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Thursday, January 27, 2005

Why Rich Countries Can't Buy Happiness

Jay Nordlinger on National Review Online is one of my favorites; I don't always agree with him but I like his writing and insight. He is reporting on the Davos Conference again this year and made the following observation:

"One dinner is called "Why Rich Countries Can't Buy Happiness." Hmmm. Well, let's not assume that poor countries are happy in their poverty. This allows me to tell one of my favorite Naipaul stories (related to me by the writer's close friend — and our close friend — David Pryce-Jones). Naipaul was at a conference in India, and someone stood up to say, "Sir Vidia, India has always been the home of the spirit. And now materialism is encroaching on us. This is destroying India, as the home of the spirit. What should we do about this materialism?" Naipaul responded — roughly — "I'm rather tolerant of materialism. The poor need it." He went on, "You see this bottle of water? Clean, pure, good? Twenty years ago, we didn't have this. This is a mark of progress."

What a breath of fresh air!

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