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05 Nov 2011 | The Times
The letter below was published in The Times on Saturday 5th
November 2011. The original letter can be read here (note: this requires subscription to
People are right to be indignant about the malfunctionings of
our economic system. But this only helps if linked to some clear
principle to guide our priorities. Action for Happiness believes
the aim should be a society in which there is the most happiness
and above all the least misery. Given this, the evidence points to
two key conclusions for our economy.
First, the top priority should be economic stability and full
employment which are crucial to happiness rather than long-term
economic growth, which has a much more limited effect. In our
present situation full employment does of course require short-term
economic growth but this is better called "economic recovery" in
order to distinguish it from higher long-term growth, which is of
limited value. Our economy was landed in its present mess because
it was claimed that deregulation of banks would produce higher
long-term growth. That was not only a factual error but an argument
based on the wrong priorities. We must not repeat the mistake.
Moreover, at the individual level, extra income beyond a certain
level brings no more happiness. Our society could be much happier
without the present extremes of income, high or low. Our patterns
of pay and skill formation should reflect this basic truth.
Professor Lord Richard Layard
Dr Anthony Seldon
Dr Mark Williamson
Action for Happiness
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