November 28, 2010

"Normally when we think of happiness, we think of money and status, but Denmark teaches us the opposite lesson."

"There, you have a place where you are taxed to the mean. A cultural norm reminds everybody that they are no better than everybody else, so you're not going to choose your career path based on status. You're in a place where a garbage man makes as much as a lawyer. So what you have are 4 million people who excel at things like furniture design and architecture."

More from NPR.

61 comments:

bagoh20 said...

"So what you have are 4 million people who excel at things like furniture design and architecture."

I bet many don't "excel" but they cost you the same. And the same as your doctor or lawyer, who also have no incentive to excel. What could go wrong?

New York said...

"Normally when we think of happiness, we think of money and status, ....

That's what liberals think about...

When average people think of happiness, they think of relationships like family and community, and also things like personal freedom and taking pride in one's work - but liberals can't fathom those things.

Palladian said...

Danes are the most entitled, self-centered, egotistical people I've ever met, and I say this as a friend of several Danish people.

Also the money thing is bullshit, because the smart Danes just find ways to hide income from the state.

When challenged about any instance of bad behavior, my Danish friend simply says, by way of explanation: "We're Vikings..."

chickelit said...

Danes are the most entitled, self-centered, egotistical people I've ever met, and I say this as a friend of several Danish people.

Leggo my LEGO!

shoutingthomas said...

I've never been there, so I don't know.

But, Steve Sailer says the real secret to the happiness of the Danes is...

Denmark is almost entirely a one-ethnic group society.

Danes are happy, I suspect, because they are surrounded by other Danes.

edutcher said...

He wants everybody to be equally poor and uniform in their mediocrity. He talks about spending money on experiences, rather than objects, but he doesn't want you to have too much to spend. (Who does that sound like?)

The old "the nail that sticks up gets hammered down" philosophy of the post-WWII British Empire. Problem is, some will always be better than others. All men are created equal applies only theologically and philosophically.

Samuel Colt took care of its applications in the material world.

This guy will probably show up in NPR's swimsuit calendar.

The Drill SGT said...

I'm sorry, what confiscatory tax rates get you over the long term is mediocrity.

Pay your garbage men as much as your brain surgeons, and by implication, all other trades and you get a bunch of performance artists or street vendors at the top of your economic pyramid

Palladian said...

And money does buy happiness, contrary to popular wisdom, at least for men. When I've had lots of money, I was happy. Now that I don't, I'm not happy.

And I'd like to see how the average NPR "personality" (for lack of a better term) would react to receiving the same pay as a garbage man. Actually, the garbage man should earn a lot more than an NPR "personality"; the garbage man takes away useless, stinky, moldy crap whereas the NPR host delivers it. And unlike the garbage man, the NPR host takes your money for the service, whether you want it or not, and nags you to give them more money on top of what they've stolen.

Palladian said...

Danes are also very lazy, a trait common to most socialists.

Irene said...

"He also traveled to Singapore for the book, finding that the citizens there responded well to the stringent law enforcement. 'What you have here is a place that's very secure. Evolutionarily speaking, we are more hard-wired for security than freedom[.]' "

A quaint endorsement of a police state.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

The result of which will be some really beautiful Danish Modern cukoo clocks!

Julius said...

I live half the year in Denmark and this whole fucking line of bullshit is just the result of one really, really effective marketing campaign:

Here's an antidote:

Babs in DK

TosaGuy said...

Didn't we have a thread where teachers demanded to be paid more because they were better educated than garbagemen or any other non-degree job?

I don't think the teachers or NPR folks in this equation think their salary would go down to meet the mean.

Maguro said...

NPR does not appear to understand that money and status are not synonyms. You can tax everyone at 100%, but that doesn't - can't - eliminate status-seeking, which is hard-wired into our primate DNA. I think theoretically, perfectly equal monetary rewards would tend to intensify rather than diminish other types of status-seeking.

Trooper York said...

There is one Dane who makes way too much money.

Dane Cook.

That guy is just not funny.

tim maguire said...

In terms of public health, your garbage man is much more important than your family doctor.

John Lynch said...

