Filed under: Conservatism, Economy, Education, Election 2008, Environment, Health Care, Liberalism, Politics, Religion, Socialism, The Constitution, Uncategorized | Tags: Arthur C. Brooks, Conservatism, Declaration of Independence, Democrats, Free People, Freedom, Happiness, Liberal misery, liberalism, Libertarian paternalism, Liberty, Personal morality, Politics, Recession, Socialism
Who would argue against freedom? We’re Americans, and freedom is our birthright, isn’t it? Surprisingly, a lot of people argue against freedom. Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein have a new book out in which they suggest the term “libertarian paternalism” as an alternative to “socialism”. They don’t quite say that, but it clearly is what they have in mind. The book is Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness which Roger Kimball describes thoughtfully at Pajamas Media.
Professors Thaler and Sunstein want to increase the likelihood that people will make the correct decisions that are in their own self interest by giving them little “nudges” here and there. The “correct decisions” are, of course, those that the professors choose. Oddly enough, Liberals seldom grasp the idea that they are infringing upon your freedom. They are only doing it for your own good!
Freedom is, to be sure, frightening. There is no telling what values someone will choose to hold. Decent and well-meaning guardians of values were horrified by the monstrous principles of the Declaration of Independence. It is, of course, out of fear that the guardians preach the inculcation of values, fear of knowledge and thought.
The current crop of Democrats have been telling us, over and over, for months, how completely miserable we are. We have no hope, we are losing jobs, losing income, we cannot get ahead for they keep moving the bar, and we are in the worst depression since the Great Depression. This comes just at the time that economists are declaring the housing crisis over, employment rebounding, growth returning, and the “recession” probably at an end. What a sour bunch.
In the current issue of City Journal, Arthur C. Brooks has an essay “Free People Are Happy People“, which is based on his new book Gross National Happiness, ” In fact,” he says, “evidence shows that freedom and happiness are strongly linked. But what kind of freedom makes Americans happiest? And what can government best do to promote freedom and help us pursue happiness, as is our inalienable right?”
Freedom and happiness are highly correlated, then; even more significant, several studies have shown that freedom causes happiness….
The data and evidence don’t prove that all kinds of freedom bring equal happiness, or that more freedom is always better than less. For example, what about economic freedom? Pundits and politicians on the left often tell us that a free economy makes for an unhappy population; the disruptions of capitalism make us insecure, and we would prefer the security of generous welfare programs and national health care. But for most people, it turns out, that isn’t true.
Liberals are not happy with this book. (Why am I not surprised) Both book and essay suggest that the Conservative emphasis on liberty makes for happier people. Rejecting the welfare state and rejecting big government pay off. Religious freedom and faith produce happier people. Property rights, freedom to operate a business, trade with other nations (are you paying attention Speaker Pelosi?) ease of investment — all are elements that add to national happiness.
But down inside, you knew that, didn’t you? Freedom is our inalienable right, and free people look to the future with optimism. It’s the people who insist that we are miserable, that the current government is the worst ever, that the country is headed in the wrong direction — and once we feel bad enough, promise that they will make us feel better. They will do all sorts of wonderful things for us, as soon as they raise our taxes, diminish our freedom and take away our liberty — well, then they’ll help us, give us hope and change things. It’s just that the change they have in mind isn’t quite what freedom-loving people had in their minds.
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