names of 18,000 wealthy Americans it believes may have had unreported Swiss bank accounts."

Textul citat a aparut la 10 octombrie 2008 in revista Forbes, fiind scris de Janet Novack. El este intitulat sugestiv "Rich Cheat More On Taxes, New Study Shows". Studiul original efectual de Slemrod, impreuna cu alt cercetator, Andrew Johnes, numit "The Distribution of Income Tax Noncompliance", poate fi citit integral aici.

Daca Balzac spunea ca "in spatele fiecarei bogatii sta o faradelege”, afland astfel de lucruri precum cele scrise mai sus devenim si mai convinsi ca el a avut dreptate.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

German Sterligov, un model de urmat

German Sterligov alaturi de doi dintre cei patru baieti ai sai

German Sterligov este o dovada vie ca niciodata nu este prea tarziu pentru a gasi fericirea, nici macar pentru bogatasi. Sterligov, al doilea milionar oficial al Rusiei de dupa caderea URSS si-a abandonat in 2005 averea pentru a trai ca un taran intr-o parte indepartata a Rusiei.
Desi la doar 24 de ani, German Sterligov a pus bazele propriei companii si in scurt timp, profitand de vidul de legislatie din acea vreme, a reusit sa construiasca un imperiu financiar, cu birouri in Londra si New York, la 15 ani dupa ce a facut primul sau milion, a renuntat la afaceri si a optat pentru o viata traditionala taraneasca, traita in adancul zonei rurale rusesti, impreuna cu sotia sa si cei cinci copii.
Altfel spus, eliberat de boala materialismului si de traiul imbacsit intr-o mare capitala a lumii, Sterligov a gasit adevarata fericire, fericirea fara bani, Dupa cum marturiseste: "Viata mea nu a fost niciodata mai buna - inca nu pot crede ca am o viata atat de implinita si interesanta. Am reusit sa gasim fericire ca si familie - si inca nu pot sa cred ca am reusit sa parasim Moscova, cu toata atmosfera ei de mercenariat, ividie si ostilitate. Cu greu pot descrie starea sufleteasca in care ne aflam, exact cum nu poti descrie gustul unei inghetate. Trebuie sa o gusti pentru a stii asta", a declarat el programului BBC World Service's Outlook.

Despre acest exemplu viu pentru toti bogatasii, consumeristii si materialistii din lume, a scris la 5 decembrie 2008 si Nataliya Vasilyeva pentru Associated Press, intr-un articol intitulat "Ex-capitalist trades luxury for farm life":

"The financial crisis has cost some Russian tycoons their fortunes, but one of Russia’s first multimillionaires says he hasn’t lost a kopek. That’s because one-time boy wonder German Sterligov dropped out of the business world years ago and started raising sheep and other livestock on two farms outside Moscow. “We’re in clover compared to the oligarchs,” he says. “I’ve got 100 sheep, a horse, a cow, some poultry and goats.” Sterligov, 41, has no plans to return to the traditional capitalist road, saying his luxury-loving former colleagues will soon see the virtues of simplicity and self-sufficiency. At his log cabin about 60 miles northwest of Moscow one recent afternoon, he scolded his four sons —- ages 4 to 12 —- for not feeding the chickens properly and messing up the stove."

Libertatea, traiul simplu si lipsit de griji
"Despite his isolation and anti-materialist views, Sterligov still has friends among Rublyovka’s superrich. “They all envy me,” he says. “They are perfectly aware they are prisoners. I’m like a free Cossack. I have no one to boss me around.” The Sterligovs live in Nizhnevasilyevskoye in winter and spend the rest of the year on a sheep farm in Sloboda, 12 miles away."

Regreta oare vreun moment Sterligov averea lasata in urma pentru viata simpla de azi? "Does Sterligov secretly long to rejoin the ranks of Russia’s industrial barons? “If I were told, take over five factories or you’ll get shot, I’d say, shoot away,” he says, as he picks up a log and throws it into the stove."

