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Don’t worry, be happy: Sacramento is working on legislative answer to assure your happiness
Dennis Wyatt
Dennis Wyatt

I’m here from the government, and I want to make you happy.”

If a politician uttered those 12 words to you, one might think they were being a bit daffy.

But if they insisted they’d find a way to “legislate” happiness per se you’d think they were channeling George Orwell.

Hold onto your freedoms and pocketbooks.

That’s because those who art thou in Sacramento have formed the Select Committee on Happiness and Public Policy.

It was created by former Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon.

He did so, because he wants happiness be among the top reasons when legislators create “sausage,” Gov. Gavin Newsom’s term for the legislative process that gave California the Panera Bread exception.

You might be thinking to yourself right now, “Gee, if the Legislature just managed to run California without burning through money like the Kardashians and crafting policy with the shallowness and greed motivation of Tik Tok influencers” that you would be happy.

But that’s not what is at play here.

On the surface, the mumbo jumbo offered as to why the committee was created seems to be as a way to justify all of the wonderful “sausage” produced so far and in the future.

“Sausage” like Proposition 47, state mandates jacking up energy and vehicle costs, and the boom-bust approach to basic taxation.

Then there are the byproducts of a laser focused legislature — deteriorating infrastructure from dams and levees to the nation’s largest homeless crisis by far.

These are things that have happened based on mandates and regulations imposed by Sacramento or through the inability of Rendon and his ilk to stop acting like they have deranged hummingbird syndrome.

What’s deranged hummingbird syndrome?

It’s the legislature’s reptilian impulse to not follow through on anything in their hyped journey to score the addictive nectar of political highs.

It is how we go from Oroville Dam being on the verge of collapse in February 2017 and being told hundreds of billions of dollars were needed to shore up California’s dams and not following through  to committing money the state clearly doesn’t have to providing free health care to those who have no legal right to be in this country despite the current $73 billion state deficit.

Substitute basic education, homelessness or whatever critical state need for deteriorating dams.

Do the same for funding free health care for anyone in the world choosing to force their way into the country illegally with the endless stream of new state government spending initiatives proposed in Sacramento.

Of course, there may be more in play here than trying to provide official cover under the veil of “happiness” to cover political and policy ineptness.

Rendon et al act as if they believe Sacramento can create a Department of Happiness to make everyone happy.

And you thought the thought the constitution guided government policy and not Orwellian publications such as “Animal Farm” or “1984.”

Yes, the Declaration of Independence contains the phrase, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Note that it indicates individual have the “right” to pursue happiness as opposed to being guaranteed happiness.

The backstory to how that wording was settled on for the document that was the precursor to the constitution doubles down on the concept the function government protects one’s ability — with the obvious proviso that it doesn’t wholesale trample on someone else’s rights — as opposed to providing happiness.

Thomas Jefferson penned the rough draft.

Then a committee of five — Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Sherman, Robert Livingston, and Jefferson — edited it.

Jefferson’s drafted wording read, “We hold these truths to be sacred & undeniable; that all men are created equal & independent, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent & inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness; ...”

Again, individuals by the nature of born have the right to “pursue” as opposed to “have” happiness.

That little detail aside, Sacramento is clearly pursuing a government solution to your happiness.

They just don’t form select committees for the hell of it.

One example tossed out is people need shelter and heath care for basic happiness.

Sounds reasonable, right?

But in tackling problems like lack of shelter and health care, there are those in the ranks of the homeless that clearly aren’t happy with just that as their perception of happiness in whatever moment they are in includes getting high.

They seem to want it all — free shelter, free health care, and drugs — yet they still don’t come across as happy.

Happiness, clearly, is highly subjective.

As such it can, and usually does, vary greatly among the state’s 39.51 million residents.

So how will the select committee square its perceived mission with such nuances?

They likely don’t care.

That’s because Sacramento sees the world in segregated silos when it comes to solutions nicely ignoring the reality that civilization — which they exist to help govern — involves people interacting.

Given the fact politicians can’t breathe without the benefit of polling data, is there really an unhappiness pandemic that California needs to address?

A 2023 poll by the Public Policy Institute of California, noted 26 percent of the respondents were “not too happy.”

That is opposed to 74 percent that indicated they were “very happy” or “pretty happy.”

Now consider another polling question of the Public Policy Institute of California.

Last month, 57 percent of the respondents said California was headed in the wrong direction.

That’s opposed to 49 percent in February 2023.

By political measures “happiness” of individual Californians being on track is in “mandate” territory and “off the charts” in terms of political vernacular.

But California is either in the toilet or heading there.

Maybe, just maybe, what would make Californians happy is for the legislature to do a better job in running the state.