Monday, November 1, 2010

The Pursuit of Happiness

U.S. midterm elections for Senate, House of Representatives, and governors will take place tomorrow.  Right about now many promises are made, favors  traded for, and double-talking politicians are ubiquitous.  The general consensus of the outcome, stemming from various pre-election polls (i.e. Quinnipiac, Rasmusen, Zogby), is the GOP will claim The House in dominant fashion.  The Senate race remains clenched and may result in favor of the right.  How did this happen?

In order to answer this question we would best serve ourselves by putting voters on the psychiatrist's couch and asking.  However, in order to collect a data set of this magnitude copious lots of time would be needed.  Hence, we will generalize for time's sake. In short,  unemployment remains high and will not budge; fiscal stimulus plans did not create the level of job growth tacitly implied by the large $787 B amount.  Also, credit is scarce.  Any citizen whom sought credit in the last two years for an auto loan, mortgage loan, or business loan was condescendingly rejected.  Lastly, Pension funds, 401k's, retirement plans, and household net worths lack robustness.  Hence, the general public embodies feelings of anger, remorse, regret, and unhappiness towards the politicians elected in November 2008.  As a result, the right will most likely sweep the competition.

Times are tough.  Many of us do not posses jobs that were promised too us.  Many of us were tricked into leveraging our futures for a four year liberal arts education.  A vast majority of us are wasting talent and skill at 'Starbucks' or 'Walmart' in order to pay next month's rent, buy groceries, and purchase discretionary items that bring us temporary satisfaction.  Many of us are cynical and believe the 'American Dream' is dead.  Many of us choose not to make good on our mortgage obligations and ignore 'hate mail' from malicious financial institutions.  Will a right led House of Representaties and Senate change any of this?

Maybe. Though, I am empirically skeptical.  The U.S. Declaration of Independence promises us "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness." Over the last decade, an abundance of 'new wealth'' created by low interest rates, lax regulation, poor leadership, and misallocations of human capital skewed our expectations for happiness.  Happiness became directly linked with monetary gains.  This needs to change.  However, it will not be our Political elect who shift our emotional imbalances from negative to positive.  This paramount change needs to come from within.

Undoubtedly, unless our politicians can find it in their respective 'best interests' to work together, political and economic malfeasance will persist.  Our leaders need to stop managing our expectations and account for their own.  The right, left, and tea-partiers may forever lack fundamental acceptance of the other party's founding principles.  However, this does not mean team-work and collaboration should be kicked to the curb.  Governing from the center means synthesizing the ideas from all directions and manufacturing those ideas into fair, beneficial, and prosperous policies for the majority.  If we are ever to recover from the 'Great Global Contraction' governing from the center will be of utmost importance.    Thus, we must learn to manage our own expectations with humility, clarity, and modesty in order to prosper.  We cannot rely on our political elect to source our pursuits happiness.

--Patrick M. Ambrus

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