Wednesday, November 17, 2010


The Government are going to be measuring our happiness.

That should be simple enough. Happiness comes from credit cards, beer, chocolate, crisps, fast food, reality TV, new shoes, shirts with a little horse on, German cars, new kitchens, air fresheners that express your individual personality. If that's not true, we've been lied to for decades and I want my money back.

David Cameron said, "Wellbeing can't be measured by money or traded in markets. It's about the beauty of our surroundings, the quality of our culture and, above all, the strength of our relationships." Does that include your relationship with your car? To acknowledge that there are other important things in life besides material aspiration is a dangerous path to go down. Surely they're not suggesting that people's surroundings is a factor in their happiness? If so, maybe getting an increasing number of people and goods to their destinations so that we can enjoy an ever-increasing range of retail opportunities needs to be balanced against peoples' need to enjoy their environment without actually getting in a car. Maybe children should be able to enjoy their neigborhoods? Where will it end?

More worrying still is the metrics the French are using to measure happiness. Could these cross the channel? Apparently traffic jams make people unhappy! But motoring makes you happy, doesn't it? Surely they're not proposing we drive less? And apparently short-term gratification is bad! It's all very confusing. And depressing. I must go shopping to cheer myself up.

The best time to start to measure happiness is just after you've made sure people are as miserable as possible. Could this be the Coalition's strategy?

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