Monday, 12 October 2009

Is the UK such a bad place to live in? [Este UK un loc atât de rău în care să trăieşti?]

According to a study made by these guys, the answer to the title-question is obviously positive, and there are at least nine European countries (why precisely nine or why so few?!) where it’s better to live than in Britain.

I guess it’s not a surprise that, time and again, France it’s not simply ahead of Britain. Once more, the ‘bloody French’ are number one; they have the best quality of life, compared to all EU’s big nations.

If France’s leading place isn’t a surprise, some of the other countries where life appears to be better than in the UK could twist the knife in some proud Britons’ wounded egos…

This is the list: 1. France, 2. Spain, 3. Denmark, 4. Netherlands, 5. Germany, 6. Poland, 7. Italy, 8. Sweden, 9. Ireland, and… 10. UK.

How much better can life be in the Eastern lands of Germany? Isn’t Spain’s economic boom over, and the unemployment rate increasing rapidly? Doesn’t Italy have one of the weakest economies in the Euro Zone? Or what about the poor Poles who were flocking to Britain until a year ago?

Questions like the above are irrelevant, as long as, according to 17 factors – among which: net income, taxes, the cost of essential goods, working hours, holiday entitlement, life expectancy – the life of Brits is of a poorer quality than that of other nine nations in the UE (which have a total population of some 250 million).

What’s really sad is the fact that the UK had the highest net household income – £ 35,730 a year, more than £ 10,000 above the European average – but to no avail. Money simply makes no positive difference.

There is more to good living than money and this report shows why so many Brits are giving up on the UK and heading to France and Spain”, someone from the company issuing the survey says.

Big money, biggger problems, therefore a much more complicated and unsatisfying life for many Brits. Would this be a correct diagnosis?

Most of these quality of life surveys suck, as they reduce the human to a consumer (not a soul), but there must be some truth in this one. The Brits have been earning more than many other Europeans for the past decade or so, yet this brought little – if any whatsoever! – ‘good’ in their lives.

[For all the posts on this blog go to/Pentru toate postările de pe acest blog mergi la: Contents/Cuprins]


Gregor said...

Well, wid ya look at dat, da emerald oyl ahead of Britain at nomber noin dere.

I find these surveys very strange. Britain has awful areas of deprivation. Yet... in some ways I like being British. There is a certain friendliness, humour and open-ness that is certainly not universal amongst Brits but seems to be more prevalent than in other societies.

That is not to deny that there are social problems in Britain or that there are conflicts between different classes.

As for the future, I am not so sure. It does seem to me that through being drip-fed Darwinism, Brits have a tendency to see the world as operating on Darwinian principles, where good people and wise people are promoted and bad and foolish people are demoted.

This is the opposite of the truth. I see that there is going to be an award ceremony for journalists coming up and all the opinion writers thought the Iraq war would be a good thing. It seems that as something becomes a complete disaster people will be praised for saying everything's fine.

A lot of people think the collapse of Hitler was very odd because the top Nazis increasingly believed their own propaganda and surrounded themselves with flatterers even as the Russians were approaching Berlin. Yet I think that is a fairly typical example of what happens when people build a society based on their own 'wisdom'. Even as neo-liberalism is collapsing it is being flooded with tax money and Iran and Russia are being aggravated.

So, it would pain me to leave Britain. But I think I probably would if I get an opportunity. Whilst there is a difference between politics and everyday life, I do not know how long this will continue for.

MunteanUK said...

Good to read another comment of yours, dear Gregor!

Firstly, could you translate "da emerald oyl" for myself and any other ignorant readers?

I'm glad that - unlike in many posts on your blog - you confessed that you like being British :-)

No matter what some would say, no matter how many references to weird peculiarities of the Brits I'd make on my blog, you're part of a fascinating nation! Or... a 'union of four nations', if you prefer :-)

I fully agree with you that these surveys are strange and have many faults, but I'm even happier to agree with you that that "there is a certain friendliness, humour and open-ness that is certainly not universal amongst Brits but seems to be more prevalent than in other societies."

Not only I, but many people like that about the UK. You can be sure that you won't find the same open society in France. Yes, it may be a lovely place to live in, but... for the French. On the contrary, for centuries, the UK has been welcoming foreigners, and alllowed them to maintain their identity.

