EDITORIAL – 24 November 2017

Applying the Economics of Happiness

” …..as a result, civic pride increases, people become happier and society becomes more civil……”

For the past 300 years, western culture has been devouring the sovereignty and security of the world with deliberate planning and great patience.
Globalisation is one of the most obvious manifestations underpinned by the free-market economic practices of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, including Australia. Because this is how it’s been for so long now, few people can actually remember how localised our economies were even back to the 1960’s.
However, it is easy to be reminded when you travel through much of rural Australia and in the Riverina and Murray regions and see the number of empty shops and the lack of life in many small towns. For decades, schools have been closing because of falling student numbers.
There are many reasons for the decline in population numbers – no longer is employment available on properties because the variety and power of machinery is circumventing the need for human labour. The focus on efficiency and reducing the cost of production to compete in the global markets are now the mantra of modern agribusinesses.
Ironically, an off-farm income is almost de rigeur for many farming families to remain financially viable because in the dominant commodity-market economics of modern farming the price of what is grown may not be known until the point of sale or delivery.
With emphasis on being globally competitive, and Australia being signatory to 10 Free Trade Agreements and politicians hell-bent on signing up to the Trans Pacific Partnership, we are told these are beneficial for our Terms of Trade and provide opportunities for new markets.
The flip-side of this is Australia is beholden to accept the goods and services from all those other countries. This is a major reason why rural and regional Australia is changing. We see the micro-economic outcomes of the macro-economic decisions made by people far, far away. Apparently, this is progress with perpetual economic growth.
Western countries measure their ‘progress’ with the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) indicator with the crossing point of three sides of the economy namely expenditure, output and income.
As a measure of economic activity of a country for international and temporal comparisons, it provides a good first approximation. Still, it ignores many crucial elements of general well-being, including environment conservation, safety, life expectancy and population literacy.

The Economics of Happiness is the complete opposite to the free-market economy. Instead of a global focus of sameness and homogeneity, the economics of happiness focuses on local futures recognising and celebrating the richness and diversity of terroir, provenance, cultures, traditions and sovereignty of every-where and every- one.
The Wiradjuri nation’s history spans millennia with vast wisdom, sacred cultural practices and language to describe minute differences between weather, astronomy, animals, plants, soils, rocks, people, ceremonies, music, paintings and Dreaming. The loss of language results in the diminution of knowledge as it disappears against the dominant tide of other cultures.
What can be done to stop the destruction of cultures and sovereignty in what seems an impossible task?
Located in the Himalaya Mountains, the tiny country of Bhutan is known for its Gross National Happiness index indicating the nation’s wellbeing. The four pillars on which measurements are made are –
• Environmental conservation
• Good governance
• Preservation and promotion of Bhutan’s culture, and
• Sustainable and equitable socio-economic development.

This is the same platform on which the Wagga Weekly sits as an independent and locally-owned- by-shareholders enterprise. We are your good-news paper motivated to celebrate the diversity, creativity, stories and provenance of the mighty Riverina and Murray regions.
The team at Wagga Weekly all live, work in and love this place and are immersed in our many communities – music, sport, food and dining, rural, business, living well and civic life. Our columnists are passionate about their professions and the wealth of knowledge they’ll share in every edition expands the knowledge of what is here, and available for everyone.
Your local Wagga Weekly is about engagement and participation – we want to hear your voices on the topics which uplift and inspire you.
As a result of putting this platform of pillars into practice, civic pride increases, people become happier and society becomes more civil.
Welcome to our first edition.