07 Jan The National Benefits of Happiness
Over the last decade, it has become common to complain that governments, particularly in the west, have been too narrowly focused on the pursuit of rising GDP at the expense of other social goods. People have looked wistfully to Bhutan, where, since 1972, official government policy has been to prioritise instead the “Gross National Happiness”.
Be careful what you wish for, you might just get it. For now that both government and opposition have embraced the happiness agenda, sceptical voices are warning that this marks a disturbing intrusion of the state into the private lives of citizens, and that, far from being benign, attempts to regulate the subjective states of citizens could have sinister implications. Well-being, once absent from political discourse, has become a contested issue at the very heart of it.
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