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'World Misery Index' Puts U.S. Between Romania and Hungary

Inskora, FoterInskora, FoterSteve Hanke, co-Director of Applied Economics at the libertarian Cato Institute today released what he calls the "World Misery Index." The United States' position is not encouraging.

The Land of the Free and Home of the Brave lands itself in spot 66 (the lower the number, the worse), right between Romania and Hungary. The least miserable country in the world is Switzerland, at spot 109. Our beloved northern neighbors, Canada, beat us by 30 spots. Perhaps the only thing it ranks #1 in these days, Syria is crowned the world's most miserable country.

Hanke explains, "Every country aims to lower inflation, unemployment, and lending rates, while increasing gross domestic product (GDP) per capita." He created his ranking system "through a simple sum of the former three rates, minus year-on-year per capita GDP growth." The "largest contributing factor" to American misery is unemployment.

Earlier this year a Gallup poll found the percentage of people who feel satisfied with their level of freedom has plummeted from 91 percent to 79 percent in the last eight years. Another Gallup poll found that Americans think government itself is the biggest threat facing our nation. Reason's J.D. Tuccille suggested that people feel these ways because they're true.  He laid out several other indices: The Index of Economic Freedom, which found "the U.S. is the only country to have recorded a loss of economic freedom each of the past seven years. The overall U.S. score decline from 1995 to 2014 is 1.2 points, the fourth worst drop among advanced economies"; The Fraser Institute's Economic Freedom of the World: 2013 Annual Report gave an even harsher assessment, dropping the U.S. from 3rd to 19th in a decade; The World Press Freedom Index and the Committee to Protect Journalists have also sounded the alarm that press freedom is on the decline in this country. 

Here's Hanke's full index:

Cato InstituteCato Institute

Photo Credit: cc

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  • Paul.||

    Well yeah, with all this unregulated capitalism.

  • Swiss Servator, spare a franc?||

    The least miserable country in the world is Switzerland, at spot 109.

    *cheese eating grin slowly spreads across face*

  • JEP||

    I actually really wish I spoke German or French. It make moving to Switzerland a lot easier.

  • ||

    Moving to Switzerland is extremely hard, and it's not because of language barriers. They don't let most people in for good or become citizens. You need to be Tina Turner or better for that.

    Because man, if they did, I'd be there in a heartbeat.

  • JEP||

    I was under the impression that you had to demonstrate you were fluent in the language to apply for citizenship.

    What about through marriage? Surely they need someone to spice up their gene pool.

  • ||

    As I understand it, if you marry a Swiss citizen, you still (barring special circumstances) cannot become a Swiss citizen, just a permanent resident. And your children will not be citizens either. It's not until you have grandchildren that they become actual Swiss citizens.

    The Swiss are very protective of their citizenship and their little mountainous country, obviously because they've always been surrounded by much larger, much more aggressive countries.

  • JEP||

    At least they let us have their cheese and chocolate...

  • JEP||

    Wow, and I guess that would mean your kids would technically be stateless.

    There might be some advantageous to that, but travelling could definitely suck.

  • ||

    No, I believe they would be permanent residents of Switzerland and have Swiss passports, they just wouldn't be citizens. Like green card holders in the US.

  • Tejicano||

    I could be completely wrong but I don't believe any country will issue a passport to somebody who isn't a citizen. I am pretty sure the two - citizenship and passport - are synonymous.

  • Juice||

    I met a guy, a scientist, older guy, who is married to some kind of Belgian countess or baroness or some such shit. He's a Belgian citizen. They (she) own some kind of ritzy ski chalet in Switzerland. They are allowed to live in Switzerland and I think they are both permanent residents, but neither of them could get Swiss citizenship. I can understand the countess thing being a problem. But the guy? They just DO NOT WANT immigrants.

  • Rhywun||

    Maybe they just don't want outsiders voting. What else do citizens get that permanent residents don't?

  • Swiss Servator, spare a franc?||

    The Swiss had a national referendum and cut immigration in half...8,000 a year now.

    You have to have a great deal of money or a job before you do anything other than just pay a tourist stop.

    A small country full of mountains - they have decided they have not much more room than the 6 mil or so already there.

  • BigT||

    Severe immigration restrictions .... best ranking on the misery index. Correlation? No, but maybe a factor.

  • ||

    My daughter-in law just tried to do that. Move to Switzerland that is. Job offer and all. No go. So now she has moved to Germany and is learning German. Maybe that will help her get there in the future.

  • Almanian!||

    Maybe she'll just march right in....

  • Swiss Servator, spare a franc?||

    *narrows gaze*

  • Almanian!||

    Fucking Mongorians!

    *shakes fist*

  • Idle Hands||

    Where is Kathy Bates?

