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Democrat    November-December 2010 (Number 121)

Arthur Smelt investigates

The Happiness Index

Fruit machine and gambling with lives

Many years ago an American sociologist by the name of Gardner did a survey on industrial relations. He found that in enterprises and organisations where the work force was able to identify with the organisation they worked for, they worked more conscientiously and consistently than in those situations where a gulf existed between workers and management.

    The Government does not need to spend millions to compile a happiness index as has been proposed, when the reasons for widespread unhappiness are blatantly obvious, much of it caused by gross inequalities, unfairness, hypocrisy and downright lack of openness or lying on the part of those wielding the power.

  Emile Durkheim a French sociologist was writing about alienation and its consequences around 1900. Durkheim drew attention to a condition known as anomie or social disconnectedness. Other sociologists, too numerous to mention here, produced similar work dealing with social structures and their effects on human behaviour. One idea which emerged was the fruit machine theory of society where certain people were allowed to win and the rest prevented from winning. A number of the latter group would then be tempted to break open the machine. This analogy could be said to relate in many ways to events we are witnessing today. Bank robbers and nondoms are allowed to appropriate millions whilst the spotlight is placed on the unemployed, pensioners and public services.

   Where European Union is concerned, the use of the word union is a big con trick. It would take volumes to list all the instances where openness and democratic procedures have been swept aside. Some of the more pronounced failures involve billions of euros lost or wasted through incompetence or corruption. For the 16th year running ED accounts have failed to balance. Overseas development money has not reached its destination. African banks are said to be holding money which should have gone to help needy populations.

   The scandals surrounding MEPs expenses is unresolved years after being exposed. European laws are incorporated into our statute but we the electors are not kept informed. Key figures, including the EU president, are unelected and are making decisions which effect the whole of Europe. On the rare occasions when referenda are held and the results do not accord with EU policies, they are disregarded. When the ED Constitution was rejected by voters in France and the Netherlands, its name was changed to the Lisbon Treaty and the lies came fast and thick. Ireland was the only country given the chance to vote on the question of the Lisbon Treaty and when they rejected it they were told to vote again. Only one other country receives more ED financial support than Ireland and that is Portugal. As a result the free market let rip and the financial sector went on a spending spree.

   In the run up to the second referendum millions of euros were spent on the politics of fear whereby the Irish voters were told of dire consequences which would follow if they did not vote Yes! Some were deceived by the rubbish and voted Yes!

   Now the consequences of the free market have hit home with a vengeance as it has in Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy and Iceland. In rip off Britain we live in a sea of financial booby traps. Keep smiling, it could be worse. It could also be a lot better.