Thatcher Fallacy (5)


“Thatcherism made us richer, but we are no happier”

Independently the two parts of this proposition are correct. It is true that Thatcherism made us richer. It is also true that we are no happier as a result. However, the implication that Thatcherism has therefore failed, is fallacious.

Often, despite economic advancement happiness shows little sign of improving. The reason for this is because humans are never completely happy with things. If humans were completely happy we would lose our momentum and stop advancing altogether. The fact that we are often dissatisfied pushes us still further.

Computers for example, can make people frustrated and angry. We forget all the practical instances where computers make our lives eminently more convenient. We quikcly become dissatisfied and demand better, faster and easier computers.

And so material goods like espresso machines, ipods, laptops, mobile phones and so on, don’t have a permanent impact on happiness. Human happiness doesn’t go up a notch when Apple releases a new even smaller computer. To set economic progress the aim of improving happiness is to set it up for a fall. And this is exactly why the opponents of Thatcherism resort to measuring its success against the same aim.


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