Thailand is happy about being the least miserable country
in the world in the in the Bloomberg Misery Index, which is an economic indicator devised by Arthur Okun, and is derived by simply adding the forecasts of unemployment and inflation for the following year.
However, Thailand’s performance in the index is due to the Thai government’s unique way of tallying unemployment. More noteworthy are the performances of Switzerland, Japan and Singapore. For what it’s worth, here are the 10 least miserable:
For misery, the standout is Venezuela, where inflation last year reached 8 million per cent:
Wikipedia cites a 2001 paper which reckons unemployment contributes more to misery then inflation. They say “the estimates suggest that people would trade off a 1-percentage-point increase in the employment rate for a 1.7-percentage-point increase in the inflation rate.”
Russia was the big mover, moving 17 places to become the 17th most miserable, which is due to projections of higher prices and stagnation in joblessness. American sanctions over Ukraine must be working.
I think economists here would be happiest with 2-3 per cent inflation and 4 per cent unemployment, the level economists deem ‘full’ employment. Employment is usually defined at least one hour per week. Obviously underemployment and casualisation can make people miserable, which is missing from this over-simplistic formula.
2. Happiness is…
Happiness, of course, is an entirely different concept.
First, there is the Bloomberg Happiness Index:
Obviously the Nordic model shines, as it does in the UN World Happiness Report, which seems more sophisticated, and is at least available (with Bloomberg full access is pay-walled):
That’s the top 25 of 154. The top 10 from this article::
8. New Zealand
And the bottom 10, with 1 being least happy:
1. South Sudan
2. Central African Republic
Of, note: there are a surprising number unhappier than Syria; Kiwis (8) are happier than Australians (11); Thailand languishes at 52, Japan at 58 and Singapore at 34.
There is a special chapter devoted to the unhappy youth of the USA.
3. The problem of screen time and happiness
This article gives a quick summary of the chapter in the World Happiness Report devoted to the impact of screen time on American youth from about 2011. If you look at screen time for Year 12 students, you get about 7 hours per day, not including television:
Recently I heard it should be no more than two.
Here’s a clue about what a problem the modern phone has become:
I’ve only skimmed the WHR report, and there appears to be a lot that is interesting in their findings. Now I’ll share another resource that I’ve heard once, and fully intend to revisit. It’s a conversation between Richard Fidler and David Gillespie How the iPhone rewrote the teenage brain.
Lawyer and social researcher David Gillespie has been delving into the complex business of the teenage brain.
He says the usual teenage compulsions like smoking, drinking and drug taking are in steep decline, as teenagers are now more likely to seek a pleasure hit from their screens.
But the games and social media apps they use are deliberately engineered to be addictive.
Unlike drugs and cigarettes, their devices are supported by schools and parents, with few restrictions on their use.
Gillespie I believe has eight kids and takes his parenting responsibilities extremely seriously. He investigated what was going on, including brain research, and has published his findings in Teen Brain.
This is roughly what it amounts to.
Up until the immediate post WW2 period, life was for many a vale of tears we were destined to traverse to reach our reward in heaven. However, after WW2 kids growing up increasingly experienced pleasure, which triggered reward systems in their brains and bodies. However, in between pleasure experiences we had times when our systems reset, and we were thrown back on our own resources, which was important for our resilience. Also pleasure used to require effort in a social context. Now it comes more easily, and through a social media context. There is constant rewards of “likes” etc, without a chance to reset.
He says the effect of this is to make kids into addictive personalities, with little personal resilience. Moreover, the constant titillation of rewards leads to anxiety and depression.
He emphasises the plasticity of personality and brain circuitry, so what happens is not necessarily a life sentence. However, there will be some residues. Our past can never be completely left behind.
The motion was put by Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition Labour Party on Wednesday who called for “real action” after parliament became the first in the world to vote to declare a climate emergency.
- In an address to parliament, Mr Corbyn said, “We have no time to waste. We are living in a climate crisis that will spiral dangerously out of control unless we take rapid and dramatic action now.
“This is no longer about a distant future we’re talking about nothing less than the irreversible destruction of the environment within our lifetimes of members of this house. Young people know this. They have the most to lose.”
What Corbyn promises to do, I don’t know, but there has been increasing concern that the Conservatives in government are becoming slack.
The vote is strictly procedural, having no effect on policy as such, but:
- represents a nod to an increasing vocal activist movement particularly among young people, who have staged school strikes and civil disobedience campaigns to demand action.
The vote was taken following 11 days of protests organised by climate activists Extinction Rebellion that brought several London sites to a standstill.
Here in Oz, the Climate Council’s report Climate Cuts, Cover-Ups and Censorship, 60 pages which the electorate might well consider rather than belly-aching over offshore offsets, which will only happen in a limited way, and then only to save Australian jobs rather than to export them to places that don’t worry so much about emissions.
The government record on climate change is simply outrageous. Here are the key points:
- The Government’s tenure has been characterised by slashing climate science funding, cutting effective climate change programs, rejecting advice from expert domestic and international bodies, misleading claims from Federal Ministers, a lack of any effective climate programs, and consistently covering up poor performance.
- Deep funding cuts and job losses at the CSIRO have weakened Australia’s climate science capability. As a result, Australia is unprepared to cope with the impacts of climate change.
- The government’s lack of climate change action is the defining leadership failure of the past decade. We have not tackled climate change, the consequences are with us, and we must work very quickly to prevent catastrophic consequences.
- Australia’s next government must adopt credible climate policy and a transparent and accurate approach to reporting and tracking Australia’s climate performance to ensure the public can appropriately evaluate its performance.
It would be nice if someone noticed that Labor does have a climate change policy, which is indeed better than a “dogs breakfast”.
Leader of the Nationals Michael McCormack:
- took aim at the youth of Australia – who are enrolled to vote in this election at a record percentage of 88.8%, with 1.69 million voters aged between 18 and 24 – asserting that they are a giant problem for the National Party, and that they’ve “never known how good they’ve got it.”
- One of the biggest problems we’ve got in this election is the fact that we’ve got a lot of young people voting for the first time – and this sounds dreadful – who have probably never known how good they’ve got it.
But they do know how good it’s going to be (Not!) if we don’t take action on climate change.
- CNN’s poll found Biden at 39 percent — up 11 points from 28 percent in their previous poll in March — and well ahead of Bernie Sanders, who was at 15 percent. Quinnipiac University had Biden at a similar 38 percent, but with Elizabeth Warren nominally in second place at 12 percent of the vote, compared with 11 percent for Sanders and 10 percent for Pete Buttigieg.
It’s a worry, I think, not only because he really is old, but more that he is largely a place holder while they can agree on someone with a vision for the future.
His past record is mainly supporting Barack Obama. If you go back further people who know more than I do are saying there is much that is cringe-worthy, including opposing anti-segregation policies.