‘The Rat Race’ is a term used to define people caught up in a fiercely competitive struggle for wealth or power; in England this was promoted by Margaret Thatcher when she was Prime Minister from 1979-1990. Thatcher believed that individuals should be encouraged to accumulate as much wealth as possible. The 1980s was known as ‘the decade of greed.’
When Thatcher was Prime Minister, a new socio-economic group, the young urban professionals, ‘YUPPIE,’ emerged. Primarily, they worked in the financial sector, such as at The Stock Exchange in The City, London’s business district. YUPPIES worked long hours at The Stock Exchange because they wanted to accumulate wealth; they succeeded in doing this, however some of them experienced ill health such as stress. Eventually, some of them relinquished this rat race existence and moved to rural locations where they bought country homes and set up their own businesses.
People in other areas of work, such as the media industry, experienced the rat race too. Kate Hearsey left her job in the media industry owing to the long commute to London where her job was located. She immigrated to Mexico to work on a ranch. Although she has much less money, she has a far better quality of life.
Many accepted a rat race existence in order to be affluent but many failed at achieving this because of the high cost of living in London; money had to be used for the rent, mortgage and bills and there was no money to invest to regenerate wealth. Also, long working hours for the acquisition of money caused ill health as many experienced stress which precipitated other health problems. MIND, a mental health charity, has found that one in six people have experienced mental illness.
Research conducted by Public Health, England, has found that twelve million people in England are taking addictive, prescription pills for depression or insomnia. Unlike on the continent, there is a culture of ‘binge drinking’ in England. People use alcohol as escapism from the stress and problems of life which a rat race existence has caused. ‘Alcohol England’ revealed that in 2017-2018 there were 338,000 hospital admissions because of alcohol misuse. This figure is 15% higher than a decade ago.
The rat race instigates an unhealthy way of life. Health and happiness have to be perceived as more important than the need to acquire opulence.
People shouldn’t have to be slaves to work in order to obtain a materialistic lifestyle.