Monday, January 31, 2005


There is another dummo academic (Richard Layard) reported here who points to the fact that getting richer does not necessarily make you happier. Any observer of Hollywood knew that long ago and I guess people have in fact known it for about 4,000 years. In 1 Timothy 6:10 St. Paul probably went a bit too far in saying that "The love of money is the root of all evil" but you get the idea. And the whole story of Job in the OT runs along similar lines. But these days, "If money does not make you happier, then take it away!" is the reasoning. So that old bit of wisdom has found a new use as the latest pathetic excuse to hike taxes.

But happiness is clearly a disposition. It is fairly fixed and soon (sometimes within minutes) reverts to its accustomed level after any ups and downs. Some people are happy in circumstances that other would hate. I know. I have observed perfectly cheerful people among the street-sleepers of Bombay. Some people are almost always happy. Some people are almost always whining. Some people just have happy natures and some do not. So looking at whether something makes people happy is largely futile. In statisticians' terms, you are looking for variance in something that is invariant. Or, putting it another way, correlations with something that is invariant will NECESSARILY be zero. So if you are interested in running a public policy that respects other people, you need to look at what they CHOOSE, not what makes them happy. And most people choose more money rather than less.

It is true that certain categories of people report being happier than others -- e.g. married people -- but that probably just shows that happier people are easier to live with.



The issue of whether the Europeans are going to have much success with their new giant Airbus is a bit outside the mainstream of what I usually post on but what the heck! My brief mention of the matter yesterday got me a few emails which showed a variety of views on the matter. Most seemed to agree with me that it is Boeing rather than the Europeans that have got it right and one reader pointed me to this story showing that existing Airbuses are being phased out and replaced by Boeings. Another reader, however, had a quite different view, which I reproduce below:

The huge Airbus is I believe currently just short of the 100 orders it is said to need to break even. It is designed (believe it or not) for one main thing -- Hajj -- taking droves of Moslems to Mecca. The Moslems are converting and breeding at a great rate. Over the next 4 decades (expected life of the new Giant Airbus) the Hajj will fill the planes and pay back the investment. A secondary, but not trivial, market is airfreight and FedEX is due to get the first airfreight model off the line. The third market will be the military. The A 380 will be a "giant" success. Boeing's decline is a tribute to the destructive effects of a liberal State (Washington) and the attendant taxes, regulation, and blind obstinacy of labor unions.


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