Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Arthur C Brooks

I recently bought two books by Arthur C. Brooks. “Gross National Happiness” and “Who Really Cares”. Both books are novel in their approach to the conservative agenda. These books are optimistic !! Imagine a book about conservatives being optimistic. If you read any of my blogs you will know that I favor a type of conservatism that gives a positive, dare I say uplifting message.

By “uplifting” I don’t mean a pie in the sky liberal kind of “Miss America” answer to our problems. I’m talking about specific solutions that will work based upon “human nature”. A type of solution that we can take a hand in, vs. the government telling us, doing it for us. The whole idea of our “American” democracy that our citizens gain their strength through the actual individual hands on problem solving. The idea that this qualitative type of idea is where we as citizens draw our strength, is I think what Arthur C. Brooks is all about.

He puts the spin back where it belongs on human nature, on it’s positive side. Conservatives seem to more easily accept human nature as what it is and go about their lives; allowing them to focus on the good aspects of human nature, trying to rebalance life back towards the positive. In the basic form we try to punish the bad and reward the good. What is so “conservative” to me about Mr. Brooks is that he accepts that there is a good and bad, and that we know it. He goes on to claim that fact alone helps conservatives to be happier. Mr. Brooks claims further that by concentrating on furthering the good aspects of human nature, such as family, charity, and a sense of a job well done; government can actually help it’s citizens in the pursuit of those goals. Only in this way can government help increase the “Gross National Happiness”.

By facilitating this process instead of hindering it, government can be a vehicle to help Americans empower themselves in finding that sense of fulfillment we find in the pursuit of happiness. The contentment we feel when we are actively with our own hands, minds and hearts creating our own dreams.

This type of process has always been harder to be precise about because it is based on qualitative vs. quantitative “facts”. Arthur C. Brooks in his thought and writings tries to quantify the qualitative. It all boils down to the idea of whether people feel happy in the sense of being more fulfilled or content with themselves. He makes a case that people are happier with the end result, when they have had an actual hand in the choosing of the result and the methods of obtaining it.

Brooks proves the fallacy that just by the government giving people things will make them happy. The beauty of Mr. Brooks innovative thought is that he does not in a “knee jerk” way respond by wanting to do away with government. I feel he espouses that the government can actually do something to help people’s pursuit of freedom.

Again if you’ve read my blogs or seen my side bar about “Updates from across the Pond”, you’ll know that I find the New British Conservative Movement is closely following along these lines of the government being a facilitator vs. a dictator of action.

For all of these reasons and more I was happy to see Arthur C. Brooks becoming the head of The American Enterprise Institute. I hope his leadership will bring an awakening within the leadership of the Republican leadership along the lines of his thoughts as I’ve outlined above. I think it is a positive thing.

Regards, Live Dangerously Be A Conservative


Jack McHugh said...

Check this out - you'll love it:

Who Says Money Can’t Buy Happiness?
By Dwight R. Lee
The Independent Review
Volume 10 Number 3
Winter 2006

Some new arguments for higher taxes and government spending rest on the claim, supposedly established by empirical studies and by Adam Smith, that money doesn’t buy happiness. In reality, however, more wealth does increase human happiness, if only temporarily.


live dangerously said...

Thanks for the link Jack.

The whole idea of relative happiness and the temporariness of it was well and exhaustively explained. Gee I thought I wrote long posts. I guess I should of finished college. lol. Going back in the day the Beatles sang, Can't Buy Me Love. No no no no. The Fab Four were never wrong. ha I think they were singing about diamond rings getting one into the sack or at least feeling all right, but said it won't buy me love. There is that qualitative difference. His last two paragraphs summed it up pretty good, with common sense.
Plus don't forget the old idea that one can be happy finding things to be happy about. The journey thing again. And to your comment I might presume to add that money as is happiness are just figments of our brains. The search for either is pleasurable as we relatively increase our amounts of either above what we had previously.
Regards LD