Fascinating stuff:  Little Denmark, with its five-and-a-half million people, is the happiest country in the world, says a study done by an English University. 60 Minutes reports why the Danes are so happy and explores why the U.S. is way down the list.

 

 

See also this study:

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the happiest of them all? (PDF)

Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts, May 2008
http://www.crema-research.ch/papers/2007-16.pdf

Source:
And The Happiest Place On Earth Is…
Morley Safer On Why The Danes Are Considered The Happiest People On Earth
60 Minutes, June 15, 2008   
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/02/14/60minutes/main3833797.shtml

~~~

Category: Psychology, Video

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

53 Responses to “The Pursuit Of Happiness”

  1. Denmark must imprison and torture without trial many more people with swarthy skin than the U.S.

    We all know that is the key to happiness.

    And greed, of course.

  2. Jim says:

    There you go, Douglas. The more racist a society, the happier. I guess that’s what Fox News and a lot of other people in positions of power would still like to tell us, only these days, in code words.

    Anyway, I would give my eye teeth to be able to live in almost any of the Western European countries.

    I probably make less money than most people who read this blog, but I still earn what ought to be a perfectly comfortable income. But instead, I live brutally frugally. I don’t own a house, I don’t own a car. I have little furniture, spend next to nothing on clothes, and I stay in the rental unit in which I live even though I would rather live elsewhere because the rent is so low.

    And all of this frugality is because my life in so insecure. No matter how frugal I am, no matter how much money I save, my retirement will be next to destitute. I imagine having to live in some unfurnished room in some small town in Iowa with a single bare light bulb, eating dog food. And by the time I retire, there may well be no Medicare at all, and I will just have to “check out” if I get ill.

    Sound negative? Just yesterday, the Yahoo finance page had an article saying that for retirement, I would need to have saved over million dollars for my medical expenses alone. I watched an advertisent today on the Web for some financial advising firm that said I would need more than two million dollars to retire. By either standard, I will simply not exist.

    A Dane, or German, or Dutchman, or Swede has to worry about none of these things, and would never dream of being as frugal as I am. For his 50% taxes (and in the Netherlands, I happen to know, my taxes would be no higher than they are here), he gets a peace of mind I could not dream of. Furthermore, he gets tha ability to innovate—to go out and start a business, or do something gratifying or beneficial to society rather than merely remunerative, because doing so would not risk financial devastation as it would here.

    I believe the rulers of our land have us exactly where they want us: fearful and immobile. It keeps labor costs down.

    Oh, and by the way, quite coincidentally, I looked on Craigslist earlier today to see what rents were like in Copenhagen, and I could not dream of having an apartment in the city in which I live that would be as nice as the ones I saw in the Craiglist ads for the rents they were asking.

  3. Mike in NOLA says:

    Jim:

    As you well know “Freedom isn’t Free.” Someone’s got to pay for it. And it ain’t the rich and powerful. That would stifle financial innovation.

  4. ali_M says:

    This is very BAD news for the materialistic driven society…. I’m a foreigner and am very happy w the modest living that i have… i have lots of time to do what i want to do…. i know people that make 5X my earnings and boy are they miserable people… Jesus said “be content in ALL things”

    Who ever dies w the most does not win…sorry Trump… we all knew this anyways.. look at the tabloids… stories of fame and rich filled w drugs, alcohol, sorrow, suicide….

    Lastly, OPPORTUNITY… I think at least having the opportunity (Denmark= college) to earn a descent living is important…. many people in our country do not have that… and time to build life long friendships… which has faded in the U.S.

    Ali

  5. sergtat says:

    Jim, if you put your money of shore and retire
    in Latin America, you will probably pull it off. BTW US of A is becoming Latin America anyway. And why wait? Move over there open a business and leave full life. It is less expensive, the weather is much better and women are nice and don’t wear army boots…
    BTW do you know that US is the only country that tax it’s expats? Even if you denounce your citizenship you have to pay taxes for 10 years.

  6. Doug_S says:

    Yuo really think that because politicians say they will all have free health care (whatever they want) and free elder care the rest of their lives it will be true?

    I’ll bet Denmark has a declining population, little to no immigration, increasing life expectancy.

    Let’s see, paid to go to school and take as long as you like. I’ll bet productive working starts mid 30′s and ends at 65. No one is stressed to achieve because it will all be taken away from you anyway. Low crime is probably one big factor in their happyness and it ain’t because of their great police and courts.

