Trying to get a fix on when happiness counts (the British version)

As previously mentioned, Gross National Happiness is coming to Britain:

“From next month, Britain’s statisticians begin the task of assessing how happy we all are, responding to David Cameron’s oft-repeated view that there’s more to life than money.

The prime minister wants economists and policy-makers to focus not just on GDP, which since 1948 has been viewed as the critical measure of the nation’s prosperity, but on “GWB – general well-being”.

Statisticians at the Office for National Statistics will poll 200,000 people, asking them a series of four questions:

How happy did you feel yesterday?

How anxious did you feel yesterday?

How satisfied are you with your life nowadays?

To what extent do you feel the things you do in your life are worthwhile?

Those interviewed will score their levels of contentment on a scale of one to 10.

The statisticians aim to produce a national happiness index that will be released each quarter, in much the same way that data on gross domestic product is currently published.

The first findings are due in mid-2012.”


One thought on “Trying to get a fix on when happiness counts (the British version)

  1. elaine ellman says:

    Congratulations on getting good media coverage of your book. I listened to a couple of your interviews today. Travel is one way to gain perspective, to learn about ourselves while learning about other lands and cultures; few of us have been able to write about our experiences the way you did about your adventure in Bhutan.

    It’s good that you are pleased with your personal interior journey, but you are aware that you present a false Bhutan. You know that the Bhutanese government threw out 1/3 of it’s citizens as if they were garbage; by ignoring this atrocity you are complicit in this tragedy. It is understandable to leave information out of your book in the name of poetic license, but in all your interviews and in all you’ve written here, you show a colossal disrespect for the Bhutanese people whose government robbed them of all their property,
    forbid them to attend school or hold jobs, sanctioned the burning of their homes and farms and openly tolerated beatings and other violence committed by the police as well as by those Bhutanese citizens who are privileged to be members of the ruling class.

    In your interview with Leonard Lopate, this atrocity was lightly referred to when refugee camps were mentioned. However, at the end of the interview when you again mentioned the “happiness” shtick, Leonard pointed out that there’s no happiness if you’re in a refugee camp. To which you replied that yes, that was something to be avoided.

    The refugees were in the camp in Nepal in an otherwise uninhabited jungle;
    they were surrounded by barbed wire and armed Nepalese guards who made sure they didn’t enter Nepal, while tha government discussed the fate of the camp with the government of Bhutan for 20+ years, or until a few years ago when a few western nations offered asylum.

    But you know all this.

    A similar trip to Germany (which, like every country, also has beautiful countryside) between 1945-1955 could yield life changing interior insight, but if descriptions of the experience there eliminated the killing of the population it would be a cover-up. Not systematic murder, but systematic violence in the 1990s – 2000s, was committed by the same people in power in the Bhutanese government today.

    Voting notwithstanding the government is not a democracy. A democracy does not do social engineering because it wants to stage the nation as if it’s theatre and eliminate people who do not conform to specific dress and festivals.

    Elaine Ellman

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