Column Date 2011-03-24


There’s a radical idea sweeping around the world, and we’d better pay attention.


It started in the tiny Himalayan nation of Bhutan, the first country to measure what they call “Gross Domestic Happiness.”


And just last week, China jumped on the bandwagon with a new five-year plan called “Happy China.” “Increasing happiness,” said Chinese officials, “is now more important than increasing GDP.”


Wow! Is this revolutionary stuff or what?


But nothing seems to be happening here in the good old U.S. of A. Even though it was our own Thomas Jefferson who started it all, writing about our “unalienable right to the pursuit of happiness.”


So here’s my plan: let’s try out the idea in a state in big financial trouble, with high unemployment, whose education system sucks, and whose legislature thinks their governor doesn’t have a clue how to run the state (and vice-versa).


For some reason, the great state of Florida comes to mind.


Now here's the good part: once we set up a “Florida Happiness Index,” we really don’t have to waste our time listening to politicians pontificate and blow smoke any more.


Forget about budgets that have no relationship to reality, pie-in-the-sky job numbers, and meaningless promises that come back every election year, like migrating ducks.


All a voter needs to know is this:


If the Florida Happiness Index goes up during a governor’s term, he stays in office – and gets another chance to make the people even happier in his second term.


If the Happiness Index goes down,’s all over for the Guv. And the same goes for whichever political party is in power in the capitol.


We’re talking realpolitik here:


Make the people happy, you stay in office. Make the people unhappy, you’re out on your keester.


Come to think of it, maybe this is what Jefferson had in mind in the first place.



(c) 2011 Peter Tannen



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