Sunday, March 21, 2010

79 / The Politics Of Happiness

I am a fan of the New Yorker Magazine, and of Elizabeth Kolbert, a New Yorker writer who has reported on environmental and climate change issues in the past, and who has now turned her attention to "The Politics of Happiness," in the latest issue. Click the image to be taken to the online edition.

According to Kolbert's article, objective research now demonstrates that what people think will make them happy - more "stuff" as an example - often does not make them happy in fact. If true, this should perhaps have political consequences, but Kolbert notes that there is another way of looking at the issues involved. She ends her article with the following words:
Consider again the finding that a half century of escalating consumption has not brought Americans increased satisfaction. This is a disturbing fact, and certainly one that seems pertinent to discussions of economic policy. But let's imagine, for a moment, that we had enjoyed ourselves for the past fifty years. Surely, trashing the planet is just as wrong if people take pleasure in the process as it is if they don't. The same holds true for leaving future generations in hock and for exploiting the poor and for shrugging off inequality. Happiness is a good thing; it's just not the only thing.

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