Recently one of my essays discussed the premise that “cradle to grave” care of a society could produce happiness and greater creativity.
In discussing this with my Buddhist son, he answered in the negative, which was my conclusion years ago when this question came up in my psychology class at Berkeley.
On re thinking this premise I came to realize that it just does not work for large segments of society, but works for the individual.
What are we doing when we have children to raise? Do we not care for them for the first 18 years, providing everything for their support and comfort? We may start at the cradle, and continue long after the child wants his/her independence, but this is long term provision. In return we expect them to become as great as they possibly can, hoping for doctors, dentists, lawyers or even a president or two.
Sometimes the expectation is too much, and the child rebels, takes their own tack and sails away from the parents’ care.
The original question did not concern itself with happiness, but the state of Sikkim has a National Happiness Index, and this index shows that happiness is not to be measured by how much material goods is owned, but by how balanced a life is between the individual and Nature.
Progress in creativity is gained when there is a challenge, and a thirst on the part of the individual. There are many programs promoting and subsidizing creativity, but the talent has to be there for any meaningful production.
A case in point would be J.K. Rowling. She had no bed of roses in her adult life, and wound up a single mother on the public dole while trying to write. She did get a stipend from a foundation to help pay for a sitter for her daughter while she produced one of the great children’s stories of all time.
She certainly did not benefit from the “cradle to the grave” notion, and does not consider herself entitled to government handouts. She also has founded many groups in the aid of human literacy through her foundations.
In contrast there are families that provide everything to a child and thereby raises her to think that she is entitled to have things handed to her as her due without having to work for any privilege.
The “cradle to the grave” concept does not work on certain types like the Narcissist or Schizophrenic; it only acts as an enabler for selfish habits.
For a society to be successful, challenges early on prove to be more effective than handouts for no work.