  • Game of Thrones fan||

  • Pro Libertate||

    Jesus. Can we please free our people and our markets? We could be so wealthy that we could be running the solar system. But no, we have to let criminals run the country into the ground.

  • Almanian!||

    No, fuck you, cut spending.

  • Pro Libertate||

    That would be a nice start.

  • JEP||

    make sure you don't forget to cut the spending afterwards

  • Pro Libertate||

    It's spending cuts all the way down.

  • ||

    Well, we have a government. A government is, by definition, criminal, as it operates solely by force against its people. So, you get what you ask for, ProL. Enjoy it.

  • Adam||

    By "Enjoy it." Do you mean he should become a crony-capitalist rent-seeker? If yes, count me on board that train.

  • Almanian!||

    Also, did I miss Burkina Faso, or is it just not on the list since their "military" has evidently "taken over" the "country".

    /never heard of it before today

  • BakedPenguin||

    Looks like a lot of sub-Saharan Africa was omitted. I didn't see Ghana or Liberia, either.

  • JEP||

    Seriously, "Consumer Prices" is the leading cause of misery in Syria?

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    It factors in the effect of certain consumer services the militias sell - like not getting shot in exchange for a fee.

  • sarcasmic||

    Another Gallup poll found that Americans think government itself is the biggest facing our nation.

    I believe there is a word missing from this sentence.

  • ||

    asshole?

  • ||

    thief?

  • ||

    murderer?

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Suck

  • Idle Hands||

    Look at Iraq there in the middle of the pack. Take that libertarians.

  • Curt||

    Yeah, and they're considerably less miserable than Ireland.

    Seems legit to me.

  • Idle Hands||

    Score one for the commi's china is 3rd happiest.

  • Adam||

    If my counting skills are still what I think they are Thailand is the 8th least miserable place to live and Panama is the 10th; I suspect the citizens of these two nations don't feel that this is correct.

  • JEP||

    It's only based on economic freedom. And yeah, Syria isn't the worst place in the world because of consumer prices. There are a few other contributors.

  • Adam||

    Actually, it's based on something less abstract than freedom. As for Syria, I'm well aware of the reason for their misery since I live 15 miles from their border and the city I live in grew from 700,000 to around 1 million as its refugees began moving in three years ago.

  • Timon 19||

    You're in Antakya?

  • The Laconic||

    It's spelled "Antarctica". And obviously he's not there, it's nowhere near Syria.

  • Timon 19||

    +1 Turkish polar bear?

  • Timon 19||

    ...errr, Turkish penguin.

  • ||

    This is only because our government is too small to provide all the people with happiness. We need a huge expansion of government and a Happiness Czar.

  • Pro Libertate||

    What's different between now and when we were at the top of these lists?

  • ||

    The teabaggers shrank down government so small that it went down a bathtub drain.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I suppose that's one possible explanation, if you ignore the real world completely, yes.

  • ||

    We have no problem with ignoring the real world completely.

    /The Progs

  • Doctor Whom||

    Something at which the worshipers of big government have a lot of practice.

  • Warren's Strapon||

    Ok, I've spent a good bit of time in the Philippines, so I'm not exactly convinced of the methodology here. That place is an economic disaster.

  • Adam||

    And Thailand and Panama are probably not two of the least miserable places on earth to live. Unless you're a wealth, foreign retiree living on the beach, and in that case it probably is better than Switzerland.

  • ||

    The interior highland areas of Panama are absolutely gorgeous and the climate is like a perpetual spring at certain altitudes. It's not cheap there, though.

  • Adam||

    Somalia has gorgeous beaches. It's not safe there, though.

  • ||

    I'm pretty sure Panama is safer than Somalia. Not that a libertarian would prefer you know, because they have roads.

  • The Male Gaze™||

    because of teh roadz amirite?

  • sarcasmic||

    How can Venezuela be so high on the list? I thought it was a socialist paradise?

  • Adam||

    Google 2013 CPI growth Venezuela and I bet we'll all find out when you return with the results. Unless it turns out to be Latin American porn...nevermind.

  • Doctor Whom||

    Wreckers, hoarders, saboteurs, and kulaks, duh!

  • JEP||

    It was the toilet paper. Stop using toilet paper and you'll be sooo much happier.

  • ||

    What about El Salvador? A country that is supposedly so bad that all of it's children are fleeing here and we have to give them refugee status. I was assured by our government that it's a hell on earth. WTF?

  • txgypsy||

    they are low on the list BECAUSE all their lil whoremongers are up here.......just sayin'

  • cavalier973||

    Every country aims to lower inflation, unemployment, and lending rates, while increasing gross domestic product (GDP) per capita.

    I'm guessing he means "price inflation". Lowering lending rates (if it is done by government action) is counter to a policy of lowering inflation.

