Monday, March 15, 2010

Andrei We need to tighten our belts, that would be thee not me

According to two economists quoted in the Herald today
National belt-tightening could be of more benefit to a country's sense of wellbeing than soaring wealth levels, a study has found.

Complex economic formulas developed by two Canadian professors of economics, Curtis Eaton and Mukesh Eswaran, and published in the Economic Journal, suggest that too much affluence can seriously damage a nation's health.

People who have what they want are fond of telling people who haven't what they want that they really don't want it.

Ogden Nash 

And immediately the Ogden Nash quote on the left sprung into my mind, for while Canadian Academics are not excessively wealthy they are more than comfortably off.

And compared to the average Canadian Joe, let alone the majority of the inhabitants of our planet they are positively wealthy.

They continue
Using mathematical modelling, the economists advance the theory that once a country reaches a reasonable standard of living there is little further benefit to be had from increasing the wealth of its population. Indeed, it could make people feel worse off.

They believe their work shows that as a nation becomes wealthier, consumption shifts increasingly to buying status symbols with no intrinsic value - such as lavish jewellery, designer clothes and luxury cars.

But they warn: "These goods represent a 'zero-sum game' for society. They satisfy the owners, making them appear wealthy, but everyone else is left feeling worse off."
Is that so?

Does this peripherally related story, Plumber called as Bingle-Clarke romance flushed, shed any light on the matter?

It involves the flushing of a $200,000 ring down the toilet in the aftermath of a very public relationship breakdown.

And the truth of the matter is, that no matter how much "belt tightening" takes place, the elite and the glitterati will continue on as before.

And the reason is, if you think about it enough, that as a culture we often value the wrong things.

And it would take a spiritual change, not an economic one, to rectify this sad state of affairs which would undoubtably improve the "Nation's sense of wellbeing".

2 comment(s):

KG said...

"And the reason is, if you think about it enough, that as a culture we often value the wrong things."


Sean said...

While a national belt-tightening would only bring a temporary repreive to the attainment of excessive wealth I think your fundamental concept and theirs are more or less the same: that unnecessary luxuries don't bring real pleasure. Therefore I think your assessment is a bit harsh here.

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