Saturday, November 19, 2011

Quality of Life Declining – says study

Workers in Canada are over-stressed and under-rewarded in the capitalist pressure cooker we call every day life.

There is greater productivity, but growing inequality and less personal enjoyment, according to the Canadian Index of Wellbeing. The CIW, a 12-year study based at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, measures how people, communities, the environment and democracy are faring – not just the economy.

The report shows that while Canada's Gross Domestic Product increased by 31 per cent from 1994-2008, the CIW rose just 11 per cent. The wealthiest 20 per cent of people received most of the benefits of that growth, while the gap separating the bottom 20 per cent grew larger.

The discrepancy between GDP and CIW growth “tells us emphatically that we have not been making the right investment in our people and in our communities,” the report says. “And we have not been doing it for a long time. It is time public policy focused more on the quality of our lives”.

The report claims that the quality of life actually decreased over the period measured – in the environment, leisure and culture, and time use. In health, there have been modest gains.

Roy Romanow, former NDP Premier of
Saskatchewan and current chair of the CIW, said most Canadians are “running so fast, and basically standing still, that we do not have the opportunity to enjoy things that really matter in life.”

The GDP does not measure the welfare of society. For instance, spending on tobacco, war, on cleaning up man-made disasters, building prisons – hardly examples of human progress – all cause GDP to rise. Meanwhile, caring for an ailing relative, unpaid housework, volunteer work – all social positives – don't show up in GDP.

It is important to add that growth without workers' democratic control only adds to the super-abundance of alienation and waste. The solution to this supposed quandary is production designed to meet human needs, not private profit – an economic democracy, otherwise known as socialism.

> The article above was written by Barry Weisleder.

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