Saturday, November 27, 2010

Contentment is Natural Wealth

Each Saturday I add a new sticker to the Gruntlwagon.

Today's is a mate for last Saturday's.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Britain to Start Measuring General Well-Being

The coalition government of Conservative and Liberal Democratic Parties in Britain is planning to start a regular measure of the population's general well-being, to complement the more familiar national economic scales. The Labour opposition sees this as a trick to show that people are happy in bad economic times, justifying the government's strong austerity cuts in government services. Tory Prime Minister David Cameron, though, says that promoting the general well-being of the population is the main business of government, and is something they should have been measuring before.

I agree with Cameron on this point. In fact, I think measuring general well-being is a direct continuation of the founding principles of the Liberal Party, the ancestor of the Tories' coalition partner.

I believe we will see more governments attending to the people's general well-being as a crucial measure of national success.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving - A Very Gruntled Holiday

Thanksgiving is the core sacred holiday of our domestic civil religion. I see it as the counterpart of the core secular holiday of American civil religion, Independence Day. Gratitude is one of the most powerful ways to make a happy person and a happy society.

For my part, I will spend the day by the fire, reading one of Kentucky's best-known native humorists, Irvin S. Cobb, and being grateful to having my family about me.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Divorced Kids' Marital Stigma

Elizabeth Marquardt, one of my favorite writers about divorce, writes of the anecdotal evidence that children of divorce are having trouble marrying because they are regarded by potential partners as damaged goods. The divorce stigma is mostly gone for the divorced, but has passed on to the next generation.

It is true that children of divorce are more likely to divorce themselves. They are more likely to rush into marriage impulsively, or delay (and cohabit) endlessly, trying to be sure. In either case, they are likely to doubt that they themselves know how to marry. They expect that any fight could lead to good-bye.

It is also true, though, that a good marriage is the most healing of institutions. Divorce is not inevitable for the children of divorce. Millions of divorced kids have made successful marriages, ending the cycle.

The best tool for overcoming the causes of divorce is to know what they are and communicate directly about the problems. If the problem is communication itself, as it so often is, meta-communicate about how you are communicating. Every marital problem has a work-around, if both people want to stay married.

The divorced-kids' stigma is not unfounded. But it is not a doom, either.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Men Live Longer With One Marriage - Not Zero, Not Three

The Daily Mail reports a study by University of Florida researcher John Henretta, who studied marriage and mortality for men over 50. The bachelors were more likely to die at any given age, a fact long known. What was new was that men who were on their third wedding (or more) were 34% more likely to die at any given age than men in their first marriage.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Couples Who Can Do Simple Math Are Richer - In a Big Way

Try these math questions:

1. If the chance of getting a disease is 10 percent, how many people
out of 1,000 would be expected to get the disease?

2. If five people all have the winning numbers in the lottery, and the
prize is $2 million, how much will each of them get?

3. Let's say you have $200 in a savings account. The account earns 10
percent interest per year. How much would you have in the account at
the end of two years?

Then have your spouse, or potential spouse, try them.

According to the RAND corporation, couples in middle age who answer just these three questions correctly are likely to have much more net wealth than couples who do not. The average net wealth difference between couples with all three right to all three wrong or unanswered: $1.7 million to $200,000.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Marriage Is for Smart People

The talk of the pro-marriage world lately has been the Time/Pew survey of marriage. It found that marriage rates have been declining in all classes, and have fallen below half for the least educated. This has led to stories about marriage being obsolete.

I read the numbers the opposite way. Smart people get married, if they can. Smart is not the same as educated, but there is some relation.

Marriage benefits couples who stay together and work together. This is true in all classes, all education levels, all everything.

I think college graduates are more likely to marry because they are more likely to know the wisdom, as well as the research findings, that marriage is not the capstone of social success, but, for most people, the foundation of it.