Letters to the Editor: Oct. 2009

The Vienna Review welcomes letters from its readers.

To the Editor,

Re: Vienna: Where the Living Is Easy (Vol. 7, No. 5)

It is interesting how these surveys keep appearing with judgments on various cities. First, the Mercer survey gives top billing to Vienna. And since then we have had the British magazine The Economist rating Vienna as the second-most livable city in the world after Vancouver in Canada.

I do not dispute these findings, but I do ask, that the selection criteria not be ignored when coming to these conclusions. The Economist used 30 criteria including health-care, culture, environment, education, infrastructure and regional stability in 140 cities rated around the world.

The Mercer finding, that Vienna is the world’s second “city with the best quality of living” is based on a point-scoring index. But what is included in that index? It is mainly concerned with the quality of life for those in a more privileged position through wealth or status in society? Does it judge equally the standard of living across society as a whole?

Your newspaper has in recent months carried a number of articles that show a darker side of life here in Vienna. In your May issue, you ran a front page article about a “damning” Amnesty International report, which claimed “institutional racism is permeating the Austrian police force and other parts of the country’s criminal justice system.”

It is not surprising that the local German-language media has given broad and unquestioning coverage of the Mercer survey.

However, these and your newspaper do not question whether this finding takes into account this racism, or other consequences of an apparent swing to the far right in this country, or would be agreed by those residents of this fine city, who suffer as a result of it. I think they should.


Brett Bayly

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