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A victory for the Happy Revolutionaries

Mark Easton | 17:12 UK time, Monday, 7 December 2009

Quietly, without fanfare, this morning the British government embraced the politics of happiness. It did so, coincidentally, on the day that two former Downing Street advisers separately urged ministers to go further: to make well-being, rather than wealth, the key measure of political and social progress.

The Happiness Formula seriesI remember being ridiculed by one of Tony Blair's inner circle when, a few years ago, I wrote an article which suggested that a quiet revolution was under way in Whitehall, with influential officials proposing that well-being should be a strategic aim of every government department. Well today, buried in a report on mental health strategy, ministers commit themselves to putting "well-being in all policy". I feel vindicated.

Health Secretary Andy Burnham calls it a "major social issue demanding action across all parts of government" and says his officials will work with other departments to "ensure that policies consider the impact on well-being, as well as informing future policy and research".

This is a major victory for what I once called the "new utilitarians" - campaigners, thinkers and strategists working inside government who believe the political preoccupation with economic indicators has been at the expense of our happiness.

Among them is Geoff Mulgan, one of New Labour's key policy strategists. As former director of Tony Blair's strategy unit and head of policy at Number Ten, Mulgan's ideas have shaped British politics in the last decade. Today, in a report published by the Young Foundation think-tank which he heads, he and others consider how to put the "well" into the "welfare state".

In Sinking and Swimming: Understanding Britain's Unmet Needs [4.53Mb PDF], it is argued that the politicians who designed the welfare state saw a distinct division in the role of state and society:

The state's job was to meet material needs and to insure people against material risks; society's job was to meet most of the psychological and psycho-social ones

"Sixty years later the picture is very different," it goes on. "Decades of economic growth have created a society which by past standards is materially abundant," but where "society's ability to meet people's psychological and psycho-social needs appears to have declined." Mulgan argues that the "buffers of religion and family" have been weakened with "a rise of individualism".

One answer proposed in the report is that "social accounts including subjective measures of well-being should be published alongside the more familiar economic accounts". The problems with measuring happiness have always been in the weakness in the utilitarian argument, but this report suggests that we now have the understanding and ability to manage it.

The Hidden Wealth Of NationsThe importance of finding an accepted way to quantify our social well-being is stressed in another publication today. The book The Hidden Wealth of Nations is by another "new utilitarian", David Halpern. Chief analyst in the prime minister's Strategy Unit between 2001 and 2007, he has written many of the most influential papers in shaping the politics of happiness. Now outside government, he expresses his confidence that within 10-15 years, "policymakers will routinely be using sophisticated well-being measures in judgements about policy".

Halpern believes that simply by measuring it, happiness will come to be seen as a more important political outcome than riches. "This shift will subtly change the focus of policymakers, and probably of citizens too," he claims. "If we can increase the growth in this, then surely we shall have cause to celebrate," he says.

An embryonic measure of well-being is announced in today's New Horizons report from the Department of Health. In encouraging ministers and civil servants to think about well-being in designing policy, the DH reveals that an "online cost calculator is being developed... to support best value for money in effective local approaches to population well-being in both urban and rural areas".

The document helpfully offers an official definition of well-being as "a positive state of mind and body, feeling safe and able to cope, with a sense of connection with people, communities and the wider environment".

Well-being is therefore distinct from mental illness. Someone can have symptoms of a mental illness and still experience well-being just as a person with a physical illness or long-term disability can. In the same way someone can have poor mental well-being, but have no clinically identifiable mental illness.

I am reminded of a conversation I had with the Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman a few years ago at his house in Princeton in New Jersey. He had been attempting to measure happiness and unhappiness in a study across the United States.

"It turns out", he said, "something like 15% of the overall time that people spend is bad time, unpleasant time. Now that gives you something to get your teeth into. If you manage to reduce that number from 15% to 14%, you would be doing a great service to humankind!"

I like this idea, that the purpose of politics is to promote happiness and reduce misery. As David Cameron told me once: "we should be thinking not just what is good for putting money in people's pockets but what is good for putting joy in people's hearts."

