To find out how happy they are in a country, you can ignore the richest 3% of the population: look directly at the poorest 3%. It’s a hobby of British economist Richard Layard, author of the study Fight against inequalities and one of the compilers of the now famous World Happiness Report.
The first place in this world ranking of happiness is held by Finland. A few years ago I heard something about it that I still think about often: “The winners have country houses all over the world. The losers only have country houses in Finland.
Well, winners almost everywhere live the same – they look alike. For example, you will find equivalents of “our” Harry Mens in almost every one of the nearly two hundred recognized countries around the world. In almost all of these two hundred countries, they manage to make the right choice, to put their money aside, to build their villas and to safeguard their interests. He researches the differences between the Bolivian Harry Mens, the Eritrean Harry Mens, the Uzbek Harry Mens and our own Harry Mens.
It doesn’t matter if you are a winner somewhere, it doesn’t matter if you are one of the less fortunate somewhere. Take people born into disadvantaged families who also have a disability. You have countries like Finland where they have their own car and can park that vehicle in places specially designed for them.
These residents are already worse off in countries where ordinary drivers invariably occupy these special disabled parking spaces. Just look at how it works in car parks in Greece, Italy or Romania. They do even worse in countries where there are no disabled parking spaces at all. Take Moldova or Azerbaijan. This includes countries that do not provide parking at all, such as the Central African Republic or South Sudan. Less privileged people often live there on the streets. Half of the paved road surface consists of walkways leading to the villas.
The more a country strives to correct the inequalities inherent in the world, the happier its people tend to be. Who does not believe this should study the top 10 of the world happiness ranking. From number 1 to number 10: Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, Netherlands, Sweden, New Zealand, Austria, Luxembourg. The fact that the United States is much lower is not due to a lower percentage of the rich, but a higher percentage of the poor for whom there are very few social services.
“The greatest happiness of the greatest number is the foundation of morality and law”, said two centuries ago the illustrious philosopher of law Jeremy Bentham. In the Benthamite models, used by the compilers of the World Happiness Report, the happiness of each inhabitant of a country also weighs. Their conclusion leaves little to be desired in terms of clarity: support for social facilities.
In the last edition of the World Happiness Ranking, the Netherlands occupied sixth place. Few of the people of the fifth happiest country in the world are unaware that inequalities have also increased in various areas in recent decades. The characteristic of inequality correction mechanisms is that they must be constantly promoted. Take them for granted or look the other way for a moment and there will be a mess right away.
This special edition deals with many types of divisions between rich and poor. You will find stories about inequalities in income and wealth, differences in origin, differences between young and old and much more. Solutions are also suggested by French economist Thomas Piketty, Volkskrant thinker Peter de Waard and several others.
I hope you will enjoy reading it.
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