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Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Happiness in the Modern World

Economist, Richard Layard, author of Happiness : Lessons from a New Science was interviewed on NPR's Talk of the Nation yesterday and had some interesting things to say.

Listen to his interview here. Link

His point, which isn't groundbreaking when you stop to think about it is that while the standard of living doubled in last 50 years, people aren't any happier.

His questions are:
  1. Has making more money made you happier?
  2. Do you think richer people are happier than those less well off?
  3. Should happiness be a part of public policy?

Of course #1 and #2 are pretty obvious to anyone with a modern thinking brain. However #3, Should happiness be part of public policy? Hmmm that kind of scares me. Do we want politicians deciding what makes us happy and then making laws to give us what they tell us we want? It is a natural progression I suppose. They tell us what we can and can't do. They tell us what we can and can't buy. I guess it makes sense that they'll start telling us when to and not to be happy.