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Is happiness a governmental issue? We’ve read a book about how different cultures approach happiness, whether as an incidental result of a life well-led or as a deliberate goal of happiness experiments, and watched a film about a man who decided to pursue his own vision of happiness regardless of governmental regulation. In the end, it’s clear that our environment and culture impacts our concepts of happiness. But to what extent should it be a governmental issue?
Begin by watching this video on Bhutan and the concept of Gross National Happiness (GNH). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Zqdqa4YNvI Then listen to this short discussion about the drawbacks and relative merits of governments getting involved in the happiness business. Finally, read the article "The Politics of Happiness" to see some of the areas that go beyond individual control and need "government in the game" to make some strides toward greater happiness for all. As you read and listen, think about what areas they focus on in terms of governmental participation and in what ways does it seem effective? What are some real or possible drawbacks to such policies? Furthermore, consider the range of ways that countries try to create a happy environment for their citizens. Some places, such as Bhutan and England, are actively trying to make their citizens' lives happier through Gross National Happiness campaigns. Others, like the US or Qatar, let Gross Domestic Product be the measure of happiness. Yet every country actively encourages its citizens towards certain "good" behaviors and away from other "bad" behaviors through laws and taxation. For example, here in the US, we encourage things like home buying, saving for the future, or charitable giving through tax breaks and discourage people from smoking or drinking by levying "sin taxes." For Discussion Board 8, please write your thoughts on whether or not happiness should be a governmental issue. Consider how environment and culture impacts our choices, both actively and subconsciously, and what responsibility, if any, society and/or government has in steering us towards making choices that would increase our happiness both individually and as a society. Should the US consider GNH in their policy making and if so, give an example of an area where it might significant difference in people's happiness levels.