The annihilation of the nation's wealth has led to a tsunami of reassuring reports that money isn't that important after all. This Polyannaish, don't-worry-be-happy attitude is surreptitiously being foisted onto the nation's psyche by a phalanx of alarmingly perky cheerleaders. Newspapers have regularly run features reminding readers that as long as they have their health, they have nothing to complain about. Columnists assert that trying times bring out the best in us. The otherwise sagacious Ben Stein, in his always illuminating New York Times column, reminded readers that they were still the same people today that they were yesterday, that losing 40 percent of their life's savings did not diminish their value as human beings. Obviously, this is a lot easier to say when you have as much money as Ben Stein.
The latest effort to reassure the public comes from New York Life, whose money management division has begun sending investors a peppy newsletter called Living Now. The thrust is that investors should stop obsessing about money, and instead focus on personal happiness. Splashed across the top of the inaugural edition, in zippy green letters, is the profundity, "For thousand of years, big thinkers from Aristotle ('happiness belongs to the self-sufficient') to Charlie Brown ('happiness is a warm puppy') have been trying to define happiness."
The article goes on to say, "Money, it turns out, is actually less important than we might think. A 'Top 10' list from researchers at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein cites actions such as 'exercise regularly,' 'devote time and effort to closer relationships' and 'don't pursue happiness for its own sake, enjoy the moment,' as more important." Living Now also reports that happiness is rooted in our genetic makeup, that according to researchers at the University of Edinburgh, "people who don't worry excessively and are sociable and conscientious tend to be happier." Rolling out the heavy artillery, the newsletter quotes U.S. News &-World Report, which said, "In the end, happiness depends significantly on attitude." Well, if U.S. News says so, then it must be true.
Frankly, I think...