Intr-adevar, oricine a aflat fericirea simplitatii voluntare si downshiftingului, nici sub amenintarea armei n-ar mai dori sa se intoarca la simulacrul satisfactiei, viata scaldata in imbacsirea materialista. Nu putem decat spera, alaturi de Sterligov, ca actuala criza financiara le va deschide ochii multor milioanari saraciti mai mult sau mai putin, iar odata ce numarul celor luminati va creste astfel, restul sa ii imite.

Inegalitatile de venit si munca in exces

In articolul "Inequality, Emulation, and Work Hours: Was Thorstein Veblen Right?' de Dr. Samuel Bowles si Dr. Yongjin Park, publicat in numarul din noiembrie 2005 al revistei academice Economic Journal, aflam ca inegalitatile socio-economice inseamna munca in plus, o consecinta intuita cu cateva decenii in urma de Thorstein Veblen, economist si critic social american de origine norvegiana.
Un citat reprezentativ din Veblen in acest sens este urmatorul: Cauza muncii in exces in societatile inegale "is emulation – the stimulus of an invidious comparison ... especially in any community in which class distinctions are quite vague, all canons and reputability and decency and all standards of consumption are traced back by insensible gradations to the usages and thoughts of the highest social and pecuniary class, the wealthy leisure class."

Din sumarul facut materialului celor doi cercetatori de catre saitul publicatiei, spicuim:

Inegalitati si supramunca
"Increasing income inequality induces people to work longer hours, according to new research by economics professors Samuel Bowles and Yongjin Park.Writing in the latest issue of the Economic Journal, they explain that keeping up with the Joneses requires longer hours on the job because the consumption styles that people wish to emulate are those of the rich – and in many parts of the world, the rich are pulling away from the rest.

In a similar way, people in countries where economic inequality is in decline tend to reduce their working hours. In Sweden, for example, average annual working hours fell by 25% during the heyday of social democratic levelling between 1960 and 1980. But in the next two decades, with inequality rising again, Swedish working hours increased by 12%."

Se verifica deci faptul ca o crestere a inegalitatilor sociale inseamna ore de munca in plus pentru populatie, care devine astfel prinsa intr-un carusel nebunesc consumerist. Cu cat unii devin mai bogati si in societate se creaza iluzia ca valoarea personala consta in averi si sporirea consumului, trasaturi dominante ale societatilor capitaliste, cu atat o mare parte a restului populatiei incearca sa imite acest stil de viata. Astfel, se munceste mai mult decat in mod obisnuit, de aici fenomenul muncii in exces sau supramunca.

Munca in exces in SUA
"Differences in working hours between countries also reflect economic disparities. Compared with more equal economies such as Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands, workers in the United States work far longer hours. In the year 2000 for example, they clocked 450 more working hours on average than their Dutch counterparts, a difference of three months of work by US standards."

Este relevant faptul ca in SUA, considerata o tara exponentiala a stilului de viata capitalist, se munceste cu, in medie, mai mult de 450 de ore suplimentare decat in tari mai egalitariste, precum Olanda.

Robustetea studiului
"The researchers estimate the effect of inequality on working hours using a variety of measures of income equality and working hours for ten advanced economies over the period 1963-98. They control for the correlated effects of both changes over time and national differences in such possible influences as the fraction of women in the labour force, the wage, the level of trade union membership and unemployment.

Controlling for all of these factors, the effect of inequality on working hours is substantial. For example, the authors' estimates indicate that about three-fifths of the difference in working hours between Sweden and the United States in the early 1990s was due to greater US income inequality."

Thorstein Veblen a avut dreptate
"The idea that consumption standards are set by the rich and then cascade down the ladder of economic success, imposing a rat race on those below is from the maverick American economist Thorstein Veblen's 1899 classic, The Theory of the Leisure Class. Bowles and Park reason that what Veblen termed the ‘conspicuous consumption' of the rich is analogous to standard textbook ‘spillover' effects like pollution. The conventional economic prescription for these negative spillovers is that they should be taxed, a policy that Bowles and Park endorse."

