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September 10, 2004

Richard Layard on Happiness.

Apologies for light blogging today. Two reasons, the first being that I don't have anything useful to add to the debate over the CBS documentary and the (probably) forged documents. Start at INDC Journal and work your way from there.
The second is that I'm rather reeling from some stuff of Richard Layard's I've just read and must digest. As some will know he's a Professor at the London School of Economics, a Government advisor and also a Lord. So a fairly important man and certainly a well regarded one amongst the Third Way type of politicians.
What has me reeling is his latest research on happiness. I'll be writing more about it later but his central thesis seems to be that marginal tax rates should be 60%. This is based on the ideas that, one, you are too dim to understand work/life balance so we should tax you 30% if you work too much and two, that if you go ahead anyway and make more others will get jealous, so we should tax you another 30%. About the only positive thing I can say about this at present is that it is nice to have it proven that the Thrid Way really is based upon stupidity and envy.

September 10, 2004 in Economics | Permalink


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Tracked on Sep 23, 2005 9:48:53 AM


As happiness has not increased in 50 years (and crime, depression, suicide... are way up) we are, on average, very stupid about using increased income/leisure to increase happiness. So maybe Layard is right and we need an economic hammer to knock the stupidity out of us? You don't seem to like this idea, and I think it only a partial solution. Perhaps we can agree that education-education-education is the priority. So how do we educate people to be less stupid about pursuing happiness and less envious?

Tim adds: I’m not sure there is a solution and as you note, am certain that higher tax rates are not it at all. As for the education bit as Layard was one of those who educated me perhaps this is not the solution either.

Posted by: Malcolm Macgregor | Feb 9, 2005 11:14:09 AM

I just read Richard Layard's book, Happiness. This book is direct evidence of the adage that "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing."

He writes an entire chapter about how people should use psychotropic medications. He goes as far as to suggest that perhaps anyone should use these drugs to change their personalities. He ignores the severe side effects of such medications, which range from tardive dementia and dyskenisia to aggitation, suicidality, and homicidality. Further, he states that these drugs are non-addictive. However, a fundamental property of psychtropic medications is that they induce tolerance, and are, thus, addictive.

The only question that remains is what drug Richard Layard was on when he wrote this book.

Posted by: Michael Hoerger | Nov 12, 2005 9:39:06 AM