What would make you happy?

Would you be happy if:

  • You did not worry about being laid off from your job?
  • You knew you could afford the cost of health care for your family?
  • You could be paid to go to college?
  • My sister was recently telling me about an Oprah segment about Denmark, the happiest people in the world. Denmark ranked top on the list of happiest countries in a study by sociologists at the University of Leicester. Oprah wanted to find out why the Danes are such happy people. Here’s what she learned.

    For the past 30 years, scientific researchers and survey results have all reached the same conclusion—Danes are consistently happier than the rest of the world.

    Homelessness, poverty and unemployment are also extremely rare in this nation of 5.5 million people. If you lose your job, Nanna says the government continues to pay up to 90 percent of your salary for four years. And not to worry…healthcare is free for everyone.

    Women typically get six to 12 months in paid maternity leave. And, when it’s time to go to college, citizens get paid to go the universities.

    On the map of happiness, the U.S. is 23rd, below Switzerland, Austria, all the Scandinavian countries, below Canada – you know, below all those socialist countries.

    Socialism. That ugly word that means taking money from the rich and giving to the poor. The word that causes great frowns and lines in the faces of Republicans. They’re definitely not happy if you start talking about healthcare for everyone. Outrageous thought, isn’t it? Healthcare for everyone?

    It all depends on your priorities. As a society we deem certain things important enough that we require all members of society to help support them financially. Things like schools, highways, police, firefighters. And things like General Motors and banks too big to fail.

    But not healthcare for everyone. We draw the line there.

    The Leicester study said, “Further analysis showed that a nation’s level of happiness was most closely associated with health levels (correlation of .62), followed by wealth (.52), and then provision of education”

    In the U.S. we make wealth a priority. And we take care of education, K through 12 anyway. But we are shamefully unwilling to address the healthcare needs of ALL American citizens. It is unfathomable to me that we have such a discriminatory system that provides the best healthcare for our elected leaders and for government workers, but it’s a crap shoot for everyone else, many with high premiums and deductibles, an unbelievable number with no insurance at all, and even the well-insured driven to bankruptcy–the double jeopardy of being struck by a catastophic illness in the U.S.

    As I listen to the debate over healthcare and whether or not there will be a public option, I try to imagine what our country would be like if we adopted the policies and attitudes of Denmark. What a different country it would be. It sounds like a place I’d like to live. Then I look around at all those frowning conservative Republicans, and I realize, we have no chance of being the happiest country in the world.

    If you haven’t already seen it, Jon Stewart took a look at life in Sweden, another one of those “happy” countries.

    The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
    The Stockholm Syndrome Pt. 1
    Daily Show
    Full Episodes
    Political Humor Health Care Crisis
    The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
    The Stockholm Syndrome Pt. 2
    Daily Show
    Full Episodes
    Political Humor Health Care Crisis


    1. #1 by Ken on November 1, 2009 - 10:16 pm

      In the United States we believe in the “pursuit of happiness” not happiness handed to you.

    2. #2 by Becky Stauffer on November 1, 2009 - 11:31 pm


      I’m glad you showed up on this. I want to discuss this with someone who thinks like you do. Let me ask you a question. Do you support some publicly-funded activities and not others? For example, schools and firefighters and health care? And what is your criteria for determining which activities should be publicly funded and which should not?

    3. #3 by cav on November 1, 2009 - 11:40 pm

      We are our government!

      Sadly, we’ve been led to believe facism is the proper way, while fearing / cursing socialism. Oh noes – not give to each, according to his / her needs from a total derived from each, according to his / her abilities. That would be wrong.

      Nothing is handed to anyone, ‘cept bailout billions to the already rich, and limitless $s to the war-makers. Got it just bass-ackwards! But that’s the plan.

    4. #4 by Ken on November 1, 2009 - 11:41 pm

      There was once a guy who said lets give everything anyone needs or wants and everyone will be happy. Then there was another guy who said no, lets give people the ability to fail as well as succeed because this allows people to grow and learn from their failures so they may possibly realize their true potential because therein lies true happiness.

      Many people agreed with the first guy but most agreed with the second guy because they realized that the first guy could not lead us into true happiness and there would be no room for growth. So we went with the second guy even though we knew we may fall short. But it is worth it.

    5. #5 by Ken on November 1, 2009 - 11:56 pm

      Becky, to answer your question…

      Having a government that builds roads and provides essential services and a military for defense are good because they benefit everyone uniformly. A government should only be large enough to carry out essential services that cannot be provided by the private sector. Governments should only be concerned about what is in the common interest and use money sparingly, giving favor and privilege to none, to benefit everyone as a whole.

