"Hello, I'm from the Happiness Party, can we count on your vote at the upcoming election?"
"Eh? The who?"
"The Happiness Party, we are a new political party devoted to making everybody happier. Our pledge is that we will only make changes which have a positive effect on the overall happiness of the population."
"Blimey, well, how are you going to do that?"
"Through community building, more money spent on mental health care, preventative mental health measures such as overall stress reduction. We'll do whatever we can, for every issue we need to consider the overall effect on happiness . Take steps and then measure their success. If we make changes and it makes people happier, then we will continue to do it"
"Well I'm not voting for you, I'm vote conservative me, always have done. You sound like a load of loonies."
"Well, at the moment it's only me, so a LOAD of loonies would actually be progress."
+ + + + +
No, I'm not really thinking of doing this!
The problem with politics in Britain and the US today is that nothing actually gets done. Obama would love to make sweeping changes, but he is stopped at every turn by people with a vested interest in the status quo. Take his health care reforms, on the face of it a sensible step forward, but there are huge waves of protest from people who don't think it's a good idea, people who are against Obama on principle, people trying to discredit the Democrats and people with a financial interest in keeping things as they are who will do anything to muddy the issue. Any change will always have an opposition whose voice must be heard. The best that we can hope for is a watered down version of reform, which will not be radical enough to actually achieve it's goals and then be derided as a failure.
In this environment I have difficulty in imagining any government anywhere managing to make sufficient changes to Make Everybody Happier. Not that any of the political parties are even taking this issue seriously. Dave and the Conseratives have paid lip service to the idea, but I don't think they could possibly swallow the socialist elements of universal happiness. The labour party have told me that they are already doing many things to make people happy. The Liberals never got back to me, so I'm not sure where they stand... The Greens are interested but think it's too difficult to measure. I guess they are trying to get away from being labelled loonies, so need to steer clear of anything wacky. But my biggest disappointment so far is the failure to engage the Monster Raving Loony Party, who I would have imagined would be right behind such a noble cause.
If you think this is a good idea - or even a terrible idea, add your comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org