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"Quality of Life" and Objectivism

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I am in the midst of a discussion (on another Forum) on "Quality of Life" between various countries and another participant posted a list of the top 20 and the bottom 20 countries, published by the UN.
 
I would be interested in seeing how this may compare to a similar list of countries created by using whatever (commonly accepted) standards Objectivists may use (perhaps these are different than what the UN uses).
 
Is there such a list ? If so, any link would be much appreciated.
 
Johnny Q.

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I am in the midst of a discussion (on another Forum) on "Quality of Life" between various countries and another participant posted a list of the top 20 and the bottom 20 countries, published by the UN.

I would be interested in seeing how this may compare to a similar list of countries created by using whatever (commonly accepted) standards Objectivists may use (perhaps these are different than what the UN uses).

Is there such a list ? If so, any link would be much appreciated.

Johnny Q.

To the degree that a nation has a government that protects property rights, is the notch on my list to which I base my standard.

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It is natural for Objectivists to question any finding on the United Nations. After taking a quick look at this site:http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/11/photogalleries/country-pictures/, I assume this is the resource for the basis of the OP. They use what seems to be a "human development index." The criterion for highest ranking begins with average life-span, literacy, and levels of education. Yet, I didn't notice much on the excepted judgements emphasizing climate-change policies and human-rights. So, I'm inclined to give this list another perusal before making a final verdict as to its relevance. And as for an Objectivist list, I venture to say we would set a different criterion, one based on protection of private property rights, as Steve Arnold mentioned. Also, international copyrights laws would be considered. Ranking at the bottom of the UN list, as worst nations, were some of the African nations, Sierra Leone, and neighboring Burkina Faso. As I understand it, these governments, best and worst, would be judged by Objectivist standards as to how they protect their individuals from attacks to their person and from theft. Most nations that fail are those that lack the institutions of property ownership; in some cases, farmers assume ownership without any documented proof. Their courts are linked to political factions, often militant, and the people are illiterate, ignorant, and superstitious. While the United States is slipping in the UN rankings, (from 6th place in 2005, to 12th) our growing reliance on socialism is, I believe, in large part to blame. Iceland ranks first per UN standards, yet their banking crisis in 2008 was among the worst. I have no data upon which to make a credible assertion for this apparent rebound, but the Icelanders seem to possess solid institutions (other than banking), and a typical Scandinavian work ethic. Norway, another Scandinavian country, is among the UN "high achievers," so maybe these socialistic nations have some sort of cultural secret, or it could be the oil revenues. In any event, good for them. Nonetheless, Objectivists tend to focus on ranking the individual, rather than the country.

Edited by Repairman

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Repairman, on 23 Feb 2014 - 07:08 AM, said:

While the United States is slipping in the UN rankings, (from 6th place in 2005, to 12th) our growing reliance on socialism is, I believe, in large part to blame. ... Norway, another Scandinavian country, is among the UN "high achievers," so maybe these socialistic nations have some sort of cultural secret, or it could be the oil revenues. In any event, good for them. Nonetheless, Objectivists tend to focus on ranking the individual, rather than the country.

 

I agree with the underlying assertion that the UN likely uses corrupt metrics for assessing and ranking countries. After all, they were the ones who called everything from education to a clean toilet a fundamental human right.

 

However, I'm not sure that I follow your claim about the United States. If "socialistic nations" like Norway and Sweden are among the top-ranked, why would the United States slip in the rankings if it adopted more socialistic policies? In other words, if your hypothesis that countries with socialistic policies rank highly on the UN list were true, wouldn't the United States go up the list if it became more like Norway and Sweden? I think we call a lot of things we don't like "socialism" without actually going through the more rigorous thought process that is necessary in these kinds of circumstances.

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Morality_Today: I will try to address this matter in simplest terms. The United States carries a burden that no other nation in history has had to carry. I am referring to the mission of maintaining global peace. I don't wish to create a discussion on our success in this mission, but merely to state that it exists. You could combine the costs of maintaining all of the Scandinavian countries, and add to it many more, and the cost would not come close to the maintenance and legacy costs of the combined US Armed Forces. The United States has a tradition of staying ahead of other industrial nations as a leader in innovation. Our system has become so heavily regulated that business opportunity is becoming increasingly suppressed. The costs of our social-welfare system is crippling, with rampant fraud in the Social Security Insurance and Medicare programs, and now the new program. This is part of the "American socialism" of which I am referring. If socialism is the "ideal" economic model for some countries, it remains to be seen in the long term. (It didn't work very well for Iceland.) I have been told by people who have strong ties to Sweden that there are cultural attitudes that encourage a kind of mediocrity. This I won't try to explain, only that it is what I was told. Nonetheless, standards in Scandinavia may be superior to those in the US, but I'd like to know what and how those standards are set. 

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Morality_Today,

This is an addendum to my previous post. The Swedish term I was looking for is jantelagen. It is term that expresses the cultural attitude that engenders mediocrity. You may refer to it:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_Jante. As you will see, it has translations in most of the Scandinavian languages. It is very hostile to individualism. It is this sort of cultural norm, and my understanding of history, that makes me very glad that my ancestors choose to leave Europe, and take their chances in the New World. Northern European socialist states may well have a high ranking from the United Nations, but individuality is a virtue I value too highly to take for granted.

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I don't think there is a list but I'd be interested in what members think.

I would think the best countries would have to have maximum personal freedom and a maximum amount of citizens who are productive and honest.

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From #6:
 

The United States carries a burden that no other nation in history has had to carry. I am referring to the mission of maintaining global peace

 


Actually England carried this burden throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This is a problem for libertarians who point out that the US in its glory days was not the world's policeman and thus shouldn't be today. It didn't have to be, because somebody else was doing the job. That is not to say that they are wrong or that somebody has to do the job at all, but it's a fact they'd better be ready to deal with.

(You might also say that Rome was the world's policeman in its day, not globally but for as much of the world as it knew about.)

Edited by softwareNerd
Added quote block

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To unhijack:

I wouldn't trust the UN's criteria. A good, neutral indicator would be immigration: how badly do people want to live in a country? By that measure I believe the US is first, followed by England, Canada and Australia.

Edited by Reidy

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