  7. OhNoNotAgain says:

    Here comes Doug_S to tell us all the *real* story…

    Why don’t you actually look into the way they run their healthcare systems, and how they actually make productive investments in their citizens vis-a-vis free university educations ? You might be surprised to find that the productive investments help to pay for these generous social benefits that they receive throughout their lives through higher-earnings throughout these same lives. And, you might also be surprised to find out that they spend a *lot* less on their healthcare systems, which is one reason why they’re affordable and available to all. And, stay with me here because this is the kicker, many of them use not-for-profit competition as the basis for keeping costs down. In other words, they’ve managed to use market ideas in the service of the state without having some corporations sucking at the teat for their continual cost+ payments.

    It seems to me Doug_S, that your major problem with them is that they actually are happy and don’t have the fear of the boot coming down on their necks due to a job loss or medical problems. And that makes you a piece of crap.

  8. VennData says:

    Again, people miss the main point: the reason Danes are so happy is the becalming influence of living next to Germany who always protects them.

  9. Doug_S says:

    Ah yes. We should just use not for profit competition to make computers and jetliners and insurance and entertainment and construction and hospitals, etc. Think of all those evil profits that can go to the consumers of everything.

    I doubt that Danes are more productive than Americans (specially if you cut out Americans not born here and Danes have no immegrant class).

    Older Danes just consumed 50% of the younger Danes productive output. It worked while the number of sheep being sheared were many more than the consumers. Just like Social Security.

  10. tim says:

    Anyone else have a problem with comparing the “happiness factor” of a country of 5 and half million people with a country of over 300 million?

  11. DavidB says:

    Jim, what are you worried about buddy? By the time you retire U.S.S. baby boomer will have crashed into the retirement dock. They will have thrown their temper tantrum, demanded and institutionalized euthanasia. It will be just like they institutionalized abortion in order to wipe out what would currently be 30 million+ new workers and taxpayers who would have been supporting them this very day.

    Based on what you have indicated your ‘expense to the state’ will more than have qualified for a free lethal injection whether you want one or not. And by the time you get there the kinks will have been worked out….or in I suppose. 8(

    Have a smiley face day. Don’t worry and learn to love the needle. Big brother has it all planned out for you for the next 50 years (;

  12. martin says:

    I saw the piece and I thought it was kind of a fluff piece.

    I will say one things about it.

    People frequently say small business is a driving force of the economy in America. Do they realize how much small business pays for health insurance? Its insane. You get no economies of scale which results in you probably paying way over $1k a month per insured person. Heaven forbid you want to hire a woman in prime child bearing years.

    Free healthcare gives the Danes a leg up on starting a small business.

  13. Justin says:

    Happiness is about being content with what you have, and it’s about building strong relationships with people rather than things.

    Americans could be happier if they lowered their personal expectations and focused more on people than wealth.

  14. Fred says:

    You can be as happy as you want to be. How is this news?

    Well, OK, It must be news to some of you.

  15. jmcconnell says:

    jim

    Unless you live in CA, MA or NY you would be paying a hell of a lot more tax in NL. Plus you salary would start off a lot lower because of the high social taxes your employer has to pay.

    As someone who can live and work legally in Denmark it would never cross my mind to move to such a boring, conformist, smug country with such low expectations and lack of personal ambition. Plus the absolutely brutal tax rates (national + local) are complete non starters.

    This is not a particularly Danish problem, almost all European countries have this problem. Those who claim to be happy have given up, and those who have not given up are deeply afraid of the future. As well they should, its pretty grim.

  16. kontorhotel says:

    Its true.. I am Danish… Feel like swede, ,talk like I am Uk..

    BUt YES.. I am super Happy…

    (-:

  17. A Danish Doctor says:

    Nice to see my country portrayed in such glowing terms!
    I live in Copenhagen and work as a medical doctor (actually at the hospital shown in the clip!). I would like to add a Danes’ perspective and to correct some factual errors.

    Contrary to what is stated in the clip, when surveyed, we Danes consistently place Denmark as the “best place on earth”. There is definitely a certain “smugness” to us in this regard (especially as the happiness survey apparently proves us right:-)

    The facts regarding free education, free health care and 37h work week are all correct. But taxes are actually more than 50%: On top of income taxes, there are taxes for all consumables (25%). Cars are extremely expensive due to special taxes – (2-3 times the price in America – result: Doctors and lawyers drive Hondas and Toyotas, or in my case: A bicycle!)

