Tuesday, January 17, 2012


I think Dave is Right On This Happiness Thing

God knows, it's hard to say it, but I agree with David Cameron. Not on everything of course, but specifically that a General Wellbeing Index is of more significance than a GDP one. A recent report by right-wing think-tank, the IEA, suggests that the only thing that will make people more happy is more money, so attempts to compile a happiness index are a waste of time. Dominic Lawson, as one might expect, chips in to agree. The whole idea was to debunk what the right derisively label the 'touchy feely' brigade's notion that there is more to life than making money. Even though Cameron's study to gauge national happiness will cost only £2m, this is thought to be a complete waste of time and money by such critics.

I'm not so sure. Richard Layard's study of Happiness several years ago now, suggested that above a minimum amount required to live like most other people- he suggested £25K a year- increases in happiness do not correlate positively with increasing levels of prosperity. Our living experience surely tells us that while our wealth has trebled or more since the 1950s, we are nowhere near three times happier. Moreover, the media provides us with abundant evidence, in the form of celebrity depression, drug addiction and suicides, that plentiful supplies of moolah are no guarantee of a life lived happily. Most studies of well being reveal the country where people are happiest is Denmark, a country characterised for many by socio-econmic equality and rejection of crude materialism.

The IEA purports to show that the richer a country is, the happier it becomes.I can see that data might be assembled to prove this argument but there is another consideration. This is that finite resources dictate that continuing our pell-mell pursuit of wealth creates an immovable imperative: it will eventually leave a husk of a planet, of no use to anyone, whether a brilliant entrepreneur or a humble 'hewer of wood and carrier of water'. The IEA purports to show that the richer a country is, the happier it becomes. I seriously doubt such findings as they conflict with the evidence of good old commonsense.

"happiness does not correlate positively with happiness" - Shome mishtake, shurely?

An issue is that most of the people with their hands on the levers of power and communication are driven by money. Possibly they lack the imagination to understand that not everyone's the same.

In my, admittedly very limited, experience of humankind many people seem pretty content with a middling sort of income that would be considered tiny by many in politics, the media or, especially, the City.

Is Richard Layard's 25k suggestion per person, per couple or per family and does he allow for regional variation?
Sorry Hughesey, writing against time when I have pile of essays to mark, should have written:

'increases in happiness do not correlate positively with increasing levels of prosperity'.

Have now corrected post. Thanks
What would make me happy is getting the use of my legs and my right arm back, but also not hearing political parties calling me work shy or in the Tories undeserving. we can muddle on with our income for now but I'm sure means testing will mean cuts.

But being called work shy is dam annoying I worked for 32 years in total I worked for 36 years before my accident, now I need the benefits I paid into I'm either work shy or a scrounger. and I should not even have a council house according to some.
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