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Video Happiness in the Rat Race cartoons our overpopulated predicament

What does happiness mean to you? We tend to search for it in material things, substances, and career achievements, but often lose sight of what really matters to us in the process. London-based artist and animator Steve Cutts is taking a long hard look at this ‘rat race’ to which we’ve all found ourselves tied, and is examining our modern sources of joy in a satirical new short film that depicts us as the ‘rats’ we’ve become in the eyes of the system. It’s titled after that mysterious high we’re always chasing; “Happiness.” Take 4 minutes out of your busy day and watch the clip for yourself below, and tell us in the comments if you think Cutts hit the nail on the head.

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This little animation reminds me of 5.00pm Collins Street by John Brack painted in 1955 but there is an essential difference. Brack's painting shows people walking doggedly down Collins Street all facing the same direction, presumably on their way to Flinders Street Station. The figures overlap one another so they are massed together The animation shows rats (people) in a much more daunting mass being swept along. The difference is the amount of control the rats (people) seem to have over their situation. Brack was in a way criticising the people in his picture for choosing this life. He even criticised himself decades later for his own arrogance. The author of the animation seems to show a situation of despair that has gone beyond choice and beyond rectifying.

I do hope those people who were walking doggedly down Collins Street weren't hoping to find Flinders Street Station, they may find Spencer Street which would only add to their misery when they found out that it's now called Southern Cross.

Thankyou Steve Cutts for an excellent clip of the Rat Race aka "Happiness". To take it one step further I read in The Age this morning that the Fairfax-Lateral Economics Wellbeing Index is up on last year. So all of you who feel downtrodden, disenchanted and feel that the world is against you - lighten (listen) up!

The Wellbeing Index charade goes like this: National Income is up by 4.5% to $1406.8b, human capital is up, environmental depletion, inequality, health and worker satisfaction on the other hand are down. The upshot is that overall that well-being is up by some $1569b which is not what the peasants in the streets have been telling me. Why??

The simple facts are that national income includes business and bank profits (of course) who have been screwing workers, human capital which has been imported in the form of migrants, environmental depletion is estimated to be only $2.5b but is more likely to be $2.5t.

Environmental "depletion" which is a nice way of saying degradation should be a hot topic of conversation in our media, but all too often is relegated to the back bench. I engaged in a conversation yesterday, in 'The Conversation' "Drought on the Murray....", on that very topic and most of the comments were on the same wave length. However, what did surprise me was the lack of comments and where were the so-called environmental groups.

What I'm trying to get at is that we're confusing well-being with wealth. To my mind well-being is satisfactory welfare, peace of mind, happiness, health, comfort, security, &c. Well-being is immaterial, it's not being prosperous, it's not being the best at anything and everything, it's not being successful, it's not being rich, it's not consumerism, it's not having the best house, car or anything else. Well-being is ordinary people doing ordinary things achieving ordinary outcomes. Well-being is life!!

If the 1955 commuters walked in a straight line from the top of Collins Street they would have found themselves at what was then Spencer Street Station, but if they came from the top of Collins Street and turned left at Swanston, they would have found themselves facing Flinders Street Station as they would now! Walking in Collins Street doesn't mean they weren't headed for Flinders Street Station! They could also have been headed for Spencer Street but it was more for country and interstate travel.