On this Christmas Day, many might be reflecting on the source of happiness, and concluding that it revolves around family and faith. But they'd be wrong . . . at least according to The New York Times.
Nope. Turns out the secret to happiness is . . . virtually unlimited government programs, and the high taxes to pay for them. The secret was uncovered by intrepid NYT reporter Patrick Kingsley in an article entitled, "It’s Cold, Dark and Lacks Parking. But Is This Finnish Town the World’s Happiest?"
The Finnish town in question is Kauniainen, and its mayor claimed the "happiest town" title after a UN study found Finland the world's happiest country, and another study found Kauniainen's residents to be the most satisfied in the country.
From the article [emphasis added]:
- The local adult center is "subsidized by both the state and the city [and] offers cheap evening classes to residents 'in basically anything that people might be interested in,'” according to its director.
- "Around 15 percent of the town’s population are enrolled here at any one time, some paying less than a dollar per hour of tuition . . . 'It’s this kind of service that makes the town cheerier than most,'" said a local resident.
- "[W]hat Kauniainen lacks in parking places [the train station lacks sufficient spots], it makes up for with state-funded services."
- "In this single small town, there are over 100 sports and cultural clubs, all of them subsidized in some way by the local council."
- "When residents argued, two decades ago, whether they should build an ice hockey rink or a handball court, the council solved the dispute by funding both."
- "All this supplements a good and cheap universal health care system, free university education and affordable child care."
Of course, there's a catch: according to the article, "to pay for all this, taxes are high by American standards: Someone earning $45,000 might pay more than double the amount of tax in Finland as in some American states. But residents said they can feel the dividend: a society with low inequality, high opportunity and a strong sense of solidarity."
So there you have it. The secret to happiness is . . . soft socialism.
That might work in a small, isolated, ethnically homogeneous Scandinavian town. But here in the United States, the majority—one hopes—still opts for rugged individualism, self-reliance, and lower taxes.
The Declaration of Independence records that among the unalienable rights with which we have been endowed by the Creator is "the pursuit" of happiness—not the provision of happiness by a government always looking to take a bigger chunk of our freedom—and our paychecks.
A Merry Christmas to all!