What’s the reading on your Happiness Index, Prime Minister?

In July 2012, the Office for National Statistics (“ONS”) will publish the results of a survey of 200,000 UK citizens about their priorities and what makes them happy.

This Liberal Conservative concept goes back to 2005 when it was first promoted by David Cameron. The idea is not new. In 1881, the British economist Francis Edgeworth, proposed a ‘hedonimeter’ which was intended to produce real time measurements of happiness. It was never built. In the 1940s Irving Fisher tried to measure utility by observing people’s spending habits.

We now know that Dave (aka PM) is up for any potty idea going such as the suggestion that doctors will successfully (and within agreed limits) allocate the £110m health budget (the doctors only get 80% of it, poor things) effectively.

He, and his Behavioural Insight Team, based, at the taxpayers’ expense, in Downing Street, think the Happiness Index is a whiz-bang idea.

What do others think?

  • the 2.57m people now unemployed (a 17 year high), and heading for 3.00m, which will be 9% of those eligible to work, certainly have their doubts
  • the 80% of employers who have yet to take on apprentices, despite the PM’s personal plea, aren’t pleased with being criticised because of the high costs involved
  • estate agents and builders are depressed as their market slips back. Savills, the property firm, have scaled back their earlier year forecasts and are suggesting flat growth in the next twelve months.

Dave is utterly perplexed by the cynicism over his Happiness Index. “I’ve said to the people they must be happy. I’m right about everything. What is wrong with them?”

I have good news for the PM. My stockbroker is happy. The stock market is volatile. Between mid-July to mid-October there were nine occasions when the FTSE rose by more than 2% in a day. There were also twelve falls of more than 2%. What are his clients doing? Some panic and sell (yielding bucket loads of commissions). Other quietly try to identify buying opportunities…and the earnings pour in to my broker’s office.

On hearing this news the PM has instructed his servants at No.10 to ensure that he gets all the credit for stock market gyrations.

Note to PM: pensioners aren’t happy as their annuity incomes fall.

Please leave a comment - we all like them