The 2016 listing of the happiest countries on Earth was released this week, and the U.S. again failed to crack the top 10. In fact, it barely made the top 15, landing right above 14th-ranked Costa Rica and just below . . . Austria?
Not that anyone should be surprised. The Scandinavian nations have long had a lock on collective joy, what with comprehensive health care, low- to no-cost education, a relatively stable job market and other positive indicators.
Sure, the taxes are through the roof, but in a place like No. 1 Denmark, that’s apparently a small price to pay for a life that, at least according to the World Happiness Report, everyone else in the world should envy.
All other things being equal, being No. 13 out of the 150 countries ranked isn’t bad. But in an election year, with so much room for improvement, this is something that each political party could easily fold into its platform.
The Republican frontrunner could tweak his slogan from “Make America Great Again” to “Make America Happy Again” (or at least “Happier than Austria”).
The Democrats might argue that, by skipping from No. 17 in 2013 and No. 15 last year, the U.S. is trending up, no doubt because of the party occupying the White House these last eight years.
In addition, a debate among the presidential hopefuls as to how they would goose the country into climbing a few more rungs would be a welcome departure from all that endless on-air talk of contested conventions, socialist candidates and “delegate math.”
And, of course, all the new commercials and jingles should be big hits, too — so long as everyone agrees beforehand that boasting, “At least we’re not Burundi” (a.k.a. the unhappiest spot on the planet), would come across as just plain mean.