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Northern Europeans are the happiest people on the planet, according to a new survey.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development says people in Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands are the most content with their lives. The three ranked first, second and third, respectively, in the OECD's rankings of "life satisfaction," or happiness.

There are myriad reasons, of course, for happiness: health, welfare, prosperity, leisure time, strong family, social connections and so on. But there is another common denominator among this group of happy people: taxes.

Northern Europeans pay some of the highest taxes in the world. Danes pay about two-thirds of their income in taxes. Why be so happy about that? It all comes down to what you get in return.

The Encyclopedia of the Nations notes that Denmark was one of the first countries in the world to establish efficient social services with the introduction of relief for the sick, unemployed and aged.

It says social welfare programs include health insurance, health and hospital services, insurance for occupational injuries, unemployment insurance and employment exchange services. There's also old age and disability pensions, rehabilitation and nursing homes, family welfare subsidies, general public welfare and payments for military accidents. Moreover, maternity benefits are payable up to 52 weeks.

Simply, you pay for what you get. Taxes in the U.S. have taken on a pejorative association because, well, we are never really quite sure of what we get in return for paying them, other than the world's biggest military.

Healthcare and other such social services aren't built into our system. That means we have to worry more about paying for things ourselves. Worrying doesn't equate to happiness.

The U.S. ranked 11th on the OECD list. In addition to the top three, we were beat out by Sweden, Belgium, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland and Norway. To be sure, we were ahead of France, Great Britain, Japan and China, among many others. But we can do better.

With the highest gross domestic product in the world, we are the richest country. On a per capita basis, though, we don't even make the top 10. The U.S. ranks 15th in this category, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Denmark -- maybe because they are happy -- ranked fifth. Other, more "satisfied" countries also earn more on an individual income basis. Oh yes, and the average workweek in Scandinavian countries is less than the U.S.'s

We need to take better care of ourselves.

It may not just be taxes, of course, that lead to happiness. There are other factors to consider. But better social services and less worry about having to pay for things such as medical bills, retirement and education do help with the happiness factor.

Yet, we are so dead set against paying more taxes that it's even spawning nationwide protests. Tea party, anyone?

Maybe it's time that we looked at taxes differently. We have to pay them anyway. So they might as well make us happy. If Northern Europe is any benchmark, the more we'd pay the happier we just may be.

Thomas M. Kostigen

Copied from Wall Street Journal


 

by on May. 15, 2009 at 4:01 PM
Replies (61-64):
callmeann
by Member on May. 18, 2009 at 11:05 AM

Supreme Court justice John Marshal has said that "Indeed, in a free government almost all other rights would become worthless if the government possessed power over the private fortune of every citizen” and also, "the power to tax is the power to destroy".

It isn't greed behind all the tax protests, it is the lack of limits on governmental encroachment.  We have no realistic ability to say enough is enough and the fact is that you should have the right to say where the fruits of your own labor go to.  If America were not a compassionate nation, we would have long ago put our foot down when illegal immigrant families started burdening hospitals to the point of closing.  We would not be paying  outrageous amounts of money without demanding accountability for where it goes. It's true that America is a huge nation.  We have an astoundingly large workforce that pays through the nose for what is supposed to be a safety net for those who can't contribute due to genuine disability.  But, when it is suggested that reasonable measures be implemented to audit these systems, these measures are denounced as selfish and inhumane.  Every guideline or limit is challenged by finding someone who is just on the edge of eligibility, who may not be helped quite enough and compassionate America caves and pays more, to be abused.  If the money already being paid in taxes were managed properly, we would have no poverty at all.  If the money already being paid into the educational system was used wisely, everyone could go to school for free.  The problem is that they would be taught that government should be your nanny and that freedom is for selfish brutes.  They already teach that, so it really isn't up for argument.

