One not-so-fine day, Greece decided to indulge in some sophistry; intended strictly for the light-headed who enjoy recreational heavy-thinking.
Over to Greece.
Some have posited a relationship between happiness, wealth and economic cycles. A sort of bell-curve relationship, with Stage (1) where the poor are generally unhappy, Stage (2) increasing wealth tends to bring some smiles, but beyond a point, Stage (3) wealth seems to lead to decreasing happiness and sense of well-being. As someone who has wrestled with stages (1) and (2), I could vouch for their truth value. (I have been hoping to knock on the doors of (3) but the raging economic quagmire threatens to move back to stage (1)).
Why the rich should welcome paying higher taxes…
The above has implications for politics. The Left, buoyed by the above hypothesis, believe that pursuing economic growth in already ‘rich’ economies is a self-defeating exercise. This forms the basis of their constant calls for wealth distribution/equalisation. I quite agree. The rich shouldn’t loath having to shell out higher taxes. Robbing Peter Rich to pay Paul Poor will have the happy effect of preventing the rich from foraying into the unhappy stage (3). Simultaneously, it will push the poor from stage (1) to (2). With most people sandwiched in Stage (2), aggregate happiness could possibly be increased (restored).
Live frugally, die happily. Might sound appealing (to some).
Then there is the suggestion of the opposite. The Economist carried a survey, which seems to indicate that happiness bears an inverse relationship with wealth. It seems nobody really knows, with each side conjuring up novel ways of speculating over an inherently fuzzy area. Exercising their skills in selective perception, the rich may consider ignoring this survey.
Why it might pay to stay uninitiated…
From appropriately biased and limited empirical observation I posit a weak positive relationship between wealth and humour. It is likely that intellect exerts greater influence on humour, with humour quotient varying inversely with IQ levels.
Humour and wealth go back a long way. Our current mess notwithstanding, I was once a major draw in humour, apart from my love for sophistry and philosophy. As wealth gradually increased, those endowed with means and little humour discovered a need for those endowed with humour and little means.
Demand, as usual, created supply and a market for jesters mushroomed. It so came to be that rich, possibly fatigued from their pursuit of wallet enrichment, assumed a serious countenance frequently bordering on melancholy. Jesters and humourists were warmly welcomed. With humour as stock-in-trade, the cycle gained enough traction and the price of humour escalated rapidly.
The jesters were a happy lot. Increasing employers’ wealth had managed to infuse some smiles into their once sullen, penurious lives. As with all booms, the sudden rise in demand for humour attracted the unhappy, who realised it paid to make people laugh. The humourists probably noticed that humour, indeed, enjoyed a direct relationship with wealth, even as the rich oscillated their heads horizontally.
As with all cycles, supply soon exceeded demand and resulted in a drop in humour levels as I struggled to prevent eager adoption of the art by the eminently humourless. Earlier, a boor had little trouble laughing when tickled. Now, it seemed a basic level of intellect was called for to be able to smile at wit and satire. As the rich generally had access to better quality education, it followed that the wealthy were expected to exhibit a sense of familiarity with an evolved sense of humour. This meant that would-be jesters were expected to keep up with the evolving trend. Tough ask, given their economic situation.
Humour faded in value, jesters lost jobs, couldn’t humour as a result and the rich were left with little to smile at. Aggregate happiness entered a recessionary phase.
Several centuries have passed since and the globe is at its richest presently. The efforts expended on advancement seem to have borne fruit in the form of the stiff-upper-lip syndrome.
I laughed a lot in the BC period, fought wars, bathed in public baths and avoided catastrophic economic crises.
Then I got smarter, richer, fought less, bathed in private; am nearly bust and see little humour in my situation.