    We do have immigration (5-10%). 5% come from outside of Europe (middle eastern countries). Immigration is the subject of the most heated political debate. Currently there is a stop to new immigration.

    I don’t know if the Danish system can be “transplanted” to larger countries though. The main reason we can pull it off is probably our homogeneity.

    A whole different discussion is happiness versus productiveness. It is easier to be happy when America is fighting your wars, discovering new technologies, medicines for you etc…

    Have a nice summer!

  18. techy says:

    i have relative in norway….and i dont feel that they are all that happy.

    being a small business owner sucks because of all the labor laws….he keeps getting robbed and cant do much.

    9 month maternity and stipend for having kids…means no need to build a career…just have 3-4 kids and you will be fine.

    high tax rate…..everything is so expensive that all you earn go to pay for things, not much different from USA.

    in USA at least the rich are having fun….thanks to the great conservatives.

    how so? free trade, outsourcing, illegal immigration etc… means wages will never go up, but lower capital gain tax means rich can earn more profit and pay less tax on those profits.

    i am not saying i know how to run a perfect society…..but i am saying everything in this world is still flawed.

    danes may be paying 50% tax….but they dont have to pay for school….dont have to worry about 401k…..and no medical expense.

    you add all that up to the tax rate of around 28 i pay…and its more than 50%.

    but you like it or not…..majority in every country are not so smart poor peoples….and they demand free stuff…socialism…hence no matter how much you complain…every democratic country will be a socialist country in future.

  19. s0mebody says:

    It think the Danes are happy because they got put on American TV for saying they are happy. When the MTV camera pans the audience they all seem happy too.

  20. Will says:

    Jim, I’m in a very similar boat as you. I make around 40k in the San Francisco area. I have few prospects for making more. (I’d have to do college over again and have a radical career change even though I’m entering middle age.) I don’t think socialism can work in a multi-cultural state, such as the USA. Balkanization and identity politics have made successful socialism impossible. The almost universal human anti-freeloader instinct is too powerful. And certain groups and classes in this country are extremely anti-social towards outsiders and would take extreme advantage of the system, compounding resentment.

  21. a guy called john says:

    jim,

    i hear ya. *but* in 2005 i remember everyone talking the same way about getting in to real estate now because it would soon be out of reach forever.

    the vast majority of people are in your situation. they just don’t care about it. not to say that you shouldn’t be concerned. instead american standards of living will adjust to reality and you will be just fine.

  22. Bob A says:

    And let’s not forget… they do not have a President and administration that 80% of the population is utterly disgusted with.

  23. KJ Foehr says:

    The greatest happiness is peace of mind.
    The Buddha

    The Danes appear to have it, we do not.

  24. DownSouth says:

    Great video!

    Thanks for the link.

    The theme coincides with that of this article….

    http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/2962

    with a lot more history on how we got here.

  25. wunsacon says:

    >> No one is stressed to achieve because it will all be taken away from you anyway.

    And so no one is stressed to commit as much white collar crime either. Doug, imagine the productivity of a capitalist system not underperforming from the misallocation of resources!

    And let’s look at your statement again: “it will all be taken away from you anyway.” First, they don’t take “all” of it away. This isn’t a communist country. It’s mixed. Second, what is “it”? Is “it” your “money” or your “happiness”? Apparently, in Denmark, you get to “keep” your happiness.

    Just imagine, Doug, that something out there works better in practice than your preconceived notions of what it takes to make a better society.

    On the other hand, it pays to be skeptical. Who knows? Your suspicions may be justified.

    >> Low crime is probably one big factor in their happyness and it ain’t because of their great police and courts.

    Why is there less crime? Is it because the government guarantees everyone an education and more basic necessities, so they can be productive and not die in the street from lack of healthcare?

    By the way, if I knew I wouldn’t starve in my 60′s from a bad choice today, I would start a startup for one of my ideas. BUT, I can’t afford to take that risk. Think I’m alone? I doubt it. I bet the absence of guarantees actually helps keep people locked into their current work.

  26. Jim says:

    This is a very interesting conversation.
