"We're becoming more and more mean spirited."

Jeffrey Sachs source  SETH BORENSTEIN writer for AP 

Norway vaulted to the top slot in the World Happiness Report despite the plummeting price of oil, a key part of its economy. Income in the United States has gone up over the past decade, but happiness is declining.

While most countries were either getting happier or at least treading water, America's happiness score dropped 5 percent over the past decade. Venezuela and the Central African Republic slipped the most over the past decade. Nicaragua and Latvia increased the most.

Study co-author and economist Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University said in a phone interview from Oslo that the sense of community, so strong in Norway, is deteriorating in the United States.

"We're becoming more and more mean spirited. And our government is becoming more and more corrupt. And inequality is rising," Sachs said, citing research and analysis he conducted on America's declining happiness for the report. "It's a long-term trend and conditions are getting worse."

University of Maryland's Carol Graham, who wasn't a study author but did review some chapters, said the report mimics what she sees in the American rural areas, where her research shows poor whites have a deeper lack of hope, which she connects to rises in addictions to painkillers and suicide among that group.

"There is deep misery in the heartland," Graham, author of the book "The Pursuit of Happiness," wrote in an email.

Happiness — and doing what you love — is more important than politicians think, said study author Helliwell. He rated his personal happiness a 9 on a 1-to- 10 scale.

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Comments (2)

  1. howlingatthemoon

    Wait until they can’t afford the HACA and it doesn’t cover what the average American needs healthcare for, and take away a lot of Medicaid, possibly Medicare, cut Social Security and raise taxes on the average worker to pay for stuff the very rich ought to be contributing more towards. Right now, the farmers are worried they won’t be able to get the help they normally pay for because of the immigrant bans. But you also have to figure what Americans are like. Most of us come from people who wanted better then their “father” countries could provide; I think that “ethic” has been passed down generation to generation—strive for better, don’t sit on your laurels, never give up, never give in, reach higher and keep reaching. Part of me is basically a happy person who lives modestly as long as no one tries to mess with the way I do live. Cut out or down on Medicare/Soc.Sec. and my life is going to become much harder and it will affect the way I live. And my sense of happiness because I’ll be worried a lot more.

    March 23, 2017
    1. belladora

      I can see how that would upset any of us that are older. Fortunately, the over 55 crowd is a major voting bloc and that makes politicians from both parties nervous. They would need a referendum to pull that off and they are not that brave. I am not afraid of my healthcare or yours. I truly believe many will be ok. There are many that will suffer unknown consequences ( lose coverage, increase payments) from the expanded Medicaid that was in the ACA. I would be very surprised if a bill like the one being presented today could ever pass the Senate. A lot of Republican Governors are calling their reps and saying “don’t cut my state medicaid.” There is a majority of Republicans governing our country because of people’s ignorance in knowing the issues. The other case is they are not capable of understanding the issues. I have spoken to some people that were Trump voters. They really thought he was going to drain the swamp and not try to undermine the faith in our country. We are much stronger than that. Fortunately both parties and Independents are intelligent enough to know what they do not want. If it hurts them personally, they do not want it. I was nervous so I started paying attention and watching hearings. I feel much better now than I did when I was in the dark about the Republican agenda. They are as divided as the Democrats are and that’s why nothing gets done. Not to worry, we will be A-OK.

      March 23, 2017