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  1. #21
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    Re: Money - does it buy happiness?

    A few thoughts....

    1. I once listened to a very interesting radio program about an extensive survey (I could not find it via Google so you just have to take the accuracy on faith if you choose to) which claimed that the strongest correlation to happiness was not whether you had or did not have something, but if you felt that you were getting better or worse currently.

    So its not if you have wealth or don't, its if you are increasing or decreasing your wealth/income.

    And I think that jives real well with my own experience. When the future is brighter and you are moving up, it doesn't matter how much you have. When the future is dark and you are going down the tubes, it doesn't matter that you already have achieved a lot.

    Now this isn't just for money, but that is what the survey was measuring with in this case.

    I see this a lot in other people I know, they can have all the wealth they need but if they see it slipping away, they are very upset. And others can be fairly poor but when they get a raise and promotion its very exciting.

    2. Money/Prosperity is very important in life but certainly its not the only thing that matters to people. Self image and self worth are vital, as is a feeling of community belonging and acceptance. These things can go up or down interdependently or independent of wealth. Certainly in a more material culture there is more coupling of prosperity with self image and with relationships.

    3. There is a floor of wealth satisfaction where in your lack of money makes it near impossible to meet basic needs like food, health and shelter. In those cases even improvements may not improve quality of life so happiness will not follow. The persistent problems will erase any joy of progress.

    4. Inequality. I find it somewhat ironic that someone proposing that all should be happy with a fairly equal share of wealth would care that some folks have more of it than others. If its not that important to self satisfaction, then why is it a problem if some have more than others? If the baseline of poverty was such that the poor were less able to make ends meet, then that would be more an issue than if the poor were fairly well off, but the rich were even more well off (which is often the case in the US). I'm not saying the gap is unimportant, only that using it as the basis of a good functional economic system is probably off the mark and irrelevant to the core human issue of economic justice.
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  2. #22
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    Re: Money - does it buy happiness?

    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis View Post
    Here's one that seems to cause a bit of trouble for your charge that capitalism causes unhappiness. It would appear, that the farther we move from capitalism, there is a higher likelihood of being unhappy (and less economically successful).

    Attachment 2827

    See the countries to the right? Compare to the majority on the left. The ones on the right have more income and are happier. The ones on the right are industrialized, westernized nations directly influenced by the success of capitalism with various degrees.
    Well, most or all of those countries are capitalist. And different surveys give different results. In the OP, Nigeria came top. In many, Mexico comes close to the top, Puerto Rico tops one I think. As we said, on an international scale there are more factors. You generally expect richer countries to be happier, but its not as clear as that. You will notice that the really miserable countries are the former Eastern Bloc, liberated by capitalism in 1989, where they are all busy committing suicide at the thought of their new liberation.

    ---------- Post added at 12:15 PM ---------- Previous post was at 12:13 PM ----------

    will save that for tomorrow sigfried...

  3. #23
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    Re: Money - does it buy happiness?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigfried View Post
    A few thoughts....

    1. I once listened to a very interesting radio program about an extensive survey (I could not find it via Google so you just have to take the accuracy on faith if you choose to) which claimed that the strongest correlation to happiness was not whether you had or did not have something, but if you felt that you were getting better or worse currently.

    So its not if you have wealth or don't, its if you are increasing or decreasing your wealth/income.

    And I think that jives real well with my own experience. When the future is brighter and you are moving up, it doesn't matter how much you have. When the future is dark and you are going down the tubes, it doesn't matter that you already have achieved a lot.

    Now this isn't just for money, but that is what the survey was measuring with in this case.

    I see this a lot in other people I know, they can have all the wealth they need but if they see it slipping away, they are very upset. And others can be fairly poor but when they get a raise and promotion its very exciting.
    Yeah, I can believe that Sigfried, very useful point.


    Quote Originally Posted by Sigfried View Post
    2. Money/Prosperity is very important in life but certainly its not the only thing that matters to people. Self image and self worth are vital, as is a feeling of community belonging and acceptance. These things can go up or down interdependently or independent of wealth. Certainly in a more material culture there is more coupling of prosperity with self image and with relationships.
    Yep, agree with that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigfried View Post
    3. There is a floor of wealth satisfaction where in your lack of money makes it near impossible to meet basic needs like food, health and shelter. In those cases even improvements may not improve quality of life so happiness will not follow. The persistent problems will erase any joy of progress.
    Probably true. Give a fiver to someone who cant pay the rent ant its not gonna change his life. He still cant pay the rent. He is still terrified of becoming homeless.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigfried View Post
    4. Inequality. I find it somewhat ironic that someone proposing that all should be happy with a fairly equal share of wealth would care that some folks have more of it than others. If its not that important to self satisfaction, then why is it a problem if some have more than others? If the baseline of poverty was such that the poor were less able to make ends meet, then that would be more an issue than if the poor were fairly well off, but the rich were even more well off (which is often the case in the US). I'm not saying the gap is unimportant, only that using it as the basis of a good functional economic system is probably off the mark and irrelevant to the core human issue of economic justice.
    What I am talking about is not socialism, but the reality of life in capitalist countries over the last few decades. It appears that happiness has not improved. Also I appreciate you probably wrote this before I wrote my reply with the example of some not being able to let their daughter go on a school trip, which may or may not help to explain why relative poverty does make people feel bad.

