The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Matthew Anderson Headshot

Gross National Happiness

Posted: Updated:

While the notions of Gross National Product (GNP) and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) dominate the American political and economic landscapes, Bhutan employs notions of "Gross National Happiness" to determine how it fares as a nation. Seventy-two (72) indicators combine to determine and objectify this measure. So here it might be instructive to ask some salient questions of our own.

Since Americans represent both four percent of the world's population and sixty percent of the world's illicit drug usage, we might want to ask why the American populace is bailing out of its own culture at such an alarming rate? We are talking illicit drug usage and not the broader panoply that is legalized "prescription" drug use and abuse. But it is clear that Americans are abdicating their nation's reality at an alarming rate. Appreciating the fact that of the planet's largest grossing businesses, one is "drugs" and the other is "guns." Both these businesses are tightly intertwined and it doesn't take a Tibetan "seer" to appreciate that both these businesses produce profits at the expense of the human right.

My surmise is that parents who love their children do not condone drug abuse. Sadly, while decrying the illegal use of drugs by youth, those same parents in America are "using" at alarming rates. Their drug usage is disguised as "prescription" usage, however. Which has given rise to weekend parties amongst their children where the collective contents of medicine cabinets are tossed in a bowl. From that point, youth grab some unknown commodity and proceed to the bedroom with a "hook-up" partner in raw emulation of what they've learned from their parents. Of an age to have their youthful sexuality intact however, they do not need the computer access to pornographic sites that seem to re-stimulate the lost urges that their parents no longer feel without chemical assistance.

But let us get back to the question why Americans are escaping from their lives at such alarming rates? The recent flame out of the derivatives market has summoned predictable forms of belt-tightening. Individuals have been forced to alter their life styles at significant levels. Many Americans are not eating as they used to (which in most cases is a good thing) but with one quarter of American homes on the "auction block" of foreclosure, many more Americans are out of their homes or huddled up in crowded living arrangements that they would never embrace voluntarily. The ethics of such a controlled and predictable condition is perhaps the most serious question to be examined but too broad for this treatise. What is of note is that the very business structures that have caused this "breakdown for profit" are now turning the knife in the wounds of average Americans.

My unscientific survey of the many people with whom I've spoken in the last year suggests that, utilizing the automatic and autonomic fear that comes of a Depression and the potential loss of fiscal resources has been part of business' strategy. It is not difficult to get a workplace supervisor to turn the screw on a group of subordinates as they run from the fear of denied credit or loss of job. One would think that Americans would realize that "credit" means nothing once they re-orient their thinking. Credit has been the man behind the curtain, the "WIZ," and the fear of losing this humongous chain of credit motivates businesses and individuals to go home, beat the wife and kick the dog. Small business owners now wear those t-shirts without sleeves.

There are of course, serious profits to be made in the margins. And the business model in America deftly focuses our attention away from its duplicity in tearing apart current society. Suffice it to say that the screws have been tightened in the workplace and instead of working together to relieve the pain for the many, most of us have circled our personal wagons not realizing that it is impossible to have a functionally protective "wagon train" of one. Meanwhile the "crack shots" of business are "picking off" the vulnerable of the American herd. And like Wildebeests running from Lions, the public has not figured out that it has horns and greater numbers. Our turning and facing those limited numbers of predators offers a survival strategy that can and would significantly change the equation.