The simple fact is that those European countries were established and designed to operate the way they are.  They have always done so.  We were founded to operate as a nation of individuals and have been undergoing systematic, yet sneaky- end run around the Constitution and the market - mechanisms and it results in corruption and abuse.  We need to decide which way we want to go and make it work.  I cringe when I write that because I don't really want the electorate to decide to go the European way.  They have that part of the world and we have ours. Their way of doing things results in a certain national character and mentality and if our way was truly being implemented, we would have our own unique national indentity.  When someone says that America is no longer admired and respected by the rest of the world, no one looks at the key phrase "no longer".  Back when we were considered a shining example for the world, in our freedom and industriousness, we were a much further cry from the European model than we are, even now.  People looked out for themselves and their immediate neighbor and the government was expected to merely protect our nation's international security and common infrastructure.  Once we started expecting it to be the answer to social ills and public welfare, the corruption grew.

The market has not really been allowed to operate for decades.  Whoever posted that question above, about how is your freedom and control working for you has a point, but it is misplaced.  We haven't had that control for quite a long time, now. 

As for the survey, I came in late on this, but I want to point out that not all surveys are honest or accurate.  I have talked to many people from Europe who tell me that national healthcare is great for young and healthy people.  They say that if you are old or have a chronic illness, you can die waiting for the care you need and it doesn't have the support necessary for medical innovation.  My brother and his wife love to go to Holland and do so whenever they can.  They talk with the locals and the message they come away with is that not all Dutch people are so thrilled with the way their country operates.  Plenty of them resent the taxes they pay.  My kids correspond with people all over the world over the web.  According to the world citizens they talk to, abuse of the government dole is rampant and contributes to great bitterness between the payers and the takers.

Lets not be so quick to rewrite our system.  We should be looking at ways to weed out the corruption and shore up the market place so that average Americans can take their own charitable impulses and use them where they see they can do the most good.  It's true that the pictures you see of the people in America during its height don't look as shiny and affluent as what we strive for now, but if we had the level of freedom they had then, we would have something more valuable and that would be the kind of contentment that the world would envy again.


sweetie00
by on May. 18, 2009 at 11:53 AM


Quoting WImom2:

 

Quoting Gypsyuma:

Thanks Della - now I can put a face with your name.  Awesome!

What I don't understand is WHY it has to be black and white - if we have social program to allow for free higher education, and for free access to healthcare, then that means all is going to hell and we are going to be the "SAME" as everyone else?

Sorry, but I lived in France (SOCIALIST COUNTRY) for years, and noone was the "SAME".  There were still rich and poor - total class system.

Can people just back off the black and white and see there can be shades of gray?


It's not the same. Most of that is generational wealth. Which means if your great grand daddy didn't have it you won't either. No one has the opportunity to achieve it on their own, they are simply taxed out of it. Not to mention why should the people with less get to ride on the backs of those who have more? They shouldn't. Nothing is free, nothing. There is a high price to be paid. EVERYONE should have to pay for their own. Health care, education- none of it should be free. Especially at the expense of others.

OUCH! Maybe if it were AFFORDABLE....................Holy crap, if there were no help, we'd all be stupid or dead. I don't mind paying for healthcare and education for others. I wish ppl would realize what an incredible investment it would be.And like Gypsy said, it would virtually cut out or greatly reduce welfare programs that don't help ppl FURTHER their lives, like a healthy, educated AMERICAN can.

WImom2
by Silver Member on May. 18, 2009 at 12:00 PM


Quoting Gypsyuma:

 

Quoting WImom2:

 

Quoting Gypsyuma:

Thanks Della - now I can put a face with your name.  Awesome!

What I don't understand is WHY it has to be black and white - if we have social program to allow for free higher education, and for free access to healthcare, then that means all is going to hell and we are going to be the "SAME" as everyone else?

Sorry, but I lived in France (SOCIALIST COUNTRY) for years, and noone was the "SAME".  There were still rich and poor - total class system.

Can people just back off the black and white and see there can be shades of gray?


It's not the same. Most of that is generational wealth. Which means if your great grand daddy didn't have it you won't either. No one has the opportunity to achieve it on their own, they are simply taxed out of it. Not to mention why should the people with less get to ride on the backs of those who have more? They shouldn't. Nothing is free, nothing. There is a high price to be paid. EVERYONE should have to pay for their own. Health care, education- none of it should be free. Especially at the expense of others.

First, I found it very naive and a bit self-centered for you to base the framework of this country and how it can best serve ALL citizens simply around you and your needs.  Since you have got it all, then you want noone else to get anything.

