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The London Libertarian

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happiness

PhilosophyPosted by Jan Lester Mon, June 23, 2014 14:02:15

happiness In the popular psychological sense of ‘happiness’, although the *free market gives people ever more material goods of all kinds, critics often observe that, 1) this does not seem to make them any happier, and 2) there is no significant gain in happiness above an average Western income. 1 is used to *criticize *materialism and 2 to criticize inequality. There is one major source of happiness that it is a *politically-correct taboo to discuss, 3) homogeneity of *race, ethnicity, and *culture.

1) People might well tend to become quickly accustomed to their circumstances however good or bad, and they then feel more or less as they did before. But it is hard to accept that people are really no happier at all with the market-enabled advances that cure early death and terrible diseases, and give us more leisure time and more things to enjoy during that leisure (though people often fail to count their blessings, and that is usually folly). Even if this were mistaken, happiness is not the only thing that people seek. We want some things as ends in themselves even if they do not make us happier; though these can sometimes fit in the broader sense of ‘happiness’ that includes personal flourishing. And if we are thwarted in these ends by *political intervention then we will, in any case, be made less happy. (See *commodities; *welfare.)

2) This argument has recently been used as a defense of *taxation to create a more *equal society. But such wealth as we enjoy now is only possible because certain types of inequality exist. *Market pricing (of products and *labor) is necessary for *economic calculation. And inequalities are an inevitable consequence of allowing it. The more that any market inequality is curbed, the poorer all would become; which, prima facie, reduces happiness too. And some people are only happy (though sometimes in the more general sense) with more wealth than most are content with, as is indicated by the greater effort they generally put into acquiring it. This is not to suggest that there might at least be some trade-off between the *free market and equality that maximizes happiness: as the various entries on equality explain, all movements toward forced equality are more than likely to reduce overall happiness.

3) Researchers into happiness often reveal a high positive correlation between racial and cultural homogeneity and happiness. But according to a leading ‘happiness economist’ Richard Layard (1934- ), at a public meeting on happiness, many researchers dare not publish their findings for fear of damage to their careers and even persons if they are consequently branded as guilty of *racism. (See *multiculturalism; *racial integration and segregation; *racialism and racism.)

John Locke (1632-1704) is famously supposed to have written of *natural *rights to protect one’s ‘life, liberty, and property’ (but that is all property: “… his property—that is, his life, liberty, and estate …”; or “life, health, liberty, or possessions”). Can it be without significance that the Declaration of Independence (mainly drafted by Thomas Jefferson [1743-1826]) prefers “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”? This suggests that a legitimate *state can expropriate our *private property (“estate” or “possessions”) while promising to facilitate our protection and happiness. The reality of politics is that we thereby have less of all three.

A Dictionary of Libertarianism



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