Thursday, September 23, 2010

Mo Money

Progressives have perfected pessimism. The earth, they say, is dying; we should be pursuing "gross national happiness" not capitalism or democracy.

Nonsense, confirms a study in the latest "Perspectives on Psychological Science":
Data from representative national surveys carried out from 1981 to 2007 show that happiness rose in 45 of the 52 countries for which substantial time-series data were available. Regression analyses suggest that that the extent to which a society allows free choice has a major impact on happiness. Since 1981, economic development, democratization, and increasing social tolerance have increased the extent to which people perceive that they have free choice, which in turn has led to higher levels of happiness around the world.
That's because wealth increases choice; money may not be able to buy happiness, but it can help set you free.

Headlines last week bemoaned the recent rise in U.S. poverty levels. I don't for a moment minimize the hardships suffered by many in this recession. But poverty in America reflects not a permanent underclass but a dynamic escalator that carries most up over time, while attracting immigrants at the start of the stairs. And even today's poor are better off than their predecessors (plus poverty metrics omit many huge government transfer payments).

They'd be better still were we not whacking the most productive parts of our society at the cost of individual economic freedom. Which, the above-cited study suggests, won't make Americans happy.

3 comments:

Assistant Village Idiot said...

And what if, as in your next post, what makes some people happy is killing 25,000,000 people they disagree with? With the 25M no longer around to measure, that would be a net gain in the GNH, wouldn't it?

OBloodyHell said...

> That's because wealth increases choice; money may not be able to buy happiness, but it can help set you free.


"Money can't buy happiness"?

All I want is a chance to prove that wrong.

Carl said...

Well said AVI and OBH.