On the Healthy and Happy Kick Again

Yes, I’m back on my healthy and happy kick.  After a trip to Europe this summer and observing the following, it’s almost impossible to understand why there is opposition to Obamacare.

  1. Pretty much the only fat people were foreigners
  2. Portion sizes were way small
  3. There was lots of wine and beer.  Lots.  Like it was Wine-O-Clock everywhere, all the time.  None of this waiting until 11 AM malarkey.

I started out with researching who the healthiest countries are in the world.  While I am very interested in useful factoids such as where the most centenarians live, I was more interested to see how the data connected healthiest populations with whether or not there was government subsidized or universal healthcare, if those people were really happy, and what the corporate/personal tax rates were.  For those that are still with me at this point, and those that share my interest in factoids, please note that Sardinia and Okinawa have the highest percentage of centenarians.

What I want to know is:  Were these other governments providing healthcare but at enormous, burdensome cost in the form of astronomical income and corporate taxes such that nobody could afford to do anything but eat, sleep, work and take an occasional potty break?  Were all the healthy people healthy only because they were all peasant farmers plowing their fields with their healthy yet overworked oxen, while eating all organic foods and no pizza or KFC to be found for hundreds of miles?  In short, are they physically healthy but emotionally miserable?  Do they all live in Soviet style, grey, military-style apartments and are up to their eyeballs in debt and taxes as Faux News would have us believe?

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is a pretty cool international outfit that promotes policies to improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world.  It’s been around for 50 years and is an international forum for countries to work together to understand how environmental, social, governmental, educational, and other issues affect ordinary people.  A rather difficult job if you compare and contrast the ordinary person in Albania, Arkansas, Afghanistan or Alberta.  That’s a lot of data, a lot of very different buckets of information, but visiting their website is an interesting trip:  http://www.oecd.org/

Nonetheless the OECD annually publishes a list of 36 participating countries and ranks them according to a Better Life Index.  And the 2013 #1 country is?  Drum roll, please?  Our friends down under, Australia.  I’m a little disappointed to share that. Not I don’t like Australia or anything, but because they didn’t appear on my Happy-Healthy-Healthcare-Tax Matrix, which we will get to shortly.  But first, I find it noteworthy that Australia has no WalMarts.  But as usual. I digress.

So here’s the aforementioned Happy-Healthy Matrix.

happy healthy

Hello, Iceland – come on down!  While I certainly expected them to be healthy – you must know that health and fjords go together like peas and carrots – the fact that they ranked in the Top Ten Happiest countries was a little surprising given that it’s rather wickedly cold there.  At least that’s what I’ve read.  Note the comparatively super-freaking-low corporate tax rate.  Hmm…..that must mean that the PERSONAL tax rate is painful.  Hmm…..seems to me that rate is ALSO lower than the US’s 40% personal tax rate.  So much for the over-taxed theory.

OK, I will admit that Finland’s personal tax rate seems high to me, as does Japan’s.  But did you know that if you belong to a church in Finland that you pay the church a tax of 1-2.2%?  Just sayin’.  And Japan’s doing a little bit of housecleaning right now.  That may speak to the lack of happy a bit as well.  But, if 3 of the 5 of the HEALTHIEST countries are happy, have relatively lower or somewhat in the ballpark tax rates as the US, AND they have universal or government subsidized healthcare, doesn’t that mean something?  To me that says it is possible and in fact good to do this thing called Obamacare, and we are being handed a model to follow.  Gift wrapped, with a bow on it.

I will readily admit that I absolutely cannot speak to the domestic societal issues in any of the above countries.  This is why I do this blog for free and in my spare time, while I’m partially doped up on Benadryl.  But, in closing, I fail to see how the ACA will be the downfall of the US, such as the lead in cups and pipes caused a downward, crazed spiral of the Roman civilization.   Look at the model of Finland. Sweden and Iceland.  Feel free to insert some palm trees, and let’s see what we can emulate.  For the record, I wonder if they have Faux News in Finland.  I kind of doubt it.

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