Happiness via Willful Stupidity

It sometimes seems to me that the happiest people I know are people who choose not to know (i.e., those who have embraced willful stupidity). They don’t know how we are protected from tyrants by the Constitution. They don’t know what is meant by “unreasonable search and seizure” and the protections provided by the Fourth Amendment. They don’t know how much of the cost of what government provides is “covered” by money we borrow from unsuspecting nephews, children, and grand-children. They don’t know that the sum total of all this inter-generational plunder is approximately 18 trillion dollars. There are a great many things they don’t know, and they like it that way.

They don’t how important it is to be self-reliant to the greatest extent possible — to pay our own way, to strive to be productive, and to be charitable toward the truly less-fortunate, rather than advocating for huge parental government paid for with borrowed money. They don’t know about freedom of speech, freedom to worship, freedom to assemble, nor do they seem to care as these freedoms are steadily eroded. The people who choose to be stupid in exchange for happiness are a huge and largely un-addressed problem. It does not bode well to leave it un-addressed.

 If the happy are happy because they are intoxicated on alcohol, marijuana, and other para-prescriptive drugs, we would see clearly the nature of what confronts us. The stoners among us have discovered they can avoid the heavy lifting of life via the chemically-facilitated mood alteration. If stoners can find people, welfare programs, and disability benefits to underwrite the cost of this stoner lifestyle, it can continue as far as the eye can see. With those who choose to be stupid (as an alternative route to happiness), it looks different, but the dynamic is the same.

 What is to be done about this willful stupidity as a route to happiness?

 Our well-intentioned but poorly-conceptualized welfare system must be unwound, and dispensers of benefits and the benefit recipients cannot be trusted to do it. The food stamp program would be a good starting point. Benefits should be reduced to anti-hunger items only (baby formula, milk, ground beef, whole chicken, fish, vegetables, fruit, un-sweetened cereal, grains and nuts).

There should be no soda, no desserts, no standing rib roasts, no king crab legs, and no deli items. There is nothing unkind about restoring an anti-hunger program to the parameters of an anti-hunger program. Because those who make Little Debbie Cakes and cheese puffs will continue to object to the changes I suggest, we may need to contact our elected representatives in Washington and demand that they show some courage in the face of such cronyism. I have asked my congressman to take such a position, and, so far, nothing.

We should recognize that there are worse things than being embarrassed. If your child is valedictorian of this year’s senior class, ask your child to name their U.S. Senators, one of the three branches of government, and explain what we celebrate on the Fourth of July. If they cannot answer two of the three questions, request an opportunity to appear before the school board and complain about educational malpractice. If YOU cannot answer all three questions, apologize to the school board for not being more of a collaborative partner in your child’s education and promise to do better.

If both you and your child CAN answer the questions, go out to dinner and buy some crab legs.

– Andrew J. Billups

About ajb

I am clinical psychologist and academic coach with more than twenty years of psychotherapy, academic coaching, and training experience. I operate from my base camp in the Chesapeake Bay Country of Tidewater Virginia. I have a long-term interest in the relationship among public policy, education, mental health, poverty, and change language.
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