Wednesday, July 7, 2010

From a Good Friend

The White Wing and Happiness

The “white” wing in the U.S. would have us believe that people in countries with deep and broad social safety nets and progressive social programs (universal, single-payer healthcare, universal state pension systems, progressive tax systems generally favoring the working classes, and adequately funded comprehensive educational systems [pre-K through college] with free or nearly free public college tuition) are overtaxed, miserable and politically oppressed. It seems the exact opposite is true. According to scientifically powerful surveys that include hundreds of thousands of participants, people in what the “white” wing refer to as “nanny states” turn out to be some of the very happiest people on earth! Hmm.

Perhaps some of their happiness is derived from not having to be burdened with ridiculously expensive health insurance premiums or not being in fear of losing their homes and life savings if they happen to be uninsured; or the legitimate terror of being burden with onerous student loan payments. Though many Americans have the opinion that theirs is a land of equality, fairness, and freedom, the hard truth is America is a land of huge income disparities, fairly well defined and protected social strata, crumbling cities and infrastructure, high crime rates as compared with all the rest of the developed world, and an economic divide based on race that is stunningly shameful (the average black family in America has a net worth of about 10% that of the average white family).

Nearly all the countries rated in these surveys (other than America) have systems of government that would be considered by most economists as left-of-center; they lean towards protecting families and consumers and ensuring workers are paid a living wage. Though the Free Market is the dominating economic model in all of these places, the market isn’t free to wreak havoc on the lives of citizens.

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