    If you look at a primitive tribe, chances are they will be just as happy as many people in advanced countries. They suffer terrible hardships, but they are more or less equal, so at least they don't have to suffer the indignity of being a 'loser'.

    Its not jealousy, people are being made to feel second class, or even third class.

  4. #24
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    Re: Money - does it buy happiness?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    What I am talking about is not socialism, but the reality of life in capitalist countries over the last few decades. It appears that happiness has not improved. Also I appreciate you probably wrote this before I wrote my reply with the example of some not being able to let their daughter go on a school trip, which may or may not help to explain why relative poverty does make people feel bad.

    If you look at a primitive tribe, chances are they will be just as happy as many people in advanced countries. They suffer terrible hardships, but they are more or less equal, so at least they don't have to suffer the indignity of being a 'loser'.

    Its not jealousy, people are being made to feel second class, or even third class.
    But life is always like that. Sure we can try to equalize money, but it doesn't equalize people. If I am witty and funny and attractive and my wife is smoking hot and I take great care of my house which happens to be in a nicer location than yours, and I get vacation in the summer when the weather is nice and I am loved by many people, and I have a much cooler name, and I etc...

    Trying to make one person not want what someone else has, impossible. Its not even worth trying to do except as a measure of self control and enlightenment, and that has to come from within, not be imposed by others.

    Money is easier to manipulate, but money is supposed to not be a pile of coins or a stack of bills or a number in an account. Its what you earn for the work you do. Its a natural consequence of your talent and creativity. It is a part of you as much as your natural hair color or beauty. Trying to equalize it is like trying to say people shouldn't have more talent than others or that if you are pretty you must make other people pretty too because they were not as lucky and thats not fair.

    Life is fundamentally inequitable except that all of us as individuals die, only then is there any true equality but its not a solution any of us desire for ourselves.

    You really can't make everyone happy, it just doesn't work.

    The fact that we tend to be happy or sad about delta values rather than absolute values means there is no limit to how much we want, we always want more, and no matter how much we have if we loose some we will be unhappy. There is no hope for us to be perpetually happy except in an imaginary virtual world where there are no limitations. (one reason video games are popular)
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    Re: Money - does it buy happiness?

    Well I think whats obvious is that if you are **** scared of not being able to pay the rent you aren't gonna be too happy, all else being equal. But what the research has show is that having loads of dosh has little or no bearing on ones happiness. This does tie in with what I have observed in my life. So clearly there is more to success for a country than purely increasing GDP.

    Its no good having a nice house in America if you have to sleep with a gun under the bed.

  6. #26
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    Re: Money - does it buy happiness?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Well I think whats obvious is that if you are **** scared of not being able to pay the rent you aren't gonna be too happy, all else being equal. But what the research has show is that having loads of dosh has little or no bearing on ones happiness. This does tie in with what I have observed in my life. So clearly there is more to success for a country than purely increasing GDP.

    Its no good having a nice house in America if you have to sleep with a gun under the bed.
    1) If happiness is not tied to income (income above poverty level that is), then there is no need to change for the sake of happiness. If the poor are just as happy as the middle-class as the wealthy, then happiness in and of itself is no longer justification for changing economic systems (say, from capitalism to socialism).

    2) Why is it no good having a nice house if you have to sleep with a gun under the bed? It doesn't mean that you will be invaded or that you will use it. The vast majority of nice houses in the US do not get invaded. The vast majority of home owners who are also gun owners, never have to use the weapon.

    It seems that you think that ownership equates to necessity. Which is of course false.
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  7. #27
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    Re: Money - does it buy happiness?

    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis View Post
    1) If happiness is not tied to income (income above poverty level that is), then there is no need to change for the sake of happiness. If the poor are just as happy as the middle-class as the wealthy, then happiness in and of itself is no longer justification for changing economic systems (say, from capitalism to socialism).
    As America has got richer the lower paid have got a bit better off in absolute terms, but a bit worse of in relative terms. The latter seems to cancel out the former in terms of happiness. If everyone was more equal, this would bring all sorts of benefits. Its this relative feeling of inferiority which seems to make the lower paid feel bad. They end up struggling to pay the bills even more, because now you have to have a car and the internet, and a mobile phone, or you are some sort of social outcast.

    Anyway, in a socialism society most people would be a lot better off AND more equal, which is completely different to a bit better off and less equal.

    The point of socialism is to make a MUCH more productive economy, to remove all the waste you get in a capitalist system. Nobody would want for anything, the working week could be reduced to a few hours, there would be no crime, no wars, no job insecurity, no worries about healthcare or pensions or getting a home. You could basically concentrate most of the time on doing whatever you were interested in.

    As for guns, I can't imagine sleeping with one, no!

  8. #28
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    Re: Money - does it buy happiness?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc
    If everyone was more equal, this would bring all sorts of benefits.
    Please list these benefits you are talking about.