Deci se verifica in practica teoria conform careia consumul ostentativ al bogatasilor are un efect negativ, de poluare a societatii.

Impozite nemiloase pe bunurile de lux, o posibila solutie
"The consumption of those who, like the well-to-do, are directly or indirectly reference models for many would ideally be taxed at a higher rate than the consumption of those who are models to none or to few.
Such a policy would be doubly attractive as it as it would enhance the welfare of the less well-off by limiting the downward cascade of welfare-reducing Veblen effects while funding valued social projects or allowing the reduction of other incentive-distorting forms of taxation. As shows, the richer and smaller is the reference group, the higher is the tax rate that maximises total social utility.
For well-known reasons, policies that raise average living standards while favouring the less well-off should be attractive to vote-maximising political parties and candidates. Specific taxes on high-end consumption items have occasionally been advocated and the village of Mamaroneck, New York, even placed a limit on house size specifically to curb Veblen effects (Foderano, 2001). But Veblen-
inspired policies are a rarity in both academic and policy circles."

Deci in opinia lui Bowles si Park, consumul ostentativ al bogatasilor poate fi descurajat aplicand taxe severe asupra obiectelor de lux.

Munca in exces in Romania
O masura poate prea blanda insa, avand in vedere gravitatea situatiei. Intr-adevar, munca in exces a devenit o problema grava inclusiv in Romania de azi. Conform unui studiu facut public la inceputul lunii decembrie 2008 de catre Romtelecom,

"In ultimul timp, romanii aleg sa ramana la serviciu peste program sau sa lucreze de acasa pentru a-si mai rotunji veniturile. Numai ca acest lucru atrage dupa sine si probleme de sanatate, intrucat aproape jumatate dintre bucuresteni sunt stresati din cauza timpului acordat job-ului, peste zece ore pe zi. Cel putin acesta este rezultatul unui studiu facut de reprezentantii Romtelecom.De asemenea, 39% dintre subiecti au declarat ca lucreaza si acasa. Potrivit aceluiasi studiu, preluat de NewsIn, peste 40% dintre bucuresteni ajung sa viseze noaptea sarcinile nerezolvate de la birou, iar 47% dintre ei isi imagineaza deseori ca isi iau seful la palme. [...] Studiul a fost efectuat in luna octombrie, pe un esantion de 3.300 de bucuresteni cu varste cuprinse intre 20 si 45 de ani."
Sursa aici.

Inegalitatile de venit si suferintele copiilor

Intr-un material datat 21 octombrie 2008, agentia de stiri Mediafax ne informeaza ca, in lume, inegalitatile de venit au crescut, si odata cu ele, rata saraciei in randul tinerilor si copiilor. Informatiile au aparut in unul din recentele rapoarte semnate de Organizaţia pentru Cooperare şi Dezvoltare Economică. Articolul Mediafax este intitulat
"Inegalităţile dintre venituri şi sărăcia în rândul copiilor sunt în creştere".

"Inegalităţile dintre venituri au crescut în ultimii 20 de ani în majoritatea ţărilor dezvoltate şi au atras o creştere a sărăciei în rândul copiilor, potrivit unui raport al Organizaţiei pentru Cooperare şi Dezvoltare Economică (OCDE) lansat la Berlin. "În trei sferturi din cele 30 de ţări membre OCDE, inegalităţile dintre venituri şi numărul săracilor au crescut în ultimele două decenii", notează raportul OCDE.

După anul 2000, diferenţele dintre săraci şi bogaţi au crescut în Canada, Germania, Statele Unite ale Americii, Italia şi Finlanda, dar au scăzut în Mexic, Grecia şi Australia. În ţările unde diferenţele dintre salarii sunt mari, riscul sărăciei este în creştere, iar mobilitatea socială este slăbită, potrivit OCDE. "Familiile bogate au o situaţie (financiară - n.r.) şi mai bună" în raport cu familiile cu venit mai mic, în care "riscul sărăciei s-a deplasat de la persoanele în vârstă spre copii şi tineri adulţi", mai arată studiul. Organizaţia pentru Cooperare şi Dezvoltare Economică semnalează că sărăcia în rândul copiilor se situează la cote îngrijorătoare, iar acest lucru ar trebui să atragă atenţia autorităţilor publice.Ţările în care sărăcia la copii a crescut cel mai mult, în ultimii 20 de ani sunt Germania, Noua Zeelandă şi Canada, a declarat principalul autor al raportului, Michael Forster."

