Want to increase Happiness? Introduce a Misery Index

Posted on November 25, 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?