    I believe that each and every person basically have one of a few choices. They can be unhappy about their financial situation, or they can actually try and do something about it, or at least try to accept it.

    I have seen street children eating out of dumpsters. And what was strange is that they seem to be happy regardless of their dire situation sometimes. I do not say all the time though. Human nature is to survive and make things better for yourself, regardless of what impacts your life negatively at that stage.

    I have met rich people too, and they are unhappy. Some are so unhappy they take their own lives.

    If everybody has an equal financial income across the board, I fail to see benefits coming from it, because money is not what makes you happier. In both the cases where someone is either poor or wealthy, they can be either very happy, moderately happy or maybe miserable. And it is not money alone that determines their happiness, but many other factors too.

    Also, not everybody's needs are the same. You have families that can not get along with the same income than another family. You do not have the same expenses. While it is a nice idea to try and get everybody equal, it is not a viable solution to get everybody happier.
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  9. #29
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    Re: Money - does it buy happiness?

    Aha! All links working now to the Richard Layard research, reminder, this was the London School of Economics study of 40 years of Unites States General Social Survey etc
    http://cep.lse.ac.uk/events/lectures...d/RL030303.pdf
    http://cep.lse.ac.uk/events/lectures...d/RL040303.pdf
    http://cep.lse.ac.uk/events/lectures...d/RL050303.pdf

    On 16th April, The Times published a letter opposed to immediate cuts in public expenditure. This was co-sponsored by Lord Layard and Lord Skidelsky.
    It was signed by 77 senior economists, and has since been signed by another 32. Click for letter and signatories
    Richard Layard was founder-director of the LSE Centre for Economic Performance, a large research centre covering most areas of economic policy. Since 2000 he has been a member of the House of Lords.

    He has written widely on unemployment, inflation, education, inequality and post-Communist reform. He was an early advocate of the welfare-to-work approach to unemployment, and co-authored the influential book Unemployment: Macroeconomic Performance and the Labour Market (OUP 1991).

    From 1997-2001 he helped implement these policies as a consultant to the Labour government. He was also involved in educational policy development for the non-graduate workforce.

    Happiness research
    Richard Layard always thought that the ultimate aim of public policy is to make people happier. In recent years he has been actively involved in the new science of happiness, and in 2005 published Happiness: Lessons from a New Science.

    Mental illness is probably the single greatest threat to a happy life, and for this reason Richard Layard is currently leading a campaign to provide within the NHS evidence-based psychological therapy for people with clinical depression and chronic anxiety disorder. The Depression Report, published in July 2006, is the manifesto for this campaign.

    Finally, Richard Layard is also active in other happiness promoting policies, such as the emotional aspects of children's education, and initiatives by local authorities to monitor and improve the happiness of the population in their area.

    Further information:
    He founded the Employment Institute in 1985 to press for action to prevent long-term unemployment and was its Chairman from 1987-92. After Labour came to power, he was from 1997-2001 a government consultant on policies towards unemployment (including the New Deal) and towards skills.

    He was Chairman of the European Commission's Macroeconomic Policy Group in the 1980s and then co-Chairman of the World Economy Group set up by WIDER. From 1991-97 he was an economic adviser to the Russian government's economic staff.

    He has been on the staff of LSE since 1964. Before that he taught in a comprehensive school and was the Senior Research Officer for the Robbins Committee on Higher Education.

    Selected Publications:
    Writings on happiness
    “Measuring subjective well-being", Science, Vol 327, Pages 534-5, January 2010

    "Why subjective well-being should be the measure of progress", given at the OECD World Forum on “Statistics, Knowledge and Policy - Charting Progress, Building Visions, Improving Life", Busan, Korea - 27-30 October 2009

    The Greatest Happiness Principle: Its time has come”, Well-being: How to lead the good life and what government should do to help, (eds) S Griffiths and R Reeves, Social Market Foundation, July 2009

    "The Return of Happiness: Why wellbeing should be at the heart of politics", Prospect, March 2005

    ---------- Post added September 1st, 2010 at 12:03 AM ---------- Previous post was August 31st, 2010 at 11:56 PM ----------


  10. #30
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    Re: Money - does it buy happiness?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    As America has got richer the lower paid have got a bit better off in absolute terms, but a bit worse of in relative terms. The latter seems to cancel out the former in terms of happiness. If everyone was more equal, this would bring all sorts of benefits. Its this relative feeling of inferiority which seems to make the lower paid feel bad. They end up struggling to pay the bills even more, because now you have to have a car and the internet, and a mobile phone, or you are some sort of social outcast.

    Anyway, in a socialism society most people would be a lot better off AND more equal, which is completely different to a bit better off and less equal.

    The point of socialism is to make a MUCH more productive economy, to remove all the waste you get in a capitalist system. Nobody would want for anything, the working week could be reduced to a few hours, there would be no crime, no wars, no job insecurity, no worries about healthcare or pensions or getting a home. You could basically concentrate most of the time on doing whatever you were interested in.

