i Editor's Letter: 'It's the economy, stupid'


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The Independent Online


Much black humour at i Towers about a giant research project that found people with highly stressful jobs, but little real control over decision-making, have a 23 per cent increased risk of a heart attack. Well, no s*** Sherlock!

However, for once, the report appeared to have some weight. It involved studying 200,000 people from seven European countries for more than seven years. It found that "job strain" was a key factor regardless of age, gender or whether individuals earned a high or low salary. But it was still not as important a factor as smoking or lack of exercise.

I am not one to take heart attacks lightly having lost a father, stepfather, four uncles and others that way. But I guess one of the ways of coping with such a toll is to joke about it – that's why it's called black humour. The reason for that black humour at work is that there is scarcely anyone who cannot relate to the feeling of having responsibility without control. To some degree, it was ever thus in a newsroom under the twin despots: clock and editor. However, in recessionary times, as in many other workplaces, this is exacerbated by a gnawing worry that greater skill levels and harder work won't save you. To me, the second-biggest work stress driver is fear of losing your job. The biggest? It actually happening.

As we read countless surveys about a continuing lack of consumer confidence holding back spending, and watch an endless parade of "experts" puzzling over said lack of confidence, that familiar 'parallel universe' feeling sweeps over us. I know it, you know it, so why don't the politicians and economists proposing still more austerity and cuts know it: Stress? It's the economy, stupid. Oh, ps: eat less, move more, and don't smoke.