        ________

    ali_M said:

    “I’m a foreigner and am very happy w the modest living that i have… i have lots of time to do what i want to do…. i know people that make 5X my earnings and boy are they miserable people… Jesus said “be content in ALL things””

    Well, ali_M, I don’t know if being a foreigner means you live in another country or that you have immigrated to the U.S., but I, too, would like to have lots of time to do what I want to do. That’s the greatest luxury of all. But here in the U.S., that is not possible unless either you have a large income or you simply ignore your own future.

        ________

    sergtat said I should move to Latin America. Despite my vision of living in Iowa in a bare room with a light bulb, I do realize that there is the rest of the world. Moving abroad now is probably not an option because of aging parents. But I hope that by the time I retire there is somewhere in the world where the dollar will still stretch further than it ought to and where the population is not so desperate that I would have to live in a fortress.

    But this solution is philosophically uncomfortable: Why should I have to rely on an inequity in payscale and, hence, cost and standard of living just to live decently? And I’m not sure this solves the health care issue, either.

        ________

    OhNoNotAgain: Thanks so much for your rude put-down of Doug_S. Sometimes, rudeness is all we can muster. These creeps have a permanent lock on our national “discourse.” Gee, I wonder why?

        ________

    jmconnell wrote:

    “As someone who can live and work legally in Denmark it would never cross my mind to move to such a boring, conformist, smug country with such low expectations and lack of personal ambition.”

    Well, first of all, you are talking about national character, and there could easily be another country run just as well with a different national character that suits you better. Are you saying the U.S., which I presume you don’t find to be boring, conformist, or smug, would become so if we didn’t have to worry about paying for our medical care?

    The only country I have been to in Europe is the Netherlands. And the only thing I didn’t like about the place related to the national social style. No one seemed to laugh or smile much. No one had much warmth. We make jokes in the U.S. about the insincerity of “How are you?” or “Have a nice day,” but after visiting the Netherlands, I came to realize how much pleasanter those little things make life.

    But would I trade my insecurity for a little social chilliness? You bet!! And so would countless millions of people from third world countries everywhere.

        ________

    Will wrote:

    “Balkanization and identity politics have made successful socialism impossible. The almost universal human anti-freeloader instinct is too powerful. And certain groups and classes in this country are extremely anti-social towards outsiders and would take extreme advantage of the system, compounding resentment.”

    I’m not sure what most of this means, but I suspect it’s not good.

    Americans have been taught that there is NOTHING, NOTHING worse than someone, somewhere getting something he doesn’t “deserve” (especially if he doesn’t look or talk like me). Guess who taught Americans that? Guess what nasty attributes of men’s character have deliberately been encouraged and enflamed in order to maintain that profoundly self-defeating fear? And guess why?

        ________

    Bob A wrote:

    “And let’s not forget… they do not have a President and administration that 80% of the population is utterly disgusted with.”

    Yes, but apparently 80% of the population wasn’t particularly disgusted with them in 2000 and 2004.

    I may be naïve, but I strongly suspect the Danes would never elect Dick Cheney to be their president. They just don’t hate themselves and their neighbors that much, and they probably don’t watch American Idol that much.

        ________

    wunsacon:

    I usually agree with what you write on this blog, and this time is no exception. Call me cynical, but I think you’re giving Doug_S too much credit. Unless he is stupid, he could not write what he does and actually wish his fellow men well.

    When he wrote, “Low crime is probably one big factor in their happyness and it ain’t because of their great police and courts,” you know exactly what he is trying to say. People like him are exactly why this nation is the way it is. And in such a morally and intellectually corrupt society, he may well go far.

    But I give you full props for believing in his redeemability.

  27. Estragon says:

    Keep in mind that happiness isn’t relative only to other places in the present, but also to past history and experience.

    The US, for example, doesn’t have living experience of total war on domestic soil and foreign occupation by way of comparison.

    Knowing just how bad things can get helps put present problems in perspective.

  28. ali_m says:

    Jim,
    I live in NC.. live in Europe and schooled there… born in Iran and schooled there… After being a corporate slave for many years I gave up… Jesus said, “take up my yoke for my burden is light”… the harder you try.. the more you bang your head against the wall the more miserable you are… corporate America has major issues… thus it’s their problem… I tried to lead, produce, and climb the laddr but it’s all politics and favortism… kinda like the Bush White House… Ex.. George Tenet gives bad intel on Iraq, he gets Presidential medal of honor…. Stan O’neil destroys Merril Lynch he gets a 100 mill….
