My Misery Index

21 02 07

Ahead of our Finance Minister Trevor Manuel’s Budget Speech today, I found a small article the the Star’s business section on Monday night which spoke about the ‘misery index’. This concept was created by an American economist, Robert Barro, in the 1970s. It measures the unemployment rate plus the inflation rate. South Africa has the dubious distinction of being the most miserable of 57 countries recently surveyed with a misery score of 31%. Naturally Zimbabwe is off the charts – inflation rate of 1593% and unemployment of 70%. South Africa’s inflation isn’t looking too bad apparently at 5.8%, but our “official” (haha, we all know better) unemployment rate of 25.6% is what brings us down. This high misery score is one of the reasons, the author contends, for South Africa’s ridiculous crime rate. Whew, must have taken a lot of brain power to come up with that one!!

I wonder if Trevor is aware of his role in decreasing his citizens’ collective misery?

Anyway, it got me thinking about how a misery index would feature in my life, i.e what combination of events/concepts would raise my score on the misery index. These are what I came up with:

  • Waiting for workmen + ensuing workmen incompetence : 79% misery
  • Paying lawyer’s fees for new flat + paying annual car insurance: 92% misery
  • Reading mass media theory + not understanding it: 73.2% misery
  • Having to put up with closeted, pedantic next door colleague + no chocolate or earplugs to numb the pain: 30% misery
  • Realising it’s only Wednesday + feeling that by my calculations it should already be Friday 16:00 : 5000000% misery

I haven’t even mentioned the affect my aunt, the bank, Telkom, the Government, MTN or rude waitrons would have on my misery index…I’m sure they would push it into the realms of Zimbabwe!