Alberto Mingardi  

Happiness for All

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Here's an interesting development, from Venezuela. Last week President Nicolas Maduro, who is following on the footsteps of Hugo Chavez, presented a new government department, the Deputy Ministry of Supreme Social Happiness.

Actually, this new government unit appears to be less grandiosely arrogant than its name may suggest:

The Deputy Ministry of Supreme Social Happiness is tasked with assisting children and handling the concerns of elderly men and women. The "missions," initiated in 2003 under Chavez, are individualized programs which offer free health care to the poorest citizens, access to education assistance, and help to the elderly and disabled.
Access to health care and education can certainly be a component of individual happiness, and the lack of them goes together with the lack of the preconditions of happiness. However, what I am most intrigued by is not really the substantive "happiness", but the adjective "social" and "supreme". The latter one seems to me to indicate that social happiness cannot really be, for President Maduro, the mere sum of individual happinesses. Talking of "supreme" social happiness clearly indicates that there are "lower" kinds of social happiness, that ought to be superseded by a higher form of social happiness, according to some carefully implemented government plans. Of course, from the point of view of the government this means that if it does not really succeed in making you, individually, happier, that doesn't quite matter. Its success should not be measured on individual happiness, but on "supreme social happiness" as defined by government itself.

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CATEGORIES: Social Security



COMMENTS (5 to date)
Tracy W writes:

The contrast between the grand aims of "supreme social happiness" and it only being a deputy ministry as opposed to a full one makes me smile too. Surely supreme social happiness requires a full ministry?

Although probably some killjoy will be along to explain that this is merely a bad translation.

Andrew_FL writes:

This might be more surprising if Chavez wasn't an avowed Marxist.

But to quote another Marxist, what is to be done? I mean hearing all these depressing stories about Venezuela should motivate some sort of reaction, right? I mean we can't exactly flip it like Chile in the right direction, but is there anything we, believers in liberty, can do?

Pajser writes:

The pursuit of happiness shouldn't be life goal but some amount of it is basic human need; as suicides show, not well satisfied one. Hence, the state should be involved. Chavez was not ideal Marxist, but he was better than average politician. However, I'd be surprised if Venezuela approaches to that need seriously. I expect such news from Sweden first.

Himanshu Sanguri writes:

A government is a body that is elected by a majority in a society. I think, it is not rational to expect the body elected by social consent to held accountable for individual freedom :-)

How happy is it possible to be in a country without adequate supplies of toilet paper?

Venezuela is stuck in its rut, unless it finds a way to rid itself of its Fidelistas, the way Chile did forty years ago.

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