Most countries measure how well they’re doing in stark numbers: money earned, electronics sold and homes built. But an increasing number are asking: Shouldn’t we find out how happy people are with all this stuff?
Several cities and states are already looking into citizen well-being or floating happiness initiatives. Yet the real game-changer could be a federally funded panel that is studying whether there’s a better way to tally prosperity. The panel, which started work in December and will report its findings next year, will recommend whether measures of happiness (and misery) should be added to the equation.
Yes, the federal “Happiness Department” will soon be deciding if you’re happy enough and how much money they should be spending making you happy. Who would be dumb enough to go along with this?
The Boston suburb of Somerville, Mass. — where happiness-inducing Marshmallow Fluff was invented — aims to develop its own index. It sent residents a happiness survey as part of its Census forms last year and plans to follow up with door-to-door interviews this fall.
Somerville city workers going door-to-door to ask you whether you’re happy or not? How perfectly Massachusetts. And what the hell are they going to do if you’re NOT happy—tax you for not having enough joy the same way Obama’s taxing you for not having enough health insurance?
And then there’s the real question: Why hasn’t Cambridge already done this?
Dear Government—you really want me to be happy? Then leave me the hell alone.