There is too much unhappiness in our society, as the Young Foundation report documents.

"Although most people are content with their lives, a growing number, particularly women, are not," it claims. This diagram indicates what the report describes as "a long and apparently lengthening spike of unhappiness, loneliness and stress":

Graph of psychological well-being

Between one in six and one in four people in the UK experience mental health problems at some point in their lives. The number of prescriptions for anti-depressant drugs increased from 9 million in 1991 to 34 million in 2007. There are also important psycho-social needs - some people have no one to talk to day-to-day or about important issues

The report suggests that "loneliness has become a stark feature of a more individualistic society" with nearly half of all older people considering the television as their main form of company.

There are those who think it wrong for politicians to bother themselves with ideas of "emotional well-being". But few would suggest it is not their job to try and reduce unhappiness. If the commitment buried in today's strategy document is to be taken at face value, as David Halpern suggests, perhaps today we "have cause to celebrate".

PS: See also my post from September, An obsession with wealth.

Comments

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  • 1. At 5:48pm on 07 Dec 2009, Chris wrote:

    Tahnk God for that. When I saw a documentary about how well this works in Norway it made me yearn for a state with the vision to see things this way.

    And they even keep their oil revenues for future generations... now, where's my passport?

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  • 2. At 5:52pm on 07 Dec 2009, SSnotbanned wrote:

    Slip in the Happy Pill and all is sorted. What about incidences of stupidity, inversed, as a signpost of a nation's health ??

    ...the foolocracy remains.

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  • 3. At 5:52pm on 07 Dec 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    So how do they propose to balance everyone's limbic systems to stop them getting depression.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limbic_system

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6T1K-4KPFKC2-2&_user=10&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_searchStrId=1125932620&_rerunOrigin=google&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=8860591adef49ef5c1e6137407b53c8d

    LOL its the EC system again...

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  • 4. At 6:00pm on 07 Dec 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    'Slip in the Happy Pill and all is sorted.'

    Happy pills make CB1 receptors

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18974922

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  • 5. At 6:01pm on 07 Dec 2009, DevilsAdvocate wrote:

    Well, raising my taxes is going to mean I'm spending more of my time in the 'unhappy zone' , so they are going to fail on that too!

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  • 6. At 6:22pm on 07 Dec 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    Ethanol on the EC System damages it.
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6T0B-4KBDW83-1&_user=10&_origUdi=B6T0C-4T3M6GW-2&_fmt=high&_coverDate=11%2F30%2F2006&_rdoc=1&_orig=article&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=406f32d11f460909cbc550b9cd0c7df9



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  • 7. At 6:53pm on 07 Dec 2009, Diversities wrote:

    It is a truth eternally in need of repeating that a proper purpose of politics is to reduce misery. Working an increasing proportion of our and the world's population out of poverty is a sub-division of that aim. The quotation from Kahneman defines non-economic part of the aim admirably:

    "It turns out", he said, "something like 15% of the overall time that people spend is bad time, unpleasant time. Now that gives you something to get your teeth into. If you manage to reduce that number from 15% to 14%, you would be doing a great service to humankind"

    But it is no part of the proper purposes of politics to attempt to select for us or define for us what constitutes our happiness or well-being. Both theory and history imply that the political process never has and is unlikley to ever do that in a way which satisfies us for more than a very brief period. For lasting well-being, we must decide for ourselves what constitutes well-being.

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  • 8. At 7:08pm on 07 Dec 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    Well the biology says reduce alcohol in sociaty as this is a major biological factor of depression. This would then bring about a reduction in antdepressents which repair the damage of alcohol/ethanol on the brain's limbic system.

    but then this is political so no chance of that.

    So lay of the booze and be happy.

