Acton Institute Powerblog

Government Cannot Create Happiness

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Robert J. Samuelson on why getting the government involved in the happiness movement will make us all miserable:

We ought to leave “happiness” to novelists and philosophers — and rescue it from the economists and psychologists who think it can be distilled into a “science” and translated into pro-happiness policies. Fat chance. Government can often mitigate sources of unhappiness (starvation, unemployment, disease), but happiness is more than the absence of misery. If we could manufacture happiness, we could repeal the “human condition.”

Somehow this has escaped the social scientists who want to make happiness the goal of government. They argue that economic output (gross domestic product) doesn’t measure everything that’s important in life — family, friends or religion, for example. True, but it doesn’t follow that “happiness” can be targeted as an alternative.

Joe Carter Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).

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