    As for guns, I can't imagine sleeping with one, no!
    Firstly, a quote from "Enemy at the Gates", which was very insightful to me when I watched it:

    "Man will always be a man. There is no new man. We (the USSR) tried so hard to create a society that was equal, where there'd be nothing to envy your neighbour. But there's always something to envy. A smile, a friendship, something you don't have and want to appropriate. In this world, even a Soviet one, there will always be rich and poor. Rich in gifts, poor in gifts. Rich in love, poor in love."

    This could be debatable, but I believe it's true. The obstacle to human equality is human nature itself. There is always something to envy. Envy, and thus inequality, is part of human nature, and only with the elimination of such emotions can man truly be equal.

    Money, luxury goods, etc., are only the material symbols of what we most desire (not sure what that is) but in truth, without these things, there will always be something to envy in others.
    "More guns equal fewer deaths...by this logic, the Middle East would be better off if every nation in the region had nuclear weapons."
    — Timothy Egan, NY Times

  11. #31
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    Re: Money - does it buy happiness?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    As America has got richer the lower paid have got a bit better off in absolute terms, but a bit worse of in relative terms. The latter seems to cancel out the former in terms of happiness.
    No it doesn't. Where is the evidence of this? You said yourself that the change in happiness has not existed (or hast been negligible) for the past 40 years.

    If everyone was more equal, this would bring all sorts of benefits. Its this relative feeling of inferiority which seems to make the lower paid feel bad. They end up struggling to pay the bills even more, because now you have to have a car and the internet, and a mobile phone, or you are some sort of social outcast.
    1) You ASSUME that happiness has decreased, yet you have refuted your own argument here with your own data.

    2) It is meaningless to apply this standard of happiness you advocate. You are advocating that envy is a proper tool by which to measure economic success (by way of it being a proper indicator). This isn't an economic issue, but rather a cultural issue. Regardless, you have not supported this contention.

    Anyway, in a socialism society most people would be a lot better off AND more equal, which is completely different to a bit better off and less equal.

    The point of socialism is to make a MUCH more productive economy, to remove all the waste you get in a capitalist system. Nobody would want for anything, the working week could be reduced to a few hours,
    So less hours = more productivity and output...more hours = less productivity? Where is the evidence for this. This is counter to reason.

    If a student spends 10 hours studying for a test...and another studies for 10 minutes...according to you, the one who spends practically no time, will do better. If an attorney spends 10 days working on an acquisition for a client, and another attorney spends 10 hours, you are saying that the latter will be more productive and successful. If a professor spends 1 year doing research, and the other 1 month...you are saying that the latter will result in more successful data. It's counter to all reason manc. You have not supported that the less time one spends the more productivity results.

    there would be no crime, no wars, no job insecurity, no worries about healthcare or pensions or getting a home. You could basically concentrate most of the time on doing whatever you were interested in.
    How so? Evidence?

    As for guns, I can't imagine sleeping with one, no!
    The you concede this is merely a subjectively held belief, and not at all a truth claim. Just because you can't do it, doesn't mean that others cannot (and do it successfully).
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  12. #32
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    Re: Money - does it buy happiness?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aspoestertjie View Post


    manc
    If everyone was more equal, this would bring all sorts of benefits.


    Please list these benefits you are talking about.

    I believe that each and every person basically have one of a few choices. They can be unhappy about their financial situation, or they can actually try and do something about it, or at least try to accept it.

    I have seen street children eating out of dumpsters. And what was strange is that they seem to be happy regardless of their dire situation sometimes. I do not say all the time though. Human nature is to survive and make things better for yourself, regardless of what impacts your life negatively at that stage.

    I have met rich people too, and they are unhappy. Some are so unhappy they take their own lives.

    If everybody has an equal financial income across the board, I fail to see benefits coming from it, because money is not what makes you happier. In both the cases where someone is either poor or wealthy, they can be either very happy, moderately happy or maybe miserable. And it is not money alone that determines their happiness, but many other factors too.

    Also, not everybody's needs are the same. You have families that can not get along with the same income than another family. You do not have the same expenses. While it is a nice idea to try and get everybody equal, it is not a viable solution to get everybody happier.
    Ok, good questions / points, worth spending a bit of time on.

    Firstly, what are the benefits of everyone being more equal. Lets say equal, which is the ultimate long term goal.

    Well, the first thing is that the people at the bottom wouldn't have the worries they have now, will they find enough food, will they become homeless. Millions of children would not be dying of hunger or easy to cure diseases. Kids scavenging from a dumpster might be happy in some ways, but thats no life for a child, its not necessary. Many face sexual abuse and turn to drugs or crime. In Brazil, local businesses have paid 'cleanup squads' to go out and kill them. Half the people in the world live on less that $3 per day. There is no need for this. They could be helped into productive work.

    In the context of this thread in particular, if everyone is equal, you do not have a layer of people at the bottom, or even half way up, who feel like failure. In capitalism, even people at the top feel someone else is richer, they need to have this and that. You end up with some oligarch spending $1 billion on a private yacht that needs a crew of about 30 people or more to run it! This is insanity!

    Of course there are many more benefits. Briefly, the economy would be far more efficient, so the working week could be reduced for all. Everything would be free, there would be no money, so you would do a bit of work and then do whatever you wanted. This is because all the waste of capitalism would be eliminated.