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  • 9. At 8:18pm on 07 Dec 2009, ghostofsichuan wrote:

    First you need a government you will trust. When the government lies, when the government lets banks rob individual accounts and not hold them accountable and when the government takes all the private debt from banks and shifts it to the public it is sometimes difficult to put on a happy face. Honesty and integrity used to work to make people feel better about how things were going. We have neither in government or financial services. There will be no sweeping this under the rug. The people would like some accountability for what has happened and niether the govenment nor the banks will allow that. If the government is too weak to remove the influence of banking and big business from decision making than it will not matter if everybody else pretends that everything is good. It is diffcult to move forward with the corruption of the past (and present) blocking the way. They always propose magic shows and entertainment when the corruption reaches this level. Maybe if they started with sweeping regulation governing financial service institutions. I don't want to hold hands with local government workers and have a group hug after having been bent over by the government and banks and given a group............!

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  • 10. At 8:33pm on 07 Dec 2009, Rustigjongens wrote:

    Happily I do not require the government or some scientists to tell me if I am happy or not!.

    And I say this as a lifelong Ipswich fan.

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  • 11. At 9:40pm on 07 Dec 2009, jiggery_opkery wrote:

    Let's not be cynical: party politics is irrelevant here, this is great news and I hope that the governments of the coming ten thousand years, both here and around the rest of the universe, can apply the conclusions here thoughtfully and successfully.

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  • 12. At 11:01pm on 07 Dec 2009, jobsw32 wrote:

    pity the rest of the nation thinks we ought to be as miserable as them! oo er! suit ya!

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  • 13. At 11:17pm on 07 Dec 2009, jobsw32 wrote:

    you are only happy when you are superior aren't you when everyone else is miserable so you can say you are better and show off and rule the universe!

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  • 14. At 11:46pm on 07 Dec 2009, Doctor Bob wrote:

    I wonder if it hasn't gone too far. I've just been watching a TV programme about Christmas and the credit crunch and the plight of poor people, unable to afford the latest washing machine or LCD telly, let alone Christmas stuff for pestering kids. It was all about material acquisition under peer pressure generated by insidious marketing tactics. There was no mention of contentment, nothing about getting the best out of what you have.

    The poor simply want to be richer; in this lies happiness you'd believe. Having a 52" telly makes you at least twice as happy as a 26" one. Having two cars is twice as nice as just one. But then, the wealthy also want to be richer: panelled walls are far better than wallpaper, a Bosendorfer grand piano is better than a Yamaha upright etc.

    We're so entrenched in materialism/consumerism that it's difficult to think how things can be changed in anything shorter than the long term. People have surrended so many freedoms that many are but puppets of whoever pulls the consumerist strings the best. In a bewildering world of "choices" many succumb to the authoritative voice on telly making their decisions for them.

    Until the late 1970s the previous 70 years had been about improving the quality of life. A 35-hour working week was the aim so that employees could spend time with their families and/or have social lives. Hobbies were encouraged. Employment was relatively secure for most people so you could have a 25-year mortgage in the knowledge of having a job for those 25 years if you behaved yourself. You'd also get a reasonable pension at the end of your stint. Conventional absence (dentist, doctor) and compassionate leave were allowed. Workplace-induced stress was rare: for most people, the workplace was a reasonably happy place to be. Morale and humanity were important.

    Then came Thatcher and all that was scrapped. The ethos changed from "You work to live" to "You live to work." Success became wealth rather than achieving intrinsic personal ambitions. Social life migrated to the workplace where people began to spend more time at the expense of their families. Presenteeism became the norm and work-related stress was on the rise. Now with unemployment rife we've slipped back to the bad old days of insidiously abusive employers. Sure, you get more money so you can afford better escapes until you reach middle age then you're considered a has-been.

    Corus provides a fine example of this. Somewhere in India a couple of top business guys are sitting around. One says, "You know, I really don't think we can afford that place in England any more, it's hemorrhaging money." "Oh right," says the other, "let's throw that one to the wall then. Obviously the money can be better invested." - No matter about 1700 families with mouths to feed, mortgages to repay; all just before Christmas. Very few will be able to find new jobs in the immediate future. They're mere numbers conveniently kept on until the profit stopped thanks to a reneging syndicate - not individuals with their lives, hopes and aspirations. Call that social justice? How can anyone be content let alone happy in a system like that?

