Glum and Glummer

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By Bill Maher

What good is being “exceptional” and “the greatest country on Earth” if we’re not happy?  If you’ve been refreshing your computer screen over and over again to get the UN’s Sustainable Development Solutions Network’s annual World Happiness Report, it’s finally out. And the news is not good. The United States is at its unhappiest level since the report’s inception, falling four places this year to number 18. Just behind Wakanda.

The Washington Post reports, “The statisticians weighed six variables, according to the report: GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, social freedom, generosity and absence of corruption.” And the U.S. was downgraded because “obesity, substance abuse (including opioid abuse) and depression offset the happiness that often comes with the kind of economic growth the United States has seen since 1972…”  

Plus, it doesn’t help to have a President who ends every tweet with the word “Sad!”

“Corporate lobbying and deregulation have allowed pharmaceutical companies to drown the country in opioids, and high medical costs curb the ability for many people to seek treatment… But more issues are at work in the United States. ‘Social support networks in the U.S. have weakened over time; perceptions of corruption in government and business have risen over time; and confidence in public institutions has waned,’ the report said.”

The top ten happiest countries in order are: Finland, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden and Australia – not the shithole countries, but interestingly all countries with universal healthcare. And at least five of the ten have what’s described as “free or nearly free tuition.” Another thing many have in common is relatively strong unions and adequate pension plans. They’re not walking around, wringing their hands, saying, “What if I get sick? How am I gonna pay for college? Who’s gonna take care of me when I get old?”

We’re a bitter, divided, paranoid country so married to the idea of an every-man-for-himself free market that we don’t take care of one another. We live our lives in fear, anxiety and depression because a corporate kleptocracy has turned our pockets inside out and is now holding us down and stealing our shoelaces. As if they have to hold us down – we’re all nodding off on opiates.