The purpose of this series of articles is to suggest lines of inquiry that might be helpful in the development of US public policy. It is no doubt true that our greatest present problem is not to identify desirable changes in US public policy. Our present problem, instead, is figuring out how to wrest control of our government from our oligarchy. Then we could make policy changes aimed at improving the quality of our lives.
Rank-and-file Democrats and rank-and-file Republicans agree on most of the major policies that need to be adopted in order to reform our government. For example, we agree that term limits and a balanced budget are crucial. Yet the chances that our oligarchic government will adopt these reforms are nil.
Lines of inquiry
While rankings and correlations do not establish causal relationships, they do suggest lines of inquiry. For example, Mexico's rankings in our four possible factors affecting the quality of life are extremely low. Yet an above average percentage of Mexicans surveyed said they were satisfied with their lives. This suggests that there are major positive factors (at least in Mexico) that have not been taken into account -- yet have significant effects on QOL. Tables 1-6 (below) provide data for use in selecting possible lines of inquiry. More complete nation-by-nation data (including the percentages of respondents expressing satisfaction with their lives) can be found in Chapter 7 of Reversing America's Decline: Jefferson's Remedy.
This table compares the quality of life (QOL) rankings of four 8-member groups of 32 OECD member nations. These four groups are (1) the 8 nations that rank highest in governmental honesty, (2) the 8 nations that rank highest in democracy, (3) the eight nations that rank highest in union density, and (4) the eight nations that rank highest in competitiveness
(1. The percentage figures under "satisfaction" in these 4 tables are not the % of respondents reporting themselves satisfied with their lives. They are the the percentages of improvement over the 16.5 average OECD ranking. For example, in the 8 "most honest" countries there was a 70.9 % improvement, but 77% of the respondents reported themselves as satisfied with their lives. The reader can find the percentages of satisfied respondents in Chap. 7 of Reversing America's Decline.)
Tables 2-5 (below) organize the 32 OECD member nations into four 8-nation groups. These groups consist of the 8 countries with the highest levels of: governmental honesty (Table 1), democracy, (Table 2), union density (Table 3) and competitiveness (Table 4). Columns 2-3 of each table show the percentages of the group's rankings above the average ranking of all OECD countries in prosperity and life satisfaction. Columns 4 average the percentages shown in Cols. 2 and 3 -- thus producing an indicator of the extent to which the group of nations involved exceeds or trails the average QOL ranking in the OECD."-
Table 2: Honesty-Corruption"-
Table 3: Democracy
A country's democratic structures and practices are almost as strongly associated with the QOL indicators as is their perceived freedom from corruption.
Table 4: Union density
Union density, while associated positively with the QOL when the 32 member nations are so grouped, is somewhat less impressive as a QOL indicator than are government honesty and democracy. The correlations are not as strong and some countries with "second tier" levels of union density have extremely high levels of QOL. This is not the case, however, with countries that are in the 3rd and 4th tiers with regard to union density.