Not every country thinks that increasing consumption (taken to its extreme – a logical impossibility in a limited world) indicates the most important data. Bhutan famously has instituted Gross National Happiness as a measure more wide-ranging and appropriate. Elsewhere, a Happy Planet Index has been established to measure sustainable well-being.
Rather than chasing an ever receding goal like Consumer Confidence, these alternative measures show a more holistic picture: sustainability, poverty, happiness and life expectancy. It is sobering to consider the most recent data from the Happy Planet Index shown below (ranging from Red – poor – to Green – good).
The poorest countries are some of the most poverty stricken ones in Africa, but also tellingly the home of obligatory consumerism, the USA. Australia ranks a rather poor 102 out of 143 countries.
Geoff Lemon has pointed out (NSFW) in the context of the Carbon Tax that Australia is actually doing really well. Even those who may be marginalised or poor are fundamentally much better off than the vast majority of the world, and yet we are constantly claiming (or being told by the media?) that we are struggling, badly done by, suffering, barely getting by and generally in a parlous state.
Isn’t it time that we had a better indicator of our values?