Pe scurt, inegalitatea de venituri diminueaza egalitatea de sanse in societate, astfel incat tinerii parinti au mai putine posibilitati de a-si asigura lor si familiilor lor traiul zilnic. Astfel se explica cresterea saraciei in randul tinerilor si copiilor inclusiv in tari "dezvoltate" precum Germania, Noua Zeelanda si Canada.

In raportul OCDE, numit "Growing Unequal", gasim detalii relevante:

"Who is getting poor?
The most substantial shifts in poverty over the past two decades are between age groups. The risk of poverty for older people has fallen, while poverty of young adults and families with children has risen.
The over 75s remain the age group most likely to be poor, but the risk has fallen from nearly double the population average in the mid-1980s to 1.5 times higher in the mid-2000s. People aged 66-75 are now no more likely to be poor as the population as a whole. Conversely, children and young adults have poverty rates that are now around 25% higher than the population average, while they were below or close to that average 20 years ago. And single-parent households are three times as likely to be poor as average. This disadvantage increased slightly between the mid-1990s and mid-2000s, albeit at a slow rate."

Asadar, riscul saracirii a crescut considerabil pentru tineri si copii, in schimb s-a redus oarecum riscul saracirii pentru varstnici, chiar daca pensionarii raman cea mai expusa categorie sociala. Mai ramane sa ne intrebam pentru cine a insemnat capitalismul prosperitate in tarile enumerate mai sus, daca atat tinerii, cat si batranii sunt atat de aproape de un colaps financiar?

Redistribuirea guvernamentala, inca o solutie eficienta
"Government plays a big role in determining incomes and living standards through the taxes it levies and the benefits it pays out. In the Nordic countries, benefits and taxes are highly redistributive: taking money from the rich and giving it to the poor. Tax-and-benefit systems are also redistributive in Korea and the United States, but to a much lesser degree. On average across OECD countries, cash transfers and income taxes reduce inequality by one third. Poverty is around 60% lower than it would be without taxes and benefits. Even among the working-age population, government redistribution reduces poverty by about 50%. Nevertheless, the impact of taxes and benefits on both poverty and inequality has fallen in the past ten years in many OECD countries."

Interventia statului in economie si redistribuirea veniturilor de la bogati la saraci a dus la o incetinire a procesului de saracire a populatiei, insa chiar si aceste masuri devin din ce in ce mai ineficiente. Sa aiba oare politica minimalist-etatista , liberala, ceva de-a face? Intrebam retoric, evident.

Inegalitatile mentin saracia
"One important question is: Do societies that have more unequal economic outcomes compensate by offering greater opportunities? Figure 7 compares earnings mobility with income inequality. The chart shows that countries with more equal incomes (lower on the vertical axis) tend also to have greater differences in earnings between fathers and sons: Denmark, Finland and Norway. Conversely, there is less earnings mobility between generations in countries where income inequality is higher: Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Taking the analysis of persistence of income poverty and mobility of earnings between generations together suggests that more unequal countries are prone to developing an ‘underclass’ who are poor themselves for long periods and so are their children."

Altfel spus, cu cat sunt mai mari diferentele dintre bogati si saraci, cu atat oportunitatile ultimilor de a iesi din saracie sunt mai mici.
Nu e nevoie sa fim experti in economie pentru a intelege din raportul OCDE ca egalitarismul financiar, asigurat de redistribuiri ale statului de la bogati la saraci poate insemna iesirea din saracie a milioane de oameni, in special tineri si copii, dar si varstnici. Spre egalitarism deci, sa abandonam liberalismul pentru a micsora suferinta in lume si pentru a da o sansa reala dreptatii sociale!