Sunday, July 9, 2006

Signs of Trouble?

I've just been talking to Chi and others on email about work and stress and if it's all really worth it. My personal view is that no, it's not worth it. I don't want a high paid, high stress job. I'd rather be happy and get paid less or be "less successful" or whatever.

Reading George Monbiot's blog today I came across an article that talked about expectations and reality. The problem is that basically we are living in the most prosperous, safe and secure period in all of human history. But then why are people having so much problems? Mental illness (specially amongst children) is higher than it's ever been. Other "wealth related" health problems like obesity, heart disease and diabeties are at alarmingly high levels and rising.

Monboit makes reference to the sort of expectations sold to the masses (and once again, to children in particular). The idea that you can be rich and famous one day through things like Big Brother and American/Australian Idol. While the reality is that people today are much less likely to move up through the income classes than previous generations (paradoxically, more people today believe that they can). Other factors like the rise in self-harm, specially amongst girls are perhaps an indicator that people are being led to hate themselves and aspire to something they cann't possibly achieve.

So is this the cost of progress? Is it really worth it? Is it even sustainable?

In related news Jim Kunstler talks about the current "economic miracle" and it's sustainability. It seems even trusty old Bears like Doug Noland is getting carried away with the hype. Noland has written an article about how we're at the cusp of an energy revolution and that the investment in the new energy infrastructure and technologies will make the tech boom look tame.

I think Noland is right in some respects, there is and will be a big energy boom. But Jim Kunstler (and I) don't think he's right in thinking that there is a technical solution to the problem.

We have gotten to the levels of prosperity we have by doing more with more - i.e. wealth/productivity has grown exponentially, but so has energy usage. There won't be a technical solution to our energy crunch unless we abandon our philosophy of "economic growth will solve all problems". Everyone knows that unlimited exponential growth isn't viable, but when the crunch comes I get the feeling people will be surprised.

Disclaimer - I'm finishing up bottle of red left over from last night. So I am Posting Under the Influence. The post above may or may not make much sense.

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