      Whenever government gives they must first take. To “help” one person they force us at the point of a gun to pay taxes. This includes creating the IRS to threaten, intimidate, and harass people into submission. It includes taking the homes of retired people, taking the life savings of someone who has died, causing someone to commit suicide, driving someone out of business, causing someone to go bankrupt, breaking up marriages and families, causing someone to stay up at night worrying how they are going to pay their taxes. It means confiscating the fruits of your labor. For one to gain many must suffer. This is not the road to happiness.

      True charity should be up to the individual, churches and organizations. No one is forced at the point of a gun to give to charity and those that receive it are not given a sense of entitlement, unlike government welfare that leaves both the “giver” and taker dissatisfied and too often bitter and resentful.

    6. #6 by cav on November 2, 2009 - 12:08 am

      We could have proper regulation of the financial system, a reduction or reallocation of resources bent away from imperial pursuits and still have the prosperous economy and the lifestyles that the Wall Street trader and finance types expect. But America is increasingly about blind adherence to ideology preventing us from acting on our own best potentials.

      More, more, more of the rich mans idea of where we ought to be, is not every mans road to happiness. Think: slavery.

    7. #7 by cav on November 2, 2009 - 12:18 am

      How much work does the ‘golden-parachute crowd’ do to deserve the billions in handouts they are being given?

    8. #8 by Ken Bingham on November 2, 2009 - 12:40 am


      They are not. Corporate welfare is just as bad if not worse. If I choose to support a company I will either invest in it or buy their products. We are literally voting to keep them in business, and by not supporting them we are voting them out of business. For the government to step in and force us to pay taxes to support a company is taking away our vote.

    9. #9 by Becky Stauffer on November 2, 2009 - 6:12 am

      Ok Ken, so you consider health care for all to be a form of charity, correct?

      Let’s get personal now. If you don’t mind my asking, what is the lifetime cap your own health insurance offers? And what would happen to you if, heaven forbid, someone in your family had a terrible illness that ran up medical bills far exceeding that?

      What would you do? Would you put jars in 7-11? Do you know someone with say a million dollars they could give you in charity?

    10. #10 by James Farmer on November 2, 2009 - 8:17 am


      That is the kind of question that stops people like Ken dead in their tracks. So long as the unimaginable happens to others, folks like Ken feel free to spew their heartless crap, evidenced by Ken’s comment above. The same goes with Ken’s commentary re tort reform – it’s all bad until you or someone else in your family is injured by someone else’s negligence, at which point it is perfectly fine to hire the best trial lawyer one can find.

    11. #11 by Is it getting warm in here? on November 2, 2009 - 8:24 am

      “What would make you happy”?, he said, as she went about making her families health care affordable. A ford, a venerable American car, and place to cross a river as well. It was his job and he planned not be lain from it, paid to go college as he was the chasm was not so great it could not be crossed. The criterion being what could be publicly promoted and what would have to push cart itself.

      Ah, the push cart, famous in that this is the place state, for carrying dreams along with sundries, not a worry in the world but to push it. “Across Denmark that would take a week maybe” said digby, and you could stay in the youth hostel, as he roared past in his aging SUV find another gas station.

    12. #12 by rmwarnick on November 2, 2009 - 9:23 am

      Let’s not forget that the trillions of dollars the Bush administration and Congress committed to Iraq and Afghanistan could have paid for a lot of health care for Americans.

      Not one word was ever mentioned during the Iraq war debates regarding cost, not one word of concern where we would find the money. The votes for the war came in quickly and without hesitation. Yet, a health care reform bill that would provide subsidies to cover Americans, is now a tax increase according to the Republicans who care so much about the American taxpayer.

      Of course, in reality, real health care reform would save all of us money and reduce the federal deficit.

    13. #13 by Becky Stauffer on November 2, 2009 - 12:05 pm

      James, that’s right. I’m sure Ken doesn’t consider himself a selfish, heartless bastard. He’s just a good red-blooded Capitalist like Heavenly Father wants him to be. And he feels safe answering as he did as the odds are very much in his favor that such a scenario will not happen to him. It’s a roll of the dice and he’s willing to gamble.

      Ken, are you there? i’d like to pose some other more likely examples. For example, what if you lost your job and either couldn’t pay the COBRA or it ran out? And then you suffered a massive heart attack (again, God forbid) requiring extensive care in ICU as well as surgery and follow-up treatment? Do you think you could count on Medicaid to cover the expense? And if you turn to Medicaid, do you know the terms of Medicaid–what assets you will have to give up? Or would you decline Medicaid since it is publicly funded and therefore ‘charity’ in your eyes? What would you honestly do, Ken?

      Richard, your last statement should be the most convincing to those who are so opposed to the public option. Real health care reform will save money and reduce the deficit. If Ken and others are not blinded by their political loyalties, they will see the truth in this.