    Friends, family, and time to relax is most important…. I my wife and I make 40k per year and still have money in the bank 10k thus far…

    Be content in all things and take up a lighter yoke…. you live once…. try to enjoy it… Good food, drink, and people…

    Ali

  29. ali_m says:

    One more thing… TV/Movies is an illusion…false hope…. people try so hard to live the fancy life style, but for every person achieving Ben Franklin’s “American Dream” concept a million fail… Remember there is a reason why millionaire are in the top 1%..b/c 99% fail to become millionaires… so they buy loto tickets… 1/136 mill odds of winning…actual NC lotto stats

    No TV, No Movies… I’m not Brad Pitt.. tho’ stunningly handsome but my wife does look like Starsha…

  30. Jim says:

    Thanks for your response, ali_m.

    I realize that many Americans devote their lives to things that won’t give them much satisfaction. But my point is that even those of us who are content with simple material things cannot make our way in the world.

    You are content with your family and friends, and that is all well and good. But all of you need food to eat and a roof over your head, and, hopefully, the knowledge that a car accident or a need for surgery won’t leave you bankrupt.

  31. Mac says:

    Barry,

    You seem to have collected a plethora of lefty losers on this one. The general tone of your blog is unrelieved depression everywhere. It would be justified if we were talking about 1932; as it stands now, we’re far from that and in no danger of going back there.

    The high cost of oil will bring about the same result it did in the late 70′s-early 80′s; in five to seven years the world will be awash in the stuff and the price will be in the toilet. What’s more, much of the former demand will never come back. I’m currently seeing a tremendous amount of money being concretely invested in building new drilling rigs and drilling ships. There WILL be a good return on that money.

    As for the unrelieved hatred of President Bush, compared to his predecessor he’s been a pretty decent President. He’s certainly been a much more personally honorable one. He’s also been a pretty sharp one, for those who can see more than a foot past their nose. His ratings may be low but they’re considerably higher than the Democratic Congress has managed. If you want to talk about useless grandstanders who screw up everything they touch, start there. They’re the gold standard for that.

    Are things worrisome right now? Yes, but nowhere near as much as they’re being painted by people interested in stampeding the sheep into voting for an untested, apparently racist (if you read his books) academic Marxist. We get that guy in office, we’ll see what bad times really look like. It will probably be even worse than the Carter years, and those were the worst in my living memory.

    Last, but certainly not least, for the character whining about being poor in his 60′s, remember what Thomas Sowell said about there being no solutions, only tradeoffs. You want more money? Get off your butt and go out there and find a second job. They’re there to be had and even if you only made minimum wage, it would be an addition to what you’re making now. If you’re waiting for someone to come and give you something for free, you’ll probably have a long wait.

    ~~~

    BR: Um, I might take your criticisms more seriously if you could figure out how to comment on the correct post . . .

  32. Jim says:

    Americans work more hours than the people of any industrialized country, even Japan, but now I realize that my problem is that I’m lazy and I need to work more.

    I also know now that Obama, who has received large campaign contributions from Wall Street, from Big Pharma, and the insurance companies is actually Che Guevara in disguise and will confiscate all of our property.

    To top it off, he also hates white folks.

    And I should realize how honorable George Bush has been.

    Just call me turned around to the light. I am in your debt, Mac.

  33. Doug_S says:

    You guys are funny. Offensive, but funny. A few years ago France had a warm summer – over 14,000 people died.

    In America even the poor have air conditioning and it saves lives.

    The welfare state is like a forced bond purchase. you pay half your income now for a promise they will take care of you in the future. It is not really a promise because the politicians say they can change the terms of the program at any time and have changed it in the past. You are not allowed to evaluate the risk and reward of the bond you purchase – you are required by law to buy it. If you do not think it is likely you will be paid principal and interest, too bad. You buy it anyway, on the valujable word of a politician promising something to you in decades hence when different people occupy his office.

  34. Jim says:

    Doug_S,

    I would rather have a politician’s promise of my survival than the unabashed indifference to my demise.

    I notice that Europeans are much less timid about taking to the streets when they see promises being broken. So you’re right: In a nation like the U.S., the politicians could get away with breaking any promise they wanted.

  35. Doug_S says:

    Last post. My point is not that you should not prefer a politicians porimise but that I should be able to evaluate the bond offered to me for myself instead of being required by law to purchase it. If you like the promise, go all in, I have no objection.

    Wait, you want me to fund your belief?

