CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has chosen the happiest nations on earth. In the 10 happiest are Demark and the rest of the Scandinavian countries. What are the characteristics of these countries?
In judging the OECD took into consideration material living conditions such as housing, income and jobs and quality of life such as community, education, environment, governance, health, life satisfaction, safety and work-life balance.
The Danes cite two reasons they are happy. There is no divide of the country between a class of rich and a class of poor. The middle class is large and prosperous. No 1 percent vs. 99 percent. Second, though they have extremely high taxes, the state provides great services. Thus, people decide what occupation to pursue by what they would like to do to earn a living, and not on what amount of money they can earn.
The employment rate in Demark is 73 percent and with a low percentage of workers working overtime. Thus, its people have ample leisure time. They have 16.06 hours of leisure time, including sleep, a condition encouraged by government policies.
Demark is energy independent. Badly hit by the 1973 Arab oil embargo, Demark responded. The people imposed on themselves a set of gasoline taxes, CO2 taxes and building-and-appliance efficiency standards allowing their industry to grow while keeping their energy consumption stable. Denmark gets 20 percent of its electricity from wind. This country is at about 1 percent. The result is that Denmark's energy consumption has remained stable over 30 years while it gross domestic product has doubled.
"Education, including sex education, is available to all with equity and ease -- 99 percent of children graduate from high school," reports Population Press. Higher education doesn't require enormous student loans.
"Demark has national health insurance which provides for all," a Population Press article continues. Family planning, counseling, and pregnancy services are free. "The Danes accept sexuality as a normal part of life, and feel that abortion should be allowed free of social stigma. They decided that prevention of adolescent pregnancy should have a high priority, therefore sex education and responsible parenting classes are part of their school curriculum, starting at an early age. Not surprisingly, there are very few unwanted pregnancies, and few babies to be adopted.
"Denmark has a stable population, a social cohesion, a great educational system, energy independence, universal health care including free family planning, jobs and a retirement system for everyone, comfortable housing, lovely countryside and plenty of leisure time to enjoy it. In short, why wouldn't the Danish people be happy?"
The Danish people have created a society that I believe most peoples would find enjoyable. Instead of working for oneself with a goal of becoming wealthy and telling the rest the devil can take them, the Danes work for the good of nation and all the people in it. It's a humanist nation and a nation that has legalized euthanasia.
Denmark is primarily secular. Yet, it has produced a nation that is closer to one that Christ would approve than this nation with its large Christian population. But this nation is maturing. This last election exhibits that it is. The Tea Party and the more conservative candidates lost. America is secularizing and bringing with it a more charitable and tolerant society, one that fits Christian concepts.
It is ironic that this is the case. This nation with all its attempts to educate its peoples still has a population in which a large percentage still believes in Creationism and not evolution.
In the wake of President Obama's victory, there have been many disappointed Tea-Party types that have signed secessionist petitions. That is, in view of the President's victory they wish to secede from this nation. Such an act reveals the ignorance and teenage mind level of these secessionists. They are the super-individualists, the all-hat-no-cattle cowboys, the NRA lovers, the let the devil-take-the-hind-most capitalists, militarists and all those others who sneer at a society that works to build the kind of society that Denmark has created.
Thus, it seems appropriate to accommodate the secessionists by paying the fare to transport them to one of the happiest nations on earth. They can growl about the taxes while enjoying the amenities and lifestyle of a liberal nation. And be converted to the ways of a sane nation -- perhaps.
Mann is a lawyer in Hinton.