Let’s Talk about Money

There is an old saying that ‘money cannot buy you happiness’. But then someone else said that ‘If money cannot buy you happiness then you are shopping in the wrong place’. Maybe it was Notorious BIG and his friends who got it right when they discovered that the ‘More money they came upon is the more problems they had’.

In recent times every release from the Government of Grenada and most articles parroted by our journalist based on government press releases began by talking about money. Even the last cricket matches held at the National Stadium were analyzed on the basis of how much money they had generated for the country with no discussion on the public’s enjoyment or lack thereof of the games.

It has become the norm to restrict our discussions on a wide range of issues to the financial gain or loss incurred. It is now a routine for our leaders upon their return from an overseas trip to declare how much money was made available on that trip based on some new initiative or the other again with no references to whether the project will be good or bad for us.

For example, in reference the IMF austerity program the focus was always on the loan of USD$21.7 Million to be received upon signing of the letter of intent and not on the long list of debilitating measures that accompany the loan. Indeed much of the money talk died down when people realized that this worked out to be a chicken licking sum of USD$2.7 Million every six months after the IMF fully satisfied themselves that the country was crawling along nicely on its belly.

At the age of 41, it is a good time for Grenada to take stock of itself and ask the question, are we happy? If the answer is no then this is also a good time to examine ourselves and to set as a vision for the coming forty years; the relentless pursuit of happiness.

Several individuals and groups have posted videos to YouTube with
their rendition of the ‘Happy Song’. They sing along and dance merrily to the music in effort to express and share their happiness or simply to try to be happy. Whatever the rationale behind the posting it comes down to an effort to identify with the role happiness plays in one’s life or to promote happiness as a healthy way of living.

The Chartered Association of Certified Accountants (ACCA) in its Accounting and Business Magazine of September 2013 examined the effort by several countries to replace the financial measure – Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – as a measure of progress with the use of an alternative gauge of happiness by examining a wide range of quality of life elements.

According to the Article the real effort lies in attempting to measure happiness and linking it to a tangible life quality element that Government can change. Research has shown that GDP may not necessarily measure happiness. It has been found that as people grew richer they did not necessarily grow happier. The quest for happiness became more non-economic, emotional, spiritual and other forms of satisfaction.

According to the article, the Himalyan Kingdom of Butan has been working toward producing policy indicators that assess a society’s collective happiness or well-being. The UN General Assembly in August 2011 passed a resolution recognizing ‘happiness as a universal goal and aspiration’ and that ‘the GDP by nature was not designed to and does not adequately reflect the happiness and well-being of the people in a country’.

In March 2013 the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released ‘Guideline on Measuring well-being’ it claimed that this was the ‘first comprehensive framework for internationally comparable and intellectually robust data on the topic’. The OECD wants governments to link well-being measures to policy delivery so that they not only know how to make people happy but how much it costs.

A ‘better life index’ created by the OECD suggest that governments deepen psychological data by linking it to measurement of how societies fare in jobs, health, housing and civic engagement. In Egypt, for example, GDP, life expectancy, and education improved while the country’s happiness index fell in 2008-2009 indicating potential turmoil to come.

As the IMF structural adjustment home grown Project Grenada Program sinks its teeth in our flesh and with the lackluster celebration of independence this is a good time for our leaders to apply the OECD measurements to the economy in an effort to gauge the level of happiness of the population and curtail all this talk about money.

Garvey Louison

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