In Pursuit: Of Happiness and Good Government
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: Liberty Fund
Title Page, Copyright
The roots of this book go down twenty years. It was the spring of 1968 in Thailand, an insurgency was in progress in the northeastern part of the country, and the Thai and American governments were pouring resources into rural development—the Thai version of winning the hearts and minds of the people. ...
Part One : “The Happiness of the People”
1. Measuring Success in Social Policy
It is not a topic that is easy even to name, for “happiness” is an honorable word fallen on hard times. We have gotten used to happiness as a label for a momentary way of feeling, the state of mind that is the opposite of sad. Happiness is the promised reward of a dozen pop-psychology books on the airport book rack. ...
2. Coming to Terms with Happiness
My objective is to provide a new backdrop against which to measure the wisdom or utility of specific government policies. I propose to use the concept of the pursuit of happiness for that purpose, considering the constituent conditions that enable us to pursue happiness and then asking how these conditions may be met. ...
Part Two: When There Is Bread
3. Enabling Conditions and Thresholds
To pursue happiness is to pursue the good we seek as an end in itself, that thing which, realized, expresses itself as justified satisfaction with life as a whole. The object of government is to provide a framework within which people—all people, of all temperaments and talents— can pursue happiness. ...
4. Material Resources
“Poverty” has in recent years been to policy analysts what damnation is to a Baptist preacher. For more than two decades, progress or retrogression in social policy has been measured against this benchmark. Few goals have been more highly valued than to “bring people above the poverty line.” ...
A main reason why communities form in the first place is that we may be safe from the tigers beyond the compound. This elemental notion of safety—safety from predators who might otherwise do us physical harm—is behind Maslow’s placement of safety as number two in the needs hierarchy. ...
6. Dignity, Self-Esteem, and Self-Respect
We turn now to a concept that has shaped much of contemporary thinking about social policy but that remains oddly obscure and unexplicated. In editorials and speeches, the concept commonly goes under the label of dignity. Thus it is said that some policies “give dignity” to people, ...
7. Enjoyment, Self-Actualization, and Intrinsic Rewards
When John Stuart Mill was a precocious youth of fifteen, he set out to reform the world by propagating Bentham’s “greatest happiness principle.” He found happiness in devoting himself to making the world happy. Then, at twenty, he asked himself what would happen to his personal happiness if he succeeded in his aims ...
Part Three: Toward the Best of All Possible Worlds
8. Policy and an Idea of Man
Nothing that has gone before lines up neatly with practical politics. The discussion of material resources can be used to defend a miserly floor on income assistance to the poor (“If wealth doesn’t buy happiness, why give people more than subsistence?”), which would be conservative. ...
9. Asking a New Question, Getting New Answers: Evaluating Results
The three large assertions of this book so far have been that we ought to use the pursuit of happiness as the criterion of success in making social policy, that the design of policy solutions must reflect one’s understanding of human nature, and that these things constitute not just a theoretical exercise ...
10. Asking a New Question, Getting New Answers:Designing Solutions
The last chapter was about the evaluation of policy when the pursuit of happiness is the criterion. This chapter is about the design of solutions. The theme is that the conventional paradigm for designing social programs doesn’t work very well, and that using the pursuit of happiness as a backdrop for seeking solutions is more productive. ...
11. Searching for Solutions That Work: Changing the Metaphor
Since large-scale social programs began, the metaphor for the process by which the government attempts to solve social problems has been engineering. The words that are used for the policy-formation process—design, evaluation, inputs, outcomes, cost-benefit—and the very notion ...
12. Little Platoons
Strongly bound communities, fulfilling complex public functions, are not creations of the state. They form because they must. Human beings have needs as individuals (never mind the “moral sense” or lack of it) that cannot be met except by cooperation with other human beings. ...
13. “To Close the Circle of Our Felicities”
Sometimes openly, sometimes in the subtext, this has been a book about attainable utopia, the best of all possible worlds. But it has been therefore an imperfect utopia. In my best of all possible worlds, some people still are poor, some children still grow up badly educated, criminals still commit crimes, ...
I wrote In Pursuit while continuing to enjoy the gift of time to read, think, and write that the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research has afforded me for almost six years now. My special thanks go to William Hammett, president of the Manhattan Institute, who not only believes that ideas should drive the debate about policy but acts on that belief. ...
Page Count: 324
Publication Year: 2013
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