How Will We Know We’re OK?

It won’t be because taxes are reduced. It won’t be because the national debt goes down. It won’t be because the rich got richer.

It will be because everyone who works is able to live reasonably well on what they earn. It will be because there are few reasons for our children to go to one school versus another. It will be because everyplace is reasonably safe from criminal activity. It will be because when you are sick, you can get treatment, no matter how little you earn.

It won’t be because taxes are reduced,
the debt goes down, or the rich got richer.

All these important things are of particular concern to the large cluster of people at the lower end of the pay scale, which is where we should put our attention. Instead, we pay a lot of attention to interest rates, Gross Domestic Product, deficits, and tax breaks for the rich and for multi-billion-dollar corporations. Oxfam tells us that the wealthiest 100 on the planet could end abject poverty among the remaining 7-billion several times over. Seven billion. That tells us how extremely unbalanced wealth has become. Extreme wealth for a few diminishes crucial basic wealth for everyone else, which is why our inequality has risen in tandem with super-wealth, both worldwide and here at home.

GDP means nothing. It’s just how much money is spent, with no values assigned to what it is spent on. The grinding of our mega-war machine improves the GDP, but diminishes the quality of life for everyone not directly profiting from it.

The only way to measure our wellbeing is to consider the people, especially the low income earners. The money in our pocket is only part of it. Everyone needs a certain minimum income if they are not to be miserable, but beyond that, money doesn’t play a major role in life satisfactions. This is why our inequality is inexcusable. There are other things. Things like family and community, like sharing the great variety that life has to offer, such as good food, love, art and entertainment, and the opportunity to experience new and interesting things. These are the things that are missing for the poor, not expensive cars and designer clothing. Instead, their lives are characterized by endless stress, continual setbacks, and few enjoyments.

Beyond a certain minimum,
money doesn’t play a major role in life satisfactions.

Access to routine health care, opportunity for education and work, and enough income to save a bit for retirement are not luxuries. They should be part of everyone’s life, and if we question whether we’re OK and find that they aren’t available to everyone, then the answer is no. And the answer is no.

Life should not be excessively stressful. We shouldn’t be constantly worried that we’ll be fired from our low-wage job, with little chance of finding another. That we’ll lose our home. We shouldn’t be worried that there won’t be enough to eat before the next paycheck. We shouldn’t be constantly worried that we will be mugged or shot. If we are OK, we’ll have only the normal stresses of family life, school, and work, and those are quite enough.

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Published in: on 2013/02/02 at 12:49 pm  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Paragraph 2 pretty well sums up Australia

    Like


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