Blog April 3
So Jared Kushner is in charge of the nation’s COVID-19 response.
Where is Mr. Peabody’s wayback machine when you need it? Well, turns out you don’t need a wayback machine to get to a happier place; just a plane ticket to one of the five Nordic countries — Finland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Iceland. Make that a one-way ticket.
At least, that’s according to the eighth “World Happiness Report,” a publication of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network. Since the first report was issued in 2013, the five Nordic countries have all been in the top 10 happiest places.
The ratings look at many factors, but basically they found that the Nordic countries have healthy democracies, broad political rights and low corruption. People tend to trust each other and feel safe while gender equality is strong and income is fairly equally distributed.
The Nordic countries also offer extensive welfare benefits, so people are less vulnerable to economic insecurity than other countries.
“Nordic citizens experience a high sense of autonomy and freedom, as well as high levels of social trust towards each other, which play an important role in determining life satisfaction.”
Some might argue that it’s much easier to have healthy institutions and income parity and freedom in smaller nations. Wrong. The report found that the size of a country had little to do with life satisfaction.
“Accordingly, the extent to which a country is able to provide individuals a sense of agency, freedom, and autonomy plays a significant role in explaining citizen happiness.”
Americans like to think they have the best system in the world. But that’s not what the study shows.
For example, Finland, Denmark, Norway and Iceland, are top four in life evaluation. The U.S. is in 19th place.
In the area of social support, Iceland is at the top; the U.S. is in 35th place.
Norway is at the top in terms of personal freedom. Where is the U.S.? Scroll down to 64th place.
Icelanders are very generous. You have to go down to 20th place to find the U.S.
Denmark is cited for its low corruption rate. Need I point out that there 38 countries that ranked lower in corruption rates than the U.S.
“The Nordic countries are characterized by a virtuous cycle in which various key institutional and cultural indicators of good society feed into each other including well-functioning democracy, generous and effective social welfare benefits, low levels of crime and corruption, and satisfied citizens who feel free and trust each other and governmental institutions.”
So why are so many Americans like lemmings who will follow their leaders to the precipice and down? Why do so many Americans believe the propaganda that says that there’s nothing like the good old U.S.A. when the facts show differently?
As Thomas Gray wrote famously in his 1742 poem, “Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College: “Where ignorance is bliss, ’tis folly to be wise.”
There is a wealth of blissful ignorance over this country’s past and current form. There’s plenty of ignorance over this nation’s history of slavery and its persecution and genocide of native Americans.
In matters of U.S. foreign policy, misinformation abounds over why the U.S. supported the corrupt Shah of Iran? And why did the marines really land on the shores of Santa Domingo? And weapons of mass destruction? What weapons of mass destruction. Who overthrew Latin American leaders and installed puppets?
But that’s another story for another time. For now, stay away from cliffs, watch your parking meters and get thee to Norway, if they will have you.