Obamacare’s Promise Hits Me

White House Web page: “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.”

I just opened this letter from my health insurance company:

Health policy notice screenshot

















Universal Secrets of Happiness

I asked a young desk clerk if there were any universal secrets of happiness.

He had ready answers.

“Stick with the family. A loving pet. Have a nice dinner with the wife. Cherish everyone you meet.”


Later, I asked a grocery clerk the same question.

She said glumly, “I don’t think so.”

I asked, “Are there any things that a person can do to or think to be happy?”

She did not respond.

I asked, “What makes you happy?”

She said, “My horsey.”


Universal Secrets of Happiness?

I asked a clerk at the grocery store today if there were any universal secrets of happiness.

He said, “I’m not sure.”


I asked if there were any universal secrets of unhappiness.

He said, “I’m not sure. Are there?”


I said, “The question is for you.”


I said, “What makes you happy?”


He said, “Hanging out with friends, people you love and care about.”


I said, “Is that universal?”


He said he thought so and I agreed. Aristotle would agree.


Love and friendship.

Morsels from the Wall Street Journal

Morsels from the Wall Street Journal

July 10, 2014

Today and recent days

Comments in italics


Bike Programs Are Facing Uphill Climb

Insurer Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois recently agreed to pay $12.5 million in the next five years to help the 3,000-bike system (in Chicago) expand. That’s $416 per present bicycle.


Our Financial Crisis Amnesia

It is now five years since the end of the most recent U.S. financial crisis of 2007-09. Stock have made record highs, junk bonds and leveraged loans have boomed, house prices have risen, and already there are cries for lower credit standards on mortgages to “increase access.” For the Left, it’s always about access; access to education, access to health insurance, access to health care, access to college, access to legal services. It makes you wonder if what they really mean is “funding for” whenever they say “access to.”


Foreign Aid: The Folly of the 0.7% Solution

Well-meaning but muddled interventions can backfire.

Such botched projects often result from the obsession with hitting targets and goals—hey, let’s give all kids free education—with little attention to the mechanisms for achieving them, or whether the goals are ever met.

Tear down the walls of trade protection, tackle the tides of dirty money that undermine democracy, loosen immigration controls so people can go abroad to earn and send home remittances, and invest in fighting diseases that kill poor people.


The Attorney General as Captain Ahab

Mr. Spitzer refused to say how much his office had spent in his pointless endeavor.



The barnacled, leviathan state






Plutarch on Lycurgus on Happiness

Lycurgus thought “that the happiness of a state, as of a private man, consisted chiefly in the exercise of virtue…”


Contrast this with the ambivalence I get when asking others if they know of any universal secrets of happiness.

Happiness and Poverty

Happiness and Poverty


I asked a cashier at a sporting goods store if there were any universal secrets of happiness.


She said, “No, I don’t think so. There probably is but I don’t know of any.”


I asked a Subway cashier in Laurel, Montana, what causes poverty.


He said, “I have no idea.”


Then he had an idea. “The laziness of people.”


I asked if poverty is accidental. He thought not.


I asked a Subway cashier in Parowan, Utah, what causes poverty.


He said, “Money.”


I said, “Having money causes poverty?”


He said, “Some people having too much, maybe.”


Then he said, “At the job I just left, my boss needed three workers. He went to the state job service, (which, in Utah is housed with the welfare agencies, in an effort to direct beneficiaries toward work.) Four males were sitting there.


He said, “I have three jobs to fill. Do any of you want a job?”


They all said, “No, we’re waiting for our food stamps.”


The cashier concluded, “That’s the country we live in.”



Life at the Bottom

Wealth and Poverty

Coming Apart

A Welfare Mother

Fatherless America

The New Politics of Poverty

The Dependency Agenda

Tyranny of Kindness




Are There Any Universal Secrets to Happiness?

“Are There Any Universal Secrets to Happiness?”

 I ask store clerks this question. Lately I’ve gotten two certain “no”s and two qualified “maybe”s.

 A retail clerk, a female, said, “I’m not sure.”

I followed up with, “Are there things that make all people happy?”

She said tentatively, “Maybe love.”

I came back with, “Love given or love received?”

She said, “Love received.” 

I said, “What makes it possible to receive love?”

Our conversation had to end there.

(I wanted to ask, “Isn’t it more reliable to give love than to wait to get it? Aren’t our kindnesses just as satisfying to us as they are to those we love?”)

 At the next store, a young woman with the radioactive symbol tattooed into her forearm, neon hair tints, and a silver ring puncturing her nostril bridge waited on me.

“Are there any universal secrets of happiness?”

“No,” without hesitation.


At a sporting good store a young female clerk answered my question saying “no.” She seemed pretty confident about it.

I followed up with, “Happiness is different for every person?”

She affirmed that.

 At a medical office, I asked a receptionist, “Are there any universal secrets of happiness?”

She wasn’t sure. She knows what makes her happy; trying to be good to people, treating them like she’d like to be treated, writing an extensive loving note to her father in the Father’s Day card she gave him.

She wasn’t sure her methods were universally applicable but she tended in that direction.

We discussed the possibility that negative responses to the question may indicate the dominance of relativism in modern thinking, that the absolute belief that no moral absolutes exist could be at work.

I wondered if the writers of the Declaration of Independence were 1) asserting that universals exist in the “pursuit of happiness, or 2) that no universals exist and that the liberty they prized and demanded only allows every person to define what happiness is to them and what methods they might employ to attain it. The latter posits the moral relativism seemingly accepted by the two young ladies that flatly denied that there are universal secrets to happiness.(The Closing of the American Mind: Allan Bloom, 1987.)

 I may ask the next quick “no” this question: do all methods of seeking happiness return the happiness result? Can people be happy no matter what they do? Is there any way at all to be happy? Is happiness possible? Is anyone happy? Are there any universal secrets to being unhappy?


Photo: Catherine Scott: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Happy_faces#mediaviewer/File:Happy_family_(1).jpg