Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at thinking, intelligent individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

"No matter how vast your knowledge or how modest, it is your own mind that has to acquire it." Ayn Rand

08 July 2008

Chapman -- Pursue (and seize) happiness

Steve Chapman's commentary in the 7 July 2008 Washington Times by that title is about a global survey that shows that people are happier in countries with a greater measure of freedom and money. He notes that "There is no such thing as a rich totalitarian country, as even the onetime totalitarians in Beijing finally realized. So in a very real sense, freedom is the key to happiness." The survey was conducted by the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. People in 97 countries were asked just two questions:
  • "Taking all things together, would you say you are very happy, rather happy, not very happy, or not at all happy?"
  • "All things considered, how satisfied are you with your life as a whole these days?"
Of the 97 countries, the poll has been previously taken in 52 countries for the last couple of decades. The percentage of people giving upbeat answers rose in 40 of these 52 countries. As China and India have grown freer, their peoples have become happier. This was also the trend in the advanced world, with the exceptions of Great Britain, Germany, Austria, and Belgium. The people of the United States, France, Canada, Denmark, and Japan became happier.

Chapman notes that only America was founded on a right that sounds rather eccentric even today: the right to the pursuit of happiness. But this perception of the writers of the Declaration of Independence has served as a very good model for countries who want their people to be happy.

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