What is it with our obsession with numbers and with rankings?

Where do they get these numbers? It completely beats me. Reminds me of a line in Annie Hall in which Woody’s mother says to his father in conclusion of their latest argument. “Have it your own way, the Atlantic Ocean is a better ocean than the Pacific Ocean.”

Or as Keynes said in a rather different context “the statement that Queen Victoria was a better queen but not a happier woman than Queen Elizabeth [is] a proposition not without meaning and not without interest, but unsuitable as material for the differential calculus.”

Anyway, just for your information, Australia has pretty good central bank policy and the USA has worse policy (even though they seem about the same). The UK has got worse policy again even though they publish minutes of meetings and we don’t. Singapore is the world’s second most fiscally transparent country (cough). We’re four places below Singapore in ‘corruption perceptions’ (cough, cough). But Singapore is way behind us on judicial independence. (’nuff said).

This nonsense is mixed in with lots of interesting things in this report (pdf) advertising Australia as a jolly good place for a financial centre – which it is. Surveys of executives indicate that the report is the 456th best report released in our region for some time.

And just to show that it’s not a fluke, here’s a table which shows that one of the main things about quality of life is it helps if five months of the year the average maximum temperature is three degrees C or below – as it is for our second ranked country Iceland. No wonder people are flocking there.

3 thoughts on “What is it with our obsession with numbers and with rankings?

  1. Well, that last ranking fits with my prejudices … (After all, that’s what these comparisons are all about isn’t it – to confirm one’s prejudices?)

    So I find it interesting that, apart from Iceland which is clearly not like any other country in the world on most counts, Australia ranks equal to or higher than all the Nordic countries that many people think we should be more like and way higher than both the US and the UK which the same people think we are almost exactly like.

  2. I like how the study is a joint venture between two countries that end up in the top 5.

    In case it hasn’t been said before, all polls are advertisements.

    Kev

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