How happy are you? A census wants to know. Summary/Response. Mirna Ayala

In the article, “How happy are you? A census want to know” a town named Somerville has taken the initiative to distribute surveys to its residents in order to learn about their general happiness in their hometown. Residents who decided to participate in the surveys were required to rate their happiness on a scale of 1-10 and answer various questions about their lives based on their surroundings and daily concerns. The surveys even asked personal questions regarding their personality and decision making skills. Several residents didnt mind the questioning and found it refreshing that their happiness was being taken into consideration by the government. In the article, a woman named Vanessa Lagerman states she appreciates the city’s efforts. “Since I’ve been here, I’ve noticed a lot of things the city has been doing, like installing bike lanes” said Vanessa. She agrees with the idea of the surveys and proceeds to say, “I think it’s a good thing, because policies can be changed to make people happier.” The reason behind this attempt is to create a generally content environment. The government wants to see if they have the power and ability to increase the happiness of the people by finding out what exactly they would like to see differently in their town. Throughout the article, different people give their outlook on the surveys and how they think it will affect them. Tara Acker states, “Is there a correlation between happiness and open space or green space? If we see low levels of satisfaction correlated to low levels of income, perhaps we want more programs aimed at low income people.” Basically, the surveys are designed to be the foundation of the government’s new projects. For instance, if a large percentage of the people are unhappy because their isn’t a playground around them for their children to play in, Somerville will begin construction on building a playground for them. What about the smaller percentage that doesn’t need a playground but needs a closer school so they won’t have to travel such far distances for an education? Not all expectations or wants can be met, however the government doesn’t all this to hinder their mission in making all of its citizens happy. 

In my opinion I don’t believe happiness can be measured nor promoted. People’s feelings change everyday, there is no way they can keep everyone happy all the time. The government shouldn’t be getting involved with how people feel. I believe it’s an invasion of privacy, the government already monitors and controls everything around us, now the way civilians feel is under surveillance too? If the government really wants to help it’s residents, there are many more services that can benefit them and ensure them long term happiness. Such services as, affordable housing, creating more jobs, improving the school system, putting an end to the school’s budget cuts etc. Those are the things that the government should be devoting their time to. Helping with these issues would contribute to long term happiness opposed to making little changes here and there. The problem with the officials making certain changes based on these surveys is that what may bring happiness to one might take it away from another. If they really want to help and make a difference for the people of Somerville they should make general changes that everyone can benefit from not just a percentage of the people.