Monday, January 9, 2023

Nicaragua is world’s #1 country where citizens feel at peace, Gallup poll shows — Ben Norton

"Utility," derived from Bentham and Mills' Utilitarianism, is a fancy word that economists use to mean satisfaction, which is the contemporary term for 18 c. Utilitarian "happiness" that was inspired by Greek: εὐδαιμονία eudaimonía)," itself derived from Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics. The Greek term eudaimonía is also translated as "welfare," another term in use in economics. Literally, it means "good spirits." This could be thought of as wellbeing.

But what is happiness? Is it just economic satisfaction, or chiefly economic satisfaction, which is the way economists generally use it? According to the world's wisdom traditions, happiness in the highest sense is associated historically with being at peace, which is a considered "spiritual" rather than physical in the sense that happiness is not equatable with physical pleasure or material satisfaction.

There is growing dissatisfaction with GDP, both as the supposedly dominant economic indicator internationally and also as actually representative of a country's welfare. For example, it ignores distribution. Inspired by the king of Bhutan, there is a present trend toward the development of an economics of happiness and the creation of a happiness index. This necessitates defining "happiness" technical for use in theory construction and identifying the factors that affect happiness quotient. On this version of the index linked to, the Nordic countries are the happiest, with Finland in first place.

Abraham Maslow was one of the first to approach this scientifically. He is remembered as the founder of humanistic psychology in reaction to B. F. Skinner's approach to behavioristic psychology based on stimulus-response mechanism and a co-founder of transpersonal psychology also wrote on motivation theory and its application to management., e.g., in his work on "eupsychian management," a term he coined. He is best known for his hierarchy of needs, expressed in the form of a pyramid of ascending levels from the physical through the psychological to the "spiritual" in the sense of self-actualization.

A fully self-actualized person is no longer driven by need but has arrived at a point that is beyond being needy. This is being at peace. It doesn't require great wealth or even great comfort. Some of the happiest people are "poor" in material possession but they are also "poor in spirit," in the sense that they are self-fulfilled. This is Aristotle's meaning of eudaimonia as what human beings desire. Translating Aristotle into Maslow's terms, happiness is the byproduct of unfolding self-actualization.

Interestingly, Latin American is the continent where the greatest percentage of people reporting being at peace are found. It neither a place of prosperity or one that is known as "spiritual" from the humanistic perspective. But these people seem to be doing something right.
Gallup interviewed adults in 122 countries across the planet. They found that 34% of people on Earth “always” feel at peace, while 39% “often” do, 17% “rarely” do, and 5% “never” do.

Nicaragua came in first place, with 73% of its population reporting it “always” feels at peace.

Gallup noted that “Latin American countries dominate the ‘always at peace’ list worldwide”.

There are 14 countries in the world where the majority of the population “always” feels at peace. A staggering nine of these 14 are in Latin America.

Nicaragua is No. 1, followed by El Salvador at No. 3, Panama at No. 4, Honduras at No. 5, Paraguay at No. 6, Dominican Republic at No. 7, Uruguay at No. 8, Colombia at No. 12, and Mexico at No. 14.
Geopolitical Economy (new site spun off from Multipolarista)
Nicaragua is world’s #1 country where citizens feel at peace, Gallup poll shows
Ben Norton


Peter Pan said...

Have you noticed that Donald Trump's voice oozes with happiness?

Ahmed Fares said...

Tim Worstall wrote an article recently where he discussed how we use GDP as a proxy for utility, then forget that utility is the goal and end up trying to "maximize the proxy" instead. A link here with a quote:

GDP not a true measure for riches

More women going out to work for wages would raise GDP. So what? GDP isn't the thing we want to maximize. More people being able to do more of what those people want to do is -- we want to maximize human utility. We have no measure for human utility, we use GDP instead. But GDP is that proxy and so we fall into error if we try to maximize the proxy -- GDP, instead of the actual target -- human utility.

Ahmed Fares said...

On this version of the index linked to, the Nordic countries are the happiest, with Finland in first place.

I remember watching a 60 Minutes report that said that the people of Finland were the most depressed and unhappy people in the world. Some years later, they up as the happiest. Go figure.

Defrosted Finland: How a land of 'sorrow' got happy

(CNN) — When the CBS news program "60 Minutes" featured a segment in 1993 called "Tango Finlandia," it brought to the attention of millions of Americans a certain Nordic nation about which they knew little. And what did the United States of America discover?

Correspondent Morley Safer and his team revealed Finland to be a destination where "melancholy, sorrow and shyness abound."

Finns themselves were "grimly in touch with no one but themselves," they added, concluding: "It's no surprise that Finland has one of the lowest birthrates and one of the highest suicide rates." On a lighter note, the Finns loved to tango, hence the segment name.

Skip forward two decades. Now Finland routinely finds itself ranked in the top spots of world happiness surveys.

There's more at the article. It may have been a cultural misunderstanding or something else.

Matt Franko said...

Konrad said...

The article is truthful but there is more to the story.

The USA has tried and failed to destroy Nicaragua’s government since 1979. Nicaragua suffered under U.S. sanctions for 43 years, but in 2018 Nicaragua went from a trade deficit to a trade surplus, which reached $2 billion by 2020. The U.S. attack was failing miserably.

Therefore the USA switched to a tactic of brain drain by encouraging educated Nicaraguans to come north. The USA now finances certain newspapers in Nicaragua, and fills them with advertisements that encourage migrants to come north. Articles give advice, and provide “migration kits.” Young people receive frequent adverts on their smart phones, some appearing to be from official U.S. sources, saying they have been “selected” for a work visa, or showing how to apply for work visas in specific trades. The US embassy promotes its new “visa wizard”. Facebook posts show people receiving swimming classes “to cross the Rio Grande.”

Meanwhile the USA leaned on neighboring Costa Rica to start closing its doors to Nicaraguans, so that Nicaraguans would come north. Until July 2020, tens of thousands of Nicaraguans crossed back and forth across the Costa Rica border for work every day. Suddenly, under U.S. pressure, Costa Rica began closing its border.

Before July 2020 there were almost no Nicaraguans among the migrants from south of the U.S. border. Now more than 13,000 Nicaraguans cross the U.S. border in a typical month, which is 6% of the total migrants. Many Nicaraguan migrants are educated. Many speak English. The US government offers them extra help and special goodies if they agree to denounce their government in Nicaragua.

(Most support their government. They are forced to come north by U.S. sanctions, and are offered extra help in the USA. It’s the same with Cubans and Venezuelans.)

Nicaragua’s Central Bank reports that remittances to Nicaragua totaled $862.2 million dollars during the third quarter of 2022. This is a 63.6% growth over the same period in 2021. Remittances have become one of the biggest sources of Nicaragua’s national income.

As I said, this is all part of the US government’s brain-drain attack on Nicaragua.