Want to increase Happiness? Introduce a Misery Index

Posted on November 11, 2010

Government has a bad record when it comes to creating happiness. Far too often such attempts end up causing more misery by interfering with people’s lives, taxing them more and creating perverse incentives. Indeed, the only truly effective way for them to increase happiness is to get of the way, and cut back on their damaging activities.

This is why I’m sceptical of the Government’s new Happiness Index. At best, Government will try and fail to actively  create happiness, and at worst it will try and make things worse.

Wouldn’t it be better if they produced an index of the misery caused by activities they control, and then sought to reduce it? Tax, deficit, national debt, regulation, invasion of privacy, annoying public sector TV adverts, busybody officials, Hospital Acquired Infections, heavy-handed policing, excessive parking charges, speed cameras – I’m sure there are plenty miserymakers we could list. Compile them all into a Misery Index and aim to lower Government-induced misery to zero.

Wouldn’t that increase Gross National Happiness?

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Categories: Opinion, Politics, Public spending, Westminster

3 Responses

  1. Dr. Plonk:

    Poor article. According to Forbes (see http://www.forbes.com/2010/07/14/world-happiest-countries-lifestyle-realestate-gallup.html for example, although other research suggests similar results. See the Gallup survey: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/03/worlds-happiest-countries_n_633814.html#s109418) the happiest countries in the world are: Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Norway. Heavily taxed? Yes. Good standard of living? Arguably the best in the world. Happiness to a large extent comes from environmental factors – low wealth gap, good standard of living, clean environment, reliable infrastructure. Government intervention could quite as easily have a positive impact on happiness by protecting the environment, providing good education and providing for the basic needs of society’s poorest. The free market only looks after the market – it has no moral imperatives and therefore can it really make us happier?

    26.11.2010 04:10 Reply

  2. Jane (returned scot):

    Having returned from Norway, which is always near the top of these indexes, I ‘hae ma doots’. Wonderful country, horrific taxes, but not everyone is jumping up and down with happiness. I’ve explained more in my own blog (sorry to mention it) but I wonder if we should copy the US and have Thanksgiving….it seems to help them remember the good stuff, at least for one day,

    28.11.2010 10:21 Reply

  3. Steve:

    @Dr Plonk … Citing Forbes and HuffPo makes your name very appropriate.
    The best way for the Government to ease misery and increase happiness would be to get the Hell out of everyone’s lives.
    Just leave us alone; stop trying to make us ‘healthy'; stop nagging about every little thing that gives any form of pleasure. I don’t want a Nanny.
    Please just go away and leave me alone.

    01.12.2010 20:04 Reply

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