Monday, March 27, 2006

How the left justify theft

Johann Hari, in a tribute to John Stuart Mill, has somehow gone off the rails and lost the message. Instead of praising the principles of free trade, he expresses support for the ideas of Richard Layard:

If we were to act on the broad contours of Mill’s philosophy today, the world would look very different. Let’s look first at economics. Currently, our society (and the planet) is structured and geared almost exclusively to maximise the Gross National Product. The bottom line runs like a thread through everything. But recently the brilliant utilitarian economist Richard Layard – with one eye on Mill – asked a challenging question: what if we tried to maximise the Gross National Happiness instead?
Well.. nothing so groundbreaking there, is it ? Maybe people should try to maximise their happiness instead of their wealth?

Of course, I can agree with this general sentiment entirely. But can you identify what the sinister underlying assumption is ? It is that we are all geared "to maximise the Gross National Product" - i.e people in a free economy are currently are too stupid to pursue their own happiness.

According to this theory, if left to our own devices, we would work like slaves around the clock, never eat out, never see movies, never give charity, never take holidays... its all about what we produce, right ?

So, this leads leftists to their favorite conclusion - only the state can make people happy by regulating their lives. Let the state create laws limiting the number of working hours per week. Let them introduce public holidays. Let them create all kinds of programs funded with public money to celebrate sporting events, arts and multiculturalism. Why ? Because we are all too stupid to spend the money on what makes us happy.