Happiness and Socialism

According to a new report released by the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development, a Paris-based group of 30 countries with democratic governments that provides economic and social statistics and data, happiness levels are highest in northern European countries…

Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands rated at the top of the list, ranking first, second and third, respectively. Outside Europe, New Zealand and Canada landed at Nos. 8 and 6, respectively. The United States did not crack the top 10. Switzerland placed seventh and Belgium placed tenth.

Lauren Sherman, Yahoo Travel

This is one of those pieces that I almost didn’t read because I thought I already knew the answer. I read it anyway and in fact I did already know the answer. This is one of those perennial stories that seems to pop up every year. It turns out that sharply reducing poverty and unemployment and providing good public health care and long vacations makes people happy. Who knew?

Actually, it just reminds me once again of that endless right-wing complaint about “socialism.” This is a kind of code that market ideologues use. In essence, the idea is that the government can never match the efficiency of the “free market.” It also has a little taste of fear mongering tossed into the mix, sometimes explicitly and sometimes only implied.

So “socialism” doesn’t really signify some sort of reasonable desire to restrain the power of government. In fact, the just the opposite. They complain about socialism exactly because only the state has the power to institutionalize the restraints that keep the “bloody hands” of capitalism in check. Apparently, even happiness is not a persuasive outcome for these folks.

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and Smarthinking.com. I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol] writinginthewild.com

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