    The very sour taste of capitalism and free markets. How can anyone change all that? Do you think for one minute the business community will want that changed? Perhaps it'll take another major war - it does have the effect of focusing minds on survival and getting basics sorted out in the wake.

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  • 15. At 00:14am on 08 Dec 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    Dr bob couldn't have said it better.

    Xmas in my house is scimp like crazy first 3 weeks of dec sunday lunches on hold untill xmas day, skip a few bills till next month to make sure that the impression is given that xmas is okay to family n friends. Still at least we will have Xmas, plenty out there wont.

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  • 16. At 00:40am on 08 Dec 2009, jobsw32 wrote:

    Will you PACK it in you windbags! I do not want the latest and greatest gadgets like you. I want my life to be free of anxiety of being unable to pay my bills. I do not want threatening letters coming through my door when know very well what I can afford and can't since you are the ones with your hands on the reins!

    you want to plunge students into debt to learn a skill when you were taught for free at uni in the 50's and 60's and 70's and you changed the system so that you are the masters.

    you are wrong wrong wrong! if you want do something sincere then you want to be making sure that I can survive in this country and not ripped off every which way!

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  • 17. At 01:07am on 08 Dec 2009, jobsw32 wrote:

    do you want to know what's going on around my way? i'm living in a block with 7 nutters who the council dumped here and left the first lot were herion users run amok demanding to use my phone and I survived them only to have half the world's poor banging on my door 'cos they can't get 10 p for a box of matches.

    None of you's are topping it I'm telling you!

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  • 18. At 01:43am on 08 Dec 2009, clamdip lobster claws wrote:

    Happiness? Yeah! The Mafia Capitalists are finally getting a conscience after they raped the world of its wealth. The reason why the world is unhappy is because we have let thug governments run it. Now they're trying to consolidate their power in Copenhagen. The EPA sudenly has an epiphany and labels greehouse gases as a health hazard. Surprise, Surprise!

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  • 19. At 03:15am on 08 Dec 2009, clamdip lobster claws wrote:

    Oh and Mark,
    It doesn't help one's mental happiness to know that their government is corrupt and that everything about red,white and blue and apple pie turned out to be a lie! It's unsettling to know that your government is in bed with the Mafia, allows innocent people to be maimed and murdered in their drug wars, kills innocent soldiers who are too young to know any better, allows unchecked immigration to depress wages, allows all manner of criminal activity, including prostitution, Rabbi's selling body parts, child sexual exploitation and covering up information using the guise of Climategate in the biggest power grab in the World's history...to name just a few!

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  • 20. At 03:37am on 08 Dec 2009, clamdip lobster claws wrote:

    And furthermore, this insidious evil. Is this the legacy we want to leave to our children? Why don't we fight tooth and nail for a better, saner, happier world? At least one that everyone's children deserve to inherit.

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  • 21. At 04:12am on 08 Dec 2009, jobsw32 wrote:

    That is what you all think isn't it? We have to knock the stuffing out of everyone to get what we want! it's survival of the fittest! You are indoctrinated and institutionalised.

    Have ever tried as one person in the government recently said, 'diplomacy' as it can work!

    We do not need any more tough guys! we do not need any more boffins. All we need is manners. To choose decide want and desire to give courtesy to others.

    most of people's grief is just the every day hassles of rubbing shoulders in the herd. We know that people's blood pressure goes through the roof in these shopping centres and we do everything against the grain.

    It's got to be crash bang wallop all the time no self control. just let rip! everyone else does so why shouldn't I?

    No! (thank you)

    The only word that people don't want to hear! It's horrific.

    It's pushing the boat out to be polite isn't it just be brash and shove it to 'em!

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  • 22. At 08:59am on 08 Dec 2009, watriler wrote:

    Being brainwashed on an hourly basis into wanting more and more stuff and constantly being induced to compare wealth and appearance with others and thereby realising (for the majority) you are a failure does not help. Stand back and think of the implied and covert values of advertisers, TV presenters and politicians and you begin to understand the malaise of our society. Man should not live by pizza and X factor alone.

