Unearned Income & Happiness

Some years ago I picked up a book that chronicled the lives of lottery winners.  Most ended badly.  Very few didn’t end up either alcoholic or destroyed.  Most just spent their way into oblivion.  Arthur C. Brooks, the President of The American Enterprise Institute and author of ‘The Road to Freedom’ has chronicled the impact that unearned income has on the American underclass.

He’s following the studies done by Dr. John Ifcher at Santa Clara University who studied the inverse relation between work, welfare and single mothers throughout California.  His study reveals that the vast majority of single mothers appreciated the impact that the work requirement had on their happiness.

Remember the 1978 study of major lottery winners in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology?  Look it up, for it details the inverse relation between personal development and unearned income.

Money, when earned generally has a positive association with happiness.  Raw purchasing power when untethered from hard work and intrinsic merit leads to disaster.  Above basic subsistence, identity development and happiness does not come from money but from the value creation intrinsic to arduous play.

The arrival of the permanent entitlement state is removing the arduous play of identity development, the kind of discovery required to live an adult life.

Try Eric Fromm “Escape from Freedom” to discover the kinds of persons who seek to be dominated as a respite from having to deal with liberty and personal responsibility.


About William Holland

Systematic Theologian/International Relations
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