    There would be no countries, no wars, no armies, no crime, no police ( not many anyway), no prisons (again not many anyway, you might still get a bit of crime but it would be a tiny amount, mainly by people who have some mental problem). In health, we would be concentrating on prevention rather than cure, with food made to be as healthy as possible and provided in free community restaurants. Energy and transport would be green - renewable.

    People would be completely liberated as individuals. Every person would be treated as an equal individual. The drudgery of life experienced by many women would be eliminated. There would be free, high quality child care. Abortion and divorce on demand. If a woman wanted to leave her husband, there would be no financial worries to stop her.

    There would be no racism, no sexism, no discrimination.

    Not everybody's needs are the same, but you would get what you needed. If you are disabled, you would get MORE than others, not less, because you have extra needs.

    We would not waste the planet. Every product would be carefully made to last a long time, or to be easily recycled.

    There would not be people coming on your TV every 15 minutes telling you that your life is not fulfilled unless you have this, you have that, you have the other. People would not waste their lives in a fruitless race to climb a social ladder.

    ---------- Post added at 10:48 PM ---------- Previous post was at 10:36 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Arraetrikos View Post
    Man will always be a man. There is no new man. We (the USSR) tried so hard to create a society that was equal, where there'd be nothing to envy your neighbour. But there's always something to envy.

    ..........
    This could be debatable, but I believe it's true. The obstacle to human equality is human nature itself. There is always something to envy. Envy, and thus inequality, is part of human nature, and only with the elimination of such emotions can man truly be equal.

    Money, luxury goods, etc., are only the material symbols of what we most desire (not sure what that is) but in truth, without these things, there will always be something to envy in others.
    Ok, first, the USSR was by no means socialist.

    Second, if you read up on the civilisation which lasted 3000 years in southern Europe, the most well known town being Catalhoyuk, people lived completely egalitarian lived. Everyone was equal.There was no violence. An that society lasted longer then the Roman Empire, the feudal societies, and capitalism of the last 2500 years put together. Catalhoyuk was so egalitarian that if your kids left home your living space would be converted so you didn't have more personal space than a neighbour who had 3 kids!

    You can read about it here

    http://www.urkommunismus.de/catalhueyuek_en.html


    A millennium without governing

    "From 7000 to 4000 B.C. there existed an egalitarian society in Anatolia and the Balkan region with gender equality and where wars were unknown. Its high living standard for everyone was only achieved again millenniums later.

    In the settlement of Çatalhöyük, up to ten thousand people lived together for more than one thousand years. From the archaeological findings, not only the egalitarian structure of society can be deduced but also insights can be gained into the cultural achievements of a free society."

    This isn't a particularly long article, but it references lots or archaeological research from the world's prime neolithic site.

    Catalhoyuk is a fascinating site to read about. All the houses were joined together, so you had to get to your house by walking over all the roofs and coming down a ladder into your living room. The roofs became a sort of mass communal workshop / social area.

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    Re: Money - does it buy happiness?

    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis View Post

    manc said in this post:
    As America has got richer the lower paid have got a bit better off in absolute terms, but a bit worse of in relative terms. The latter seems to cancel out the former in terms of happiness.
    No it doesn't. Where is the evidence of this? You said yourself that the change in happiness has not existed (or hast been negligible) for the past 40 years.

    America has got richer, overall. The poor have got a bit richer. The rich have got a lot richer. Wealth inequality has increased. People are no happier. These are the fact. The poor people have got a bit richer, but relatively poorer, and the combination has not resulted in their being more happy. So one explanation is that getting a bit more money would make them feel a bit happier, but it seems to be cancelled out either by increasing inequality and / or increasing things people feel they need eg a mobile or a computer. If you have a shitty old mobile phone you have more than you did in the 70s, but you feel worse because everyone else has a nice new one.


    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis View Post
    If everyone was more equal, this would bring all sorts of benefits. Its this relative feeling of inferiority which seems to make the lower paid feel bad. They end up struggling to pay the bills even more, because now you have to have a car and the internet, and a mobile phone, or you are some sort of social outcast.
    1) You ASSUME that happiness has decreased, yet you have refuted your own argument here with your own data.

    2) It is meaningless to apply this standard of happiness you advocate. You are advocating that envy is a proper tool by which to measure economic success (by way of it being a proper indicator). This isn't an economic issue, but rather a cultural issue. Regardless, you have not supported this contention.
    No I haven't. See above.

    Let me quote from Layard

    "
    People in the West have got no happier in the last 50 years. They have become much richer, they work much less, they have longer holidays, they travel more, they live longer, and they are healthier. But they are no happier. This shocking fact should be the starting point for much of our social science."


    I have provided data to show that happiness has stayed about the same overall. We know income inequality has increased, and we know that the poor have got a bit richer, but relatively poorer. The proportion of people who say they are pretty well satisfied with their financial situation has actually fallen.( GSS data. See Lane (2000) p.25)

    So, why are people no more happy? Its a pretty crucial question. Whats the point of all this progress if it doesn't improve peoples happiness.