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  • 23. At 10:04am on 08 Dec 2009, FedupwithGovt wrote:

    People have lost contact with themselves as human beings. People don't know who their neighbours are, they have lost the ability to empathise. Many youngsters ambitions are based on being famous. People judge themselves and others on their acquisitions. Honesty, truth and decent manners have all been shoved to one side in the race to acquire and be famous. Govt has betrayed us, spies on us and tells us how to live our lives to the nth degree. Personal responsibility has been taken over by the state. We need to wipe the slate clean and start again with a completely new political/social system that is about people first and foremost.

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  • 24. At 11:05am on 08 Dec 2009, Doctor Bob wrote:

    The real agent of change is the media. The media bow so utterly to raw Friedman-like capitalism. How often do we see headlines like; "Children are worth £5bn to the economy," "The cost to the economy of sick leave is £180bn per annum." "Universities contribute £50bn to the economy," and on. "House prices are 10% higher than last year. Buy now at bubble prices!"

    In many cases financial costings are directly opposed to measures of welfare, morale, contentment and so on. If we're already costing what children are worth we've planned an investment path for them, not considered their aspirations and welfare.

    Sure, you need financials if valuing a proposed investment or a measure of the state of public finance. But when you're told that universities contribute £(so much) you realise it's about the turnover of money - you get to suspect that the government wants 50% of children to attend university, NOT to elevate their education but because they must perpetuate this slice of the economy (while also pruning the unemployment figures). No matter that kids start their working lives saddled with a huge debt and, likely, a devalued degree.

    So the media need a complete change of mindset: stop emphasising material wealth and acquisition; stop insidiously hooking kids into a life of gadgetry (at hugely inflated prices) with their "technical" programmes; reverse the trend of property inflation by emphasising that the bubble is being pumped up again and wait to see what happens when the base rate goes up. Stuff like that. Obviously far more need be done than could be suggested in a page of posts here.

    It also needs a change to the insidious techniques of marketing: forcing people to reach beyond their means, to acquire things they don't need. Most people have no idea just how their minds are being manipulated. Tactics are almost on the level of the deceits the government purvey thinking that most people won't notice their chicanery.

    Can anyone expect these changes to happen...when parliament and law is steered very powerfully by lobbies. Do people really think that the government itself, for example, wants the unbridled consumption of alcohol fouling up our city streets on weekend evenings? No, but the drinks lobby truly have the government under its thumb.

    Which brings us to the matter of crime. People are never going to be happy as long as anarchy rules our streets. We know that crime figures are crooked; the media push the do-gooding idea that prison is no solution to crime while most of the public crave harsher sentences in tougher prisons. The can't be much better deterrent than prisons being places that most small-time criminals do NEVER want to return to. At the moment punishments are more like holidays. ASBOs are completely batty and a life sentence should mean life, etc. When you can get less time for murderiing someone than dealing in drugs, no one will respect the justice system. If we had referenda on sentencing, the hand of justice would come down a lot heavier, you bet.

    Sometimes I think the Luddites were right: give everyone a role in society, make them artisans, and they'll take pride in themselves and what they do. At the moment, 90% of the population are mere numbers, not people.

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  • 25. At 2:37pm on 08 Dec 2009, SSnotbanned wrote:

    what about schadenfreude ??

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  • 26. At 5:14pm on 08 Dec 2009, clamdip lobster claws wrote:

    Dear JobsW32,
    You're the one complaining that heroin addicts come knocking on your door for a match. Where's the kindness in that? The government mafia doesn't understand NICE. They electrocute you in the pool and call it a heart attack or blow your your brains out and call it a suicide or sprinkle a vile substance around your house that causes liver failure. NICE doesn't cut it with pornographers, rapists, murderers, demented sociopaths and former presidents who suddenly found GOD in their life or received a $100,000 from AIG.

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  • 27. At 5:54pm on 08 Dec 2009, virtualsilverlady wrote:

    If this is the plan to placate the people during the long decline then I thoroughly go along with it.

