Blog author: jcouretas
Friday, October 30, 2009
By

David Bahnsen reflects on last night’s annual dinner:

(Acton’s) co-founder, Father Sirico, is a friend and patriot. He is a scholar in Catholic social thought, and perhaps as good of an orator as I have ever heard. He and I shared the podium at an event I did in Newport Beach earlier in the year. Fortunately for me, I spoke before him that evening! The talk tonight was challenging and inspiring. He reminded us that the greatest victim in this present environment is entrepreneurial courage. We do not have the option to wallow in our pessimism. Defeatism will not protect us from the walls of socialism and redistributionism being built right around us. As Hayek said decades ago, moral courage is needed to tow the line for the cause of freedom and markets. I feel grateful this evening to have an ally in this battle in Father Sirico and the Acton Institute.

The keynote speaker tonight was Arthur Brooks, the President of the American Enterprise Institute. His talk forms the basis for my catchy blog title. He carefully walked us through the overwhelming evidence that it is “earned success” that makes people happy. Society is over-loaded with people who have received money via inheritance or the lottery, and sociological and psychological studies have repeatedly affirmed this rather fascinating tenet: People with money who did not earn it are overwhelmingly more likely to say that they are unhappy than people who earned it. Obviously, regardless of the source of one’s prosperity, happiness can not be bought. As people of faith, we know that the human condition is such that mere material comfort can not bring about resolution in what tries men’s souls. But “earned success” – the stimulation of human dignity that achievement and accomplishment represent – does bring about happiness (at least in a statistically significant way).

Read “The Left Doesn’t Want You to Be Happy.”


  • http://thecultureproject.org Daniel Crandall

    I do wish I could have been at the Annual Dinner. Arthur Brooks “Interview on Happiness” video – http://www.acton.org/media/arthur-brooks-interview-on-happiness-2008-05-22.php – is truly enlightening.

    Regardiing the blog title, “The Left doesn’t want you to be happy,” I believe that this is something the Left fosters, not through politics, but rather through the larger culture institutions. Defeatism and, as Larry Elder calls it, the Victicrat mentality is something the Left promotes through activity in the arts, entertainment, education and journalism. This is why the Acton Institute’s work in media, education and journalism is so important.

  • http://jaredjuetten.com Jared

    Spot on. Earned success is the only way to go. While winning the lottery would be great, you would have luck to thank, not yourself. A degrading prospect for ones’ psyche.