The Smallest Minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities. - Ayn Rand
If you wanted to weed out intangibles and just go with how well in general a human is doing, you could always conduct a nationwide survey of... blood stress hormone levels. (Cortisol would probably work.) Totally impractical, of course; it'd be expensive, complicated, and naturally most people hate needles and having their blood sampled at all. But it would completely eliminate problems of self-assessment and defining "happiness".
...Which I think I'll turn into a post tomorrow, as a number of implications based on such research just occurred to me, but won't fit in a comment box.
On a nearly unrelated note, stress physiology only experienced a huge boom in new discoveries when the field was inundated by people whose primary training was in engineering, and then when the bioengineers realized psychology mattered...
I think that quality of life and leisure time do matter, in fact. I'd be willing to trade some money for leisure time (depending on the details of the deal).
In any case, these new and improved indicators seem to be constructed in order to minimize American achievements including subjective opinions.
And, of course, Sarkozy will NOT twist the statistics to hide the fact that -- on the whole, with our longer work week, shorter vacations, "worse" health care, and absolutely HORRID working conditions are.... GASP! ... happier than the French.
'Course he won't.
Well of course they're not happy... they're FRENCH.
On a serious note, I'll just quote from something I wrote a few days ago and posted yesterday
"...Who determines what those “needs” are and when they are satisfied? Needs and happiness are different for every individual, and create an inherent and perpetual inequality among men. To declare it someone else’s duty to provide that happiness, there must be a requisite duty to destroy the individual. Needs / wants / happiness cannot be provided by the government unless such terms are defined broadly, in a societal context, under the collectivist principle that everyone wants or needs the same things in order to be happy."
You can't measure happiness. A billionaire could be unhappy, while a poor farmer in Romania may be happy living a simple life and having meager possessions.
"Well of course they're not happy... they're FRENCH."
Actually, this is pretty accurate. I lived in France for a year and they are always grumbling about something. Paris is especially bad--very similar to New York.
It is a different lifestyle, though, and one which I think we could borrow a little from. French people are not consumed by material gains and the puritanical need to work. They know how to relax, especially when you get outside of the city, and are amused by the American need to dominate everything. They made fun of me constantly, in good natured way, when I lived there and I really learned quite a bit when I was there.
"OK, the U.S. has been more successful in the last 20, 25 years in raising material welfare, but does this mean they are happier?"
No, we aren't. In fact, I think we have lost some that happiness we used to have--the joy of doing nothing or lazing in a hammock with a good book. It would probably do us some good to get away from the Plasma TV and X Box and enjoy life, love, and art in the same way the French do.
Then why are the French concerned about the slow growth of their GDP?
On the other hand "Happiness" speaks directly to a person's vanity, and in that sense it's very French. I believe it's an attempt on his part at reverse psychology.
I've seen pictures of his babe. YOWSA! You can bet HE'S happy.
I saw this, skipped past the next sentance, and started to give the "tired of her shit" quote... But I see you've already remembered it. :)
a poor farmer in Romania may be happy living a simple life and having meager possessions.
[Beverly Hillbillies Pilot, after his sister in law discovers he's sold the rights to his land for 25 million dollars]
Jed: What do you think Pearl? You think I ought ta move?
Pearl: Jed, how can ya even ask? Look around you. Ya eight miles from ya nearest neighbor. You’re overrun with skunks, possums, coyotes, bobcats. You use kerosene lamps for light! You cook on a wood stove, summer and winter! You’re drinkin’ homemade moonshine, washin’ with homemade lye soap! And your bathroom is fifty feet from the house, and you ask should ya move?!
Jed: Yeah, I reckon you’re right. Man’d be a dang fool to leave all this.
Uh! Fellows, maybe this analysis is just going a bit too deep. Might it possibly be that Sarko simply has realized that the concept of "pursuit of happiness" enshrined in our constitution, when practiced by the entire population, leads to, well you know, free enterprise and growth? The french state has been trying to ram "fraternite, egalite, liberte" down the throats of their entire population and all it gets them is a rabble of socialist scum that can't stand to see ANYONE doing better than they are. How he is going to open the eyes of his brainwashed masses after 200 years of "egalite" and the EU layered on top I have no clue, but I hope he gives it a solid push in that direction by whatever means. I think Jorge Arbusto should make Sarko a honorary U.S. Citizen, that should do the trick!
"life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" isn't mentioned anywhere in the Constitution. It appears in the Declaration of Independence.
Many people make that mistake.
Hell, Mike, a lot of people think "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need" is in the Constitution.
Hey, Kevin, sorry about not answering your question. I'm really busy with some stuff. Will get to it soon!
"Then why are the French concerned about the slow growth of their GDP?"
To be honest, I haven't really kept up with French politics and not having lived there since the early 90s or been there since 1999, I can only make an educated guess. I think Sarkozy is trying to find ways get his country moving. The work ethic there is completely different from ours. People take 2.5 hour lunches with their families which include naps! So can the French work more than the 35 hour week and be happy? That is what he is trying to discern.
Probably not, though. Being all arty and loafing is the French way. Not at least until the economy becomes so bad that food, wine, and cigarettes become scarce. I say this partly in jest but I am mostly serious. I just don't think most French people find happiness in their jobs. It really comes from other sources. This, of course, is just my opinion.