Well, so what? Does anyone really think what the Danes do is transferable anywhere else? If so, why?

John Lynch said...

Oh, and I'd love, love, love liberal professionals like doctors and lawyers to be socially equal to garbage men.

Like that's going to happen.

YoungHegelian said...

More Danish wisdom, from our friends at the Onion:

http://www.theonion.com/video/denmark-introduces-harrowing-new-tourism-ads-direc,14403/

Kirby Olson said...

It's Lutheran.

Revenant said...

So what you have are 4 million people who excel at things like furniture design and architecture.

Well, no. What you have is 4 million people, few of whom excel at anything. Denmark is pretty much irrelevant; if it and all its people vanished tomorrow, neither the arts nor the sciences would take much notice.

k*thy said...

To be happy or not, money or not...it's up to you.

A lazy Dane? Not...My Grandpa Jensen was the hardest working person I've never met.

Martin L. Shoemaker said...

And so Danes with ambition leave the country to find a place where their ambition and work ethic are rewarded.

AllenS said...

Denmark has been around like forever, and they only have 4 million people? Why is that?

somefeller said...

According to this article, while wealth inequality in Denmark is not as pronounced as in other countries, it definitely exists (how could it not?). Also, as far as status is concerned: "Class in Denmark is tied less to things like income and healthcare, and more to location, profession, and the kind of work engaged in, i.e. the amount of control over one's own responsibilities." So, in other words, what you do for a living and where you live really does matter in Denmark, like anyplace else.

The person who wrote this piece may have some good ideas on other topics (his comments about the importance of friends at work and the benefits of sports and arts seem sensible), but it sounds like he's the worst sort of cultural tourist - no real research, just face value commentary.

AllenS said...

Martin might have just answered my question.

Moose said...

Denmark is 42nd for suicides. US is 40th. Go figure. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_suicide_rate#cite_note-eurostat-3

HDHouse said...

I like the garbage man/lawyer reference but I don't think you have to dig down to the lawyer level to get a comparison.

I mean. There are limits you know.

Michael said...

Julius: Curious if the half year in Denmark is not motivated by tax considerations. I have some Scandinavian friends who spend a bit more than half of the year in Scotland for that reason.

somefeller said...

According to this article, while income inequality in Denmark may be less pronounced than other places, it still definitely exists. (How could it not?) Also, see the following about status: "Class in Denmark is tied less to things like income and healthcare, and more to location, profession, and the kind of work engaged in, i.e. the amount of control over one's own responsibilities." So in other words, what you do and where you live matters in the Danish pecking order, like anyplace else.

While this writer may have some good comments regarding other matters (his comments about the importance of workplace friendships and the benefits of sports and arts are good ones), he sounds like the worst sort of cultural tourist - superficial evaluations, not much research or critical thinking.

Martin L. Shoemaker said...

Maguro said...

I think theoretically, perfectly equal monetary rewards would tend to intensify rather than diminish other types of status-seeking.

Seriously! It's all well and good to talk about garbage men making the same as lawyers, since some people lack the skills and discipline to go into law. But what about when garbage men make the same as fry cooks and toll booth collectors? Who in the world is going to want the garbage collection job?

No offense to hard working garbage men and women everywhere. I do value your willingness to haul away stuff I would rather not smell. But there's a reason why good garbage haulers make more than fry cooks and toll collectors (even in places where unions and the mob don't run the business). Leveling incomes removes that incentive.

HDHouse said...

the Danes have long figured out they are in the same small boat and by in large lead lives and a quality of living that is reserved for only a few here.

Jealousy takes on a lot of odd forms on this blog.

edutcher said...

Irene said...

"He also traveled to Singapore for the book, finding that the citizens there responded well to the stringent law enforcement. 'What you have here is a place that's very secure. Evolutionarily speaking, we are more hard-wired for security than freedom[.]' "

A quaint endorsement of a police state.


Toss in the punitive taxation, regimentation and uniformity of the populace, and lots of "fairness" and you have Lenin's Socialist Workers Paradise.

Or The Zero's vision for the US.

Martin L. Shoemaker said...

