By Arnold Kling
A classic mystery in the happiness studies is that lottery winners are not much happier than the rest of the population. It’s not just the money that makes high-earners happier than low-earners—more important is their way of life—being active, being creative, and experiencing control of your life. So it’s one up for Aristotle, who explained that happiness is not a destination, but a way of travelling.
Norberg argues that doing useful work makes us happy. Therefore, welfare payments from the state make us less happy than money that we earn ourselves. He concludes,
A government that says it wants to make us happy misses the obvious fact that a government can’t give us happiness, it can only give us the right to pursue happiness—because happiness is what we get when we are in control and assume responsibility ourselves.
Thanks to Brian Micklethwait for the pointer.