Thursday, February 23, 2006

Someone hit George Will with the Idiot Stick

To be fair, Will thinks that the conclusions of this Pew Research Center study showing conservatives are happier than liberals is suspect, but it doesn't really stop him from running with his crackpot theory.

Will's contention is that conservatives are happier because they are pessismists at heart. Yep. I know that's a paradox (maybe even a contradiction?). Will knows it too. But, he's game:

Conservatives think the Book of Job got it right ("Man is born unto trouble as the sparks fly upward"), as did Adam Smith ("There is a great deal of ruin in a nation"). Conservatives understand that society in its complexity resembles a giant Calder mobile -- touch it here and things jiggle there, and there, and way over there. Hence conservatives acknowledge the Law of Unintended Consequences, which is: The unintended consequences of bold government undertakings are apt to be larger than, and contrary to, the intended ones.

Let me get this straight. Conservatives believe the world is a cruel place, full of unjustifiable evil imposed on them by governments. Is that what he is saying? Or, is he saying that the world is awash in evil. And, if government tries to save you from some of that evil it will make things worse? Either way that is indeed a dark picture of humanity. In fact, if I held such a view of the world I would want to just kill myself right now. Shit, this is darker than Camus.

Conservatives' pessimism is conducive to their happiness in three ways. First, they are rarely surprised -- they are right more often than not about the course of events. Second, when they are wrong, they are happy to be so. Third, because pessimistic conservatives put not their faith in princes -- government -- they accept that happiness is a function of fending for oneself. They believe that happiness is an activity -- it is inseparable from the pursuit of happiness.

Will's recipe for happiness:

(1) Expecting the worst=happiness. That is a new twist on stoicism for you. The Stoics didn't think that accepting suffering would make you happier, just free from pain.

(2) Conservatives are even happier when the worst doesn't happen. They expect total disaster: billion dollar never-ending-war in Iraq, insane dictator from Iran looking for nuclear weapons, drunken V.P. shooting his buddy, United Arab Emirates operating our major ports, China keeping us financially afloat, ad nauseum. When that sort of shit happens, they are happy since they saw it coming. But, they are even happier when they don't wake up to Armageddon.

(3) Government doesn't guarantee your happiness. You have to go out there and earn it. Pursue happiness, that is lay waste to the environment, embezzle some corporate dough, get no-bid government contracts, help yourself to some K street money, buy lots of guns, don't forget getting yourself that big Hummer. Everyone knows that any government concerned with reducing health care costs, caring for the elderly and the young, protecting the environment, ensuring fair wages, or sexist and racist free environments is the stuff of misery.

Cross-Posted at Majikthise