Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Taxes and Happiness

A few days ago I wrote about how angry Americans are. This sparked a discussion with a fellow writer about why this is and what surveys have been taken. I haven’t come across any surveys about anger, but there has been a lot written about the happiest nations. The USA is never mentioned in the top ten, though Canada comes in at number eight.

The happiest people are generally found in Denmark, followed with Switzerland, Austria, and the Scandinavian countries. As I was reading about the world’s happiest countries I came across another interesting statistic. The world’s highest taxes are generally in the same countries as the happiest people.

Denmark is the happiest and has the highest taxes. Sweden, Austria, Finland, and Luxemburg are all in the top ten happiest countries and are in the top ten highest tax list. This has to be more than a coincidence.

The United States is well below average in taxes paid, but is also well below normal on the happiest scale and may be one of the angriest nations in the world. Obviously, low taxes don’t make you happy and in fact, the evidence points to the opposite.

I am quite sure that people aren’t happy just because their taxes are high. Happiness come from things like good education, outstanding health care, good transportation, efficient government, and so forth. These things all cost money which come from taxes.

The next time you hear that someone is unhappy because their taxes are high, or that they don’t want to pay more taxes, think about the countries that provide good services to their people. Think about the Danes who are among the highest educated in the world and never have to worry about student loans because higher education is free. Or about the many countries that have high-quality free health care for everybody. The amount Americans pay to go to college and the huge chunk of many people’s paychecks that go to health insurance (and many people, myself included, don’t even have that option,) and it is easy to see that paying a little more in taxes and whole lot less other places, could be a pretty good deal.