World is happier, but baby boomers bummed out?
(Top Posts - Social/Legal - 063008)



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June 30, 2008

Study: World Gets Happier
  http://www.livescience.com/health/080630-world-happiness.html
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Excerpts:

... happiness has been on the rise around
the world in recent years, a new survey
finds. The upbeat outlook is attributed to

 o economic growth in previously poor
    countries,

 o democratization of others,

and

 o rising social tolerance for women and
    minority groups.

...

Denmark is the happiest nation and Zimbabwe
the most glum, he found.

...

The United States ranks 16th.

...

Researchers have asked the same two questions
over the years:

   "Taking all things together, would you say
   you are very happy, rather happy, not very
   happy, not at all happy?"

   And,

   "All things considered, how satisfied are
   you with your life as a whole these days?"

...

"The results clearly show that the happiest societies
are those that allow people the freedom to choose
how to live their lives," Inglehart said.

A survey released last week found one reason Amer-
ica doesn't top the list: Baby Boomers are generally
miserable compared to other generations.

...

- - -
Gloom and Doom Rule the Baby Boom

By LiveScience Staff

posted: 25 June 2008 05:26 pm ET
  http://www.livescience.com/health/080625-baby-boomers.html
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Excerpts:

Boomers are tired, overworked, strapped, bummed
out and don't expect to get a break.

More than young people or seniors, Baby Boomers
(aged 44 to 62 now) are gloomy about their lives
and the prospects for improvement, a new survey
finds.

The Pew Research Center Social and Demographic
Trends survey, released today, finds 55 percent of
Boomers think their income won't keep up with
the cost of living, compared to 44 percent and 43
percent respectively for younger and older adults.

Boomers also say it's harder to get ahead now than
it was 10 years ago. The reality may be a bit differ-
ent than impressions, however. The Boomers were
found to be less strained financially then younger
adults and less likely to have been laid off in the
past year. But they were also less likely than younger
adults to have gotten a raise.

Asked to rate their present life on a scale of zero to
10, Boomers came in with an average rating of 6.2.
Those over 62 averaged out at 6.7, and adults aged
18 to 41 came in at 6.5.

Just 26 percent of the Boomers expect to live very
comfortably in retirement, compared to 37 percent
for younger adults and 33 percent for older adults.

...

The results mirror a similar survey released in April
that also found Boomers to be the most miserable
group and less happy than their age group in decades
past.

...

- - - end excerpts - - -

In reply to someone who wrote:

> That's not surprising at all.

> I have been there and everything seems to work.

> I met a Danish couple on the subway (they asked me for
> directions) and while we were riding, they told me they
> get six weeks of vacation a year (the government mandates
> five but companies, in order to compete, offer more), their
> sons were in college studying for free (when they get out
> they don't have massive student loans to contend with) and
> they don't have to worry about retirement or health care.

> They live longer than we do and their standard of living is
> comparable.

> And by the way, Denmark is a democracy with vast personal
> freedom.


Some more details regarding the aspect
of the Declaration of Independence which
refers to happiness ... "We hold these truths
to be self-evident, that all men are created
equal, that they are endowed by their Cre-
ator with certain unalienable rights, that
among these are life, liberty and the pursuit
of happiness."

Wonder if Denmark can serve as the ideal
model by which the U.S. could work to
maximize the pursuit of happiness:

- - -
July 28, 2006

Denmark 'happiest place on earth'
  http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/5224306.stm
- - -

Excerpt:

...

A nation's level of happiness was most closely
associated with health levels. Prosperity and
education were the next strongest determinants
of national happiness.

...

- - -

Comments:

Needless to say, maximizing the prosperity and
education and health of the elite, something the
Bushies have excelled at in the past 8 years, does
nothing to satisfy the prosperity and education
and health needs of the vast majority in the U.S.,
most of whom which have stumbled amidst mas-
sive layoffs, inflated prices, shifting of massive
numbers of jobs (both blue collar -and- white
collar) overseas, and health plans designed to
screw most working Americans.

- - -
January 8, 2007

Denmark: The Happiest Place on Earth
  http://abcnews.go.com/2020/story?id=4086092&page=1
- - -

Excerpts:

...

The happiest people in the world pay some of the
highest taxes in the world -- between 50 percent
and 70 percent of their incomes. In exchange, the
government covers all health care and education,
and spends more on children and the elderly than
any country in the world per capita.

With just 5.5 million people, the system is effi-
cient, and people feel "tryghed" -- the Danish
word for "tucked in" -- like a snug child.

