Should the Government Make Us Happy?

Friday Thinker (from the OU Facebook page)

Should the Government Make Us Happy? 

All the social sciences potentially have a contribution to make but economists know that:· People have their own levels of happiness· Material deprivation makes people unhappy· Happiness depends on freedom from coercion and perhaps even equality of opportunity and respect· Markets don’t ALWAYS maximise happiness – societies NEITHER· A society full of glums in which a government did not try to help might be odd.But what do you think?

Great question! Very modern, I can’t imagine my Mum or Grand-pop even considering this around 50 years ago. It highlights a society who is done working out how to just survive thanks, but now has the time to consider more philosophical questions above basic sustenance.

Straight away when asked, “Should the Government Make us happy?” it directly draws into the questioning mind’s firing line, “What is our government for and what roles should it play in our lives?”.

First however, before we shoot our mental “bloody meddling Government” bullets at that one, you’ve really got to define “Happiness”. What is Happiness? For me, I find it’s being with the people I love, good food, challenging tasks (like this one) and riding a bike/scooter in the sun. However, for you reading this, you’ll want something different, a cat maybe or a clip round the ear. You’ll notice, it’s a personal feeling and there-fore is the responsibility of the owner and it isn’t a society-wide definable. Otherwise, we’d probably be dressing up the London mayor as a clown every day for the nation’s mandatory happiness hour if we knew that worked on-masse.

_KY0CB on Make A Gif, Animated Gifs

make animated gifs like this at MakeAGif

[[Image from http://markjberry.blogs.com/way_out_west/boris_the_clown.jpg%5D%5D

So it’s individual, you think differently to me, and I’m glad, rich tapestry and all that. But also, you’ll recognise  “Happiness” is not an ingredient you can order boxes of at the store. That “make-up” does not directly equal happiness, that bottle of Vitamin water with extra happiness will not usually result in happiness. You find Happiness it is an end product, baked together by a few basic things, things that remind us we are all animals. Like being fed, watered and social. The rest, is just extra fluff.

So is it our British government’s responsibility to “Make us happy”? At this point, it is prudent to point out this is my first module in PPE and I don’t fully comprehend the history, background and role of a government yet and whether the, “Happiness” is its responsibility. However, I’m sure you have a gut feeling about this one.

However, I’m sure like me, you have a gut feeling about this one.

So while I see it the British Government’s responsibility to be the force that puts down our roads, upholds British justice, grease the wheels of national change, *probably not* define a National Curriculum anymore but definitely secure our borders. I also believe it the British government’s responsibility to promote, but not interfere with, the nation’s general well-being. That doesn’t mean, “Make me Happy” Davy C, but it does mean they have more chance of promoting the basics, food and health, only free from a corporate agenda. The government wouldn’t be able to uphold a society if you and I have become accustomed to being McDonalds stuffing, Mascara wearing, TV watching individuals. We would crumble.

Lots of Mcdonalds fries
Lots of Mcdonalds fries

[[image from, http://www.japantoday.com/images/size/x/2012/11/fries.jpg%5D%5D

So what is “Promoting Well-being” instead of “Making us Happy”? In practical terms, that means things like, promoting a healthy life, transparency of our food supply and being a British bulldog with large corporations who’s responsibility is to make money (I have no beef.. or horse.. with them making money, just we need to be aware that’s what they’re there for).

So should the British Government be “Making us happy”, no. You should, it is your responsibility unless of course you do want to see Boris clowning around every day…

Author: Dan Course

Dan Course, E-Learning Development at Warwick University (WMG). Agile Scrum trained and full-stack development. Interested in E-learning, Democracy, Politics and Tech. All thoughts are mine and not of my employer.

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