Ireland has been named in tenth place out of 144 countries in the Legatum Prosperity Index, an annual report on global prosperity, based on both material wealth and personal well-being.
The index recorded that 70% of Irish people were satisfied with their lot and only a third of European countries had improved on last year’s ratings. It also recorded, despite the near collapse of our economic system, that over the last six years the world has become more, not less, prosperous.
These findings run counter to the “austerity” narrative that informs so much of our public discourse, a discourse often fuelled by out-of-power politicians and media voices more intent on provocation than understanding or solutions.
It would of course be very wrong to downplay the hardships faced by very many people in this society, especially those who cannot find work that pays enough to allow them live with dignity, much less security and comfort, but it is hard to see how these findings might support the seven-years-of-austerity argument brought to bear with such force on so many issues. As is so often the case political rather than social objectives are in play.
The report pointed out that education and health services are vital to a nation’s prosperity. This is another powerful argument, as if one was needed, for protecting the credibility of one of those services and supporting the other in a way that allows it to meet ever-growing demands.
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