Mandatory Fun!

When the Spawn was small, if she was in need of the occasional jollying up, I’d lift her and swing her about, shouting “MANDATORY FUN!” She seemed to enjoy it, and it’s a joke that occasionally pops up at Spackle Manor to this very day.

I was reminded of that by a bit I saw at NRO’s “Human Exceptionalism” blog. Wesley J. Smith comments on an oddly disturbing trend among certain bien pensant types:

Should the success of a society be measured by subjective concepts of “happiness?” Members of the ruling class increasingly say yes. For example, I reported here in 2011 how Princeton’s utilitarian professor Peter Singer–perhaps the world’s most influential bioethicist–supported measuring “gross national happiness.” UK Prime Minister David Cameron has also supported the idea. So have other government types.  Not only that, also as I reported here, the administration has already impaneled a committee of “experts” to define reliable measures of “subjective well-being.”

Well now, with bad economic news, a Bloomberg editorial has suggested that gross national happiness be the prime measure of government success rather than gross national product. From, “An Imperfect Measure of Progress:

As useful as GDP is, it has some crucial flaws. It can obscure growing inequality and encourage the depletion of resources. It can’t differentiate between spending on good things (education) and terrible things (cigarettes). It doesn’t measure the economic services that nature provides, such as the dwindling wetlands that once protected New Orleans from storms, or those that don’t come with a market price, such as raising children. It fails to account for the value of social cohesion, education, health, leisure, a clean environment — in other words, as Robert Kennedy once put it, GDP measures everything “except that which makes life worthwhile.”

Establishing a gross domestic happiness index would have the government define “happiness” for all of us[…]

You should read the rest of Smith’s post, but because my mind works as it does, I of course thought of the following:

Have a great day. Or else.


About profmondo

Dad, husband, mostly free individual, medievalist, writer, and drummer. "Gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche."
This entry was posted in Culture, Family, Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Mandatory Fun!

  1. That’s where my mind went, too – surprise, surprise…

  2. Javahead says:

    How do you standardize happiness? I was reading an article in this month’s Smithsonian on Charles Darwin’s home life. He spent decades working steadily on his theories, obsessed with classifying even the smallest variations in his specimens. He was, apparently, deeply content.

    But how did his happiness compare to the stereotypical bluff, fox-hunting squires among his neighbors? To a modern-day academic studying medieval literature? A Silicon Valley engineer? Or a professional surfer?

    Wasn’t Richard Corey happy?

  3. Pingback: Nonsense and stuff | Zoopraxiscope

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