Quality of life

Quality of life for all

 

POLICY

Scrap economic growth as the key indicator of our success as a society.

Replace it by measuring health, happiness and fulfilment. These measures to be developed by States and people working together in partnership. Should be fun. See section 2 of wealth and happiness are not the same These ideas are now mainstream and talked about (see section 7 of the same document).

 

Why this policy is the right one

 What does “quality of life” mean for you? For me it brings to mind: going for a walk down a beautiful lane with my 1 ½ year old grand daughter. Or playing football with the students and staff at Durrell. Or enjoying the sunset concert at Mont Grantez at midsummer. Or crawling into Hougue Bie with another group of tourists and marvelling once again at those vast stones . . . It is everything that makes life worth living, everything that makes Jersey a special place for us.

 

That is just my personal list. Quality of life is what we all need and want. So what is this quality of life? Here are some aspects for starters:

  •  good health
  • good relationships and a sense of belonging
  • a stimulating environment – both urban and rural This includes our wonderful outdoors and all it has to offer us
  • heritage – our sense of the past
  • culture in all its aspects
  • opportunities to express ourselves, for example in satisfying work

 

Aren’t these all more important than money? Why should we “go for growth” when research shows that beyond a certain level of personal wealth more wealth does not bring more happiness? Why not go for quality of life, and measure that instead? The rules of the game have now changed. Life itself comes first. Survival comes first. For example, see here for a concise statement about wildlife extinctions, largely caused by humans.

For a thorough and clear demolition of the “economic growth” myth with many many graphs showing different aspects of our destruction of our planet – ’tis enough to make you weep – see the New Scientist for October 16th here.

 

For years and years there has been a moral vacuum at the heart of Jersey politics. We have been offered “increasing prosperity” above all else. Ritual nods were made in the direction of “the environment” and “social issues” but when the chips were down, money has come first. We have indeed become wealthier, but are we really any happier?

 

For a rundown of the work being done by the New Economics Foundation on these questions, and how to bring such a society into being, click here  and then choose About us, then choose Who we are, then go bottom right and click on “Are You Happy, new economics past and future” – or come to see me at the “meet the candidates hustings and get a copy.

 

(NOTE there will be a link here to the moral side of the endless pursuit of economic growth. Well that was the plan, but time is so short!)

 

These years, in which the pursuit of “increasing prosperity” was the over-riding political goal, are now over. In these times of rising prices, oil scarcity, global economic downturn and a possible collapse of the worldwide economic system, not to mention the damage being done to our planet by our non-stop consumption, it is absolutely clear that the politics of more! more! has had its day.

 

 

Getting more out of less 

If we provide a really good bus service, then people do not need to use their cars so often. Maybe they do not need a car at all. The individual saves, because the bus fares are less than the cost of owning (or running) a car. The community saves because

 

  • business and public service vehicles all save time due to less congestion, bringing costs down
  • residential streets and car parks in town are freed up for other uses
  • there is less pollution and stress
  • there is less pollution-related illness and so there are savings in the health service

 

If we insulate homes we save home-owners, tenants and the States money, poor people’s dependence on hand-outs is reduced and at the same time we reduce our carbon footprint and combat global warming.

 

If we succeeded in reducing drunken brawls in St. Helier, there would be fewer customers at A&E, less need for staff, the hospital would save money. There is less suffering, and the States have saved money.

 

 We must find ways to get more quality of life out of each barrel of oil, so to speak, out of each unit of consumption. And these examples show that we can. For more see sections 4 and 5 of submission to Imagine Jersey consultation

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