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The Pursuit of Happy

What price [to put] on happiness? French president Nicolas Sarkozy is seeking an answer to the eternal question -- so that happiness can be included in measurements of French economic growth.

He's turned to two Nobel economists to help him, hoping that if happiness is added to the count, the persistently-sluggish French economy may seem more rosy.

Just imagine the public opinon polling that that approach will beget:

French Opinion Pollster: Good day, sir, I'd like to get your opinion on the French economy. Do you mind answering a few questions?

Impoverished French Drone:

Opinion Pollster: Sir?

French Drone: I beg your pardon.

Pollster: Would you mind answering a few questions about your personal financial condition and overall state of happinesss?

Drone: Of course not, why shouldn't I be happy?

Pollster: Well, of course, sir, you shouldn't, I mean, you should be happy, but that's what we'd like to find out. Are you happy?

Drone: Yes, of course, why shouldn't I be happy?

Pollster: So, then, you are employed?

Drone: Oh, no. I haven't really worked in years.

Pollster: Then your income...

Drone: I receive unemployment payments. I also share a small flat with several other men and women.

Pollster: Your expenses...

Drone: A good friend works at a busy cafe and brings to me plates of unused food.

Pollster: But you are happy, are you not?

Drone: But of course. I have a wonderful girlfriend. A boyfriend. My youth. Only this year I turned 54. For what reasons would I not be happy?

Pollster: Thank you for your time, sir, I hope I've not inconvenienced you. Good day.


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Comments (12)

Wow. That's a rather offens... (Below threshold)
A-gu:

Wow. That's a rather offensive (and inaccurate) stereotype of the French.

Right on cue, A-gu brings a... (Below threshold)

Right on cue, A-gu brings a little French whine . . .

"Wow. That's a rather o... (Below threshold)
marc:

"Wow. That's a rather offensive (and inaccurate) stereotype of the French."

Think so? Looks like a depiction of a single Frenchman, "Mr. Drone," not a group.

Here maybe this will help. Stereotype: "Sociology. a simplified and standardized conception or image invested with special meaning and held in common by members of a group: The cowboy and Indian are American stereotypes."

Virtually anyone you ask, u... (Below threshold)

Virtually anyone you ask, under virtually any circumstances, will tell you that he's happy. To do otherwise is regarded as whiny, self-deprecating, and generally unacceptable. The reasons are several, but they're beyond the scope of this comment.

Happiness is not a proper measure of anything in which a government has a legitimate interest. Governments exist to protect the lives and rights of their citizens / subjects, defend the borders, and maintain peace and order in the streets; that is all. But no government in the world concerns itself much with these functions today. As the old children's game goes, "What's wrong with this picture?"

You asshats. A lot of acade... (Below threshold)
matthew:

You asshats. A lot of academics who are much smarter than me or any of you have spent a great deal of time attempting to bring quantification to subjective reporting. You clearly have no idea what you're talking about.

The study would not pose direct questions, such as "Are you happy?", but would present demographic stereotypes with claimed reported levels of happiness, and ask respondents if they feel that the depicted stereotypical French person's state of affairs accurately reflects his/her self-reported opinion.

I do this for a living, and the algorithms that my company uses are developed and tested by PhD psychologists, sociologists, and economists. The formulae are proprietary, as they are what distinguishes a useful research firm from a less useful one. So your incredulity is wholly a product of ignorance.

You asshats. A lo... (Below threshold)
maggie:
You asshats. A lot of academics who are much smarter than me or any of you have spent a great deal of time attempting to bring quantification to subjective reporting. You clearly have no idea what you're talking about.

The study would not pose direct questions, such as "Are you happy?", but would present demographic stereotypes with claimed reported levels of happiness, and ask respondents if they feel that the depicted stereotypical French person's state of affairs accurately reflects his/her self-reported opinion.

I do this for a living, and the algorithms that my company uses are developed and tested by PhD psychologists, sociologists, and economists. The formulae are proprietary, as they are what distinguishes a useful research firm from a less useful one. So your incredulity is wholly a product of ignorance.


First thing you post is name calling. You've
already lost the argument. Regardless of what
purported experts you allude to, you've not
proven a point, except for maybe the one on
the top of your head.
maggie, I was raised to tak... (Below threshold)
matthew:

maggie, I was raised to take offense to blanket slurs. I guess your parents raised you to take offense to mild cuss words, though, and not insulting, unfair generalization--that's cool. The post is nothing but a sad, stereotypical attempt at denigrating an entire nation--one that just elected a pro-U.S. conservative. If I said "Republicans are all morons," I would expect a lot worse than 'asshat'. Do you read anything Jay Tea posts, for instance? Does it offend you? If not, why? He insults people, sometimes directly, and there's nothing wrong with it. What's wrong with pointing out the fact that someone has his/her head up his/her ass, proverbially speaking?

Furthermore, insulting people doesn't mean I'm wrong, or that I've "lost the argument". I wouldn't even consider this an argument, as it's a fairly esoteric topic of which Javitz has demonstrated no real understanding. If a teacher says "2+2=4, you retard," does 2+2 not thereby equal 4? If the only arguments you're interested in having are the ones that take place at Church potlucks, you might want to stop reading political blogs, because people throw mud. It's cathartic, and provides emphasis.

Matthew, Quite the b... (Below threshold)
Maggie:

Matthew,
Quite the broad brush you used in posting
asshats.
And, you are quite the artiste in how nicely you reply with oily insults.
As to your inclusion of Jay Tea, poor
argument on your part.

Matthew, one man's emphasis... (Below threshold)
SPQR:

Matthew, one man's emphasis is another man's juvenile behavior. Or in your case, both. You've not demonstrated yourself adult enough to comment on anyone else's alleged ignorance.

Nor frankly, when stripped of your excessive insulting tone do we find any real argument other than a vague appeal to authority logical fallacy.

Unimpressive.

SPQR, would you like me to ... (Below threshold)
matthew:

SPQR, would you like me to point you in the direction of a few journals? I'm not being paid to explain things to people, but I feel it within my right to point out when someone has no idea what they're talking about.

If he was making fun of physicists (e.g.) for having said/done something he perceived to be stupid, and I was a physicist, I would do the same thing. Quantificational social research isn't as simple as "Are you happy? From 1 to 10, please..."

maggie, you're a baby.

Sorry, that was really infa... (Below threshold)
matthew:

Sorry, that was really infantile. I haven't had any coffee yet. maggie, you can stick up for asshats and I'll stick up for people from France. Fight the good fight, sistah.

MatthewAmen on the... (Below threshold)
Maggie:

Matthew

Amen on the coffee! :)




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