Those high taxes have another effect. Since a
banker can end up taking home as much money
as an artist, people don't chose careers based on
income or status. "They have this thing called
'Jante-lov,' which essentially says, 'You're no
better then anybody else,'" said Buettner. "A gar-
bage man can live in a middle-class neighbor-
hood and hold his head high."

Indeed, garbage man Jan Dion says he's an eight
out of 10 in terms of happiness. He said he doesn't
mind collecting garbage for a living, because he
works just five hours in the morning and then can
spend the rest of the day at home with family or
coaching his daughter's handball team.

Dion says no one judges his choice of career, and
he actually loves what he does because he has
many friends along his route. It makes him happy
when he sees the children who wave to him and
the old ladies who bring him cups of coffee.

...

Hanging out with other Danes just may be their
happiness secret. Ninety-two percent of Danes
belong to some kind of social club, dancing,
singing, even practicing laughing with other
Danes. Get a few people together who enjoy
model train building, for example, and the gov-
ernment will pay for it. In Denmark, even friend-
ship is subsidized.

And Denmark is what is called a "post consum-
erist" society. People have nice things, but shop-
ping and consuming is not a top priority. Even
the advertising is often understated. Along with
less emphasis on "stuff," and a strong social
fabric, Danes also display an amazing level of
trust in each other, and their government. A Uni-
versity of Cambridge happiness study found that
both kinds of trust were higher in happier places.

In Denmark, you can see trust in action all around
you. Vegetable stands run on the honor system,
mothers leave babies unattended in strollers out-
side cafés, and most bicycles are left unlocked.
And perhaps the bicycle is the best symbol of
Danish happiness. Danes can all afford cars, but
they choose bikes, simple, economical, nonpollut-
ing machines that show no status and help keep
people fit.

- - -

Comments:

It appears that the pursuit of happiness in Den-
mark is purchased with high taxation and with
the most marked consequence being widespread
happiness. Would that we in America stop buy-
ing into the myth that lusting for inequality (i.e.,
trying to step on others in an effort to become
rich, trying to join the tiny group of Americans
who swim in pools of money) makes one happy,
when instead, it results in the overwhelming
majority being, well, reference the report on
baby boomers.

- - -
April 17, 2007

What can the Danes teach us about happiness?
  http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/6563639.stm
- - -

Excerpts:

...

Something is markedly unrotten in the state of
Denmark.

Asked to rate both their happiness and long-term
life satisfaction, Danish people trounce their
European cousins.

Many in Denmark put this regularly-surveyed
contentedness down to a dynamic economy and
a pleasant work-life balance, with people leaving
the office on time, jumping on effective public
transport and heading off to pick up their delight-
ful children from a shiny, well-run kindergarten.

...

"Denmark is very consumer-oriented and very
family-oriented. People are sure to leave work
at 4.30pm. They work their eight hours and go
home. Pressure to work overtime doesn't exist."

Denmark has a 37-hour week. Parents get 52
weeks of maternity/paternity leave to be shared
between them - 24 weeks is usually at full pay,
with the rest often at as much as 90% pay. Much
of it can be spread over the first nine years of
the child's life. Childcare is subsidised with no
parent being asked to pay more than 25% of the
cost.

...

"We have high taxes but we have generous un-
employment benefits, a lot of life-long learning.
We feel secure and we feel that we have oppor-
tunities.

"We have a lot of faith in government as an insti-
tution. The authorities are normally competent,
uncorrupt and approachable."

...

- - -

In response to someone who wrote:

> [...] they are heavily taxed, they are happy,
> ergo we will be happy if we are heavily taxed.

> In fact, I can guarantee you this will make
> Americans extremely UNHAPPY.

> Dutch model does not fit the United States
> in the least. Too different.


You neglected to pay much attention to the
consequences of heavy taxation in Denmark,
notably

 o A much more egalitarian society

 o A much freer society, with people
    encouraged to choose the career
    that makes them happy, based on
    personal interests rather than lever-
    aging their lives off of slavery to
    businesses whose primary goal is
    to maximize profit (and reinforce
    economic disparity) regardless of
    the adverse impact to individual
    lives, freedom, and liberty

 o A much more pro-human and pro-
    family society

 o Much less crime

 o Much less economic disparity

 o Much more happiness

 o Far less stress

 o Healthier

- - -

Surely, most can see the advantages of the
Denmark model. Unfortunately, most in
America have been propagandized (thus far)
into believing that the American way (rich
get richer, middle class gets screwed, but
at least they have a theoretical chance at
getting rich [if they're not laid off, if their
jobs aren't shipped overseas, if their health
benefits aren't cut/overpriced/insufficient],
even though the vast majority don't/won't,
and the overwhelming majority of the poor
get the shaft) is best.

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