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In a country where the poor have country homes, everyone is happy

Olaf Templeman

To find out how happy they are in a country, you can skip the rich 3 percent of the population: look directly at the poor 3 percent. This is the hobby of British economist Richard Laird, author of the study Overcoming Inequality And one of the compilers of what is now popular World Happiness Report.

Finland ranks first in that world happiness rankings. A few years ago, I was often asked to think: ‘Winners have country houses all over the world. The losers have only country houses in Finland.

Winners live the same everywhere: they are the same. For example, you can find the equivalent of ‘our’ Harry men in almost two hundred recognized countries around the world. In almost those two hundred countries they succeed in taking a wise move, setting aside their money, building their villas and protecting their interests. It explores the differences between Bolivian Harry men, Eritrean Harry men, Uzbek Harry men and our own Harry men.

It does not matter if you are a winner or not, it’s important if you are one of the less privileged somewhere. Take those born and disabled in backward families. You have countries like Finland where they own a car and can park that car in places specially designated for them.

Such residents are already in short supply in countries where ordinary drivers regularly take those specially disabled parking spaces. See how it works in parking lots in Greece, Italy or Romania. They are even less so in countries where there are no disabled parking spaces. Take Moldova or Azerbaijan. This includes countries that do not have parking facilities, such as the Central African Republic or South Sudan. Low-income people often live on the streets. Half of the sidewalk has driveways to the villas.

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The more a country tries to correct the inequalities inherent in the world, the happier its citizens will be. Those who do not believe it, should read the top 10 places in the world happiness rankings. Nos. 1 to 10: Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, Netherlands, Sweden, New Zealand, Austria, Luxembourg. America is very low not because of the low percentage of the rich, but because of the high percentage of the poor with the lowest social services.

‘The greatest happiness for most people is the basis of morality and law,’ said the famous legal philosopher Jeremy Bentham two centuries ago. In the Pentagon models used by the editors of the World Happiness Report, the happiness of every citizen of a country is equally weighed. Their results are not at all desirable in terms of clarity: care for social facilities.

In the last edition of the World Happiness Rankings, the Netherlands was ranked sixth. Some people living in the fifth happiest country in the world are unaware that inequality has increased in various parts of the world in recent decades. What is characteristic of mechanisms for correcting inequality is that they must be constantly encouraged. Take it for granted or look the other way for a moment and immediately there will be a mess.

This special edition deals with various divisions between rich and poor. You will find stories about income and wealth inequality, differences in appearance, differences between young and old, and more. The solutions are suggested by the French economist Thomas Pigetti, the Volkssrant thinker Peter de Ward and others.

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I hope you enjoy reading.