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Should the government measure our national happiness?

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  • Message 1. 

    Posted by Religion_Host (U1716878) on ,

    The Moral Maze, Wednesday 19th January 2011, 8pm Radio 4

    They call January 22nd the unhappiest day of the year. But do not despair, our government is coming to the rescue. Politicians are so worried about our state of mind it was their New Year's resolution to do something about it.

    On January 5th was the first meeting of the "Measuring National Well-being Advisory Forum" and the Office of National Statistics has just started a consultation on making general well-being (GWB) a key national statistic, alongside the more traditional things like Gross Domestic Product.

    Setting aside the question can you measure happiness - the moral question is should you?

    Money isn't the key to happiness and perhaps we should see ourselves as more than just units of economic production and consumption. But is it the job of the state to concern itself with our emotional life and build that in to policy making?

    A lot of what makes us happy as individuals may not be very good for us, our fellow man, or society as a whole. Will we start being fed a very particular one-size fits all view of happiness and "the good life"?

    Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is all very well, but should happiness be an end in itself? Shouldn't we be asking what we as individuals can to do make other people's lives better, rather than asking what the state can do to make us happier?

    Michael Buerk chairs the debate. With Melanie Phillips, Matthew Taylor, Claire Fox and Clifford Longley.

    Find out more at:

  • Message 2

    , in reply to this message.

    Posted by Oak_King (U14612120) on ,

    The biggest threat to my happiness IS the government.

    BB )O(

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  • Message 3

    , in reply to this message.

    Posted by Reservoir Hamster (U14288323) on ,

    Should the government measure happiness?

    Occasionally the Moral Maze comes up with a perfectly silly topic for debate and this is one of those times.

    The answer is NO. Why? Because (assuming they're able to measure it accurately) what are they going to do if we're not as happy as we should be? Do something about it? I don't think so. They can't even grit the roads when it snows.

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  • Message 4

    , in reply to this message.

    Posted by TerryS (U2754968) on ,

    One of the things that makes me unhappy is listening to the half-baked and ill-informed opinions of the awful Claire Fox on the 'Moral Maze'. That is why, after being an avid listener for many years, I stopped listening to the programme a couple of years ago.

    Why the BBC thinks that someone like Claire Fox is worth listening to I cannot imagine - why is she on the programme? As far as I am aware she has no worthwhile qualifications, no track-record of significant achievements, no great intellect, no particular moral authority and no democratic mandate ... just lots of stupid opinions.

    My happiness definitely increased when I stopped listening to her on the 'Moral Maze'!

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  • Message 5

    , in reply to this message.

    Posted by Jobonger (U14727597) on ,

    The moral maze is a travesty. No-one on there has any expertise in moral philosophy. They don't know even the basic positions and their 'arguments' are laughable. It is an insult to the topic and reflects a contemptuous attitude towards moral philosophy. You might as well have an 'anthropology maze' and have exactly the same people on it. Their views would be just as ill-informed, half-baked and worthless.

    And take the incompetent way in which this 'discussion' has been set-up. We're asked to put aside the question 'can you measure happiness' and focus on whether we 'should' be measuring happiness. Er, ought implies can. That means you can't have a moral obligation to do something you can't do. So, if you can't measure happiness then you certainly can't have a moral obligation to do so. Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy.

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