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Just Be Happy

Written by
6 December 2012

The Melbourne City Council just wants you to be happy. Really. Happy.

That’s why in October they trumpeted a media release on their website with the heading emblazoned across the page, ‘More than $630,000 awarded to boost Melbourne’s health and happiness’.

It seems these funds are to be spent on, ‘opportunities for our community to join in and enjoy city life, contributing to Melbourne’s health and happiness’.

According to the Council, this means stuff like ‘window farming’ and providing a space for ‘young thinkers’. Now that’s my idea of eternal bliss—people younger than me funded by my council rates telling me why I’m wrong.

I had a look around and it seems that happiness isn’t confined to the Melbourne City Council. In April, more than 500 high level government officials and representatives from religious organisations, academia and civil society gathered at the UN. The reason? To ‘discuss new ways to measure wellbeing and happiness’.

I think this was why Kevin Rudd was so keen to get us on the Security Council.

This dynamic, focused and reality-based talkfest was convened by the government of the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan – the country that devised Gross National Happiness as an official measure of the nation’s ‘natural, human, social, and cultural wealth’ in the 70s.

Happiness is like…a thing.

Now far be it for me to pluck two disparate events and draw an utterly unsubstantiated link between them, but is anyone seriously suggesting that some council hack with delusions of supra-natural grandeur didn’t happen upon this monstrosity and decide Melbourne needed its own dose of government-funded happiness?

Which means, that if my completely baseless (but-let’s-face-itprobably-spot-on) hunch is correct, the Melbourne City Council is basing its policies on Bhutan—a country in which homosexuality is illegal and television and the internet were banned up until 1999.

I wonder what the Bhutanese government would have to say about window farming?

Now, I would hate for you to think I was anti-happiness. If anything, I’m a huge wrap for it. Nor am I against hundreds of people from different countries getting together to discuss it, or ‘young thinkers’ or even agriculture in unexpected places.

I just think people should feel free to pursue these activities with their own money.

If there is a lesson to draw from this debacle it is this: governments waste money, the UN is populated by the representatives of some very questionable regimes and neither they, nor the Melbourne City Council, can make you happy.

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