Comment in Compass
None of the speakers seem to have brought out the essential distinguishing feature of the the good society as set out in our publication of the same name
Here’s an extract from it which encapsulates the issues I think we should be concentrating on if we wish to put some clear water between ourselves and the Tory con-cept of the Big Society
"Material prosperity has not brought with it increased satisfaction with life. Our pursuit of fulfilment has stalled. The relationship between economic growth and well-being has broken down in the rich countries of the world. The measures of subjective well-being which assess the happiness of the population have shown little movement in thirty years.
We have become a more unequal and divided society. Levels of personal debt are unprecedented, and we are time-poor, working long hours either to make ends meet or to buy the ever changing trappings of success.
Alongside the economic insecurity a new set of social problems has emerged –widespread mental ill health, systemic loneliness, growing numbers of psychologically damaged children, eating disorders, obesity, growing alcoholism and drug addiction. The Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health has calculated that the total cost of mental illness to the economy is £77 billion. Stress, anxiety and depression account for a third of all working days lost.
We are living in a social recession. Its symptoms and its pain are often concealed inside our homes, where we experience them privately as our own shameful and personal failings. Without a wider political understanding of this social recession, we have no means of understanding its causes, let alone the ability to deal with its consequences."
The good society should be about addressing all these problems as opposed to the big society which simply seems to be about dispersing more power to a people crippled by them,
See original article – Big Society versus Good Society debate write up by William Cass