What I would say to yer man (that’s my polite term for the PM) is this: why don’t you visit a drive-through McDonalds and talk to the talking post there; measure the post’s wellbeing. Then you can go to the first window where the person takes your money. They can’t actually interact with you when they are conducting the financial transaction because they are the disembodied voice in the post and they are now “talking” to the person behind you. They won’t really be able to look at you and you won’t really look at them. So you have one person, employed, hopefully healthy and with friends and family who might go home and volunteer and care and read Kafka for all I know (ticking yer boxes Dave), but in this role they talk to you through a post, and avoid all eye-contact. How is impersonating a talking post and not acknowledging each other’s humanity a measure of happiness?
Is it quicker for me to talk to the post and then hand over my money silently through the window as the employee talks to the car behind? No, it is not. There is not less talk or speedier talk, in fact, if anything, it is slower because I am deaf and can’t lip read the frickin post. What it does do is dehumanises us all. Just like the self-service checkouts at supermarkets, the petrol station cashiers who have to ask me every day if I want random doughnuts or coffee with that? I don’t, I never do, I never will. Caffeine is just so never an impulse buy when I am in here nearly every day of the week and live one minute away. Just like the banks that don’t want to talk to you or help you, or the teachers that are forced to invest as much time in the paperwork as their learners. Just like the parents that have to leave their children with low-paid childcare workers for 10 hours every day just to not afford a holiday and hardly ever see their children.
Measure the effects of all that Mr Cameron and you will know why modern society is an unhealthy and unhappy place for many people to live in. But those people who really aren’t very “happy” probably won’t ever answer your damn survey and so you’ll never know. So wouldn’t it be far better to spend your rabbit out of hat £2 million on finding ways to reduce the mental unwellbeing in the UK? We are, according to Oliver James, twice as likely to have a mental illness as our European neighbours, a statistic he puts down to “our materialistic values, heavily stimulated by the fact that for 50 years, we have spent twice as much on advertising to our population.”
Twice as much advertising = twice as much mental illness? Well it’s possible and looking at that would be a much better activity than asking the fucking obvious.
That is so obviously the last word isn’t it? But by way of a postscript I will share the parting shot of the ONS consultation questionnaire. It’s this gem:
Which of the following ways would be best to give a picture of national well-being?
Please choose one option only.
Single measure of overall life satisfaction/happiness
Small selection of indicators
Large set of indicators
Single index of national well-being (lot of information combined into a single number)
I’ve had a few things I was flipping about in my brain so I have decided to try and link them together under the mantle of David Cameron’s proposed happiness index. This is the development of measures to ascertain our deepest joy generally, as well as under our new dear Condem government surely. The cost of developing these questions none of us are going to answer is approximately £2 million. I can say from the off, I am not overly happy about that for obvious reasons. Have you noticed how the government say we can’t afford most of this, but at the drop of a hat we can afford that.
Then there is the knotty problem of how to measure such a transient thing as happiness at all. Apparently Tony Blair had a little go at it when he was in charge, but gave up as it was too ephemeral to capture. Not to say expensive I’d guess. Notwithstanding that minor glitch, Dave has set the Office of National Statistics the task of consulting with you and me to find out what criteria we think happiness should be measured on.
What they’ve come up with is not very imaginative I can tell you (here if you care). Have you got a job, have you got cash, have you got an education, do you have any friends, are you healthy, do you recycle and how long do you think that might all carry on? It doesn’t take a genius to work out that what Dave is trying to measure is not actually happiness, but 21st century consumer satisfaction with life. He may as well come round and ask me how much I like my breakfast cereal (I don’t).
Your actual personal satisfaction gets lumped in with: (volunteering, caring). Their brackets not mine. That mean one category also includes anything that could be accused of being spiritually or personally enriching as it mentions art and kulcha. Whoah. Could it really be that in measuring our prosperity you can arrive at a measure of our happiness as if they were always intrinsically linked? Of course being poor does not guarantee happiness, but having loadsamoney doesn’t either.
Mr Cameron may have confused the purpose of our lives (which is, incidentally, to be happy according to the Dalai Lama and that’s good enough for me) with a money-making and production line existence. Fortunately for him, most people meekly morph into conformist consumers that the capitalist societies depend on; those who believe that if they get what they want they will be happy. Actually, I think a fulfilled life is a little more about getting what you need.
to be continued… otherwise it would not be a blog post, more a rant, and my mother is not keen on those!
These have been around formally since the 1980s and the definition is the re-interpretation of a word as an acronym, or the re-interpretation of word that is already an acronym (sometimes for humorous purposes).
An example of the first meaning would be Ford as in motor car, named after Mr Ford. The backronym might be Fix Or Repair Daily.
An example of the second would be FIAT which is an acronym for Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino, the backronym is more amusingly:
Fix It Again Tony.
I’d like to make up a few of my own, starting with Condem and moving onto NAP…