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A Tale of Two Countries: People in Denmark Happy and Contented; In America Frustrated and Angry -- Why?

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Denmark is a small, relatively unknown country while America is the most powerful nation on the planet. While they both are thought of as "Western" countries, in reality, they have little in common. In fact, when we examine them in greater depth, they are almost opposites. While America may be the symbol of wealth, power and military might in the world, Denmark might well be considered the model for how a rational nation and a society should function.

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Recent published studies, as this article by Matt Mabe brings out, indicate that the people of Denmark are the "Worlds happiest people." What? How can that possibly be? Shouldn't we challenge those findings and question their validity? How can it be that those people in that small, inconsequential nation are said to be so happy when here in America the people seem to be so frustrated and angry? Do these people in Denmark know something about living their lives that we Americans don't? What exactly is going on here?

Let's discuss this situation, analyze the known facts, and then try to draw some concrete conclusions:

Perhaps Danes are so very happy because every person in Denmark is fully covered under a universal health care system; income and status doesn't matter. Their happiness may also be because they have an education system where every person has the opportunity to attend high school and then go on to college, all funded by Danish taxpayers. And the result is that Denmark is at the very top of world academic rankings. How can a country possibly do such things?

But hold on; now I'm starting to get it; the people of Denmark are living under that dangerous economic/political system called "socialism." And we Americans know all about the evils of socialism, the next thing to communism. I knew there was something I didn't like about "those kind of people." There is something wrong with a nation and people who have embraced this form of economic and political system that's known as social democracy; it's hard to understand how their society can even function.

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Long ago America gave them a model for how to create a free, democratic, capitalistic system that is the envy of the world but they chose to go in another direction. They seem to be following some warped ideology that makes them like that. Well, that's their problem and I sure hope they're happy with it; oops, I forgot - they are.

Well, if they are spending such large amount of their taxpayer dollars on free education and universal health care then the safety and security of the people of Denmark must be a major problem; if they are not spending billions on weaponry and they are not conducting their own War on Terror, then the people must be very insecure and most probably very paranoid, fearful of being attacked at any time by those who hate them for what they are and what they stand for. So if their priorities are upside down and misdirected then they have only themselves to blame.

Then again, Denmark is not the only country that provides these social benefits for its people. If I'm not mistaken, all the other 31 industrialized nations of the world, the majority of which are in Europe and Scandinavia, all have some form of universal health care and many have government/taxpayer education. In fact, there is only one of these industrialized nations that doesn't have either one of these great programs for all its people -- it's none other than America; you know, the wealthiest, most powerful nation in the world.

We need to ask this question. Do those industrialized nations that have universal health care and free education for citizens also have an equitable distribution of income within their societies? Could that be an important factor? Apparently so, since measures of distribution of income among the 32 industrialized nations indicate that Denmark ranks near the very top. And guess who ranks right at the bottom with the     greatest disparity of income? Yes, once again, it's America.

America has none of these socialistic programs since, quite obviously, we detest any mention of the word socialism. Here's the difference between Denmark and those other socialist-leaning nations and America. America is not wasting hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars on universal health care; we don't need it since we have a health care system like no other in the world. Sure it may exclude about 45 million people, its costs are skyrocketing, and it benefits mostly high income individuals; but that's just a part of life in America so why don't those bleeding heart liberals in this country just accept the facts of life and stop their whining and moaning.

Secondly, American does not and never will waste hundreds of billions of dollars on our deteriorating system of education. There is no way that we are going to ever allow every person in this country to have taxpayer-funded education from grade school through college. That's not the American way; in this country, totally different from that of Denmark, everyone has to pull their own weight and pick themselves up by their own bootstraps. Besides, who needs socialized education when it is so very easy to sign up for a student loan that will easily get you through college?  

Here's the most important point of all. Sure there are many Americans who might want to see this country go forward in the 21st century by adopting universal health care and taxpayer-funded education. That might be a wonderful dream but its' just not realistic. These people must understand that America has other far more important priorities that take precedence over these secondary matters.

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These closet socialists must stop thinking about themselves and the plight of millions and millions of their fellow Americans and understand that this government has a vast, ever growing military empire to maintain. There are wars that have to be waged all around the world; we are obligated to spend those hundreds of billions of dollars every year in order to cover the cost of the nearly 100 military bases we have in more than 60 countries; not only that but, besides our troops, we have to pay for 100,000 and, probably far more, civilian contractors working in Afghanistan alone. That's why Denmark has it so easy; it has none of these necessary burdens.

These Americans who seem to have their priorities totally upside down, who want us to bring an end to these wars and discontinue the invasions and occupations of other nations, may have some valid points. It certainly is becoming more and more evident that in this War on Terror that we are waging all over the world something is just not working. Because no matter how much we ramp up our use of drones and Special Forces to root out the terrorists, those who hate our freedoms and our way of life, the more they hate us and fight back. Is there some kind of enemy recruitment system in effect that we can't seem to expose and destroy? Is it possible that, by our actions, we are actually fueling the War on Terror; that for every terrorist we kill hundreds more are created?  

At this point in our discussion, let's try to draw some conclusions. First of all, now we should be more aware that socialism is a dangerous threat that creates a welfare state and would, without a doubt, destroy our democracy if we let it establish any kind of foothold in America; just look at the extreme damage it has brought to all those other industrialized nations, especially Denmark.

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Michael Payne is an independent, progressive activist. His writings deal with social, economic, political and foreign policy issues. He is a featured writer on Opednews and Nation of Change and his articles have appeared on many other websites (more...)

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