The New Economist writes:
Rather than leading lives of quiet (albeit humid) desperation in London we should:
engage in a hands-on problem solving approach to provide practical guidance to governments, businesses, and non-government organizations that want to take concrete steps towards creating good and sustainable human societies.
How? By joining The search for happiness in Antigonish! Scott Deveau of the Globe and Mail reports that big things are happening in this small Canadian town:
Nearly 500 people from around the globe have descended on a small Nova Scotia town this week to try to find the key to world happiness.
Environmentalists, journalists, government officials, entrepreneurs, social activists, youth, business and labour leaders from 33 different countries have come to Antigonish, N.S., to attend the second International Conference on Gross National Happiness, which started Monday.
The delegates have become fascinated by the development model set by a small Himalayan country, which has put economic prosperity behind its general happiness and are bringing input on how their own countries have tried to do the same.
The concept of Gross National Happiness was developed 30 years ago by the King of Bhutan. "It is based on the belief that the ultimate pursuit of every human being is happiness. If that it is true, then it becomes the responsibility of the state to create the opportunity for happiness for its people," said Lyonpo Jigmi Thinley, Bhutan's present Home Minister and former prime minister, who is in Nova Scotia attending the conference.
...He argues that global interest in Bhutan was motivated by a general dissatisfaction with how the world has developed. "Despite all the wonders, there still a general discontent," Mr. Thinely said.
There are four things that the Happiness Police need to do.
#1. Control the flow of information. Happiness designers need to make sure that their people do not find out about the goings on in other regions lest they learn about something that they believe would make them happy but which is unavailable in their country. This unavailability would make them unhappy.
#2. Build a wall. Since these people know more about our happiness than those they rule, they must protect them from outside temptations. One way to do this is to enclose them within a great wall.
#3. Make sure to keep the happiness parameters constant. The sorts of things that make us happy today are not the same as the things that made us happy 30 years ago. The Happiness Police must make sure that information about new ways of life or new products does not get disseminated within the country. Otherwise, the populace won't be happy.
#4. Make sure the populace has lots and lots of gratuitous sex.
Other than #4, the first three were methods employed by communist dictatorships, and they didn't work out very well. I say let people decide for themselves what makes them happy. Let them decide what books to read, what jobs to do, how many kids to have, whether to drive a car, etc. There are too many variables to account for. There is no way that a grand design can optimize society's happiness.
But I guess if it makes them happy....