  36. brion says:

    “As for the unrelieved hatred of President Bush, compared to his predecessor he’s been a pretty decent President. He’s certainly been a much more personally honorable one. He’s also been a pretty sharp one”

    hear hear Mac. These lambasting Liberals wouldn’t know a decent investment if it snuck into their latte.
    Take my starfish farm for instance…….

  37. Jim says:

    Some things can only done with the consensus of the community as a whole. A democratic system with a well-informed electorate is the tool a modern society uses to express its consensus view.

    Some communities choose survival; others choose ignorance, denial, and death. History has many of the latter.

    The community known as Denmark has made its decision. The United States has made its. I’m sure whatever calamity befalls us, you will rise above it.

  38. Jim says:

    “Take my starfish farm for instance…….”

    Sounds cool, brion. Shoot me a copy of your prospectus.

  39. mac says:

    “I would rather have a politician’s promise of my survival than the unabashed indifference to my demise.”

    So you would rather have someone lie to you than face the unadorned reality. Typical lefty lib arts thinking. Engineers know that you have to deal with things the way they are, not the way you wish they were. Somebody like Rangel or Waters or Dean coming along and promising you something and “feeling your pain” isn’t going to make things better because THERE ISN’T GOING TO BE ANY REAL HELP; all their empty promises will do is further delay the necessary efforts on your part to make your own life better.

    Make no mistake, that is what it will take to make your life better–effort on YOUR part. Americans DO work a lot of hours. That’s why they have more money per capita than any other similarly sized country on the planet. The work is there; go get it. No one with half a brain said it would or should be easy; the advantage you have if you live in America is that you at least have the chance to improve your life through your own efforts. Two million Vietnamese boat people were willing to die just for a poor percentage shot at that chance.

    As for pols coming along and telling you they will make things better, let me give you an example. Do you know any informed individual who actually believes unimpoverished people now under 40 will receive anything from Social Security other than a means test? That’s not what they were promised, is it? If you listen to the pols and believe them, shame on you.

    BTW, don’t worry about the debt; I can afford it. Enjoy the light!

  40. Hey Mac! This one is for you:

    HNN Poll: 61% of Historians Rate the Bush Presidency Worst

    Mr. McElvaine teaches history at Millsaps College. His latest book, Grand Theft Jesus: The Hijacking of Religion in America, has just been published by Crown.

    “As far as history goes and all of these quotes about people trying to guess what the history of the Bush administration is going to be, you know, I take great comfort in knowing that they don’t know what they are talking about, because history takes a long time for us to reach.”— George W. Bush, Fox News Sunday, Feb10, 2008

    A Pew Research Center poll released last week found that the share of the American public that approves of President George W. Bush has dropped to a new low of 28 percent.

    An unscientific poll of professional historians completed the same week produced results far worse for a president clinging to the hope that history will someday take a kinder view of his presidency than does contemporary public opinion.

    In an informal survey of 109 professional historians conducted over a three-week period through the History News Network, 98.2 percent assessed the presidency of Mr. Bush to be a failure while 1.8 percent classified it as a success.

    Asked to rank the presidency of George W. Bush in comparison to those of the other 41 American presidents, more than 61 percent of the historians concluded that the current presidency is the worst in the nation’s history. Another 35 percent of the historians surveyed rated the Bush presidency in the 31st to 41st category, while only four of the 109 respondents ranked the current presidency as even among the top two-thirds of American administrations.

    At least two of those who ranked the current president in the 31-41 ranking made it clear that they placed him next-to-last, with only James Buchanan, in their view, being worse. “He is easily one of the 10-worst of all time and—if the magnitude of the challenges and opportunities matter—then probably in the bottom five, alongside Buchanan, Johnson, Fillmore, and Pierce,” wrote another historian.

    The reason for the hesitancy some historians had in categorizing the Bush presidency as the worst ever, which led them to place it instead in the “nearly the worst” group, was well expressed by another historian who said, “It is a bit too early to judge whether Bush’s presidency is the worst ever, though it certainly has a shot to take the title. Without a doubt, it is among the worst.”

    >snip

  41. chad says:

    what were we told a few days ago? something about all models being wrong, and such?

  42. Sing Expat says:

    Wow. Americans are so miserable that they cannot even begrudge happiness to anyone else. “We are the best, strongest, rightest, freest, so we MUST be the happiest! QED” Or, “They are socialists so they CAN’T be happy.”