    14. #14 by Richard Warnick on November 2, 2009 - 12:41 pm

      Does anyone remember Douglas Holtz-Eakin, senior policy adviser to Senator McCain’s presidential campaign? From the Washington Post:

      [T]he man who was by McCain’s side as the campaign’s top health-care guru remains unemployed — and his COBRA health coverage is running out.

      Irony of ironies, it gets worse. Holtz-Eakin, who is about to start shopping for insurance on the individual market, is 51. And he has one of those pesky “preexisting conditions” that insurance companies often cite in denying coverage.

    15. #15 by Becky Stauffer on November 2, 2009 - 1:44 pm

      That’s interesting, Rich. Could such a connected guy end up with no insurance?

      As we know, a pre-existing condition can be just about anything, too. My hairdresser went to 10 different companies trying to get just catastrophic health insurance and was turned down by one and all because of scar tissue she had had removed. The insurance she could get was so costly and offered such poor coverage, she found she would be wiped out financially anyway if anything happened. So now she is taking her chances with no insurance.

      She has been told the real reason she was turned down was because of her profession where she is exposed to chemicals and works in such close proximity with people who could pass on illnesses. I dont’ doubt that at all.

    16. #16 by Richard Warnick on November 2, 2009 - 2:22 pm


      I’m worried that Congress is going to pass a law that forces people like your hairdresser to buy insurance anyway, even though they are better off not paying premiums for worthless plans.

      Looking on the lighter side, Jay Leno joked a couple weeks ago that if they send you to prison for not buying insurance you’ll get free government health care.

    17. #17 by cav on November 2, 2009 - 3:41 pm

      The smiles that John Stewart and his crew put on my face are a great part of my happiness and healthcare package.

      And, of course, the Swedes give me hope.

    18. #18 by cav on November 2, 2009 - 4:01 pm

      ‘All we ever were, all we ever are, all we ever hope to be depends on the Democratic Party,’ ” Hatch said during an interview with the conservative CNSNews.com.

      What a drama queen. That permanent republican majority led by W and his minion Rove was going to be just fine, right Orrin. If you had to achieve it by lying, cheating and throwing democrats in jail for the crime of being democrats well you have to break eggs to make omelets.

    19. #19 by Richard Warnick on November 2, 2009 - 4:06 pm

      Shorter Hatch, via Atrios:

      Orrin Hatch says we can’t have health care reform because it will be awesome and everyone will love it and they’ll be so grateful that they will vote for Democrats for all eternity.

    20. #20 by Becky Stauffer on November 2, 2009 - 4:37 pm

      Cav, the Swedes, Danes, Canadians, Aussies, so many others, give me hope too. Keep smiling. 🙂

      Rich and Cav, thanks for the quotes from Hatch. At least we can understand why the Republicans want to be a roadblock in this effort. It’s all about party politics, and American people be damned.

    21. #21 by Larry Bergan on November 2, 2009 - 7:06 pm

      That’s the first thing Hatch has said that actually makes sense. Of course if you give people what they want, (in this case, health and happiness for those around them), they are going to vote for you until that changes.

      It will NEVER happen, because our country is STILL run by a bunch of bullheads that can’t let heath care happen for one reason; it will prove them wrong on everything bad they’ve done to us.

      When people start to realize that you shouldn’t ever be more concerned about your damn hospital bill then about about yourself and your family surviving a terrible accident, they’re going to be plenty angry.

      The Soviet people used to be angry because they knew their government was lying to them. The American people are portrayed around the world as not being able to get enough lies rather then being informed about the realities of the world and their own country by a media that props up the greedy and tells us they are needed somehow. The only people fighting them don’t get paid for their efforts and we’re supposed to think they’re stupid.

      If Paul Revere rode through the streets today trying to alert us to the danger of imperialism, the teabaggers would tell him to shut up and have him arrested.

    22. #22 by Larry Bergan on November 2, 2009 - 7:10 pm

      Nice contrast in the Daily Show piece between the corporate rapper’s digs and the Swedish superstar’s digs. If I’m not mistaken, (and I’m no expert on rap), but I think it started out as a forum for people of any walk of life to vent, not a path to greed.

    23. #23 by brewski on November 3, 2009 - 11:43 am

      Denmark is socialist? I think not:
      1. The corporate income tax rate is lower than the US
      2. Corporations do not have to make social security contributions for their employees like US companies do
      3. Denmark’s immigration policies are much stricter than in the US
      4. Denmark’s largest political party is a free-trade party
      5. It was a Danish newspaper who printed the Mohammed cartoons which almost all US newspapers refused

      So yes, I would take Denmark’s system over the US’s in a heartbeat.

    24. #24 by Bubba VanDyke on November 3, 2009 - 6:32 pm

      Forcing everyone to buy insurance. Sounds a lot like the warm, fuzzy public-private partnership, the cooperation between government and business, the beloved middle-of-the-road between big business capitalism and big government socialism. Also known as fascism, whether provided by Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative.

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