Re: Damned European Socialists ;-)

Bernard Hughes (
Wed, 11 Nov 1998 18:59:42 -0330

Max M wrote:

> >Add up all the other rich people and your sentence becomes
> >
> >"take all the wealth form the rich and make everyone happy for about 1
> >day."
> only if you are stupid enough to take it all.

Oddly enough, this may be the optimum way to make rich people happy. As I have heard it, studies on happiness show people are happy when features that they value are increasing. Someone with a constant one million dollar income is likely to report themselves less happy than someone whose income rises from 10,000 to 20,000. This suggests that getting the rich to start over every decade may maximize their happiness.

I was at a conference this weekend, "Dennett's Philosophy of Mind". (Dennet is the author of "Consciousness Explained" and "Darwins Dangerous Idea".) Dennett reported on one study of happiness in which the highest scoring group were quadriplegics. The "explanation" was that they were starting from a very low base, and had long term prospects (with improving technology and all) of steady improvement.

If this research is accurate, a rational libertarian should voluntarily give away most of their wealth every so often to maximize happiness. The short term hit after giving it away is more than compensated for by the long term opportunity to rebuild from a low base. It is rather counter intuitive though. How convincing would the research need to be for people on this list to adopt such a strategy? What would be the economic effects (Robin?)?

Bernard J Hughes
Timedancer Systems
 -- Creative Laziness at its best --