The US and Happiness

The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the Earth Institute at Columbia University released its annual report on the happiest to least happiest countries in which to live.

The happiest, in descending order, are Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, Finland, Canada, Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia, and Sweden.

The least happy, in descending order, are Madagascar, Tanzania, Liberia, Guinea, Rwanda, Benin, Afghanistan, Togo, Syria and Burundi.

The United States ranked 13th from the top. “There is a very strong message for my country, the United States, which is very rich, has gotten a lot richer over the last 50 years, but has gotten no happier,” said Professor Jeffrey Sachs, head of the SDSN and special advisor to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. “The message for the United States is clear. For a society that just chases money, we are chasing the wrong things. Our social fabric is deteriorating, social trust is deteriorating, faith in government is deteriorating,” he said.

One will notice that of the top ten nations, eight are predominately socialist. To a greater degree than any other nation, the US is dominated by capitalism. The 2016 campaign for President has dissonance as a standard ingredient. Donald’s followers are genuinely angry at Federal and State governments that have left them vulnerable. The same is true of Bernie’s followers. A significant percentage of the electorate has ceased to be the silent – and forgotten – majority. Jeffrey Sachs is right: Becoming a plutocracy has destroyed unity; it has destroyed financial security for all but a few; wealth can no longer suppress the need for happiness.

The 2016 election is a test. Will the US fall back into Reaganomics by electing a republican, or will the US rein in oppression and plutocracy by electing a democrat? Culturally, it is a hard decision. The citizens have lived in an unusually capitalistic era for thirty-six years. The goal of fast and excessive profit has left a scar on the transcendent meaning of freedom.

For a free download of the report, see:

Ancient Mariner

2 thoughts on “The US and Happiness

  1. If the United States elects a Republican, I doubt the presumptive candidate would allow anyone else’s name to attach to any of his policies. What Trumponomics would do to the Republic is anyone’s guess, though …

    Just as “reward chemical” dopamine has been proven to exert its influence in the pursuit of pleasure rather than its experience, my take on the matter is that happiness (like wealth, peace, progress, and the Grail) is a thing better observed in the pursuit than the attainment. Humans just aren’t happy when they’re happy … blame the ape genes if you must, as one glance at my 3 cats proves that other mammals have definitely figured it out.

    The overdeveloped prefrontal cortex was an accidental answer to a question that no species was asking!

    • Your response is experiential for sure and hardened by the endless battle for security – a battle being won by others with better war chests. Regarding the cats, perceive yourself as a caring government that provides security and contentment – and cat happiness if there is such a thing.
      It is true that the chase is always full of reward chemicals making pursuit of life worthwhile, if not necessary. But chase without reward is angst – the curse of all predators.

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