The “Governed” in America Aren’t Getting the “Happiness” They Deserve

Why do other countries have extensive and functioning social safety nets and wealthy people who pay their taxes, and we have neither?

The Hartmann Report, January 17, 2023.

We’re told by the Declaration of Independence that our nation was formed to provide every citizen with the basics of what government can and should provide:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”

The “governed” in today’s America, however, aren’t getting the “happiness” they want or even, frankly, that they need:

— Poverty and homelessness stalk our land: more than one-in-seven Americans live in poverty today
Millions have no access to affordable healthcare and families suffer over 500,000 medical bankruptcies every year
— Higher education is increasingly just for the well-born and well-off
Most non-unionized workers have few rights and little say in the workplace: only 10.8 percent of non-government American workers have a union
— Cynicism about politicians is so widespread that only 62 percent of Americans eligible to register to vote have even bothered to do so
Our wealthiest pay virtually no income taxes: For example, America’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, paid less than 1 percent and NBC reports “The 25 richest Americans paid little to no federal income taxes…”

To contrast, citizens of other wealthy democracies generally have:

Lower rates of poverty (Finland 5.7%, Denmark 6.5%, Ireland 7.4%, Belgium 8.1%, Netherlands 8.3%, France 8.4%, Norway 8.4%, Canada 8.5%, Sweden 8.8%, etc.),
A national health care system, so nobody goes bankrupt because somebody in the family got sick (51 countries have national systems)
— College at little to no cost (Denmark, Norway, Finland, and Sweden pay their young people to go to college: the monthly stipend paid to students in Denmark, for example, is $1,078/month; over 10,000 US students are currently attending college in Germany for free, and Americans can also attend college for free along with locals in France, Iceland, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic)
Widespread unionization (Iceland 89.1%, Sweden 81%, Denmark 74.5%, Finland 74.2%, Belgium 56.6%, Norway 53%, Slovenia 44.2%, Israel 37.7%, Austria 36.9% etc. [2000 stats])
— More eligible citizens registered to vote (Sweden 80.3%; Belgium, New Zealand, South Korea, Denmark, Australia, Iceland, Netherlands and Taiwan all in the mid-70% range, etc. [2022 stats])
Rich people who pay their taxes (very top income tax brackets [federal, state, and local] are over 50% in Japan, Denmark, France, Austria, Canada, Portugal, Belgium, Sweden, Finland, Israel and Slovenia and above 45% in Netherlands, Korea, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Australia, Iceland, Luxembourg, and Spain according to the OECD)

So, how did America become the outlier? Why do other countries have extensive and functioning social safety nets and wealthy people who pay their taxes, and we have neither? Read more here.

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