    For Japan figures on happiness are also available on a continuous basis since 1950. They show no change in happiness despite a 6-fold rise in income per head.14 In Europe the series collected by Eurobarometer began in the early 1970s. Again there has been no increase in happiness. And if we look at individual European countries separately, there has been no rise in happiness except in Denmark and Italy.15
    from Layard

    Now the rich are obviously happier than the poor, I have shown this in Table 1. So you would expect the poor to become happier as they got richer, but they have not. Why do YOU think this hasn't happened?

    One obvious factor is increasing relative poverty. Or it could be their expectations have risen. However the latter is believed not to be the cause. If rising expectations were the cause, according to Layard, you would expect life satisfaction to be even more distorted, but it is not the case.

    People's perception of the minimum required to live has increased obviously, so although the poor are a bit better off in absolute terms, they are no better off relative to the poverty line. People are comparing themselves to a norm which is increasing all the time.

    According to Layard the norm rises because of habituation and rivalry. You can follow all this easier by downloading the 3 pdfs. Habituation means that when your living standard increases a bit its great at first but then you get used to it. Rivalry means you are comparing yourself to everyone else. Rivalry - an example is a study of Havard students, who said they would prefer to have less money but be nearer the top, than to have more but be nearer the bottom (in a wealthier country, time or world). Many other studies have shown similar results.

    Which world would you prefer? (prices are the same)

    In a recent study, graduate students of public health at Harvard were asked just that question.12 The majority preferred the first type of world. They were happy to be poorer, provided their relative position improved.

    A. You get $50k a year and others get half that B. You get $100k a year and others get more than double that
    So, according to Layard, there is a lot of evidence to show that relative income is what bothers people the most. Even within families.

    No I am not advocating that envy is a proper tool to measure economic success, i am explaining research which shows that the rich countries are no happier than they were 50 years ago, despite economic growth, because inequality is more important to people than absolute figures.





    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis View Post


    Anyway, in a socialism society most people would be a lot better off AND more equal, which is completely different to a bit better off and less equal.

    The point of socialism is to make a MUCH more productive economy, to remove all the waste you get in a capitalist system. Nobody would want for anything, the working week could be reduced to a few hours,

    So less hours = more productivity and output...more hours = less productivity? Where is the evidence for this. This is counter to reason.

    If a student spends 10 hours studying for a test...and another studies for 10 minutes...according to you, the one who spends practically no time, will do better. If an attorney spends 10 days working on an acquisition for a client, and another attorney spends 10 hours, you are saying that the latter will be more productive and successful. If a professor spends 1 year doing research, and the other 1 month...you are saying that the latter will result in more successful data. It's counter to all reason manc. You have not supported that the less time one spends the more productivity results.

    I am not saying that the less time you spend producing the more you produce, or the more productive you are.

    In a socialist society, waste would be eliminated, which would lead to a much greater productivity. It would be easy to increase production as well as reduce the working week. Production could increase despite a reduced week.

    How? Well I could spend all day explaining. Let me just throw a few examples. In a modern advanced capitalist country you generally have about a quarter of the industrial capacity lying idle, and somewhere close to that in real overall unemployment. I think its 17% unemployment in America if you take the accurate figures. Capacity utilisation is probably 75% or so. So immediately you are wasting around a quarter of productive potential. Next, what are people doing? 40% of corporate profits in America comes from finance industries. These people mostly do nothing particularly useful, many do more harm than good, for example people speculating on food prices. Millions work in useless industries like advertising. Making weapons. Selling junk food. Knocking on you door trying to get you to switch electricity providers. Meanwhile in the third world, people are often unproductive because they have no education or technology. It wouldn't take much to improve their lives. When you buy pharmaceuticals, half of the cost is needless - profit and marketing. Half is manufacturing and research. The waste is everywhere. The American health system involves incredible admin costs. The American health system costs twice as much as the British, and the extra is mostly admin, profit and so on. How many $ trillions have been spent bailing out the rich, and on futile wars?
    Much modern industry is high tech, but a lot is based solely on cheap labour. Banks wont lend capitalists money for new technology if its going to take more than 5 years to make a return. Thats where Japan had an edge. In socialism this wouldn't be an issue. Long term planning would replace short term market anarchy. have you noticed that in recessions the capitalists start dismantling chunks of the economy? This is because of the internal contradictions of capitalism. Finally, we would make quality products to last, not something which is just made to make a quick buck, regardless of the consequences. You have to factor in external costs. Does a car manufacturer pay for environmental destruction? No. Therefore it is false economics. All these factors have to be considered in their totality, not in isolation, you cannot get the full picture when a jigsaw is in pieces.

    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis View Post

    there would be no crime, no wars, no job insecurity, no worries about healthcare or pensions or getting a home. You could basically concentrate most of the time on doing whatever you were interested in.
    there would be no crime, no wars, no job insecurity, no worries about healthcare or pensions or getting a home. You could basically concentrate most of the time on doing whatever you were interested in.How so? Evidence?
    Socialism is internationalist. Capitalism , despite being global, is basically based on the nation state. Hence Bush bails out the American ruling class and so on. Capitalism is competition, and on a global scale this means military might to back up and reinforce a better bargaining position. American might means American hegemony and An advantageous position economically. For example America has overthrown democratic governments in order to protect profits of American companies.

