Monday, April 18, 2016


"Does Denmark live up to its title as the happiest nation?" PBS NewsHour 4/12/2016


SUMMARY:  Denmark tops a United Nations poll as the happiest nation on Earth.  Is it because Danes pay taxes to get free health care, education and generous unemployment?  Or is it a Scandinavian genetic predisposition?  Or is it a myth?  Special correspondent Malcolm Brabant reports.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Universal health care, free university education, and generous unemployment benefits, are these the keys to happiness?  They are all offered in Denmark, the Nordic country Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders says the United States should look to as a model.

Once again this year, Denmark tops a United Nations poll as the Happiest Nation on Earth.  But is this really true?

From Copenhagen, special correspondent Malcolm Brabant investigates.

MALCOLM BRABANT (NewsHour):  A happy accident of geography, being born in a country whose safety net offers protection from cradle to grave.

SARAH EGESKOV, Attorney:  On a day like this, it's obvious we are gathered with our friends and family to celebrate this little baby, so it's a wonderful day.  And in the bigger picture, we live in a great society with a health care system and free education.

MALCOLM BRABANT:  Christening their daughter Kaya (ph), attorney Sarah Egeskov and her partner, Claes, hope their state of bliss will leap a generation.

CLAES RASMUSSEN, Financial Adviser:  We try to give her some of the same values that we have today and hope for her that she will have the same freedom of speech and freedom of beliefs.

SARAH EGESKOV:  And a safe childhood.


SARAH EGESKOV:  I don't think we thought about anything evil or threatening through our childhoods, and I hope we can give the same to our daughters.

MALCOLM BRABANT:  Pastor Pernille Oestrem's church is in Copenhagen's most racially diverse district.  She worries that some of her immigrant parishioners do not enjoy the same level of happiness as ethnic Danes, and she regards it as her mission to try to spread the joy.

PERNILLE OESTREM, Pastor, St. Stefan Church:  We don't have any wars and the crime is low.  And we can let our children walk to school in the morning by themselves when they're quite young.  We don't have to drive them because of drive-by shootings or something like that.  That means a lot, that we think we're going to be 90 and have great-great-great-grandchildren.

MALCOLM BRABANT:  Danes pay more income tax than any other nationality, earn over $55,000, and the tax rate hits more than 60 percent, but, according to happiness expert Meik Wiking, Danes don’t mind.

MEIK WIKING, CEO, The Happiness Research Institute:  Just take free access to health care, free access to university education, quite generous benefits if you lose your job.  Just those three things mean that a lot of people around the world, if they don’t have access to them, will experience unhappiness.  And since the welfare state takes care of that, we increase the bottom.

MALCOLM BRABANT:  What about the high levels of taxes that people have to pay?

MEIK WIKING:  Well it’s true, it’s really high levels.  But I think what’s more interesting is that the really high level of support for the for high taxes.  If you ask Danes, are you happily paying your taxes, nine out of 10 will say yes.

That last comment, Danes are happy to pay the high tax BECAUSE THEY GET THEIR MONEY'S WORTH.  Something that conservative Republicans will deny.

(click to enlarge)

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