And what exactly are we talking about here - I don't think I suggested you should turn your paycheck over to the government so that it can be divided up and distributed.  I am talking about:

1.  Offering free higher education - maybe we would save alot of money on welfare if everyone had the opportunity to get an education????

2.  Offering free access to healthcare = maybe our businesses would be more competitive and less likely to outsource overseas if they were not strapped with the responsibility of making sure their employees get to go to the hospital if they get sick.  Why the hell should a BUSINESS that someone works for have that responsibility anyway???

YOu exagerate the issues, oversimplify the problems we have, and only base your opinion on the countries needs on whether or not your personal needs are being met.

Thank god you are not in politics - requires a little bit more of a COMMUNITY perspective.

First of all I DO want others to achieve, that is my point. by putting everyone on the same level there is no REASON to want to achieve IF your going to be punished for it.

Free education? WHY???? When it comes to the welfare system it NEEDS to be overhauled, these people need to be trained and they need to be offered job services. HOWEVER I do NOT think every single person is entitled to a free higher education- if they want one they can go get it. Why should the rest of us pay for it? We shouldn't.

Health care costs have nothing to do with business' outsourcing. HIGH taxes are the main reason. WHICH socializing health care would further RAISE taxes on everyone including business'- furthering the problem.

YOU seem to think everyone deserves to ride off the backs of some. Which in the long run hurts everyone.

sweetie00
by on May. 18, 2009 at 12:15 PM


Quoting WImom2:

 

Quoting Gypsyuma:

 

Quoting WImom2:

 

Quoting Gypsyuma:

Thanks Della - now I can put a face with your name.  Awesome!

What I don't understand is WHY it has to be black and white - if we have social program to allow for free higher education, and for free access to healthcare, then that means all is going to hell and we are going to be the "SAME" as everyone else?

Sorry, but I lived in France (SOCIALIST COUNTRY) for years, and noone was the "SAME".  There were still rich and poor - total class system.

Can people just back off the black and white and see there can be shades of gray?


It's not the same. Most of that is generational wealth. Which means if your great grand daddy didn't have it you won't either. No one has the opportunity to achieve it on their own, they are simply taxed out of it. Not to mention why should the people with less get to ride on the backs of those who have more? They shouldn't. Nothing is free, nothing. There is a high price to be paid. EVERYONE should have to pay for their own. Health care, education- none of it should be free. Especially at the expense of others.

First, I found it very naive and a bit self-centered for you to base the framework of this country and how it can best serve ALL citizens simply around you and your needs.  Since you have got it all, then you want noone else to get anything.

And what exactly are we talking about here - I don't think I suggested you should turn your paycheck over to the government so that it can be divided up and distributed.  I am talking about:

1.  Offering free higher education - maybe we would save alot of money on welfare if everyone had the opportunity to get an education????

2.  Offering free access to healthcare = maybe our businesses would be more competitive and less likely to outsource overseas if they were not strapped with the responsibility of making sure their employees get to go to the hospital if they get sick.  Why the hell should a BUSINESS that someone works for have that responsibility anyway???

YOu exagerate the issues, oversimplify the problems we have, and only base your opinion on the countries needs on whether or not your personal needs are being met.

Thank god you are not in politics - requires a little bit more of a COMMUNITY perspective.

First of all I DO want others to achieve, that is my point. by putting everyone on the same level there is no REASON to want to achieve IF your going to be punished for it.

Free education? WHY???? When it comes to the welfare system it NEEDS to be overhauled, these people need to be trained and they need to be offered job services. HOWEVER I do NOT think every single person is entitled to a free higher education- if they want one they can go get it. Why should the rest of us pay for it? We shouldn't.

Health care costs have nothing to do with business' outsourcing. HIGH taxes are the main reason. WHICH socializing health care would further RAISE taxes on everyone including business'- furthering the problem.

YOU seem to think everyone deserves to ride off the backs of some. Which in the long run hurts everyone.

Seriously?????

And WRONG. Taxes are just the excuse. The real reason is pay. That is why they hate unions. If they could pay Americans 5$ a day with no benefits, yes, they would all come back!

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