Why on earth is David Cameron intent on measuring my happiness? Can he even do it? As my family will assure you there are many times when I am quite happy being miserable.
He is rightly concerned about more than economics. I’m sure that as a multi-millionaire he sincerely believes that money can’t buy you happiness. Let me assure him from the other end that it doesn’t necessarily make you unhappy either. In fact studies indicate that until an income level of around £60,000 pa is reached money does make one happier.
This latest idea is nothing new from the boy David: “We should be thinking not just what is good for putting money in people’s pockets but what is good for putting joy in people’s hearts” (2006). “Improving our society’s well-being is, I believe, the central political challenge of our time” (2007). “It’s time we focused not just on GDP but on GWB” (2007).
Thankfully Cameron, as a fits-where-it-touches Anglican, does not have the Messianic delusions of the Catholic convert Blair or Methodist evangelical Bush. He does however, seem to see himself as a Bringer of Happiness.
If Cameron is serious about happiness he will have to indulge in the dangerous practice of social engineering. We already have too much evidence of social engineering fiascos.
Here in Glasgow housing asylum seekers and immigrants in sink estates to get them out of the way and “improve racial integration” can hardly be considered a success. The education systems north as well as south of the border have been re-engineered in the name of fairness to such an extent that as exam results have continually improved educational attainment has continually plummeted.
Real change means more than fuzzy feel-good ideas, or readjusting targets to cover social and political failure. It means policies which actually foster happiness will have to be promoted.
Policies such as promoting marriage, not cohabitation or civil partnership, but the stable marriage of husband and wife. Policies which dismantle employment practices which force both parents out to work with the children dumped on a child minder. Policies such as tackling the cultural corrosion of violence and pornography. Policies which deal effectively with the low level crime which distorts life in so much of Britain. Policies which mean hard political decisions.
And you and I know it isn’t going to happen. The policies required to promote happiness are too radical for any ‘progressive’ government. Anyway it is beyond the power of any government to do more than adjust, real change requires something more.
Happiness has a source far more fundamental than Whitehall. It is found in one place alone, and He gives it freely. That is why He came, “I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full” John 10:10.
David Cameron’s heart may be in the right place on this, I’m not so sure about his head. I sincerely doubt his ability to put joy in my heart, or yours.