I do remember a spate of articles about measures of happiness in various countries with, as I remember, northern European countries scoring high.
I thought this was pretty interesting as these countries share market economic systems, democratic government systems, and strong social welfare systems. I thought this result was pretty interesting, because happiness is, as you say, what the objective should be and is even stated so, along with life and liberty, in our own Declaration of Independence, which contains no reference to pursuit of aristocratic wealth. Economists will always gravitate toward things they can
measure, however, and Stiglitz, as a Nobel prize winner, and Ivy League professor, is a pretty influential thinker, author and speaker.
This discussion makes me want to go back and understand better the founders’ understanding of Rousseau’s views on human happiness and its relationship to development of democratic political systems in England, France and the U.S. rRelated, I recently read a short biography of Washington written by Joseph Ellis, an eminent scholar of the founders and prof at Mt. Holyoke College, that suggested that theses guys were really the landed gentry and early aristocratic class, with motivations – and the wherewithal – to break free of the English colonial economic and legal systems for the less noble purpose of creating their own aristocratic class independent of England. If you think about the fight over taxes then, and the current Tea Party connections to the current 1%, this becomes a pretty intriguing perspective..