Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Finding Happiness

So, the ongoing shambles which constitutes our government now wants to measure our 'happiness'. After all, according to Dave, '"money isn't everything", (which is something which only rich people ever say, usually to placate their poor, underpaid, servants), meaning that we need something other than Gross Domestic Product (GDP), to tell us how well we're doing. When I first read about this, I had to check the date, in case I'd somehow overslept by several months, and it was now April Fool's Day. Of course, in the wake of this announcement, there were plenty of beardy-weirdies coming out the woodwork and prattling on about what a great idea this was, how general 'happiness' levels were a better measurement of the country's well-being than GDP. However, none of them have managed to enlighten me to exactly how we quantify this elusive thing called 'happiness'. Are there degrees of happiness? Is it a constant, as in the same things make everyone happy?

The vagueness surrounding the concept of 'happiness' and what causes it, is underlined by a supposedly scientific study I read about today, which found that people frequently go off into day dreams, regardless of what they're actually doing. However, the study found, they often reported being 'unhappy' when drifting off into day dreams, although the study couldn't decide whether the day dreaming state was the cause or result of the 'unhappiness'. Here's a clue guys, people rarely day dream about things which make them unhappy, but they frequently find distractions from 'unhappy' situations. Even if we can measure 'happiness', what does the government propose doing with the results? The whole thing sounds suspiciously like a variation of the 'focus groups' that Tony Blair allegedly set so much store by when it came to policy formulation. Only worse. I fear that we face the nightmarish prospect of the government trying to introduce policies which they believe will make the greatest number of voters 'happy', according to some vague utilitarian calculation. They probably also hope that if people are poor but 'happy', they won't notice the fact that the government has completely wrecked the economy and the country's social infrastructure and services in the name of making the rich richer. The bottom line is that this wild and woolly idea is yet another desperate attempt by the Tory bastards and their Illiberal Democrat friends to convince us that they are kind and caring. Fat Chance.

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