Thank Nanny Bloomberg for Your Happiness

 

This morning, Mollie asked why conservatives are happier than liberals, and Professor Rahe obliged with his response.  The crux of his argument: children make us happier. 

Psychology professor Elizabeth Dunn and business professor Michael Norton have a companion piece on a similar theme in the pages of the New York Times, which argues that those who underindulge—eat a little less, spend a little less, share a little more—are happiest. Children aren’t mentioned in the piece by Dunn and Norton, but it strikes me that, for the most part, their thesis serves to bolster that of Prof. Rahe. (Of course, while parents of young children don’t necessarily eat less than non-parents, they certainly have less time and money to indulge in dinners out at expensive restaurants.)

The trouble with Dunn and Norton’s argument is that late into the piece they equate coerced underindulgence with self-imposed underindulgence.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s recent proposal to ban giant-size soda in New York City offers another intriguing route to underindulgence. Happiness research shows that, as the food writer Michael Pollan put it, “The banquet is in the first bite.” That first sip of soda really is delicious, catching our tongues by surprise with its bubbly sweetness. But our tongues and our minds quickly get used to repeated pleasures, and so the 39th sip is not as delightful as the first. Because limiting the size of sodas curtails these less pleasurable sips, Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal may improve our pleasure-to-calorie (and pleasure-to-coin) ratio, an overlooked benefit in the heated debate about the consequences of such initiatives for our freedom and our health.

See that?  The takeaway for all you New Yorkers should be one of undying gratitude to Nanny Bloomberg for depriving you of all those things in which you might be tempted to overindulge.  Never mind how depressing it is to have a government official decree what and how much you can and can’t consume.

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  1. Profile Photo Member
    @

    “How can a rational being be ennobled by anything that is not obtained by its own exertions?” –Mary Wollstonecraft

    The quote is true whether applied to positive transactions — welfare — or negative transactions — government bans.  The root is that a being is ennobled by self discipline.  Whether that self-discipline is targeted toward hard work to win a paycheck, or self-denial to improve one’s health, it is the discipline that brings the reward.

    • #1
  2. Profile Photo Contributor
    @DianeEllis
    Tom Lindholtz: “How can a rational being be ennobled by anything that is not obtained by its own exertions?” –Mary Wollstonecraft

    The quote is true whether applied to positive transactions — welfare — or negative transactions — government bans.  The root is that a being is ennobled by self discipline.  Whether that self-discipline is targeted toward hard work to win a paycheck, or self-denial to improve one’s health, it is the disciplinethat brings the reward. · 4 minutes ago

    Great quotation.  As Prof. Rahe wrote in his post this morning, “It is not within our power to make men good; and, if we tried to do so, we would, like helicopter parents, do them untold harm.”

    • #2
  3. Profile Photo Inactive
    @EThompson
    Tom Lindholtz: “How can a rational being be ennobled by anything that is not obtained by its own exertions?” 

    The root is that a being is ennobled by self discipline.  Whether that self-discipline is targeted toward hard work to win a paycheck, or self-denial to improve one’s health, it is thedisciplinethat brings the reward. 

    Could not agree more and sadly, this appears to be a lesson lost.

    • #3
  4. Profile Photo Inactive
    @NickStuart

    Look for vendors to begin offering “16 oz sodas, $3.95 each, 3 for $4.00”

    My hypothesis is that the giant soda is the vendor’s way of covering his/her fixed costs (the cart/store, taxes, payoffs to the unions and politicians, taxes, equipment, taxes, fees, permits, taxes, &tc.). The actual cost of the fizzy sugar water in the plastic cup is negligible. So to get you to buy a soda for $4, the vendor up-sizes it so you think you’re getting a reasonable value and induce you to buy it.

    How did Bloomberg manage to make a zillion dollars without understanding basic economics?

    • #4
  5. Profile Photo Inactive
    @Palaeologus
    Nick Stuart: Look for vendors to begin offering “16 oz sodas, $3.95 each, 3 for $4.00”

    My hypothesis is that the giant soda is the vendor’s way of covering his/her fixed costs (the cart/store, taxes, payoffs to the unions and politicians, taxes, equipment, taxes, fees, permits, taxes, &tc.). The actual cost of the fizzy sugar water in the plastic cup is negligible. So to get you to buy a soda for $4, the vendor up-sizes it so you think you’re getting a reasonable value and induce you to buy it.

    How did Bloomberg manage to make a zillion dollars without understanding basic economics? · 9 minutes ago

    Oh, I’d bet he understands that it won’t matter. He doesn’t care.

    This is the policy equivalent of extending the middle finger while passing a driver who is going to slow to suit.

