“World Happiness Report” Focuses on…Government

first_imgThe annual “World Happiness Report” for 2019 is out. Depending on the Gallup World Poll, it turns out the U.S. comes in rather low among free countries at number 19.The Declaration of Independence states that all of us are “endowed” by our Creator with “inalienable rights,” among which is “the pursuit of happiness.” The idea, of course, is that finding happiness is the responsibility of the individual and that government may not unduly interfere with that quest.The Technocrats SpeakBut according to the study’s technocratic authors, government is the prime creator of happiness. Indeed, the first topic mentioned in the report is “happiness and government,” which are the subjects of the first two chapters. In Chapter 2 they write:At the most basic level, good government establishes and maintains an institutional framework that enables people to live better lives. Similarly, good public services are those that improve lives while using fewer scarce resources.The authors also worry about “happiness inequality,” a new term for me that certainly implies that government’s role is to pursue policies that make everyone equally happy.The factors that the authors claim determine a country’s happiness are:GDP per capitaSocial supportHealthy life expectancy at birthFreedom to make life choices Generosity Perceptions of corruptionNotice that vigorous government would have a clear tie-in with most of these. Accordingly, Western free countries with the most socialized systems are at the top of the list as the happiest countries, led by Finland, Denmark, Norway, and Iceland, with the U.S. coming in behind Canada and Israel, albeit ahead of France, Italy, Spain, and the Czech Republic.What Is Happiness?The conclusions in reports like this depend on data and what is included as relevant criteria, or to paraphrase Pilate, what is happiness?In this regard, I noticed a glaring absence from these happiness-gauging criteria: a robust personal faith and religious participation in one’s life. I did a word search of the entire report and neither the words “faith,” nor “religion” appears, nor is the issue discussed in the chapter on personal “pro-social behavior.”What a glaring omission. It seems to me as a non-social scientist that living a life of meaning and purpose are more important in deriving life satisfaction than GDP and life expectancy at birth — which, in turn, would seem to be a more important factor in a good life than mere “happiness.” Certainly, people who are not religious can be happy and have live meaningful lives, but I think that overlooking this crucial aspect in the life experiences of literally billions of people in the world — again, as a non-social scientist — renders the happiness report substantially useless.Here’s a little evidence that supports my conclusion. The supposedly happiest country, Finland, also has one of the highest suicide rates in the world, higher than ours — and we are in the midst of a suicide crisis. So do the next three highest ranged countries, Denmark, Norway, and Iceland.Which brings us back to the question: What is happiness? This report is a waste of time.Photo credit: Photo by bruce mars via Unsplash.Cross-posted at The Corner. Culture & Ethics “World Happiness Report” Focuses on…GovernmentWesley J. SmithJanuary 23, 2020, 12:57 PM Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share Wesley J. SmithChair and Senior Fellow, Center on Human ExceptionalismWesley J. Smith is Chair and Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism. Wesley is a contributor to National Review and is the author of 14 books, in recent years focusing on human dignity, liberty, and equality. Wesley has been recognized as one of America’s premier public intellectuals on bioethics by National Journal and has been honored by the Human Life Foundation as a “Great Defender of Life” for his work against suicide and euthanasia. Wesley’s most recent book is Culture of Death: The Age of “Do Harm” Medicine, a warning about the dangers to patients of the modern bioethics movement.Follow WesleyProfileTwitterFacebook Share “A Summary of the Evidence for Intelligent Design”: The Study Guide Origin of Life: Brian Miller Distills a Debate Between Dave Farina and James Tour TagsCanadacreatorCzech RepublicDeclaration of IndependenceDenmarkfaithFinlandFranceGallup World PollGDP per capitahappinesshappiness inequalityIcelandIsraelItalylife expectancylife satisfactionmeaningful lifeNorwayPilatepro-social behaviorreligionSpainsuicidetechnocratsUnited StatesWorld Happiness Report,Trending Jane Goodall Meets the God Hypothesis Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share Requesting a (Partial) Retraction from Darrel Falk and BioLogos Congratulations to Science Magazine for an Honest Portrayal of Darwin’s Descent of Man Recommended A Physician Describes How Behe Changed His MindLife’s Origin — A “Mystery” Made AccessibleCodes Are Not Products of PhysicsIxnay on the Ambriancay PlosionexhayDesign Triangulation: My Thanksgiving Gift to Alllast_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *