America: Not the Happiest Country
Words can be used to such an immense amount that they become a cliché; “equality” is, in some ways, one. The idea and the right to equality does not betray the ideal American life and is not a cliché in itself. Rather, the misinterpretation of “equality” and the use of the word in trite defense is.
In By the People, the three types of equality mentioned are: economic equality, social equality & political equality. Economic equality, or inequality, is popular among arguments and discussions of some the shortcomings of American society. Unless America is willing to renounce its market economy and adopt a command economy, the infamous wage gap that leads most of these arguments will continue to exist.
A sociological problem today is how to diminish this wage gap. People have spoken about and pushed for increase in the minimum wage, installation of more unemployment and welfare benefits, or more federal student aid. These may help, but people are pushing for a decrease in taxes at the same time. This creates a discrepancy. What do the people want more? Spend less in taxes or gain more in benefits?
The United States is in the 13th percentile in tax burden compared to other advanced countries (Morone, pg 17). Yet, most of its citizens think lower taxes are called for. While, the “Top 10 Happiest Countries”, by Forbe's magazine is mostly countries with higher tax burdens. The two highest taxed countries, Denmark and Sweden, place first and fifth, respectably, on the “Top 10 Happiest Countries”. Denmark has an average of about 47% taxation and Sweden has closer to 50% taxation. Seven of the ten countries on Forbe’s list reside at least in the 57th percentile of taxation. Canada, the least taxed country on Forbe’s list, has about 10% higher taxes than the United States.
Citizens may not be too anxious to decrease taxation if they saw and felt the benefits of taxes more directly. The problem in this theory lies in what citizens “know” and what they truly know. “Even beneficiaries of the biggest programs don’t realize they are getting benefits from the government.” (Morone, pg 19). An average of 45% of beneficiaries did not consider themselves to have used a government social program.
Americans need to be educated before they decide what direction they want America to head towards. If being a uniformly satisfied country (whether decreasing the wage gap aids or otherwise) is a goal, higher taxation seems to be a pattern. If more government spending is wanted, then higher taxation is needed in order to not increase the country’s debt.
Winston Churchill was quoted saying, “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter” ("Winston"). He understood that in order for the average person to make better decisions for themselves and their country, they must be smarter than the average person. This has proven to be extremely challenging. The answer, although, does not lie in spending more with a smaller income.


Morone, James A. By the People: Debating American Government. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford UP, 2016. 17-19. Print.
"Winston Churchill Quotes." BrainyQuote. Web. 13 Sept. 20.

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