    Less greed less stuff we don't need indeed anything that does not promote growth is the only way to combat global warming.

    Weaning folks off buying stuff 'cos it's the latest thing and they have to have it is not difficult when they no longer have the will or the money to buy it.

    Those who will suffer most are the corporate businesses but will they?

    The global banking system is in such a state and they know that there will have to be a long period of deflation for global growth cannot carry on at its present rate without running out of resources within a short time.

    The revving up of growth over the last few decades is unsustainable for who can imagine a China and India as well as the rest of the world with the same appetite for stuff as the west.

    People themselves need to slow down for this is the main cause of the depression we see all around. More emphasis on quality of life and less on materialistic things. I know because I've done it and although I am not always in a happy state for that is the impossible dream there is a nice feeling of contentment and achievement.

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  • 28. At 07:33am on 09 Dec 2009, MindDancer wrote:

    I am more than a bit concerned about the DoH New Horizons definition that you quote. As an almost complete introvert (who scores 0 on the Eysenck Extroversion scale) I for one would feel much less happy/well if I was forced to "connect with people" etc. - for some of us happiness is being alone. To put it another way, one man's happiness is another man's misery.

    Your article suggests to me that we don't really have either the 'technology' to measure well-being, or a sufficient understanding of individual differences, for making the necessary distinctions to ensure this would be an inclusive rather than divisive strategy - it strikes me that yet again we are not only in danger of 'nanny state' (or Utilitarianism) deciding what is best for us, but of further marginalising, even alienating, a much under-valued sector of the population.

    Before implementing these plans, and starting the social engineering it implies, I would urge politicians (and you Mark!) to seriously review the contribution made to society by introverts and reflective people generally as compared to the more 'visible' (and 'pushy'?) extroverts. From my perspective our world has been greatly enriched by the former while my life experience at least has certainly been adulterated, even stunted, by the latter with their inherent emphasis on the externals of living rather than the inner life.

    By all means let's focus on well-being rather than wealth, but we need to get the definition and the measuring tools right first.

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  • 29. At 10:35am on 09 Dec 2009, desabled wrote:

    One wonders how deep this will run iot is right that people do not merely focuis on wealth however what the government must not do is use this as an excuse to cut benefits for disabled people on the basis of'it won't make them happy living as they do below the poverty line with benefits which fall far short of the extra cost of genuine disability
    lack of money is fundamental to the inclusion of disabled people in society this month they will receive £10 christmas bonus something which has remained unchanged for over a decade leaving disabled adults of working age who can't for no fault of their own disenfranchised as they along with the other lowest earners in the country go without in a big way todesperately try to avoid the embarassment of not being able to come up truimps on thechristmas present frontdisabled adult's even severely disabled are not entitled to the£2-400 winterfuel benefit which retired people get irrespective of need absolutely the measuring tools need to be right.hundreds of thousands of disabled adultsare in anunseen underclass unable to get out muchas in many areas there is nowhere to go
    where they can get the support they need many exist rather than live counting the days until the next payment to ensure the bills can be met
    let us not kid ourselves that the genuine disabled/benefit claimant needs not wealth but more money to exist with some kind of well being it is not always like it appears on C4outcasts which includes some very able and determined disabled people not representative of the majority
    many were once considerable contributors to the exchequer butnow unable are castigated as scroungers and suffer a system designed to avoid benefit cheats rather than helpthe most vulnerable section of british society.
    There are many countries where the most vulnerable are worse off and a few where they are much better offbutbenefits which allow you merely to be imprisoned at home are not enough to provide wellbeing
    the overiding atitude is dissabled should be seen and not heard if they can't work or gain gold in the paralympics!
    however the difference between able and disabled financially

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  • 30. At 2:42pm on 09 Dec 2009, SSnotbanned wrote:

    ...(cont.)from the Man Who Eat All The Happy Pills.

    What about schadenfreude ??
    What about the Law Of Diminishing Returns (more and more resources for fewer and fewer returns)and the Hannibal Lectors, evil killers et al,who only experience joy at the time of your execution.

