It’s easier to be happy when you are rich and ignore reality
October 24, 2008 Leave a comment
That’s our lesson today kids, brought to you by the letter “R”…
The pollsters were in the field asking about happiness this month, a period when economic news was gloomy for everybody and presidential campaign news seemed especially baleful for Republicans. Yet they found 37 percent of Republicans are “very happy,” compared with 25 percent of Democrats; 51 percent of Republicans and 52 percent of Democrats are “pretty happy”; and 9 percent of Republicans are “not too happy,” compared with 20 percent of Democrats.
The partisan happiness gap — unbroken for nearly four decades — is impervious to electoral ups and downs. It has something to do with worldview.
Right, because a world view in which you refuse to let facts get in the way of belief is like the Land of Make Believe (plus, the party leader is an obvious puppet…) where everything goes your way and reality never gets in the way of a good story.
But seriously, says Lehane, if Republicans are more happy, it’s because they care less.
“The typical Republican is happy coming home to a 62-inch television, pulling out a fine bottle of cognac or Scotch, putting his feet on the table and enjoying the fruits of his labor, but not caring what’s going on in the world outside their living room . . . and their gated community.”
Government-funded researchers identified the happiness gap in 1972. Since then, the Democrats have been comparatively more bummed out not just during the tenures of GOP presidents Ford, Reagan, Bush and Bush. They were noticeably less joyful than Republicans even during the GOP fiasco of Watergate, and during the Democratic Carter and Clinton administrations.
Not to mention the money. It’s a lot easier to be happy when you are loaded.
What’s the Republicans’ secret to feeling groovy?
“They have more money,” Paul Taylor, director of the Pew Social & Demographic Trends project, writes in the new report. “They have more friends. They are more religious. They are healthier. They are more likely to be married. They like their communities better. They like their jobs more. They are more satisfied with their family life. They like the weather better.”
Considering that money is the thing most married couples fight about the most, it is easy to imagine that a home life without said worries would, in fact, be happier. Plus the better food (higher quality costs more) as well as better health insurance, safer neighborhoods and such don’t hurt…
Not to mention eight years worth of tax cuts. That’s always nice too.
And according to the PEW survey, money plays a HUGE role:
Let’s start with some key demographic indicators. As is well known, Republicans, on average, have more money than Democrats. And — all those lectures from parents, teachers and pastors to the contrary notwithstanding — it turns out that money and happiness tend to go hand in hand, not just in this country but all over the world.15
In the latest Pew survey, some 35% of those with family incomes above $100,000 a year report being very happy, compared with just 27% of those with annual incomes of less than $50,000. (A June Pew survey had found an even wider happiness gap by income — 46% of the $100,000-plus income group reported being very happy in that survey, compared with 30% of the under $50,000 group — perhaps suggesting that the recent stock market miseries have disproportionately intruded on the happiness of those in higher income brackets).
Pew surveys also find that Republicans have more money than Democrats — on average, about $18,000 more a year in annual family income, according to a February survey. And when it comes to household wealth, the Republican advantage over Democrats is even greater.
Democrats have also been hit harder by the economic crisis, which is again no surprise considering hte income gap between the parties. It also explains why Obama was talking about the sub-prime crisis last year and McCain was still saying the economy was strong up until three hours before it was a crisis.
Good thing it’s the wealthy getting that buyout, eh?
The survey does offer some reasons though:
Pew found that Democrats are more likely to say that success in life is mostly determined by outside forces. Republicans lean toward thinking that success is determined by one’s own efforts.
The hypothesis: Those who think they can control their destinies are happier.
This also accounts for different views on people and government. Democrats are more likely to live in cities where they can see the system set up to systematically fuck over working folks and minorities through simple things like basing school funding on property values and then passing the Worst Law in History, No Child Left Behind, which seeks to fix ailing schools by identifying those with needs and then removing money from them.
No, it doesn’t make any sense. It’s not supposed to. These are people opposed to the entire idea of public education.
You know, because they can afford a private one…
Democrats are people who believe the government can help folks and that see the suffering and need at a more base level than Republicans. And let’s be honest, people without empathy for the suffering of others are of course going to be happier than those who feel your pain…
It is also interesting to note that Republicans say the things that matter most to them are getting married and having children while Dems say the most important thing is a good career. Again, I tend to think this goes back to money. When you don’t have to worry about income, it’s a lot easier to focus on family than it is when you can’t feed yourself, let alone another baby.
But there is hope. Even Democrats can increase their happiness by doing one simple thing: radicalizing.
Also: Extremists are happier than moderates, Brooks has concluded. Hard-core liberals are the happiest liberals and hard-core conservatives are the happiest people on Earth. Self-certainty is like a happy pill. The bumper sticker may declare, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention” — but the guy behind the wheel is overjoyed.
That’s right Dems, I know it’s not in your nature, but it looks like if you want to happier: Get angry. Go to a protest. Sign a petition. Get on your soapbox and let that righteous anger flow through you.
Pretend you’re Sarah Palin and someone just questioned how a typical hockey mom spends $150,000 on clothes in one month: blame the person asking the question.
Makes sense really, John McCain seems to be one of the angriest motherfuckers around, but still he’s always got that creepy-ass grin plastered to his face…