Today's news that one in four young women in the UK is suffering from anxiety or depression should be a wake up call to us all. Figures were bad for all demographics, but particularly the young. Possible causes include social media, by which reporters mean,'the internet'. So, is the internet making is miserable and if so, what can we do about it?
During the Brexit campaign I was struck by Nigel Farage saying that losing a bit of GDP would be worth it if we were all a little happier. Aha, I thought, at last, a politician talking about happiness, maybe that's what this whole thing is about. Maybe this could be a new direction for UKIP now they have won their major argument. They could re-model themselves as a peoples happiness party.
Action for Happiness have just launched an evening course onhappiness, which sounds like a good idea and is endorsed by the Dalai Lama, but who is it going to help? People already interested in positive psychology might be interested but most of the people who could benefit will dismiss it as a concept without too much thought.
Market forces won't make us happy. They might do a lot of things, but planning for the common good isn't one of them. If a company can make money doing something it is going to do it, even if it kills or injures millions of people. Even if the risk of a backlash is so great that it would destroy the company.
Take obesity, market forces push food comapnies to offer larger sizes and cut costs. This means bigger portions of less healthy food - and ultimately obesity. Here is "The Register" on this...
There has been a clip on tv recently showing Jeremy Corbyn saying that socialism is the answer. He is nearly right.
The problem with socialism is that it sets up a struggle between the rich and the poor. We end up having a fight about who gets a place by the trough - for more info on this read George Orwells "Animal Farm".
Lord Sewel (no less) has resigned as deupty speaker of the house of lords over allegations of taking cocaine with 'sex workers', he is not the first and he probably won't be the last. Snorting coke off a prostitute seems to be the absolute pinnacle our culture has to offer in pleasure. Which says something pretty sad about our culture. Members of the House of Lords, you would imagine, would be dining at Michelin starred restaurants before watching opera or ballet, but no, down to Madam Fifi's for a snout full of whizz and a bit of 'slap and tickle'. Does anybody still call it that?
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Happiness has dropped out of the news lately, but it's still fundamentally the only way forwards for modern politics. Whether it's Greece, Charleston or Tunisia, the underlying causes are a lack of government concern for the happiness of the people.
Selfishness is not the answer and what we are seeing is it's ugly fruits.
Barack Obama said this recently in South Africa - he was aiming this at African Governments, but surely it applies to all governments. The common good, it would seem, is alive and kicking and running the USA. It's a shame that he is powerless to do anything. Here is a link to the report on this by the White House.
So what can governments do to help us all to make ourselves happier?
- Encourage small local scale businesses to reduce commuting - help people to live and work in the same 'village'
- Set up local facilities for social and political societies - village halls
- Subsidise restaurants
David Cameron famously said "We are all in it togather" causing howls of derisive laughter from around the country. What do a bunch of Eton and Bullingdon Club public school boys know about being in it at all? Surely they are so insulated from real life by their enourmous inherited wealth and positions of privelege and influence that they can never feel the pinch of recession. Surely, the public thinks, they can sit in their ivory towers glugging Krug and scoffing caviar encrusted ryvitas without any concern for the welfare of the rest of us.