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Last updated on March 6th, 2018 at 12:31 am
An Englishman is worried about hard-working Australians:
Sydney’s culture of the relentless pursuit of property, perfect bodies and status has British psychologist and author Oliver James worried. As part of research for his recently released book, Affluenza, he travelled to seven countries to research the effect of consumerism on happiness.
Seven countries? The effect of all those flights on George Monbiot’s happiness should provide a thrilling sequel.
He found the obsessive pursuit of money and possessions was not buying happiness.
These money-can’t-buy-happiness theorists should perform an experiment. Find two people of equal wealth; take all the money off one; give it to the other. Then ask who is happier.
The affluenza virus was worst in Sydney, where he found interviewing locals a depressing experience. It was, he said, “the most vacuous of cities. The Dolly Parton of cities in Australia.”
Dolly seems a happy enough person, despite her wealth; cruelly, however, she awards scholarships to poor students, thereby exposing them to the ambition/misery vortex Oliver James frets over.
He had not been to Sydney before and expected a “philistine nation” of “jolly, uncomplicated fun-seekers”. Instead, he found a city in thrall to American values and a puritan work ethic that robbed life of joy and meaning. Middle-class Sydney, he writes, is “packed with career- obsessed workaholics”. When they are not working the longest hours in the developed world, they pursue perfect bodies through joyless fitness regimes, or obsess about property prices. Always, they are looking around anxiously, in the hope that others aren’t doing better than them.
It would have been reassuring for these people to lay eyes on James.
While Britain has “its Posh and Becks”, — obvious examples of conspicuous consumption — cultural differences, including a more entrenched class system, has put the brakes on the spread of consumerism in Britain.
“The British, compared to the US or Aussies, are less easily convinced that money will get you further. The British elite have been around for an awfully long time and there is not the crassness of the Australian rich.”
If the Parton remark didn’t already confirm it, now we have proof: we’re dealing here with a standard-issue English snob. A remarkably stupid standard-issue English snob.
His advice to Sydneysiders? “Start reading.” Starting with his book, perhaps?
Why bother? We’ve already flicked through and tossed aside Clive Hamilton’s Affluenza: When too much is never enough, which covers much the same ground (“Affluenza has been more intense in Sydney than anywhere else in Australia. Sydney has always had a love affair with money”). Question: what do these idiots do with all the money from their anti-money books? Further about James from Scott Burgess; meanwhile, on related wealth issues, Mark E. emails:
Which was worth $US350,000. Let’s hope Fisk has had his affluenza shot.
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