We now know the best job in the world is working as a caretaker on Hamilton Island, in the Great Barrier Reef, but what’s the best country on the planet to live in?Costa Rica, apparently, with the Central American country topping the second edition of the Happy Planet Index (HPI).Costa Rica comes out on top as its long-lived citizens are extremely satisfied with their lot and also have a tiny carbon footprint.Not surprisingly Zimbabwe is bottom of the HPI index, but the report makes grim reading for many developed countries, with the United States ranked 114th of the 143 nations surveyed.The HPI has its critics in that the report does not take sufficient account of political freedom, but the concept has been taken up by David Cameron, leader of Britain’s opposition Conservative political party, while the European Commission has launched a programme “Beyond GDP” in pursuit of other ways of measuring progress.How do you think happiness should be rated and which is the best country in the world to live in?While you’re thinking about it, I’m off to Costa Rica.
As chief executive for a company that is 70 percent owned by the government, a 9.6 million pounds pay package is quite a tidy sum.It is a package that makes Royal Bank of Scotland chief executive Stephen Hester almost as well as paid as the Real Madrid-bound Cristiano Ronaldo.True the package has caveats – it is dependent on targets including shareholder return and absolute share performance – and is line with other British banking chiefs.But in these more frugal post-global downturn times does that make it right? In trying to get itself shipshape, RBS has slashed over 15,000 jobs as it received its £20 billion pounds government bailout.As details of the pay package were revealed it also emerged that RBS, which has been pilloried over the pension awarded to Hester’s predecessor Fred Goodwin, will be spending £300,000 on corporate entertainment at Wimbledon over the next fortnight. Doh!Given the taxpayer-funded bailout of RBS is Hester worth £9.6m?
The online release of MPs’ expense claims has only served to further dent their already battered reputation.Forty-two days after the Daily Telegraph began to investigate MPs’ expenses the Houses of Parliament finally got round to publishing official details of them. Or rather it didn’t, as lots of key information was blacked out.Britain’s newspapers spelt out their condemnation – in black and white – of this supposed exercise in freedom of information.The Sun labelled MPs “Blankers”, the Daily Mirror led with the headline: “Blackwash”, while the Daily Mail posed the question: “Just how stupid do they think we are?”Commons officials insisted that the information that had been blacked out was done to protect MPs’ security, but the consensus of Britain’s media was that the political classes had shot themselves in the foot.”Yesterday’s exercise in obfuscation suggested the House of Commons has learnt nothing,” opined the Daily Telegraph’s editorial, with the paper promising to publish an uncensored version of every MP’s expense claim on Saturday.”The Portcullis House edition of the dossier does not so much slam the door behind a bolted stallion as painstakingly construct a new stable in order to house a dead nag,” wrote the Guardian.The farce was meat and drink to cartoonists. The Guardian’s Steve Bell captioned his cartoon with the statement: “Justice must not only not be done, it must not be seen to not be done.”Even advertisers got in on the fun with a Volkswagen advert having most of its words crossed out.Lest your mood has been overly blackened, remember that at least we have learnt a new word from this very British political scandal. Hands up who knew what the word “redacted” – to make ready for publication; edit or revise – meant 42 days ago?The question is now how are MPs going to redact their reputations?