Saturday, October 17, 2009

GDP vs GNH (Gross National Happiness)

Hm...where is Singapore in the ranking? Malaysia is 17. I guess the happy ones don't find their way here. The plants in my fondue pot are growing taller and it will be hard to empty the pot for Swiss cheese once they become deeply rooted. Switzerland is No.2 but I still can't find the time and money for the Swiss cheese for my fondue because I've been working cheaper, better and faster year after year.....

"Cheaper, faster and better"....its the same old story. The last time they promised Swiss cheese if we worked harder and faster but this time they don't even bother to promise anything. All they can say is we will get to keep our jobs to service our HDB debts if we can keep up with their system.

There is this delightful little movie called "Travellers and Magicians"[Link] which I picked up last year at Cash Converters which taught me something about Bhutanese happiness. Bhutan unlike Switzerland or Denmark is a dirt poor landlocked nation surrounded by India and China. In the movie, a young impatient village official wanted to leave and go to America which he saw as a place of great economic opportunities. He missed his bus and had to find his way to the airport by hitchhiking. Along the way, he met strangers with whom he had to share whatever transport came along. Many minor mishaps caused him to discover the kindness and hospitality of his fellow Bhutanese villagers and the respect they had for him as an official. At the end of the movie, he decided to give America a miss. Bhutanese happiness is generated by people being kind, caring and generous towards each other. The Bhutanese govt puts happiness ahead wealth in policy making[Link].

There are many paths to happiness but CBF is probably not one of them.

Here's an interesting article by Jim Jubak on GNH.


GDP vs. GNH (gross national happiness)
The criteria may be subjective -- and different from the measures we're used to -- but determining a country's happiness can have economic and societal benefits.
[Related content: spending, middle class, luxury, recession, Jim Jubak]
By Jim Jubak
Would we all be happier if economists measured happiness?
I spent a lot of time thinking about that on a camping trip last weekend. (Hey, it was really cold, and I had trouble sleeping.)

Can money really buy happiness?My friend Pamela had set my thoughts down this track by saying, "You know, I don't need all the stuff I have," as we watched the sun sink behind the Pennsylvania mountains.
It's the kind of thing you routinely say standing around the campfire on your first day out of the city. After a few days, in my experience, the remark is likely to be met by protest: "What about hot showers? What about coffee without bugs in it?"
But this time, on this camping trip during the Great Recession, the sentence hung there, gathering meaning (but, unfortunately, not giving off any heat) in the cold October air. Many of us have thought long and hard, probably in the deep of the night, about what we could do without -- if we had to. I know I have.
(Read the rest of the article here.............)


Anonymous said...

Add in something...

If we are economically weak, then we are militarily weak.

Here the lesser mortals have neither happiness nor money. We work till we die just to service our HDB house loan that is AFFORDABLE.

Anonymous said...

Well NS Slavery in Singapore is not a source of happiness either.

DOWN with PAP. By all means.

Clear eyed said...

Singapore is not in the top ranking probably because they pick the wrong people for the survey. If the greater mortals, their cronies, the rich and the foreigners holding the good jobs here or hiding their millions in our banks were surveyed, we would have beaten Denmark hands down to be NO. 1!

Anonymous said...

ARmchair critic....why don you give us the solution? criticise who dunno?

people like you are house flies....

Anonymous said...

Not happy, what to do, complain and grumble lo.

No chance to even vote, so many walkovers. Really "bo pian"

PAP MPs and ministers must be laughing and very happy. High pay, easy win at elections and some more can suka suka talk with no consequence.

Anonymous said...

Hey Anon 15:53

The solution is very simple. Vote out the PAP.

Anonymous said...

Hey anon 15:53, how come u are irritated?

If u are happy with the way things are, you won't be irritated with anyone complaining and u wont need solutions because there are no problems.

Anonymous said...

To Anon 15:53

Don't be a troll here and make yourself unhappy and irritated. Go to those portals that says good things only and best you see nothing, say nothing and hear nothing except we are the happiest nation on earth. Why bother coming because all you read here are just irritating stuff?

Sometimes I wonder why we are not No. 1 when it comes to happiness. We are No. 1 in practically everything e.g. bringing in FTs, PSA, Changi (oops we lost a few places there), SIA (same here), biggest money losers, etc. Maybe being No. 100 in such areas might bring us to No. 1 rank in happiness?

Anonymous said...

Damn. Even backward Malaysia is better than us, World class Singapore.


