The World Happiness Report, released today, shows that in this country, well, we’re not happy campers.
Ok, no surprise there. The data: The U.S. is ranked 14th happiest place in the world, the report says. As the Associated Press reported, “Americans are getting sadder…” Our ranking was down from 13th a year ago.
To come up with its findings, the World Happiness Report does use some measurement indicators, with rankings based on “gross domestic product per person, healthy life expectancy”and other factors such as social support, freedom, corruption and generosity.
Seriously, data? Does it matter where we rank on the happiness quotient? But we are in a funk and need to get out of it, generally speaking.
The report does provide some insight. Too often, the report says, we talk about economics in our “political discourse ” – i.e., money – but that’s not helping us toward happiness, the report says.
“The predominant political discourse in the United States is aimed at raising economic growth, with the goal of restoring the American Dream and the happiness that is supposed to accompany it,” the report says. “But the data show conclusively that this is the wrong approach.”
Here’s the key point:
“The United States can and should raise happiness by addressing America’s multi-faceted social crisis – rising inequality, corruption, isolation, and distrust – rather than focusing exclusively or even mainly on economic growth, especially since the concrete proposals along these lines would exacerbate rather than ameliorate the deepening social crisis.”
“Almost all of the policy discourse in Washington DC centers on naive attempts to raise the economic growth rate as if a higher growth rate would somehow heal the deepening divisions and angst in American society.”
Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University, a co-author of the report, told the AP that the happiest place – Norway – has a sense of community that is losing ground in the U.S.
“We’re becoming more and more mean-spirited,” Sachs told AP. “And our government is becoming more and more corrupt. And inequality is rising.”
Here’s another thought: by pounding away on the theme of America First — as so often is done by the White House — our happiness quotient probably will move further back of the pack.
–By Joe Cantlupe