Saturday, March 30, 2024

Finding Happiness in a "Brave New World"

Are you happy?  Most people would shrug their shoulders and say something like "I guess so" which isn't really much of an answer.  But for most people, the question needs to be qualified in order to give you a more honest answer. For instance, are you talking about my finances, my work situation, my home life, and so forth?

It would also be relative as to your situation at the particular moment.  As an example, you could say you're not real happy with your work situation, but then you suddenly get a promotion with more pay, and suddenly you're one contended clam. You could have cancer and feeling pretty depressed. Then, out of the blue, you get some news that reports a potential cure and your depression almost instantly goes to euphoria.

Nevertheless, to answer properly someone question about happiness, we need to take into consideration the topic and timing. Well, the World Happiness Report is published in partnership with Gallup, The UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, Oxford Wellbeing Research Centre, and the WHR Editorial Board, decided they were going to poll the globe to find out.

The report, which is published annually, looks at number of wide ranging factors including age demographics, opportunities, health, population, GDP, political satisfaction, degree of freedom, and environment. So, without further adieu, let's see who's the happiest in the world and who isn't!

Starting with the overall score, Norway came in the fifth spot. In fourth place was Sweden. Third place went to Iceland while second went to Denmark. As for the top spot, that went to Finland...again! In case you didn't notice, but all five overall are Nordic, which isn't unusual. Scandinavia is typically ranked in the top ten when it comes to the best educated, best healthcare system, and best government (strictly based on personal opinion obviously).

When the list is expanded, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Switzerland, New Zealand  and Australia round out the top ten. Notice who's missing? Yelp. The United States didn't fare to well. In fact, for the first time ever, the U.S. fell from the top tier and landed in the 23rd spot, just ahead of Germany in 24th.  The countries just ahead of included Czechia (18th), Lithuania (19th), the UK (20th) and Slovenia holding down the 21st spot.

It's worth noting the bottom third worst countries to live in are mostly in Africa, although Afghanistan is dead last in the 143rd position (Lebanon is just above it at 142),  With the bottom third being the worst places to live in terms of happiness (not to mention economics and opportunities), it's no wonder that Europe is overrun with "migrants"  mostly from Africa. Unfortunately, most appear to be looking for four star rated accommodations and other freebies rather than a job.

In examining our drop, the report says that among those 30 and under, the U.S. ranked a pitiful 62 place. But for those over 60, the survey said the tenth place was all ours (as an aside, the 30 and under crowd are the Millennials and Gen Z while those 60 and up are mostly Babyboomers and some Gen X.  It also includes those of the Silent Generation and the Greatest Generation).  

Before going any further, I need to break up these groups by date. The Greatest Generation (WWII) comprises anyone born before 1927. The Silent Generation is 1928 - 1945. Babyboomers are 1946 - 1964. Gen X is 1965 - 1980. Gen Y/Millennials 1981 - 1996 . Gen Z is 1997 - 2012 and Gen Alpha is 2013 - ?.

It should be mentioned that among Millennials and Gen Z, political party registration is its lowest and dropping.  Among Millennials, Republicans make up barely 21% of registered voters. Democrats are 27% while Independents are a whopping 52% and growing. Among Gen Z, it's not much different. Republicans are only 17%. Democrats are 31%, and Independents are again 52% and continuing to grow.

When we look at Gen X, Republicans make up 30% compared to Democrats at 27%. However, Independents are 44%. Among Boomers (that's me), Republicans are 35%, Independents are 33%, and Democrats are a close 32%. The Silent Generation is the Republicans core voter group. The GOP makes up 39% while Democrats take up 35% and Independents are 26%. As an aside.

The "World Happiness Report" would seem to back this up as it says those under 30 are increasingly unhappy about pretty much everything, but especially the economy, the environment, and corporate control of politics.

Another way to look at how the percentages by generation will affect voting and the economy is based on generational preference for capitalism (our current system) and some form of socialism (likely similar to the top ranking happy Scandinavians).  The Silent Generation overwhelmingly back capitalism with 77% in favor. The balance is equally split between socialism and no preference.

Baby Boomers like their capitalism too (despite their Che posters). 60% back capitalism. 16% like socialism, while 10% are too high to care. When it comes to Gen X, we start to see a shift. While capitalism still wins out 39%, 14% want socialism. Significantly 22% don't care. When we get into Millennials, the shift becomes a little more noticeable.

Among Millennials, 34% like our current capitalist model, although 20% prefer socialism of some type yet 21% are open. Lastly, let's look at Gen Z. Although mostly in their 20's, only 29% support capitalism while a close 28% back socialism and 19% are willing to go either way. So what does that means?

From my take on the numbers, as the Silent and Boomer generations age out, the new power players will be the Millennials and Gen Z. Given the present situation of the United States (such as need to stay on an artificial war economy to get economy going, growth of illegal immigration, slide as a world power, failing infrastructure, etc), I would expect a change away from our current predatory form of capitalism.

In its place, a more managed economy which may include more regulation, especially of critical resources or industries. The biggest change may be the political system. In place to a corporate controlled duopoly, we may find open primaries, easier entry for third party and Independent candidates into election, real campaign finance reform, and term limits. 

While I question whether our southern border will ever again be secure, I expect Spanish to become our second defacto "national" language. (its essentially that already)  The U.S. will start showing concrete signs of balkanizing into racial and ethnic zones. Maybe the "Reconquista" will happen yet.

Gen Z and Gen Alpha may be the last wholly American generation. The U.S. economy may show short lived signs of the dominance it once had, but we will be in stiff competition with countries like India, China, Mexico, and Brazil (all, incidentally, members of the BRICs union). Other similar economic and military unions will form out of necessity in order to compete and defend trade lanes.

For those of us of the Silent, Baby Boomer, and older Gen X generations, the America we grew up in with all its idyllic collective memories  are gone, never to return expect on late night reruns. The Oligarchs are working hard to build a bulwark against what's coming, not for our sake, but for theirs. Their aim is to minimize choices while making it appear choices are abundant; to create a managed political and economic system.

That also entails more surveillance. For instance, while we'll have more electronic goodies than we can imagine, but ultimately you have to wonder who do they serve---us or someone else. Siri and Alexa have already proven they passively listen and store damn near everything. At what point does the illusion of convenience trump  our right to privacy? 

Will our electronic cars take us only to where we're authorized to go based on our credit rating?  We'll also interact less and less with our fellow human beings. We will start replacing flesh and blood relationships with cyber ones. Even our sex partners may come with off/on switches!  

 Our definition of "happiness" will surely have to change to meet changing technology and global demographics. Even "happy" Scandinavia is rapidly changing.  The so-called "migrants" pouring into the country and demanding to be given their free share of prosperity without contributing. I guess when you import the third world, you get the world.  I bet even Aldous Huxley couldn't have predicted this  "Brave New World".

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World's Happiness Report 2024

These are the world's happiest countries in 2024

Finland named the world's happiest country (again) but young people are struggling

Party identification in the United States in 2022, by generation

Millennials,Gen Z Clinging to Independent Party ID

Which U.S.Generation Holds The Most Political Power?

Gen Z willchange capitalism as we know it


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