    I suspect that if the Danes were told that Americans were happier than they are, they would say things like “Oh, that’s great that someone could be happier than us.” or “Really, well it’s surprising, but ok.” or even “Really? Maybe we better buy some more plasma tvs and Big Macs to catch up.”

    Burn, baby, burn.

  43. brion says:

    “Take my starfish farm for instance…….”

    Sounds cool, brion. Shoot me a copy of your prospectus.

    Jim.

    ok Jim.
    ….you DO speak starfish don’t you?

  44. Mac says:

    Hey Bob! Harry Truman’s contemporaries thought he sucked too. Guess they were wrong, eh?

    Historians generally have a pretty hard time making any better sense of contemporary events than other informed people living in the same time period. It takes a while to have things settle out and see what the results were. Seems like I remember a lot of historians (and nearly all Democrats) saying ugly things about Ronald Reagan’s “warmongering” at the time. I think a goodly number of them ended up pretty surprised at how well his actions worked out. Remember, even the CIA was caught out when the Soviet Union collapsed.

    Of course, if adherence to left-wing talking points is really important to you, none of this argument will get through your wall of absolute disbelief. You might remember, however, that guys making the tough calls in any given time are facing tough calls precisely because the risks are great and the outcomes are uncertain.

    Reagan, Thatcher and Churchill stood their ground against all comers, domestic and foreign, in their respective fights against totalitarianism. They took a lot of abuse at the time for doing so. History proved them right in the end and they’re deservedly lionized. Their critics have slunk off back into the darkness of their well-merited anonymity.

    Assume for a moment that Bush turns out to have done exactly what he hopes to have done, which was bring down a vicious dictator and midwife a working, secular Arab democracy in the middle of the most dysfunctionally dangerous part of the world. That will look pretty good to the historians 20 years from now, won’t it?

    Will he actually succeed in that endeavor? At the moment no one can say for certain because right now it’s too soon to tell. I’d say from having been over there myself that it’s looking more like he was right than not. YMMV.

  45. brion says:

    they laughed at Yanni too Mac….semper fi.

  46. Jim says:

    “….you DO speak starfish don’t you?”

    Like a native. I’m an invertebrate from way back.

  47. mac says:

    “BR: Um, I might take your criticisms more seriously if you could figure out how to comment on the correct post . . . ”

    Barry, I was responding to the commenters on this post (The Pursuit of Happiness). The thread got slightly hijacked and I went with it. Follow the comment thread and see if my remarks aren’t germane to the discussion.

    BTW, rude snark is a regular practice of the BP commentariat but I’m a bit surprised to see it from you. You’re usually above that kind of thing. Of course, it’s your blog and if you want to encourage that type of thing by example…

  48. Alex says:

    I am positive that Disneyland is the happiest place on earth.

  49. nick gogerty says:

    I have lived in Sweden, US, Denmark, France, Dubai and the UK. I vote denmark as a highly succesful culture. http://www.nationmaster.com

  50. JT says:

    I went to University in Sweden, not quite Denmark but close. The Danes and the Swedes live a very sheltered life. They may appear to be happy but sit down with one for a conversation. Happiness is not where you are but who you are. I met very happy Swedes and Danes. I met Danes and Swedes who were unhappy. It seemed like every Scandavian family is touched by suicide. Denmark has nothing on the United States. The U.S. is one of the few countries in the world if not the only country that you can be anything you want to be.
    How progressive and risk taking is Denmark? You may not agree with the politics or the direction that an Obama presidency would take the nation but you have to be impressed that a son of a Kenyan, in some sense a first generation citizen, has the opportunity to be the President of the United States. I think I can comfortably say that this would never happen in Denmark or Sweden.

  51. Northern Observer says:

    “As for the unrelieved hatred of President Bush, compared to his predecessor he’s been a pretty decent President. He’s certainly been a much more personally honorable one. He’s also been a pretty sharp one”

    That’s delusional.
    Come to think of it mac, it’s probably the existence of guys like you in every part of America that makes Americans in general unhappy. Delusional conservative crusading type “A” guys.
    You’re like a sliver you just can’t pull out of your hand.

  52. Nick - Los Angeles says:

    Question to consider:

    Which organization is more likely to be “net” more productive and innovative: an organization characterized by individual insecurity and competition, or one characterized by individual security and cooperation?

    Another:

    Is an economy a zero-sum system?

  53. Bud says:

    Reminds me of the very happy college summer I spent with three blond Danish girls in Copenhagen.