"Panflation has dangerously deflated the world's potential for progress" - By Frank-Jürgen Richter
A recent article in The Economist brought up a very serious issue for
our time: panflation. According to the article, a size 10 dress in
1975 was for women with 24-inch waists. Today, a size 10 accomodates
28 inches of girth. The 'same' standardized size has suffered
In fact, all sizes for men and women have changed. People who are
roughly the same build today as they were in the 1970s can wear sizes
that are 'smaller' than they were decades ago.
This 'size inflation' flatters those who are putting on weight, even
if is a natural consequence of becoming older. A surgeon once told me
that older men naturally add about 3kg every decade. This is not
because of obesity, but because of the natural tendency of people to
lead a more sedentary lifestyle as they get older.
Size inflation can work as a marketing tool. It can help to sell
clothes. Buying items in the same size for a number of years makes us
feel better, and so we spend more.
But people do seem to be getting bigger, and at a younger age. We have
all seen the stories of obese men having to buy two airline seats or
to be winched out of their bedroom windows because they are too big to
take the stairs, for example.
Media does not help. While some stories offer sound health advice,
others scream at us to buy snake-all cures - dubious products that it
is claimed are guaranteed to help us to slim.
The Economis article, titled 'The perils of panflation' noted numerous
other effects of size inflation. Food portion sizes have increased,
and wine as well be served in buckets. Hotels offer deluxe, rather
than standard rooms. Airlines no longer have economy seats, they are
now described in less honest terms.
Sadly, as The Economist piece released April 7 notes, panflation has
even reached our education systems. While levels of intelligence have
remained fairly constant, more students are achieving the highest
grades. This is good for the students we are told. Yet when the new
graduates enter the workplace, employers are aghast at their low
abilities. And then there are the many youngsters who never get jobs,
who just sit around getting fatter, literally, on the state.
We cannot affort to let his state of affairs continue, we are letting
our young pour from schools without a real chance. This is becoming a
burden. While youth may be pleased to fit into small jeans, they will
not have the ability to question why their clothes sizes do not go up
along with their weight. Poor education leads to poor analytical
Light on truth
Society's increasing lack of analytical nous is reflected in the
electioneering practices around the world. This phenomenon is easy to
see in recent French and U.S. elections. The two nations are very
different, but the populations of both countries look to their
elected leaders to lead.
Under such circumstances, politicians try to probe to us they are the
best people for the job. In the U.S., this led to cast sums of cash
being spent on the primary elections as Republican candidates fought
for the nomination to run for the presidency.
Trying to prove their worth, candidates spent millions of dollars on
advertisements that focus on the qualities of themselves and the
weaknesses of other hopefuls. Meanwhile, many nations are clamoring
for financial aid.
Adding to the evidence that the campaigns may be wasting money, often
election advertisements are salacious. But we fail to pass judgement,
it seems. Perhaps today's electorate measures a politician's worth on
public exposure alone.
The situation in France is also worth considering. There, campaigns
were calm, but the population massaged by inconsequential stories.
There are risks around the corner, however. France's
leader-in-waiting, François Hollande, appears to disagree with
European Central Bank on fiscal policy. Those disagreements could hurt
the French economy. But there has ben little debate about the very
messy financial situation that France could face within weeks.
There are hints of the simmering unrest that political change has
brought about on financial markets. It is not just the crisis in
Europe behind market instability thought. It is rather financial
markets' tendency to rush to move money at the slightest hint of new
data. Some of these rushes are caused by automated mechanisms on
software written by Wall Street programmers.
The software used on Wall Street lacks the ability to critically
assess the economic situation. The people writing the software have
top scores from top universities and have worked for top investment
houses. But do they know much about the real world?
The same can be said of voters in the U.S. primaries and in France. Do
they have the critical ability to cut through the subterfudge to ask
the questions that will highlight who can lead abd who can only
bluster? Probably not.
As we can see, panflation devalues everything it touches.
Unfortunately, it also inflates our perceptions of our own prowess.
This in turn conflates into our leader's belief in the electorate's
abilities to chose politicians carefully.
But with a large portion of the electorate ill-educated and
unemployable, unable to survive without state handouts, how long with
this system survive?
Worryingly, financial markets sniff out signals about the direction of
economies, and they are unemotional. They will shift their alleciances
faster than voters, perhaps to the detriment of all.
There is no easy fix. Politicians are stuck in systems where voters
cannot be told the truth. The electorate seems to want to live in a
world of fantasy.
Frank-Jürgen Richter is founder and chairman of Horasis, a global
business community. Horasis hosts annual meetings for senior
Horasis is a global visions community committed to enact visions for a sustainable future. (http://www.horasis.org)
For more information, please contact:
|Communications and Public Affairs
|Horasis. The Global Visions Community
||+41 79 305 3110
||+41 44 214 6502