Monday, November 21, 2011
I kicked this up as far as I could, but any extra effort required to study it is worth the effort in my opinion. I had known that for the last several years, the Danes and Swedes, et al. kept coming up #1 on surveys of the happiest people on the planet; this chart lays it all out and includes information on how various demographic groups are doing in each country, as well the rate of social justice, the quality of health, and levels of poverty.
And there, right at the top, are all the Scandinavian countries, clustered together with the highest social justice ratings; the United States in in the bottom five with a low social justice rating and a high rate of child poverty.
Now, what makes the Scandinavian countries so successful and their populations so happy? Among other things, they have high taxes that everyone has to pay, and resulting services that are second to none. How do they do it? Well, for one thing they take care of their populations in a manner that routinely gets condemned here as the dread "Socialism!"
This country used to boast the highest standard of living in the world; clearly that isn't true any more, and it's a sad thing giving signs of becoming worse.
Word of this latest prediction of the End of the World, The End Times, The Rapture -- whatever -- comes from Joe Jervis at Joe.My.God. With Harold Camping having retired from the Rapture predicting scam, others have picked up his mantle and are continuing. The fact that predicting the end of the world has been a major cottage industry from very early christian times, with hundreds and hundreds of prophecies not one of which has ever come through, you think would alert the present day "prophets" to the fact that taking over the franchise is actually a lose/lose situation.
World Net Daily says "experts" are predicting that Satan and Jesus will battle it out in a cage match next year. So put your affairs in order and all that. Oh, and it's the Jews' fault. "Given the rejection of Jesus by orthodox Jews as Messiah, this could herald the coming of Antichrist in 2012."
Yeah, uh huh.
I can really feel the difference in the cultures between France and the US. Where the US policy makers like to crow about family values and all that, France actually practices family values with its policies. Everything from great health care and education to generous maternity AND paternity leaves, pre-natal care, pre-primary education, a wide safety net for those less fortunate, holidays and vacations that families actually spend together, a real resistance to stores and businesses being open on Sundays since that's traditionally the day that families spend together, and the list goes on and on.
Yes, taxes are high, but the roads are in good shape, public landscaping is a point of pride, the public transport system is one of the best in the world, overall infrastructure is modern and well maintained.
Americans' knee-jerk reaction to the word "socialism" is unfortunate. Social democracies in Europe are essentially capitalist, but are generally regulated. After all, all businesses benefit from the investment of the society in health, education, and infrastructure. It's only natural that they should share in the cost to build and to maintain it.
Sorry for the rant!
So one thing's clear - the extreme gap between rich and poor. So many extremes of everything in the USA, but until the parties' deadlock in congress comes to an end, nothing's going to change.