Julius, thanks for that link. It really is good to see both sides of an issue like this. Her English is a little idiosyncratic, but she writes well despite that.

wv: lobst - After all the taxes, she can't afford the whole lobster.

Nora said...

There are very few places that experimented with quasi communism succesfully. The keywords for their success are 'small' and 'open'. However, 'open', as in 'you can leave it whenever you want' is also a main cause of their demise, as ambitious population is replaced by social security junkies.

It looks like Denmark population of over 5 millions did not increase since they started experimenting with socialism. I wonder why.

Bob said...

Let's defund NPR and see if the proposition is true. My bet is those NPR hosts will be none too happy.

Mick said...

Pigs on the wing.

JAY said...

Pay your garbage men as much as your brain surgeons

And you certainly wouldn't want to get brain surgery in Denmark...

Synova said...

The idea that "you're no better than anyone else" and that this means Danes are *humble* is ridiculous.

I *am* Scandinavian and I *know*. There are no people on earth so prideful over their humility.

The Danish garbage collector? He's still better than everyone else who isn't Danish. He's still a viking. (Not Norwegian, but a viking none-the-less.)

It's also ridiculous to think that any Dane would be candid to a visitor.

Michael said...

Jerry Brown once said that janitors and garbage men should be paid more than doctors because doctors enjoy their work and garbage men don't. He wrecked California as governor and now he has been elected again 25 years later. What could go wrong ?

chuck b. said...

"So what you have are 4 million people who excel at things like furniture design and architecture."

And yet, all that comes to mind are those blue tins of butter cookies.

ark said...

There's a flip side to this fierce egalitarianism.

Once upon a time I worked in an office that had a Danish intern visiting for two years. I learned later that when he went back home, he was nearly unemployable, because prospective employers assumed that his time in the USA had given him a swelled head.

Mikio said...

Happiness surveys are worthless. Objective measurements of completely subjective measurements are impossible -- at least currently. (Perhaps in principle, too, and therefore forever as well. This is treading into deep philosophical water, though, involving the so-called Mind-Body Problem which I disagree is really a problem, but let’s not go there.)

My personal happiness, for instance, on a scale of 1-10, reliably fluctuates from about a "3" to an "8" each day after my morning cup of coffee. But is that "8" artificial happiness or real happiness? I don’t know. But it sure feels real. Also, should “3” be considered my true level of happiness when I have reliable access to this legal and ubiquitous drug called caffeine?

Maybe it seems sad needing such a drug in one's life rather than just being naturally at "8" without it. Okay, granted, but maybe my "3" is a friggin' "7" on your pathetic scale, smarty-pants! Take that! Who's happier now, beyotch!

See? The fact that lack of happiness in one's life is also perceived as failure and loserdom (especially by personal-responsibility-proselytizing American conservatives, no doubt, and perhaps, too, by a certain Danish ethos) also is a major factor that's not taken into account by happiness surveys. Not that it could even if they tried. Anyway, it's all nonsense and fluff. Like astrology. Entertaining perhaps, but not to be taken seriously.

TosaGuy said...

"That's what liberals think about...

When average people think of happiness, they think of relationships like family and community, and also things like personal freedom and taking pride in one's work - but liberals can't fathom those things."

Wrong, liberals do understand that those things bring happiness and limit their ability to control other people's lives. That is why they want the family, community (of the non-government controlled variety), personal pride and personal freedom destroyed.

Trooper York said...

Hey Ikea sucks. Just sayn'

Trooper York said...

I only buy real furniture that is at least fifty years old. You can get it at antiques stores where you can get solid American pieces that got from estate sales.

Not plywood crap with an crazy instruction booklet and a bag full of screws.

Screw Ikea!

Trooper York said...

What's so Great about the Danes anyway?

That Marmaduke is just a big pussy anyway!

HDHouse said...

@Synova

I suspect that the current Danish population has fairly little in common with 9th century Danes invading England ... figuring that that ship has sailed.

You repubs on the board might find it interesting that Forbes magazine, that ultra liberal commie marxist pinko rag, rated it as having the best climate (not weather!) for business and near the top for the past decade.