Sadly, building up a society based on Darwinist principles, and growing apart from the simplest of Christian values - as getting far from the Truth of Christ was achieved centuries ago :-( - doesn't offer many hopes for a 'bright future' of Britain.

The comparison of today's British political establishment (and intelligentsia) to Hitler's henchmen is very relevant. Top Nazis could have come up with an 'exit strategy' sooner, but they were self-deluded.

The same happened to Byzantium, caught up in theological disputes, as the Ottoman Turks were at the gates of the city. And I'm afraid something similar could bring the collapse of the USA, although - unlike many contemporaries - I will not be 'happy' to witness that.

When the US 'falls' (with Britan having fallen before), there won't be much left to hope for... The demise of 'mighty America' will be well-deserved, and will prove the failure of another empire based on 'human wisdom'. But what next???

The American dream, with its 'pursuit of happiness' was, in my view, the 'maximum' of what human beings could create without God! And we know too well that 'their god' is only apparently Jesus Christ, Whom they do not actually know within their heretical beliefs.

When this dream crumbles (maybe rather sooner than later!), nothing good awaits mankind!

About where to settle for good (an Orthodox nation, I assume), just let the Lord work! Britain is still a pretty decent country, with indecent politics, and you may be right to fear that about the evolution of your country.

But don't rush into any life-changing decissions without much prayer and spiritual advice! I'm sure that the Lord will reveal His plan for you at the right time. In fact, I'm sure that He's 'working on it' right now...

Gregor said...

'Firstly, could you translate "da emerald oyl" for myself and any other ignorant readers?'

That was phoenetic Irish for 'the emerald isle', a name for Ireland (in case it's politically incorrect, I'm part Irish myself ;-)). The point was that Brits tend to look down on the Irish, yet they've done pretty well for themselves.

As for proud to be British; I think I am proud to belong to a certain strata of British culture: the skilled working/ lower middle class. Where there is a lot of individualism.

Overall I hate nationalism, though if foreign countries choose to be nationalistic that is their business. Furthermore, British patriotism tends to be creepy. Largely it consists of patronising the Brits as freedom lovers, by the very same people who tell us that we need Big Brother.

And I don't know if London (where most of these people come from) is a city that reflects British values. It seems to have the worst of the left (Big Brother statism) and the right (gross income inequality and snobbery).

Still, I've never been there so don't know.

Entirely agree with you about America. As one conservative journalist I quite like put it 'Dick Cheney and George Bush personified the worst leftwing caricature of America'.

It is because I respect a lot about America that I think that they should stop interfering in other countries. And yes, when their country does collapse, the results will not be pretty.

MunteanUK said...

My dear Gregor,

Please excuse my 'silence' for the past days, as I've been very busy. Among other things, the US Vicepresident visited Romania.

Some replies to your last comment:

1) Indeed, I also noticed during my stay in the UK a lot of ironies directed against the Irish. In jokes or offensive remarks they are... lazy, dirty drunkards, quick to clench their fists, and, of course, one of their biggest faults is that they are Catholic.

This is the British cliche about the Irish as I could notice. It's quite politically incorrect, isn't it?


2) Do you think that "the skilled working/ lower middle class" is the only one where individualism is prevalent?

Do you think that there's more empathy within the working class, where a 'tough life' makes people friendlier to one another? Or do you imagine that members of the upper class still 'stick together', in order to preserve their privileges?

I'd be very interested in reading your view about this issue. I personally tend to believe that, the farther apart from Chist British society grew, the father from one another British individuals became... And this happened to all walks of life, maybe to various degrees, but to ALL Brits...


3) You are completely right that London is less and less part of Britain, and more an 'entity' of its own. This always happens to huge cities. They retain 'traces' of the nation they are part of, but they evolve somehow separately.

New York is not the United States, and may well be very different from many parts of the State of New York. Hong Kong is a city-state of its own, with few resemblance to the rest of China. Not even Los Angeles represents the whole of California, a very diverse country with 37 million inhabitants.

With a tenth of the country's population, Bucharest is not 'all' Romania. I think you can come up with other examples of such cities! I haven't been there, but I imagine Sankt Petersburg + Moscow appearing very 'strange' to millions of Russian living somewhere else in that huge country.


4) I'm glad to see you are not as 'anti-American' as you may sometimes appear to be :-)

But I find that you are too idelaistic (too naive maybe!) to imagine that any empire could stop interfering in other countries.

