Thursday, January 08, 2004

Rich Doesn't Equal Happy?

That's nothing new, but what are the side effects of a richer society? According to a report from the Worldwatch Institute,
...more than 25% of the world's people now enjoy the style which used to belong to the rich.

But it says rising obesity and debt, and increasing pressures on time, are reducing many people's quality of life.

In its annual report, Worldwatch says consumers' demands are devouring the natural world unsustainably, leaving the poor less able to meet their needs.
So, more people are wealthier, but unhappier. Buying, buying, and more buying is not only making the consumers unhappy, but other's unhappy too. The rest of the world suffers along with the consumers. So is the whole world just a big unhappy heap?

I don't think this is true. I remember a police officer telling me about how he could take me to kids whose parents were on drugs and neglecting them, kids who had "bigger" problems that I had. He made it sound like they actually had a real reason to be upset and that I should just be thankful for everything I have and not worry. The officer didn't know that I had listened to kids, like the ones he knew, at Alateen. They didn't have a "woe is me" approach to life, and seemed generally happy. The people who have less in the world may be some of the happiest around.
The report says consumption is not in itself bad. But it says: "Higher levels of obesity and personal debt, chronic time shortages, and a degraded environment are all signs that excessive consumption is diminishing the quality of life for many people.

"The challenge now is to mobilise governments, businesses and citizens to shift their focus away from the unrestrained accumulation of goods, and toward finding ways to ensure a better life for all."

That's a nice solution, where do we start?