    It appears that China is third on the list, and that it's biggest "problem" is high interest rates. Not really a problem for people who save, I'd guess.

  • ||

    That proves that communism works.

  • cavalier973||

    If only we had someone who could lead us into communism...

  • cavalier973||

    My guess is that the Chinese have no option but to save their money, since everything that they might purchase is already over here in WalMart.

  • ||

    And since they've already sold most of their own children to libertarians for monocle polishers, there's no wasted money on the rug rats.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Uh, oh. Sounds like Virgin Galactic lost a pilot and SpaceShipTwo in an accident.

  • ||

    Well, that's it. We have to ban space travel.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Yes, I'm sure the members of Congress in bed with NASA and its major contractors will refrain from jumping all over this and the rocket explosion earlier this week to smash SpaceX and other private players.

  • JEP||

    If there is a government response to this, I would think it would be like confiscating all the intellectual property produced by the companies.

    So, the government gets a bunch of new technology it didn't have to pay for under the excuse that only a government agency can properly implement it.

  • ||

    I mean, not that we were actually going into space anyway, unless you consider low orbit space.

    But no worries, the NASA will make it back to the moon in another 100 years or so and it will be safer and they won't offend the Muslims or harm the climate, or something like that.

  • Pro Libertate||

    We, as in American humans, aren't going into even LEO except on Russian spacecraft. Fuck.

  • DesigNate||

    If that were to happen, I would hope that Branson and Musk would go to Congress and tell them where to shove their heads.

  • JEP||

    Apparently, the US stole the IP for the airplane to create an air force in WWI.

    The Wright brothers had patents and everything, but the government didn't want to pay them royalties. So, they just nullified their patents in the interest of "national security", or the analogous term in those days.

  • Clown Hunter||

    Truly, a victory for libertarianism, since IP is invalid.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I really cannot understand that point of view. How do people get to the idea that individual creations should be stealable at will? How is that libertarian again?

  • JEP||

    A libertarian meet up group here in Denver has had a couple of speakers talk about how IP isn't actual property.

    Basically, the argument is that you can't lay claim to an idea anymore than you can lay claim to the formula to find the area of the circle.

    In order to steal something, you have to deprive someone else of that thing. When you "steal" an idea or a design, you're not depriving the originator of that thing.

  • Pro Libertate||

    But you are depriving him of any value for his creation and destroying the incentive for creativity.

  • The Other Kevin||

    Guess this just proves that only a government agency can provide safe, crash-free space travel.

  • ||

    Yes. Instead of flying into dangerous low orbit, they'll just sit in their rockets on the ground and pretend they went into space.

  • PBR Streetgang||

    + Capricorn 1

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    Romania? This sounds like a Halloween story -

    "A-blah, a-blah, a-blah, I vant to dreenk your bloooood!"

  • ||

    This is serious. Could you be serious for one second? Your country is wedged between to Central European nations.

    What are YOU gonna do to fix this situation, hm? Eh?

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    Um, drink more blood?

  • ||

    "Our beloved northern neighbors, Canada, beat us by 30 spots."

    Know what else Canada beats USA at?

  • JEP||

    It's not naming kinds of ham, I know that much.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Well, not hockey. Our Canadians and Eastern Europeans are better than theirs. Like way better.

  • Zeb||

    Hockey? Moose cock eating? I can't think of anything else that goes on in Canada.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Not hockey. You know how long it's been since a Canadian team brought home the cup?

  • ||

    Using NHL teams is not a good barometer.

    International hockey is the way to go.

  • Clown Hunter||

    What throws me on this list is the idea that China and Japan are the second and third least economically miserable countries. I just can't take any of the rest of it the least bit seriously because of that.

  • Swiss Servator, spare a franc?||

    Oh, and Zenon? Another alt-text WIN.

  • DamienL||

    Doesn't pass the smell test. Italy and Portugal more miserable than Iraq and Myanmar? The United States more miserable than Mexico (I guess this is why so many Americans are moving south of the border)? France on par with Moldova, the one European country with the GDP/capita on par with a SSA country? Belgium more miserable than Morocco?

    It makes very little sense to apply that kind of index cross-country. It's useful if you want to measure economic conditions within a single country since, all other things being equal, people will be more miserable if there's more unemployment, inflation, lower growth, etc. But if you're comparing countries at widely different income levels, you get nonsensical results. Kinda like considering that the millionaire who only gets a 3% return on his investments will be more miserable than the homeless person who found $1 on the ground because the latter probably doubled their wealth.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: DamienL,

    The United States more miserable than Mexico


    We don't have Obama as president plus our Mexican food is more authentic than your Mexican food. That should explain everything.

  • The Male Gaze™||

    Reason is on an Alt-text rampage today!

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