Saturday, May 02, 2015

Garbage In-Happiness Out

Americans aren't happy only if you assume that liberal assumptions about what factors indicate happiness.

We're unhappy? Even after 6 years of Hope and Change and all that? Say it ain't so!

But that is what the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network's The 2015 World Happiness Report says:

Once again the US failed to make it into the top ten “happiest” countries in the report. For the first time, Switzerland ranked number one, followed by Iceland, Denmark, Norway, and Canada, respectively.

Oh no! You'd have expected this under the Bushtatorship. But now? When Unicorn herds frolic at Camp David?

I assume they did things like measure willingness to laugh, friendliness to strangers, actual surveys of self-reported happiness, suicide and divorce rates. Stuff like that.

But no, they have other indicators of happiness:

The report looks at a variety of factors polled by Gallup International to report on a country’s happiness, including economic standing, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make decisions, perception of corruption, and generosity.

Actually, at the link to the study, it is just these 6--nothing else as the story implies. If I may be so bold, these are not measures of happiness.

A number of them are measures of governmental power and assume having stuff is the measure of happiness. You can't be happy if you are poor and you can't escape poverty without a powerful state raising you up (at the expense of others).

The "freedom to make decisions" part stands apart, apparently. Is this a condemnation of heavy regulations? What freedom and what decisions are they including?

One, in the body of the report they actually call it "freedom to make life choices." Hmm. I bet it isn't a measure of freedom of speech or lack of red tape.

And indeed, they write about "freedom to live the type of life people choose." This is not classical freedom from control by others stuff.

So I assume government funding for those who would rather write cowboy poetry than work the night shift in a gas station would increase that index.

Indeed, if you go to page 161 for the "Towards a New Era of Investment in Social Capital" you see just an amazing list of left-wing notions of what kind of government intervention will improve happiness.

They call this study a "subjective well-being" (SWB) measurement. So if it is subjective why not just ask people if they are happy? Why pretend that indirect quantitative measures asserted to be measurements of a subjective state of mind work better?

Why? Because the growth of the state might not be supported.

But we've seen this type of bias before.

What a massive effort to support SBS (subjective bullshit).

UPDATE: Actually, this seems like the perfect example of elites thinking people are too stupid to take care of themselves.

I mean, as if people actually know if they are happy! Better to have lots of metrics that those in the echelon above reality believe indicate happiness than to just ask those ignorant rubes too dumb to know they are actually unhappy!