Come on, dear friend, you are a historian! Does it make sense for an empire not to interfere?

Can you offer examples of 'isolationist' empires? Or maybe there were some, but for how long did they survive?

Gregor said...

Dear Bogdan
I suppose you are lucky to be busy in this uncertain time.

'Do you think that "the skilled working/ lower middle class" is the only one where individualism is prevalent?

Do you think that there's more empathy within the working class, where a 'tough life' makes people friendlier to one another? Or do you imagine that members of the upper class still 'stick together', in order to preserve their privileges?'

The thing is that there is no working class in Britain, aside from a few skilled workers and some construction workers. I was speaking a bit about this on Sublime Oblivion.

The truth is that the British welfare dependency is as much a product of the free market and the destruction of British manufacturing as anything else. There is an increasingly disturbing, violent, uneducated underclass that has liberal Brits tongue tied.

I was reading about a film they made recently which was very controversial where a charming lower middle-class couple are tortured and murdered by a gang of youths.

It isn't often I'd concede this, but for once the Daily Mail speaks volumes of sense about it ;-)

Despite the daily headlines about people being tortured and killed by wild gangs, a lot of liberal papers said that the film was alarmist and 'implausible'.

Of course 'Big Brother' is useless against these attacks, which makes me wonder what the surveillance is for.

The upper class definitely have solidarity, yet I think it is a greedy, atomised kind. Usually they are very cold people who have been sent to boarding schools.

Furthermore, they do not want anyone promoted, which is why I think they fully support the conflict between the aspiring middle class and the underclass.

As for America, I am not opposed to their interfering INTELLIGENTLY in other countries, but they just do not seem to have a process by which geographic/ historical experts are promoted.

What's happening in Iraq was predicted by numerous American historians/ Middle East academics. Yet they were booed offstage and ignored by the White House whilst sentimental, ignorant idiots were lavished with praise for telling fairy tales. They seem to have endless gullibility when you look at how numerous charlatans from Saakashvilli to Chalibi and Karzai have persuaded them to support their ludicrous aspirations.

Britain's Empire had a history of intelligent intervention but when it came to supporting Belgium and intefering in Central Europe, it all collapsed. Naivety is the deadliest force for Empires.

As far as I can see, the irony is that when 'Darwinism' became gospel in the West, the nations seemed to follow a distinctly un-Darwinian path (ie whilst governments used to work on survival of the fittest, it later became survival of the most sentimental and promotional).

MunteanUK said...

@ Gregor (part one)

My dear Gregor,

Thank you again for a very interesting contribution to my blog through your previous comment!

I don't know if anyone else apart from ourselves (and Big Brother, of course :-) is following closely our discussions here, but let us hope that anyone could benefit from our exchange of ideas.

My answers this time would be the following:

1) You are right that - in this times of economic & political turmoil (check some reports about Romanian political life these days! - it's really a 'blessing' to have a job.

I must thank the Lord for that, but I'm afraid I'm pretty dissatisfied with what I am doing, and with the general gloomy perspective of the Romanian media.

Although I 'should' be looking for another job, and I could change the current one any time, I am not engaged in any 'active search'. I know that the Lord is aware of my 'request', and I'm sure He's working on that.


2) Your observation that there is no proper 'working class' left in Britain is very interesting.

As you say, there are some skilled workers (in the automotive, oil, aerospace & shipbuilding industries - maybe others as well?!) but I assume they are relatively few, compared to the bulk of the labour force in the UK.

Since I came in your country as a Chevening Fellow (special guest of the FCO), I met & confered with a different kind of people than the 'underclass' you are mentioning.

However, I must admit that you are right :-( For instance, I heard that on the banks of River Clyde there are many 'unemployed of the third generation'. While women do find jobs now and then, these men (of our age) have fathers who have been unemployed for most of their life, and grandfathers who had once been made redundant.

In spite of many civilised Brits (out of whom some are could be considered truly 'charming' people), there are more and more violent, uneducated, immoral, and dangerous people in your country.

And it's sad to see that they are living in council houses, on the expense of the honest taxpayer. I wonder if a Tory government would really bring any change and 'make people work', as they promise...


3) The whole surveillance system is powerless against a generation of people who have lost all their 'moral brakes', so I agree with you.

From my personal experience, I must say that I didn't feel 'insecure' or 'threatened' during my voyages though your country.