Lim Leng Hiong said...

I think an important aspect of happiness is knowing when enough is enough.

People have limits.

When they are forced to compete with one another and then compete with the rest of the world in an ever-faster and over-extended marathon for ten, twenty, thirty, forty years then something will start to crack.

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Anonymous said...

Anyone who feels that Bhutan is an oasis of happiness is free to ship himself/herself off to Bhutan. Yes? No?

Focus on what you have and you'd be happier.

Focus on what you don't and you'd be misery incarnate.

Anonymous said...

Ever since we have upgraded our economy to the equivalent of Premier League (yes, it is like the football equivalent of English Premier League), we have tied our fortunes to the global business cycle and globalisation, which through its booms and busts, create happiness for those who can ride its waves and misfortune for some who cannot.

The Singa Club is like Bolton and Wigan, teams with limited budget but with high costs, and survival is key. The club's management has openly told supporters that once the club is relegated, it is likely that the club might not see daylight again, worst it might slip into oblivion or under administration. To support its case, examples of the plight of Nottingham Forest and Leeds are quoted.

So far, the club's management mantra is for teamwork and sacrifice, and also to seek foreign cheap talent to compete. But along the way, management seems to reward itself with high bonuses for staying in Premier League, and to fund these bonuses, have to increase the gate fares over the years. The loyal supporters have been supporting wholeheartedly since the inception of the club, but it is a tall order with the hefty increases, especially during bad times.

And recently the team's performance has been patchy, and there are worries whether the club can sustain itself in the league. Add to the woes are that other teams are improving, so the club quickly find itself in the relegation zone.

So the management decides to import more talents and sign a star player in Invincible Rogue, who comes into the team with a bad reputation of gambling and womanising, but has the knack of scoring goals.

Such measures have clearly divided the supporters, who always prefer local players since it is a local club, and worry that Invincible Rogue would wreck whatever the hitherto strong team spirit that has already showed signs of cracking. Some supporters have decided to pledge loyalty to other clubs, and such exodus have caused further disquiet.

So the tough questions to ask are:

i) Can the club still compete in Premier League?
ii) What are the consequences if the club is relegated? One thing to note is that not all go into oblivion or administration. Some clubs stay in League 1, re-position itself and re-enter Premier League. But good management and strong support are needed for such transformation.

So stay tuned for the exciting football seasons ahead!

Anonymous said...

Anon 15:53,

Paying each minister a couple of million a year, paying the perm secs a slightly lesser amount, paying my ERP, GST and other misc taxes gives us a right to be armchair critics.

If we pay top dollar then we should expect top dollar results. This also includes the solution.

So until we the citizens of Singapore build a democratic society based on justice and equality, I will continue to be critical as this is my right as well as my way of ensuring that our top civil servants work to serve the nation, and not themselves.

Anonymous said...

17/10/09 15:53

Even houseflies do not appear just like that.

Like in anything, it takes certain necessary conditions for things like houseflies to happen.

Once the conditions are ripe, you can't really prevent the causative effects - the law of nature.

Anonymous said...

Measuring happiness is very subjective. But it is true that Singaporeans are generally an unhappy lot. Just look at the faces in MRT and on the street. How many smiling faces do you see? Perhaps it's because we are living in a pressure cooker environment where being happy is a luxury we can't afford. Perhaps we are unrealistic in our pursuit of happiness. Perhaps we equate happiness with money and there is never enough money for most of us. At the same time, I also don't see Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea in the ranking. China and Japan are ranked lower than Singapore. Perhaps it has something to do with race or culture. Perhaps if you remove Chinese from the sample studied for Malaysia, it will rank even higher. Look at Brunei.

Anonymous said...

Hey Anon 23:04

Shipping myself to Bhutan will only reduce th number of unhappy citizen by 1.

Shipping say .. Lim Swee Say to Bhutan would on the other hand increase the GNH significantly. Its cheaper, better, faster! :-)

Anonymous said...

Hm .. Lucky, so u are saying that if Ministar Khaw offers to ship us to JB, we should happily accept the offer?


Anonymous said...

Tnere is another measure that could be used and that is GPI, or Genuine Progress Index. For those not familiar with this, you can read about this in Wiki.

Whatever it is, GDP is not a good target especailly when trying to raise the growth of this indicator results in having to import more foreigners, skilled and unskilled; widen the income gap; lower income tax but introduce and raise GST etc

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