We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
If money can't buy happiness, why not let the government take it all? Lee and Miller, with the help of Adam Smith, at TCS take on the notion that we should all be taxed to poverty. A quote:
They regard the satisfaction of a broad range of needs as an entitlement or right, to be guaranteed by government. In effect, they would supplant the Jeffersonian formula -- the individual's right to pursue happiness -- by one that demands of the state "a right to happiness."
Maybe it is in the nature of things for us to adapt to improvements in our lives, with the happiness they provide being temporary. But we would surely add to our happiness by spending more time appreciating how blessed we are compared to those of a few generations ago. A good way to begin is by considering how much the pursuit of wealth has added to the length, health, comfort, beauty, and meaning of our lives and the lives of those we love. If that doesn't make you happier, then don't expect more government spending on mass transit and recycling newspapers to do so either.
You can buy caskets from Costco.com. Rather vulgar ones (ie: padded with white satin, as if the occupants cared...), but the kind of people who go for open caskets, and who get guilt-tripped by rapacious funeral directors into expensive funerals might find these acceptable. And a little less expensive.
I think it's ridiculous to waste money on an empty shell of a body. Say your goodbyes, kiss dead lips if that helps you, but then take a digital picture, and cremate them and save a tree or some iron ore or whatever else caskets get made of.
The custom of open caskets, viewings, etc. is loathsome, primitive. The mingled smells of lilies, embalming chemicals, pancake makeup on the stiff and the excessive after shave on the funeral directors assault the senses of the mourners.
In England there is a law that everyone has to have some kind of coffin, even if they want to be cremated (subsidy to the funeral industry)
I am no Gnostic, and say yee-haw in life for the pleasures of the flesh, but once dead, the only important part of a person is long gone. Either embraced by God, or fricasseeing with the Prince of Darkness down below. And there isn't a thing we can do about it...