Only in some parts of Glasgow I felt a little 'worried'; I guess it was not because of the people, but because of the incoprehensible language (Glaswegian) :-( Can you understand those people?!

MunteanUK said...

@ Gregor (part two)

4) You're probably right about the upper class as well. I personally never dreamed of being a 'British Lord' :-)

I guess many of them are simply 'sad characters'; they apparently 'have it all', but actually have no happiness, no truly meaningful lives.


5) Your observation about US interventionism is also very interesting. You don't disagree with 'interventions' as such, but to 'stupid' ones.

How this happens puzzles me, and I have no particular 'theory' on this issue yet.

On the one hand - unlike what fanatical anti-Americans believe - there are many bright people in the US, even among those working for the Government. On the other hand, it's true that many sentimental fools, narrow-minded hysterics & charlatans get 'promoted'.

I don't think it's a coincidence; maybe it's somehow part of the greater NWO strategy that we are missing :-(


6) The Brits held together history's greatest empire (both in terms of surface and population) in an 'intelligent' manner up to a point... Then everything began to tear apart, faster & faster after WWII.

I could point the 'final fiasco' - the Suez War (1956) - but I must admit my historical knowledge doesn't allow me to identify when the process of 'losing cleverness' began...

Could you be more specific about this? Were you refering to the Brits supporting Belgium in WWI?!

Anyway, from an Orthodox point of view, England's 'moral deterioration' began with the assassination of Edward the Martyr. The Empire created centuries later (like the colonial empires of Spain, Portugal and Netherlands) was an 'achievement' only from an earthly point of view...

I wonder if Scotland could have stayed Orthodox...

Muzzerino said...

I am from Scotland, I am 100% British but now live in New Zealand.

In NZ you are never far away from another Brit who will gladly pounce on any opportunity to enhance the bad name that Britian has abroad (regarding lifestyle etc).

I find this troubling, since I always rush to the defence of the UK in almost every area except ASBO's and Chav's (Something I definitely do not miss)

But its strange how so many people have such a bad stereotypical image of Britain as being a few windswept, overcrowded, grey and rainy islands in the North Atlantic.

Places such as NZ, which always rank very high on international quality of life surveys have problems of their own. Those surveys are crap, simplistic and often based upon just a few subjective topics which they 'think' people will demand in a good quality of life.

Defender of all things British!
(well, almost all things...)

MunteanUK said...

@ Muzzerino

It's nice to get an interesting comment from as far as New Zeeland!

Although I'm not in the UK any longer, and some people could say that I write a lot of 'bad stuff' about this country, I guess my blog offers enough evidence (particularly my posts in Romanian) that there are many good things in Britain, and an awful lot of stereotypes.

I couldn't say if I had any success, but I've been trying to dimiss some of these stupid ideas about the UK.

Taking this into consideration, it's interesting to read that there are Brits 'enhancing the bad name Britain has abroad', but I'm not too surprised to find that - many Romanians also do the same about their country :-(

Therefore, my question would be: whose nation's emigrants don't do the same?! Could we imagine Americans settling abroad and making bad impressions of America in their new (adoptive) country? Do the Chinese do this? Or the Japanese? Or the Russians?


Obviously, after spending some time in the UK (in 2008 and 2009), I can fully agree that it's sheer bullshit to consider Britan "a few windswept, overcrowded, grey and rainy islands in the North Atlantic".

Of course that even Britain has countless problems, but generally these surveys are a bunch of stupid misconceptions put together.

People are not seen as complex human beings, but as some kind of machines (consumers) which can be described according to some quantifiable 'parameters'.

Anyway, dear 'Muzzerino', if you ever come back to this blog, how is life in NZ?

To the same extent that there are derogatory myths about the UK, there are many myths about the 'fabulous life' in NZ, as if it were a 'paradise on Earth'...

Apart from the magnificent God-given landscape, what else rises up to the good reputation? Which are the 'not-so-pleasant' aspects of living there?

MunteanUK said...

@ everyone

An interesting article, appearing roughly one year after the above discussed controversial study, places Britain on the 13th place in a 'Prosperity Index'.


The funny thing about the current (probably equally weird) study is that this time the Brits are above the French :-)

Out of 110 counties, France is not 'number one' this time, but only the 19th.


However, it's worth mentioning that the index was carried out before the current coalition government came to power.

It's very unlikely that the severe budget cuts announced won't affect Britain's position in further indexes.