13 Apr Happiness and society
Happiness: it has exercised the greatest minds for the past 3,000 years. From Socrates, “happiness is unrepentant pleasure” to Bertrand Russell, “the secret to happiness is to face the fact that the world is horrible” to Ken Dodd, “happiness, happiness, the greatest gift that I possess”.
More recently happiness has become a political issue. Conservative leader David Cameron has launched a “happiness agenda” in which he argues that the population’s general well-being is just as important as its gross domestic product. The government has its own “happiness tsar” in Lord Layard, one of the economic architects of New Labour and the author of Happiness: Lessons from a New Science. Layard argues that wealth alone cannot create happiness and that we need to be prompted and educated in how to become happier. This fits in rather neatly with Layard’s previous projects, the New Deal and Welfare to Work schemes whereby the long-term unemployed are prompted and educated into work.
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