Third Party & Independents Archives

Bureaucrats and the Pursuit of Your Happiness

Existing Home sales are up nicely and new home sales are expected to follow and prices are firming as well in the face of limited inventory growth. 30 year mortgage rates are around 4% and will rise slightly at some point in the future as the Fed finally begins to lightly tap on the gas pedal. All we need is Ike in the White House right? Wrong. As the economy slowly builds a stable base and things improve, the mood in America is far from sunny. As conservatives debate the flag flying in South Carolina with many saying it’s time to take it down, and while liberals and other progressives rage at it’s presence; as incomes stay low to stagnant for the majority of workers; as the Middle East slides into a medieval cauldron of terror and violence; as gender continues to be a reason for conflict and show trials on college campuses and as we all worry about how education - especially public education - can keep up with a tech world that innovates and destroys and innovates again faster than the blink of an eye; after all that who can afford to be happy? And health issues like Obamacare? Better to stop right now.

Or do a multi-country study across various decades in Europe. Which is what Adam Okulicz-Kozaryn and Oscar Holmes IV of Rutgers, along with Derek Avery of Temple University have done in a study of why liberal countries are happier than conservative ones but conservative individuals are happier than liberal individuals. Of course, being academics they do not throw around flimsy constructs like happiness - the way the founding fathers did - but rather focus on Subjective Well-Being, or SWB. A nice, clumsy artifact that must be approached carefully with not too much brilliant insight like those world-changing four words, the pursuit of happiness. And best to focus on Europe where you have a fair number of developed countries living in close proximity, many with very well developed bureaucracies who see the word "liberal" in a very different light than in North America.

The study states that: "Those who are politically more conservative more readily accept and endorse the legitimacy of their social, political, and economic reality in spite of any adverse conditions within the nation in which they live. This acceptance and endorsement heuristic leads to the belief that individuals are responsible for their outcomes." Marx. What that little outburst means is that determinism, or the parceling up of the flow of life into political, social, and economic streams to be prodded and analyzed comes from Karl Marx and Das Kapital. And it is by now so deeply embedded in the social sciences as to be unextractable. And for that reason academics cannot believe that one's values as a conservative - the belief in individual responsibility - can be the prime mover, the motivator for a reasoned acceptance of life's inequalities. It is not the heuristic - the rule of thumb reasoning derived from experience - that conservatives use to stumble on an acceptance of life. It is accepting inequalities while taking responsibility, individual or even collective on a local scale, for changing them. Acceptance is not an outcome, it's a starting point from which one embarks on accomplishing things without a federal subsidy firmly in hand, or firmly in one's bank account.

Which brings up the point of current conservative anger, especially in America. The study's data ends in 2002, and of course deals only with European countries. Since then, government in the US has grown perhaps more-so than in any peacetime period in the nation's history. And determinism and shrill identity politics - from what rape means on campuses to what the border means, or no longer means, to a nation - have perhaps changed individual conservative happiness, or certainly clouded the pursuit of that happiness. But anger can be defeating as much as it can be motivating. And those GOP candidates who keep the pursuit of happiness clearly in mind, despite any anger over what they and many voters feel has gone astray, will find many willing and needing to be uplifted by a voice that gives them hope in themselves. And not the false, resentful hope of imposed equality engineered by invasive bureaucrats who need a nearly linear 45° Lorenz curve or Gini Index to be truly chipper.

Posted by AllardK at June 22, 2015 7:32 PM
Comment #396249

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