    • #5
  6. Profile Photo Coolidge
    @Spin

    Here’s my question:  why are we doing studies to find out who is more happy than who?  Is it because we (the collective we) want to figure out the best recipe for happiness and force that on everyone?  Does that even make sense?  Is it possible to even to make broad generalizations such as “conservatives are happier than liberals”?  I don’t think it is.  Happiness means something different to each of us.  It strikes me as impossible to quantify, and wrong-headed to try.  

    • #6
  7. Profile Photo Inactive
    @JamesGawron

    Diane,

    This is a very interesting phenomenon.  First, the psychologists do a soulectomy on Humanity and remove the Family as a condition of happiness.  Next, the bureaucrats enforce a robotic dictum based on the souless abstraction.  Finally, we are all supposed to say thanks.

    NO THANKS!

    Regards,

    Jim

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  8. Profile Photo Member
    @

    Part of Conservative happiness is not worrying if other people are eating BAD things and saying the WRONG things, and thinking that we must DO something about it. We just like to live our lives and not interfere with others

    • #8
  9. Profile Photo Inactive
    @Clandesteyn

    I recommend to the governor that, when revealing his benevolent dicta to his subjects, he should remember the wisdom laid forth by his ideological fore-bearers.

    As was demonstrated in Orwell’s work, the medicine goes down much more easily with a little bit of sugar (a very little bit of sugar, in an amount to be allotted by the sugar dispensary commission).  When, in the movie 1984, chocolate rations were to be reduced from 30 grams to 25 grams per week, it was proclaimed instead as an increase to 25 grams. 

    Had Bloomberg simply announced it like so: “New Yorkers will now be allowed to purchase sugary beverages in sizes up to 16 ounces… you’re welcome!”  he could have avoided any negative backlash from the proles and outer-party members.  You see?  Daddy government gave you something!  We’ll keep the streets snowy so you can have a week off from work!  We’re protecting your lungs from smokey freedom!  You’re allowed to forcibly pay more taxes!  2 + 2 = 5!

    Abusing the government’s power of coercion is thirsty work.  I wonder how much sugar inner-party members are allowed to drink?

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  10. Profile Photo Inactive
    @LibertyDude

    Bloomberg’s governing philosophy:

    “The only antidote to mental suffering is physical pain.

    -Karl Marx”

    Is it not the duty of the governor to inflict as much suffering on his people as possible?  Why stop at sodas?

    • #10
  11. Profile Photo Contributor
    @PaulARahe
    Ken Owsley: Here’s my question:  why are we doing studies to find out who is more happy than who?  Is it because we (the collective we) want to figure out the best recipe for happiness and force that on everyone?  Does that even make sense?  Is it possible to even to make broad generalizations such as “conservatives are happier than liberals”?  I don’t think it is.  Happiness means something different to each of us.  It strikes me as impossible to quantify, and wrong-headed to try.   · 2 hours ago

    It may well be impossible to quantify (though these studies try to do so by measuring self-described happiness), but it is certainly not impossible to judge with regard to those with whom one is acquainted. Inward joy is nearly always visible in one’s countenance, and the same can be said for distress.

    • #11
  12. Profile Photo Coolidge
    @Spin

    Paul, you of course are correct.  I can tell if my wife is joyful.  I can tell when she is not.  But that is largely based on interpersonal interactions coupled with an understanding of the other person.  

    But still, the question remains, why study this on a societal level?  It is my job to ensure my own happiness, whatever happiness may mean to me.  Water seeks it’s own level, and each person will seek their own happiness.  There doesn’t seem to be much point, other than spending someone else’s money, in doing studies to find out what makes people happy.  

    • #12
  13. Profile Photo Inactive
    @UmbraFractus

    I’m not a huge fan of Rush Limbaugh, but I will always be grateful to him for the epithet “Nurse Bloomberg.”

    • #13
  14. Profile Photo Member
    @
    Ken Owsley: … still, the question remains, why study this on a societal level?  It is my job to ensure my own happiness, whatever happiness may mean to me.  Water seeks it’s own level, and each person will seek their own happiness.  There doesn’t seem to be much point, other than spending someone else’s money, in doing studies to find out what makes people happy.

    And therein lies the answer.  If I get to spend other people’s money, I’ll be happy.  If I get to study something that interests me, I’ll be happy.  The actual usefulness of my endeavor will be incidental to the primary objective: my happiness.  And like the people who watched their naked emperor parade around, we have no one, at least amongst leaders, who have the sense of personal integrity and responsibility, who will stand up to foolishness and call it what it is.

    • #14

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