Sunday, January 6, 2013

So which countries are happier and why?

Jeffrey Sachs recently had an informative article on this. He was countering the regressive argument that people on welfare are unhappy due to taking unearned handouts. Countries with the highest expenditures on social programs are the happiest according to the World Happiness Report, the Gallap World Poll and the World Value Survey. Social democracies lead the way: Denmark, Finland, Norway, the Netherlands, Iceland, Costa Rica. The US lags far behind.The leading countries have higher tax rates that are spent on far better and humane social programs.

Sachs also destroys the regressive argument that being rich makes one happy. Such a claim assumes the all too familiar American obsession with self, that the more me me me has the more happy I am. And what's worse, we're fed this bullshit program as The American Dream, that happiness is all about how much you make and how much you can buy useless shit. It's a sick, sick programming specifically designed to keep us always wanting more, to never be satisfied, because the base ego is fed, not our higher values and better angels. When the latter are fed we need far less stuff and are content with far more human interactions, kind and giving compassion, love and care for the needy. You know, all that stuff Jesus said. All that stuff the Christians are talking about when they're not amassing wealth for themselves and their own kind and damning the poor for not buying into their prosperity programming propaganda.

And as for social programs being unearned, WTF, really? Social security, unemployment insurance and Medicare are paid into by working people with their own hard-earned money. What is really unearned is the absurd bonuses of Wall Street executives for nearly destroying the entire financial system, not to mention committing egregious crimes and inflicting mass suffering on the rest of us. That's earned income? What a twisted and heinous 'logic.' This is what needs to be addressed, taxed and in many cases, criminally prosecuted.

Regressives want to go back to the times of Les Miserables or A Tale of Two Cities, back to being feudal overlords, sucking all the lifeblood out of the economy and leaving the poor to rot in the streets because they get what they deserve. And actually we are already there. We've gone back, regressed, due to their power and influence. Recall though that when this happened in the past it incited two very important  people's revolutions that gave us the very kind of social programs that make the world a far better, and happier, place. And they are pushing us once again to the brink with their aristocratic greed and inhumane disdain. They better watch out for that sleeping giant called 'the people,' for we can only be pushed so far. And we are most definitely not happy about it.

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