There was an interesting editorial in the Wall Street Journal (20 December 2012) comparing people who win the [Powerball] lottery to those on social entitlements.
The author, Arthur Brooks stipulates that money unearned--"untethered from hard work and merit"--does not make people happy.
Brooks states that "Above basic subsistence, happiness comes not from money per se, but from the value creation it is rewarding."
And this seems to jive with the concept that the greatest producer of happiness aside from social relationships is doing meaningful and productive work (and generally good deeds), not having lots of money and things!
In terms of winning the lottery (big) and not finding happiness, there was another article to this effect in Bloomberg BusinessWeek (13 December 2012), about someone who won the $314 million Powerball jackpot and had at one time been the largest lottery winner in history--but in the end, he found nothing but misery (lost his granddaughter, wife, money, and ended up a substance abuser) and wished he had never seen that "winning" ticket. Instead, he appreciated his previous life when he was known for his "good works," and not just his money!
According to Brooks, "While earned success facilitates the pursuit of happiness, unearned transfers generally impede it." And CNN reports that now more than 100 million Americans are on welfare, and that "does not include those who only receive Social Security or Medicare."
The result as Brooks states is the fear is that we are becoming an 'entitlement state," and that it is bankrupting the country and "impoverishing" the lives of millions by creating a state of dependency, rather than self-sufficiency.
So are social entitlements really the same thing?
No. because without doubt, there are times when people need a safety net and it is imperative that we be there to help people who are in need--this is not the same as someone winning the lottery, but rather this is genuinely doing the right thing to help people!
At the same time, everyone, who can, must do their part to contribute to society--this means hard work and a fair day's pay.
However, With the National Debt about to go thermonuclear, and the fiscal cliff (in whatever form it finally takes) coming ever closer to pocketbook reality, the country is on verge on confronting itself--warts and all.
We all woke up this morning, and the world was still here--despite the Mayans foretelling of the end of the world today. Perhaps, the end was never meant as a hard and fast moment, but rather the beginning of an end, where we must confront our spendthrift ways and historical social inequities.
While we cannot erase decades of mismanagement, what we can do is continue the march to genuinely embrace diversity, invest in education and research, help those who cannot help themselves, work hard and contribute, and build a country that our grandparents dreamed of--one that is paved in opportunity for everyone!
Let us pray that we are successful--for our survival, prosperity, and genuine happiness. ;-)
(Source Photo: here with attribution to Brother Magneto)