Reading this article last weekend about class envy and life happiness, I got really angry because of the quick rhetorical shift that author Arthur Brooks did to create the straw argument on which the whole argument is built.
In 2008, Gallup asked a large sample of Americans whether they were “angry that others have more than they deserve.” People who strongly disagreed with that statement — who were not envious, in other words — were almost five times more likely to say they were “very happy” about their lives than people who strongly agreed. Even after I controlled for income, education, age, family status, religion and politics, this pattern persisted.
It’s safe to conclude that a national shift toward envy would be toxic for American culture.
In other words, being angry about a fundamental lack of fairness is simply a personality problem, much like the popular girls in high school who used their social power to mistreat others would then claim insight into the motive for any complaints about this mistreatment: the less popular girls were just jealous of them.
I didn’t know where to begin.
So I’m grateful that Matt Bruening did the point -by-point take down that this envy thesis deserves.
And I confess to being a bit envious that he did it so well.