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From GNP to Gross International Happiness

By       Message Roger Copple     Permalink
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In a world with limited resources, environmental devastation, and increasing population, how much longer can nations strive for unlimited and unsustainable economic growth? While the people of wealthy countries are over consuming the available resources, it has not made them happier. In general throughout the world, people are living longer, and as technology gets better, our societies become worse. In the world's development, capitalism was seemingly a refreshing innovation over feudalism and the divine right of kings, but now, in its final stages, it has led to a world controlled by plutocrats (the wealthiest one percent) or oligarchs (rule by the few).

Production for profit, or capitalism, needs poverty. For a few individuals to live with extreme wealth, there must also be many who live with extreme poverty. You can't have one without the other. But since the few who own most of the wealth also influence the government and the mainstream media, they also control the information that goes into the minds of the masses. Consequently, the masses have been deluded into believing that they too can become very wealthy if they work hard enough or win the lottery.

Some culture critics have lamented that there will never be a revolution in the United States to overthrow the current system because our culture has become like the Roman Empire, which collapsed in part as a result of moral decay and decadence. But the increasing popularity of the concept of "gross national happiness" can be a way to get people to examine their values and priorities in a new way.

Any healthy country that achieves a high level of gross national happiness can be a model for other countries to emulate. Here are seven problems that prevent Gross National Happiness, the overall happiness of a nation. Solving these national problems and then taking the recommended steps to achieve world peace can result in Gross International Happiness.

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  1. When a nation strives to become an empire, it creates problems for the whole world. In the United States it is deceptively promoted by telling people that we are the "good guys" with a "humanitarian" mission.

  2. A vast disparity between the rich and poor within a nation, and the vast economic disparity among the rich and poor nations of the world.

  3. Capitalism, even a regulated capitalism, because for companies to survive and be successful, they must eliminate their competitors--without a concern for the common good or the environment. Likewise, totalitarian or authoritarian socialism also prevents the gross national happiness of a country because it ignores the democratic voice of the people.

  4. A corrupted political system in which those who own the most wealth have the greatest influence on lawmakers and the mainstream media.

  5. Watching too much television: It is not educational; it wastes time; and it negatively affects the mental development of people: Also found at Erlyn Baack's website (referring to the above link) is a five-minute video clip of the 1976 movie Network in which fictional character Howard Beale, in a famous movie rant, tells his television audience to "Turn off your televisions!" There may be pleasure in excessive TV watching, but not true happiness. Developing an insatiable desire to learn in order to make the world a better place is far more rewarding.

  6. Materialism and its focus on individualism and the private pursuit of inordinate wealth in the attempt to find happiness. It would be more socially responsible to view the world as if it were a living organism in which all organs must thrive together harmoniously. In the human body, for example, the various cells and organs must cooperate; it would be the demise of the body and its various organs if the organs competed for blood in order to get the most nutrients and oxygen.

  7. The existence and use of nuclear weapons, nuclear power plants, fossil fuels, and genetically modified foods (GMOs) which threaten the survival of the human race. If governments would stop competing for peak oil, they could work together to create financial incentives for alternative fuels such as solar and wind. Financial incentives could also be provided for organic and composted, local food production. Although biofuels are not considered to be a solution to climate change, it is unfortunate that environmentally friendly hemp as a biomass fuel has not been more seriously considered.

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    On a related note, it is ironic but not surprising that what is arguably the most versatile plant on earth is still largely illegal--it is the plant called Cannabis sativa. Marijuana/hemp/cannabis was made illegal in the United States in 1937 through a conspiratorial disinformation campaign because it threatened the profits of certain corporations. Congress at that time was led to believe that jazz musicians and Mexican immigrants under the influence of pot became insane and violent, so the plant obviously had to be outlawed. Thus, deception and hypocrisy by corporate controlled-government is another factor that hinders the happiness of people in a nation.

Capitalism is the dominant economic system in the world. Wouldn't it be amazing to see more movies that challenge capitalism and its concomitant social problems? Mindless movies made in the United States are often watched around the world. They frequently have a larger-than-life superhero who really knows how to fight and kill people. Can you imagine seeing a film in which the collective action of several groups creates a sustainable, democratic communist society, instead of the usual horrifying dystopia?

If such a movie was really thought-provoking, the U.S. government would criticize it in the interests of "national security," and the corporate-owned, mainstream media would fear that such a film undermines the perception management it uses for public mind control. Of course, not all movies and TV programs are bad. With the exercise of discretion and moderation, they can provide some of the amusement and entertainment that people need.

How to Achieve Happiness?

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I retired in 2010 from teaching general elementary and high school special education in Indianapolis. I am interested in studying political theory, world history, and foreign policy. Integrating the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita, Buddhism, (more...)

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