    Crime is clearly linked to inequality, and the capitalist mantra of greed and material superiority.

    Obviously in a socialist society you would have free healthcare for all and pensions would be a priority, they are just basic socialist ABC. There would be no job insecurity because there would be no unemployment. In fact unemployment is something we would more or less eradicate immediately. Necessary in a capitalist society, unemployment is a crime against humanity, a colossal waste of millions of lives.

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    Re: Money - does it buy happiness?

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Ok, first, the USSR was by no means socialist.
    Well, yeah, I was just using the quote cause I thought it was interesting...

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    Second, if you read up on the civilisation which lasted 3000 years in southern Europe, the most well known town being Catalhoyuk, people lived completely egalitarian lived. Everyone was equal.There was no violence. An that society lasted longer then the Roman Empire, the feudal societies, and capitalism of the last 2500 years put together. Catalhoyuk was so egalitarian that if your kids left home your living space would be converted so you didn't have more personal space than a neighbour who had 3 kids!

    You can read about it here

    http://www.urkommunismus.de/catalhueyuek_en.html


    A millennium without governing

    "From 7000 to 4000 B.C. there existed an egalitarian society in Anatolia and the Balkan region with gender equality and where wars were unknown. Its high living standard for everyone was only achieved again millenniums later.

    In the settlement of Çatalhöyük, up to ten thousand people lived together for more than one thousand years. From the archaeological findings, not only the egalitarian structure of society can be deduced but also insights can be gained into the cultural achievements of a free society."

    This isn't a particularly long article, but it references lots or archaeological research from the world's prime neolithic site.

    Catalhoyuk is a fascinating site to read about. All the houses were joined together, so you had to get to your house by walking over all the roofs and coming down a ladder into your living room. The roofs became a sort of mass communal workshop / social area.
    Firstly, I did not know about this dig site, thanks for telling me!

    Secondly, in Catalhoyuk, the society was egalitarian because there was nothing that anyone else had that you can't make for yourself. That is no longer applicable today. Also, from what I read, there was no concept of ownership. Quote: "goods have no exchange value (or no money value) since they are merely objects of daily use which are produced and shared according to need but not exchanged". But today ownership is so ingrained in the psyches of people that the idea of "a car" but not "so-and-so's car" is probably inconceivable to many.

    Quote Originally Posted by manc View Post
    How? Well I could spend all day explaining. Let me just throw a few examples. In a modern advanced capitalist country you generally have about a quarter of the industrial capacity lying idle, and somewhere close to that in real overall unemployment. I think its 17% unemployment in America if you take the accurate figures. Capacity utilisation is probably 75% or so. So immediately you are wasting around a quarter of productive potential. Next, what are people doing? 40% of corporate profits in America comes from finance industries. These people mostly do nothing particularly useful, many do more harm than good, for example people speculating on food prices. Millions work in useless industries like advertising. Making weapons. Selling junk food. Knocking on you door trying to get you to switch electricity providers. Meanwhile in the third world, people are often unproductive because they have no education or technology. It wouldn't take much to improve their lives. When you buy pharmaceuticals, half of the cost is needless - profit and marketing. Half is manufacturing and research. The waste is everywhere. The American health system involves incredible admin costs. The American health system costs twice as much as the British, and the extra is mostly admin, profit and so on. How many $ trillions have been spent bailing out the rich, and on futile wars?
    Much modern industry is high tech, but a lot is based solely on cheap labour. Banks wont lend capitalists money for new technology if its going to take more than 5 years to make a return. Thats where Japan had an edge. In socialism this wouldn't be an issue. Long term planning would replace short term market anarchy. have you noticed that in recessions the capitalists start dismantling chunks of the economy? This is because of the internal contradictions of capitalism. Finally, we would make quality products to last, not something which is just made to make a quick buck, regardless of the consequences. You have to factor in external costs. Does a car manufacturer pay for environmental destruction? No. Therefore it is false economics. All these factors have to be considered in their totality, not in isolation, you cannot get the full picture when a jigsaw is in pieces.

    Socialism is internationalist. Capitalism , despite being global, is basically based on the nation state. Hence Bush bails out the American ruling class and so on. Capitalism is competition, and on a global scale this means military might to back up and reinforce a better bargaining position. American might means American hegemony and An advantageous position economically. For example America has overthrown democratic governments in order to protect profits of American companies.

    Crime is clearly linked to inequality, and the capitalist mantra of greed and material superiority.

    Obviously in a socialist society you would have free healthcare for all and pensions would be a priority, they are just basic socialist ABC. There would be no job insecurity because there would be no unemployment. In fact unemployment is something we would more or less eradicate immediately. Necessary in a capitalist society, unemployment is a crime against humanity, a colossal waste of millions of lives.
    Yes, there is a tremendous amount of waste in capitalism, and yes, there is room for improvement - a lot of it! But some problems remain:

    Firstly, planning an economy - that is, anticipating what will be needed in the future - is tremendously difficult to accomplish with even a marginal degree of success, and it brings problems of its own. A planned economy will also have waste in resources due to misallocation from human error, the government could gain too much power over the people due to control over the economy, and it could also make corrupt or unpopular decisions.

