This new Green/Left proposal seems faintly reasonable at first. Is not happiness in some sense the bottom line for all of us? The idea that the government can make us happy is the funny bit. All the government departments I know of are much better at provoking rage!
But, aside from that, an even bigger fly in the proto-Fascist ointment is that happiness is largely dispositional. We are pretty much born with a pre-set level of happiness and departures from it are both rare and temporary. A common clinical observation is proof of that: Even people who have suffered catastrophic injuries -- such as paraplegics -- seem to bounce back to their original level of happiness after a couple of years. Some people (mainly conservatives) are born happy and positive and some others (Leftists) are born miseries and whiners.
And if you think I am just making propaganda in saying that, I'm not. Surveys of various sorts always show that conservatives are happier. Just one small example here, for instance.
And the whole concept of happiness is surprisingly suspect anyway. German and English are closely related languages and yet German just has no word for happiness. The nearest they can come is to say that they are "lucky" (gluecklich).
That was borne home to me forcefully many years ago when I was talking to an old Jewish gent who had escaped Hitler and ended up in Australia. He was glad to be alive but missed the vibrant cultural life he had known in prewar Germany. We spoke in English but he was aware that I knew some German so when I asked him a how he felt about his escape to Australia he replied: "Gluecklich I am but happy I am not".
And I would be surprised if other languages did not have similar difficulties of translation. I say more about the considerable body of happiness research here
Are you happy? Are Canadians happy, or at least happier than the Americans or the French or the Taiwanese? Would you like to be happier?
At the United Nations on Monday, they took a major step toward a global strategy to enhance your happiness status, and the happiness of everybody else in the world. It’s the new role for governments across the planet. If the UN has its way, the state’s major objective will be to boost your sense of well-being and improve how you feel about your life.
It all began in 1972 in the landlocked Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan (pop. 700,000) when King Jigme Singye Wangchuck announced that his Buddhist country (GDP per capita US$5,500) would thereafter pursue economic progress guided not by the harsh and dehumanizing concept of Gross National Product, but by the warm and humanistic principles of Gross National Happiness.
Almost 40 years later in New York on Monday, under the auspices of the Kingdom of the United Nations, the high priests of economic interventionism and wealth redistribution moved one step closer to turning Gross National Happiness into a global paradigm.
They issued a report — the World Happiness Report. They staged a conference — Well-being and Happiness: Defining a New Economic Paradigm. And they fashioned a declaration — Realizing a World of Sustainable Well-being and Happiness.
The declaration is in turn intended to become part of “a long-term reference framework” for the coming Rio +20 Earth Summit, a grand replay in June this year of Maurice Strong’s 1992 Rio Earth Summit.
At Rio +20, the UN activists hope to change the direction of world economic policy-making. Production goals and measures based on dollars and yen are out. Happiness measures are in — even though the concepts, happiness and “subjective well-being,” remain vacuous bits of quasi-religious sophistry.
The opening paragraphs of Monday’s World Happiness Report — written by Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University’s Earth Institute — set out the transcendental mindset required to deal with the mind-blowing idea of Gross National Happiness or its equivalent.
One of the amazing characteristics of the happiness paradigm as described by Mr. Sachs and others is how remarkably similar its conclusions are to the old interventionism and redistribution policies of the traditional left.
It’s as if the high priests of Occupy the Planet and the Green Apocalypse — having run their old socialist and environmental engines into the ground — have stumbled across a new set of rationalizations and slogans.
To no surprise, with 65/309 as a mandate, the Monday meeting in New York produced a radical declaration calling for the overthrow of the “current economic paradigm” to take into account finite global resource limits and the emerging science of well-being and happiness.
What that means, aside from the same old nitty-gritty policies such as more government job creation, is nothing less than a “redesign of the world economy” and the overthrow of existing economic ideas to be replaced by the pursuit of happiness as defined by the United Nations, not by individuals.