Makes me wonder what all the Dane bashing is about on here...makes me sad...melancholy even.

DADvocate said...

You're in a place where a garbage man makes as much as a lawyer.

Makes sense to me. With doctors it's a different story. Doctors actually do something worthwhile.

And I'd like to see how the average NPR "personality" (for lack of a better term) would react to receiving the same pay as a garbage man.

I'm with Palldian all the way on this one. Similar to doctors and lawyers, garbage men do work that is more worthwhile.

Trooper York said...

Of course garbage men should make more than lawyers.

Garbage men pick up garbage.

Lawyers are garbage.

The only thing worse than a journalist is a lawyer.

shirley elizabeth said...

"the Danes have long figured out they are in the same small boat and by in large lead lives and a quality of living that is reserved for only a few here."

Have you been to Denmark? I would much rather live the American Dream than the Danish Dream. I will forever be smitten with the countryside and cheese - still haven't found the same stuff here, but would never stay there longer than vacation. My husband and I, a young couple fairly recent out of school, have a better standard of living than most Danes, and a much higher chance of it increasing.

JAY said...

and by in large lead lives and a quality of living that is reserved for only a few here."

Hysterical.

You leftists seem to live in a land of make believe.

The average American lives better than the average citizen of Denmark.

JAL said...

Didn't Garrison Keilor marry a Dane?

One of those Scandinavians, IIRC.

How did that work out again? (Read the Babs link to get a clue.)

And how about them NPR folks! What a hoot! Maybe they should stop shilling for money every other minute so they can get paid like a Hopeville mobile waste management associate.

And that Singapore! Woo ee! Paradise on earth. They even let you chew medicinal chewing gum there if you can prove you have a medicinal reason and give them your name when you buy it.

You know ... just like having to give ID when you buy sudafed in case you're running a meth lab in your mother's basement here in the States.

JAL said...

There are fewer people in the country of Denmark than there are in the state of South Carolina.

Just for perspective.

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Robert Cook said...

"Oh, and I'd love, love, love liberal professionals like doctors and lawyers to be socially equal to garbage men."

What makes you think doctors and lawyers, as a group, are liberal?

Robert Cook said...

"The only thing worse than a journalist is a lawyer."

Good lawyers serve a valuable and necessary role in a functional society, and good journalists (with organs that will publish their work) are not just valuable and necessary in a functional society...without them, a functional democracy cannot exist.

Look at the state of our, ahem, "democracy" right now: it's teetering on collapse, and among several reasons this is so, the rapidly ongoing vanishing of truly independent, informative journalism (and readers interested in reading it) is one of the most significant.

k*thy said...

So this Buettner writes a book, gets interviewed by NPR and NPR takes the hit? I don't get it.

The two Dane paragraphs are the only portions of the article look bleeding-heart, the rest, in my experience rings pretty true. Just sayin'

Tibore said...

"'A Place Where A Garbage Man Makes As Much As A Lawyer'"

Yes, because overvaluing a job that requires far less intellectual skill and personal talent than the profession it's being compared to is a great thing for society to do (*rolls eyes*).

Look, I don't want to diminsh garbage collectors. I liken my sentiment about it to Robin William's line about janitors in Good Will Hunting: They're both honorable jobs that accomplishes important tasks. But you cannot tell me a job that requires less education, uses less mental effort (although arguably requires more physical output), and doesn't hold the potential for influencing and advancing society in the same way that the legal profession has should receive the same level of compensation. That's actually diminishing the professional elements of society. And I simply cannot see how that's a good thing.

Belkys said...

We're Vikings. So are americans
You are a descendant from britons( saxon , anglos .juts, danes, norwegians and swedes) , irish( more or less the same + celtics) or german ( the origin of swedes , danes and norwegians). And if you are from Wisconsin perhaps descendant in line from swedes

kelly said...

You got it twisted. Danes do not derive status from money, they derive status from *reported* levels of happiness.

This spoofs the results.

Their *actual* levels of happiness? They use a lot of prescription medication for mental distress, they self medicate a lot with alcohol (et al), they kill themselves, etc etc.

Who can tell if they are happy or not? The survey certainly does not tell you.