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Friday, April 24, 2009

Well, how does it feel to be American?

I'm curious. I know the ecomony is dominating day to day life for lots of us, and perhaps particularly in the United States, where the stakes are so high.

But don't forget, it was only months ago that President Obama was elected amid a climate of increased hope - for honesty, for the environment, for international relations, for the rights of the deprived, for health care and possibly most importantly - with a sense of optimism instead of despair (for most Americans... not Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld of course).

So here's my question to my American blogger colleagues, friends, visitors and buddies... What are you feeling about being American today?

On a related note..

World Values Survey is a credible organization that tracks (among other things) happiness around the world, and has been doing this for decades.
Have a look at the ranking of countries based on subjective scoring of happiness and life satisfaction (which surveys how people feel about their lives, not economic, education , health etc.) Those in bold are the high income countries on the list.

Good old Nigeria! Could it be the joy of internet scamming?

Viva Mexico!

And what's with Puerto Rico?

And they can't have only surveyed rich drug lords in Columbia...


Subjective well-being rankings of 82 societies

(based on combined Happiness and Life Satisfaction scores)

Puerto Rico






N. Ireland





El Salvador





New Zealand






I'm a nervous American, cautiously feeling good, and I think we should start prosecuting some of the dumbasses who ran the gov't from 2000-2008 then I'll feel even better: let a few of those republican morons cry "GENEVA CONVENTION!" when they're doing time for torture and lying to the American people...
I feel confused. I have moments of clarity and a general sense that things are going to be okay personally, but I'm not sure I have confidence that we can be the country of promise that we've been taught we're supposed to be.
I feel a little of what Lisa said and a little of what Gary said....

mostly I feel confused...

About the War Crimes....I think it is worse than we know....and has been for quite awhile...I always thought that in 2004 when Abu Gahraib happened ALL the photos should have been posted- and I always knew that we were being lied to....and in a way I can remember saying to someone in 2004- what if they are torturing people to try to justify war ....what if- and I remember people looking at me like I am crazy- and I remember one person saying" we are americans - that would never happen"....

so now I just feel ill about it- sick...and they used doctors and nurses when they did it...and I am a nurse...it's not supposed to be that way...

about the economy and the other Bush damage...
there is soooo much.....and things are bad here...atleast here in ohio...but I have friends in other states and it does not sound much better....

I am pretty sure this is a New Depression...and that it will take years to recover....

about Obama...
we knew when we campaigned and worked to get him elected...we always knew it was bad...we just didn't know how bad...and I do feel like he is being honest and he is working every day to try to make things better...I do believe that...

and for the first time in 8 years I can sleep at night- with bush I always woke up sick and worried about what Bush was doing or lying to us about...

When I voted for "Change" that meant I was voting for honesty and the truth....

but I am ashamed of this country....and saddened that horrible things were done in our name...and that we don't take care of our own either..59 milion without care- people dying without care...

we'll see what happens....
Funny you should ask since it's Canada's best known female intellectual who said it best earlier this week. Naomi Klein wrote about the dilemma of 'hopeover' which I found very close to the way I feel about living in the US right now. It's time to put hope back in the hands of the people and stop hoping President Obama will do the right thing just because he's a decent guy.
I'm still not proud to be an American, but at least I'm not embarrassed about how our Prez looks to the rest of the world.

I could really worry about our financial future, if I thought it would do any good. Our corporate-bought government and capitalist-dominated culture (which can only survive if it keeps growing, no matter the ecological price), both threaten to take down our country and possibly the planet.

Obama has his hands full - trying to keep business as usual when the paradigm isn't working any more.

(Gee, are you sorry that you asked now?) ;-)
Thanks Gary - yeah I think legal proceedings are in order... and will happen, whether the Prez does it or not.

Lisa - maybe the promise needed from the US is something more humble than in the past. Just be a good player on the world stage, working with others for improvement. That would be nice :)

Enigma - I like that "I voted for honesty and truth." That's why you can sleep at night - there's more of that (and less meanness and cruelty too).

Susan - "hopeover'... I like that too.

Carol - yeah, I fear that President Obama may try too hard to maintain the financial system rather than reform it; to appease the military rather than shrink it; to do a little bit better health care than the whole deal ... and so on. But I still feel hopeful too.
Whoops, I posted from Anna's account (above) but maybe she agrees with everything I wrote :)
The rankings surprise me.
Glad we made it at #10.
the u.s. is a mess
but it's nice to know
if things get worse
we can go to mexico.
Gary – Interesting stats. No doubt yourself and most would confirm Mexicans are very happy people. The fact that many also take extraordinary risks to mostly illegally enter the USA in search for a better life,seems to me to be somewhat at odds with the statistics about overall happiness ?

Then there is the question over legal citizenship for those estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the USA. Will it be supported later in the year by congress?
You have a tiny developed happy country like Denmark which enjoys a strictly 37-hour working week with zero overtime, 52 paid weeks of maternity/paternity leave and 75% child care subsidies. Everyone is on a much higher tax rate and they spend less on defence.

I think these statistics ultimately challenge the assertion about the conservative theory that governments have no business in our lives and should get out of the way and let the deregulated market sort things out. As the old Keynesian textbooks were dusted off in the midst of the crisis last year to check for solutions I think it became abundantly clear elected government has a role to play, but ultimately you also have to have a tax base to support it, but not one predicated on perpetual assumed growth which has got into the mess in the first place.

Best wishes
Beth, yeah we rank in the top 3 when all factors (beyond happiness itself) are taken into account.

Seraphine - amiga! What about swine flu? Puerto Rico is part of the US, maybe you have to settle for number 2.

Lindsay - yes, when World Values takes into account economic stability, future hopes, security, opportunity for children, health etc., the poor countries drop off and the winners are usually Scandanavian, Swiss, Canadian and our mates down under.

Social democracies with strong collective programs.

You might find the information on World Values about wellness and the ability to exert free choice interesting.
Which makes my Sunday post all the more applicable. Why are we a bunch of whiners in the U.S.? Golly.

I, for one, am happy.

Pretty happy.



Seriously, I am.

I like your discussions here amigo...a lot of smart people.

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