Don’t get too preoccupied with reality

A great Ted Talk by Rory Sutherland. He discusses how the framing of things is absolutely essential.

Some of the best quotes:

“If you stand and stare out of the window on your own, you’re an anti-social, friendless idiot. If you stand and stare out of the window with a cigarette, you’re a fucking philosopher.”

“I think one of the problems with classical economics is it’s absolutely preoccupied with reality. And reality isn’t a particularly good guide to human happiness.”

“Why, for example, are pensioners much happier than the young unemployed. Both of them are in the same stage of life, you both have too much time on their hands and not much money. But pensioners are reportedly very very happy, where the unemployed are extrodinarily unhappy and depressed. The reason I think is that pensioners believe they have chosen to be pensioners, whereas the you unemployed feel it’s been thrust upon them. In England, the upper middle classes have solved this problem perfectly because they’ve rebranded unemployment. If you’re an upper middle class englishman, you call unemployment ‘a year off’. “

“Our experiences, costs, things, Don’t much depend on what they really are, but how we view them.”

“Chose your frame of reference and the perceived value and therefore the actual value is completely transformed.”



A quick sketch of how I would like to change the space of unemployment. Obviously missing a few steps (seeing what Centrelink has to offer, breaking the news to his wife, coping with the change, realising he needs to adapt…) but you get the gist. I like the idea of placing a money equivalent value on community earnings, such as neighbours baking you a pie, or a life to the park, so that Steve can budget and control his savings. The result in a perfect world would be that Steve could self-sustainably in his community, and feel a lot more positive about where is hard work is going.

Looking at unemployment

I have been getting up to speed with the topic of unemployment in Australia. An overview of the unemployment rate over the last decade:

  • Lots of news stories of job cuts- Toyota, Ford, Rio Tinto, QLD Government
  • And job cut speculation- Fairfax, NAB, Tafe, Macquarie
  • Experts believe unemployment will rise to a max of 6% by the end of the year (ABC News excerpt)
  • Unemployment in June has come down from 6.3% in 2002, to 5.1% in 2012, fluctuating between 6.1% and 4.2% in the years between (ABS Statistics).
  • Job gains in service related areas and mining.
  • Job losses in retail and manufacturing.

An overview of the services provided to the unemployed by the government:

  • There are many services to help you get employed, not many on how to deal with unemployment, or how to be less reliant on your employment. E.g. Youth Allowance, NewStartLocal Connections to Work,
  • There is a focus on youth and the long term unemployed, not so much on the recently unemployed.
  • Many services are finance based with occasional skills training (writing a resume etc.), not focused on lifestyle or upskilling.

Other food for thought:

People groups in ‘barriers to increased labour force participation’

Main reasons for available people not looking for more work

Main difficulties in finding more work