    Secondly, socialism as I understand it could be excellent at maintaining a society's production levels at the current rate with much less waste or resources and higher levels of happiness, but it does not provide much incentive for scientific and industrial advances. If a person's innovations will simply be assimilated into the economy with no rewards, there will be no motive to advance society. Unemployment is also a tool through which society advances: keeping a percentage of people unemployed (the optimal level is about 4 to 7%, depending on the economy) provides incentive for these people to update their skills and knowledge to displace another set of workers, who run the cycle over again.
    "More guns equal fewer deaths...by this logic, the Middle East would be better off if every nation in the region had nuclear weapons."
    — Timothy Egan, NY Times

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    Re: Money - does it buy happiness?

    Quote Originally Posted by Arraetrikos View Post

    Firstly, I did not know about this dig site, thanks for telling me!

    Secondly, in Catalhoyuk, the society was egalitarian because there was nothing that anyone else had that you can't make for yourself. That is no longer applicable today. Also, from what I read, there was no concept of ownership. Quote: "goods have no exchange value (or no money value) since they are merely objects of daily use which are produced and shared according to need but not exchanged". But today ownership is so ingrained in the psyches of people that the idea of "a car" but not "so-and-so's car" is probably inconceivable to many.


    Let me just take up this point for now. Its a fair point and I would say its maybe half correct. Certainly before man produced a surplus there could be no class society. But by the time of Catalhoyuk this had been long superseded. If you have a look at the link, you can read about a different site called Cayonu. There, a class society did emerge, but then the people overthrew it and established an egalitarian society, which spread throughout the area and Catalhoyuk was part of that. The rulers had vital resources such as obsidian which was traded from other areas. They had rich people with big houses and poor people with small ones. The wealthy ruled through open terror. In other parts of the world like central America this kind of civilisation continued. But here it was overthrown. After the revolution they smashed it all up and started afresh, with all the houses being the same.

    I do agree though that it's probably more ingrained nowadays. However, the class society before the revolution had in fact existed for 1000 years, far longer actually than we have had capitalism. In fact the regime they overthrew had probably been going for thousands of years. The big temple they ripped down was 1000 years old. They ripped it down so fast the owners did not have time to save their possessions. The temple got converted to a municipal dump!

    So, yeah things are different now, but you can see how people did change their system from a class one to a classless one back then.

    In many ways it would be easier now. Marx did not believe it was possible until most people were urban workers, which is now the case. People are literate, capable of organising. However I do agree that so far in the ideological battle, capitalism appears to be winning in many ways.

    I will come back to your other points later.

    ---------- Post added at 02:29 AM ---------- Previous post was at 02:03 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Arraetrikos View Post
    Yes, there is a tremendous amount of waste in capitalism, and yes, there is room for improvement - a lot of it! But some problems remain:

    Firstly, planning an economy - that is, anticipating what will be needed in the future - is tremendously difficult to accomplish with even a marginal degree of success, and it brings problems of its own. A planned economy will also have waste in resources due to misallocation from human error, the government could gain too much power over the people due to control over the economy, and it could also make corrupt or unpopular decisions.

    Secondly, socialism as I understand it could be excellent at maintaining a society's production levels at the current rate with much less waste or resources and higher levels of happiness, but it does not provide much incentive for scientific and industrial advances. If a person's innovations will simply be assimilated into the economy with no rewards, there will be no motive to advance society. Unemployment is also a tool through which society advances: keeping a percentage of people unemployed (the optimal level is about 4 to 7%, depending on the economy) provides incentive for these people to update their skills and knowledge to displace another set of workers, who run the cycle over again.
    Well I can only answer these briefly on this thread.

    Your first bit - yeah waste will undoubtedly occur through error, socialism would proceed through trial and error. Corruption hopefully could be avoided by insisting that all elected leaders and managers only received the average wage. The economy would have to be democratically controlled, that is the definition of socialism.

    Unemployment is definitely used as an incentive by capitalism and it is true that certain kinds of incentives would be lost, but others would be gained. Remember, this is no the USSR we are talking about. Your incentive would be respect, credibility, doing the done thing.

    Some people might not pull their weight and it would be up to their colleagues to try to nudge them into it.

    Any saboteurs, we could just shoot

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    Re: Money - does it buy happiness?

    I disagree with your view on capitalism. The most decadent off shoot of capitalism in my opinion, is to perpetuate scarcity. That said money in the world we live bring "resources" to those that wield it; so it follows that if the resources that are available to me which I associate with by state of being i.e a state of happiness brought about perhaps by what i own or what i can accomplish in my social economic setting are unavailable I may not be happy I would assume. Though if my resources available that do bring this state of happiness are beyond the sphere of influence of the monetary system my happiness becomes essentially "bullet proof".
    Technology is my lawful wife but literature is my mistress ~ adaptation to Anton Chekhov's view of the world

 

 
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