    Oh happy, deluded foolocracy.
    The Last Miserable Man, happy everybody but himself is happy,The Last Happy Man,happy that all else are miserable.
    ... but some people are never really happy, ask Cherie.

    Epicureans, that can't see beyond their own noses, sorry, serotonin/dopamine neurotransmitters.

    Oh sweet, fleeting happiness !!
    How they laughed as the world burned.

    Get Happy! I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down,Elvis Costello,
    Money(That's What I Want),Flying Lizards on the turntable.

    [Dear Samaritans,
    Do you do e-mail these days ?

    Remember terms and conditions may apply,calls from BT lines are charged at £1.50/min, calls from mobile phones may vary.
    Do you play the Happy Market? Happiness shares may go up,as well as done.]

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  • 31. At 7:31pm on 09 Dec 2009, Euforiater wrote:

    24: Some excellent points, Dr Bob but I have to take issue with your phrase "the media push the do-gooding idea that prison is no solution to crime while most of the public crave harsher sentences in tougher prisons. "
    - two things wrong with this statement, the first is the suggestion that the media actually push the idea that prison is no solution to crime, I've never seen that anywhere except in in-depth documentaries, which to me implies they are probably right. The majority of the media chants the mantra 'lock 'em up and throw the key away'. This is always backed up by some carefully-picked and extreme example of some young lout (complete with arrogant-looking photo) apparently getting off light, which in a country of 60 million people is always going to happen from time to time.
    The other thing is ANY use of the phrase "do-gooder" - how did that ever catch on? Are these people saying that doing good is a BAD thing? That phrase is on a par with "wishy-washy liberal" which I assume is trying to brainwash people into thinking you're much better off being an ignorant Nazi.

    My attitude to prison is yes, make it short and sharp but make sure it's followed-up by rehabilitation and not allowing old patterns to repeat. Locking someone up for a long time usually just gives them time to pick up tips from other prisoners.

    The media will, in general, follow the line best suited to the rich*. Why? Because they are the ones that own the newspapers. The BBC, being a publicly-owned organisation is often seen as "left-wing" but that is merely because all the other media outlets are right-wing.
    * Occasionally they will have a go at a rich scapegoat who has fallen out of favour with them, just to make it all seem fair - Cedric Brown of British Gas was one I particularly remember from about 20 years ago, for having a salary of £400K, something which will be seen as small beer now for many bankers etc.

    The last paragraph you wrote is absolutely spot on. It is THAT simple, and deserves to be repeated:

    "give everyone a role in society, make them artisans, and they'll take pride in themselves and what they do". Well said.

    I believe everyone has some value, sometimes it just takes a bit of finding.

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  • 32. At 10:01pm on 17 Dec 2009, John Ellis wrote:

    http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00816439

    Imaging Cannabinoid CB1 Receptors in Alcohol Dependence
    This study is currently recruiting participants.
    Verified by National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC), August 2009
    First Received: December 31, 2008 Last Updated: November 25, 2009

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  • 33. At 04:01am on 25 Dec 2009, R Nair wrote:

    15 years ago, I suggested human well-being as a more realistic goal for international human rights. See (1994) 34 Indian Journal of International Law 1-34 at 14-15.
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

    See also the conclusion on 34.

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  • 34. At 04:23am on 25 Dec 2009, R Nair wrote:

    Funny how spam gets through but my link to a pdf copy of a relevant article is removed. Let me try a html link - http://www.totalworlds.com/law/index.html

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  • 35. At 12:37pm on 11 Mar 2010, John Ellis wrote:

    http://health.blogs.foxnews.com/2010/03/10/are-you-cannabis-deficient/

    The name anandamide is based on the Sanskrit word ananda, which means bliss. Anandamide is a bliss molcule, enhancing greater well being and emotional satisfaction.

    I love the Science of this somthing i have belived in for many years.
    Wonder how the NHS will treat this after all I can be treated for all other deficienties all the vitimins, iron, thyroid over active underactive, calcium etc...

    Is there a food group I can get anandamide from ? not realy..
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anandamide

    So were do I get this supplement from?

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