I recently read that Prime Minister Tony Blair announced plans to create a "well-being index" for Great Britain. Slated to go into effect around the end of next year, its purpose is to try to quantify and index the degree of happiness the Parliamentary Labor Party has been able to bring to the citizens of Great Britain.
In addition to Blair's efforts, Nobel economics laureate Daniel Kanneman is developing a formula to rank governments according to the happiness they deliver to their citizens. He is working with three U.S. universities to build a methodology that allows countries to rank themselves, as Britain is doing, on a scale of gross national happiness.
Now I don't hold a doctorate in psychology or economics, but I do know that happiness means different things to different people. That's why I find this whole idea of measuring happiness absurd. Let's face reality — we can't even come to an agreement on how to measure job satisfaction in this country.
For example, surveys conducted by the Conference Board, a New York-based business group, suggest that between 1995 and 2004 job satisfaction fell approximately 9.0%. And only half the workers surveyed in 2004 said they were happy with their jobs. Reasons given by the other 50% as to why they were dissatisfied include pay, bonus plans, promotion policies, health plans, and pension benefits.
Instead of developing a happiness index, elected officials ought to put their personal agendas aside and work for the common good of those who put them into office. That's how you make people happy. In this country, think about how people would respond if politicians took a hard look at U.S. manufacturing as it relates to economic growth. Imagine how happy we would be if they focused on reforms in the areas of corporate tax rates, tort litigation, and regulatory compliance, just to name a few issues.
One big issue that would make a lot of us happy would be having the government fix Social Security. It could start by paying back all the money it has borrowed from the Social Security fund. Furthermore, the government could work to create new jobs to fund the plan in the years ahead. This would allow more people an opportunity to earn a decent living, while at the same time provide baby-boomers with piece of mind in their retirement years.