Bonnie Alba
Feds' goal: measure your pursuit of happiness
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By Bonnie Alba
August 30, 2012

When Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke announced that "happiness" measurements should be included in the variables determining economic progress, I experienced a momentary Happy chuckle. My mind was twirling with this insight into the connection between the "happy factor" and the economy.

There is actually a social science pursuit called the "Economics of Happiness." What will they think of next! The hypothesis is that by measuring the self-reported happiness of people around the world, and then correlating those results with economic, social, and personal characteristics and behavior, we can discover what factors contribute to happiness.

Why? Measuring/studying happiness may be fairly new, "Happy" has many meanings in our postmodern age ranging from absolute joy to funny moments, but it is considered a subjective, fleeting emotion.

In reference to Economics, Bernanke said it isn't just about money and material benefits, but also about understanding and promoting "the enhancement of well-being." Enhancing the temporary state of well-being economically by being a consumer or business enhances but says nothing about long-term conditions.

Happiness depends on so many internal-external variables, and changes from day-to-day or even moment to moment. Examples:
  • Individual may play the lotto and win a 10-dollar prize — wow! a happy moment.

  • Wife cooks a favorite dinner for her family — a happy moment.

  • Individual works in a career that has Happy or unhappy moments in the day, but expresses long-term wellbeing because they are doing what they love to do.

  • Are you rich? Observation alone has proven "Money doesn't buy happiness."

  • Blushing happiness of a newly wed couple — unrealistic to sustain over a lifetime.
Even unhappy feelings may contribute to the consumer economy. Think of unhappy women who shop and spend to alleviate their negative feelings. You can probably think of many more.

Bernanke uses the example of the Kingdom of Bhutan which stopped measuring their gross national product and changed to measuring their Gross National Happiness in 1972. Of course Bhutan is smaller than Switzerland with a population of around 721,000. Their State Religion is Bhuddhism. Easier to measure than a nation like the United States with its diverse multicultural belief systems.

Many internal/external elements contribute to individual well-being. In a 2010 Commencement Address at the University of South Carolina, Bernanke stated, that in general,

"Economic policymakers should pay attention to family and community cohesion. All else equal, good economic policies should encourage and support stable families and promote civic engagement. ... to help people feel in control of their own destinies, policies should respect the autonomy of individuals, families and communities to make their own decisions whenever possible, as research has confirmed the intuitive notion that individual freedoms contribute to life satisfaction."

Unfortunately, our nation has become unglued from its moorings where diversity reigns and the solid ties of family, community and religion are continually under attack from those who desire to replace that foundation with freedoms never meant for civilized societies. Pockets of our population still adhere to the universal moral laws that once held our society together. Belief in God has become one of mockery for the foolish who pursue a Utopia on Earth.

One word describes long-term satisfaction or wellbeing: Contentment.

I have found that life-long wellbeing is impossible to achieve without God. In fact studies have shown those who believe in God are much happier and content than those who don't believe.

When an individual achieves long-term wellbeing or life-satisfaction physically, mentally and spiritually, it is called Contentment. That is something to strive for in any case.

The Apostle Paul, who killed Christians before God took him in hand, was persecuted and suffered much. But he discovered the Secret of Contentment:

"...for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength."
(Philippians 4:11)

Mr. Bernanke — Happy measurements will not improve the economy.

© Bonnie Alba

 

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Bonnie Alba

Bonnie Alba is a "politically incorrect" researcher-writer. Since 1995, her articles have appeared in California newspapers. Previously she served in various Department of Defense positions for over 16 years... (more)

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