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Fleeing Blue State Tyranny

Posted by V the K at 8:39 am - May 2, 2014.
Filed under: Pursuit of Happiness

According to a Gallup Poll, 50% of the residents of Democrat One-Party Government Illinois want to GTFO. 47% of the residents of Democrat One-Party Government Tax-the-Hell-Out-of-You-and-Take-Your-Guns Maryland want to GTFO. Similar numbers want to flee New Jersey, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. Only 24% would similarly like to leave Texas.

Granted, there are some red (Mississippi) and purple (Nevada) states that have similar numbers of malcontents; but Illinois, Connecticut, and Maryland have them all beat. Some people just don’t like living where the Government takes their stuff and denies them any voice in the political process. Seriously, in Maryland, unless you are far, far left liberal living in Montgomery, Prince Georges, or Baltimore; you essentially live in a state of heavy taxation and no representation. Illinoisians who live outside Chicago are treated similarly.

Living in the present in challenging times

Several of my Facebook friends like to post inspirational and thought-provoking quotes on a regular basis.  Two or three of them have recently posted a quote which has been attributed to Lao Tzu which reads:

If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.

As someone who has lately been bouncing back and forth between these states of mind, I can appreciate the essential wisdom of the quote.  Most of my feelings of depression lately have been spurred on by my regrets about things I wish I had done differently in my life, and so in that regard, they are an instance of dwelling in the past.  Most of my anxiety stems from my concerns about where our country is headed under its current leadership (or lack thereof), and my feelings of uncertainty or even paralysis as to what is or should be the best path for me to take from this point forward.  The more I think about it, the more overwhelming the many different options start to become.

Partly because of the circumstances which have fueled both my recent feelings of depression and of anxiety, I also have to wonder whether or not the “living in the present” endorsed by the quote is really so desirable after all.  When things are going well, yes, that sounds ideal, but isn’t there the risk of a sort of complacency which can result in self-indulgence, lack of ambition and disengagement?
I thought of these points and more yesterday when Glenn Reynolds linked to a post by Sarah Hoyt entitled “If You Don’t Work, You Die.”  In the post, Hoyt reflects on the importance of what she refers to as envy and striving for growth and life, which, to my mind suggests a certain resistance to complacency.  She reflects on an experiment in Denver in the 1970s with a guaranteed minimum income and the finding that a certain segment of the population was content to live on it and to stop striving to better their lives, and she speculates that it is partly an inherited trait which had value in the conservation of social energy.  The part of the post that fascinated me the most was when she described herself in the following terms:
Some of us are broken.  We were given both envy and high principles.  We can’t even contemplate bringing others down to level things, but instead we work madly to increase our status.  (No, it’s not how I think about it, but it’s probably what’s going on in the back of the monkey brain.)  Most of humanity however is functional.  Give them enough to eat, and a place to live, and no matter how unvaried the diet and how small/terrible the place, most people will stay put.
It seems to me that she has hit on something crucial there because although I’m often tempted to focus on being content with things the way are, every so often something happens to jar me from that state of mind, either by making me feel depressed or anxious or by throwing me off balance completely with some new dream or hope.
I’d like to write more about the disruptive power and potential value of such dreams, but for the time being, I’d like to pose a question for our readers.   When we live in difficult and challenging times, how can one try to remain “in the present” without falling into complacency or without becoming disengaged from the sorts of issues and problems that threaten to make existence even more trying and difficult?

Governments should leave us free to pursue happiness,
not make its achievement a public policy goal

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 8:28 am - April 16, 2012.
Filed under: Freedom,Happiness,Pursuit of Happiness

Apparently in conjunction with Robert J. Samuelson’s thoughtful Sunday column, The global happiness derby, the Washington Post is running a poll today asking readers if they believe happiness should be the goal of government:

Even a significant major it of that paper’s readers (who would, I dare say, skew left along with its editorial direction) don’t believe governments should make our happiness their goal.

Now, to be sure, our Declaration of Independence defines the pursuit of happiness as a right; Mr. Jefferson thus did not define the right as happiness, but its pursuit, an important distinction.  It seems almost that it then becomes an aspect of another right, liberty — that governments should leave us free to pursue happiness.

Although, as Samuelson notes, some social scientists believe governments can promote happiness, the means of achieving that state of mind cannot be reduced to a crude formula.

Better he argues to “leave ‘happiness’ to novelists and philosophers — and rescue it from the economists and psychologists who think it can be distilled into a ‘science’ and translated into pro-happiness policies”:

Creating an impossible goal — universal happiness — also condemns government to failure. Happiness depends on too much that is uncontrollable. For starters, personality. We all know people who seem blessed — stable marriage, healthy children, successful job — who are restless, grumpy and sometimes depressed. Meanwhile, others plagued by misfortune — sickness, shaky finances, family disappointment — persevere and remain upbeat.

Contradictions abound. Freedom, the ability to choose, is also essential to well-being, says the happiness report. But freedom permits people to do self-destructive things that reduce happiness.

And freedom also allows people to mend their ways and improve their state of mind. (more…)

Americans Don’t Equate Wealth with Happiness

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 10:12 am - January 3, 2011.
Filed under: Economy,Freedom,Pursuit of Happiness

When, right after college, I lived in Europe, I noted was that the continentals were far more class conscious than their American peers. Unlike most of us New World natives, they pretty much saw the social structure as set in stone.  Perhaps, it is this lack of fluidity that caused so much resentment among the lower classes for their wealthier fellow citizens.  

Here, in America, many in the MSM seem to make much of income inequality, trumpeting statistics which show a rising gap between the rich and the poor.  Yet, most Americans just don’t get upset about that gap.  In his latest column, Michael Barone asks us to consider this “conundrum in American politics“:

Income inequality has been increasing, according to standard statistics. Yet most Americans do not seem very perturbed by it. . . .

It’s a widespread assumption in some affluent circles that ordinary Americans are seething with envy because they can’t afford to shop regularly at Neiman Marcus or Saks Fifth Avenue. My sense is that most Americans just don’t care. They’re reasonably happy with what they’ve got, and would like a little more.

It’s Barone, read the whole thing.  He make an important observation about American culture.  The best efforts of many liberals notwithstanding, most Americans don’t seethe with resentment for those more financially well-off than they.

Perhaps, it’s that we know, most of us at least, that greater financial success doesn’t necessarily mean greater personal fulfillment.  We believe those things can be found in our families, our communities and our passions.