Ukraine the Only Non-African Country on the List of Worst for Workers.

U.S. Ranks in Bottom Third. Denmark is the Top Rated of All Nations.

Denmark Is Likewise the Top-Ranked for Happiness or Well-Being.

Eric Zuesse

The country that’s best for workers is also the happiest country in the world. The country that’s worst for workers is the second-most miserable, and that country is also nearly the most corrupt one on Earth.

The U.S. isn’t particularly good on either rating. And it’s moderately corrupt. Whoever says that “The U.S. is number one” would have to be referring to some other criterion, or else be ignorant of current reality on happiness, workers’ rights, and government corruption.

On 19 May 2014, the International Trade Union Confederation headlined “New ITUC Global Rights Index – The world’s worst countries for workers 2014.”

They reported: “The ITUC Global Rights Index ranks 139 countries against 97 internationally recognised indicators to assess where workers’ rights are best protected, in law and in practice. ‘Countries such as Denmark and Uruguay led the way, … but perhaps surprisingly, the likes of Greece, the United States and Hong Kong, lagged behind,’ said ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow. ‘A country’s level of development proved to be a poor indicator of whether it respected basic rights to bargain collectively, strike for decent conditions, or simply join a union at all.’”

They noted: “Only Denmark received a perfect score of zero for respecting all 97 indicators of workers’ fundamental rights.”

Each country was ranked 1 through 5, with the most extremely-bad countries being ranked a “5+” so that there are actually six rankings, from the best “1,” down to the worst “5+.”

Ukraine is the worst for workers, but it’s tied there along with seven African nations; it’s the only non-African one on that list. All 8 of these countries received a score of 5+.

The U.S. scored a 4, placing it in the lowest third of rated nations, for its treatment of workers.

Ukraine (which is now in civil war, but wasn’t at war when these ratings were taken) ranks also amongst the most corrupt nations on Earth. How gigantic is Ukraine’s corruption? According to the World Economic Forum, in their “Global Competitiveness Report, 2013-2014,” Ukraine ranks #122 out of the 148 rated nations for “Diversion of public funds,” #143 for “Property rights,” #139 for “Judicial independence,” #130 for “Irregular payments and bribes,” #133 for “Favoritism in decisions of government officials” (otherwise known as cronyism), #143 for “Wastefulness of government spending,” #144 for “Efficiency of legal framework in settling disputes,” #146 for “Efficiency of legal framework in challenging regs,” #146 for “Protection of minority shareholders’ interests,” and #133 for “Reliability of police services.” Only a few African, and Central and South American, countries are as corrupt as Ukraine. The U.S. ranks in the mid-thirties, which is about the lowest of all industrialized nations.

Ukraine is, for workers, the only non-African country ranked at the bottom as a 5+ place for workers. Besides Ukraine, the other bottom-rankers are Central African Republic, Libya, Palestine, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Syria.

Most of the top-rated countries for workers are in Europe (the countries that Republicans commonly disdainfully call “socialistic.”)

Here are all of the nations that received the top rating for workers, the rating category of 1: Barbados, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Lithuania, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia, South Africa, Sweden, Togo, and Uruguay.

Here are other countries that are prominent in the news right now, along with their respective ratings for workers: Japan 2, Russia 2, Venezuela 3, United Kingdom 3, Poland 3, Israel 3, Georgia 3, Ecuador 3, Chile 3, Canada 3, Brazil 3, Australia 3, Thailand 4, Pakistan 4, Myanmar 4, Mexico 4, Lebanon 4, Iraq 4, Iran 4, Indonesia 4, Hong Kong 4, Honduras 4, Haiti 4, El Salvador 4, Argentina 4, Zimbabwe 5, Turkey 5, Saudi Arabia 5, Philippines 5, Nigeria 5, Guatemala 5, Greece 5, Egypt 5, China 5, Bangladesh 5.

Denmark also scores at the top in a remarkably large percentage of the international studies of “happiness” or “well-being.” And this isn’t only recent. A massive study of the happiness-level of 178 countries was reported at HealthDay on 26 July 2006, “Danes Are The Happiest, Study Says,” and BusinessWeek later bannered on this study “Rating Countries for the Happiness Factor.” Adrian White at Britain’s University of Leicester had crunched numbers, and reported in his “A Global Projection of Subjective Well-Being,” that Denmark was the happiest of 178 nations, and Burundi was the most miserable. Of all industrialized nations, only Japan didn’t rank in the top half — it was 90th. Italy, however, didn’t do too well either, on that rating; it was 50th. Almost all industrialized nations ranked higher than #23, which was the U.S. rank. The top ten nations, for “subjective well-being” or happiness, in order, were: Denmark, Switzerland, Austria, Iceland, Bahamas, Finland, Bhutan, Brunei, Canada, and Ireland. Then, on 20 August 2008, BusinessWeek headlined “Survey Says: People Are Happier: The 2008 World Values Survey found that freedom of choice and tolerance — and not simply wealth — have lots to do with a rise in happiness.” This ranking of 97 countries also placed Denmark as the happiest. The complete top ten in this ranking were, in order: Denmark, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Iceland, N. Ireland, Ireland, Switzerland, Netherlands, Canada, and Austria. The U.S. was #16.

However, a Spring 2008 Gallup report, written by Princeton’s Angus Deaton, for Gallup, was titled “Income, Health, and Well-Being Around the World: Evidence From the Gallup World Poll,” and it reported that Puerto Rico ranked only at the top of the bottom half of the world’s nations, for “Life Satisfaction.” Denmark was #1 in that ranking also, and Finland was #2.

In all three of these rankings, the U.S. was within the top 12% for happiness or well-being. However, the U.S. was closer to the top 1% on other rankings, more physical types of rankings, which measured solely per-capita income or economic well-being. Clearly, the U.S. has wasted huge sums, lost lots of well-being, by its enormous healthcare expenditures (now an astronomically high 17% of our GDP, versus less than half that for other countries); this nation has been becoming internationally uncompetitive because of medical-cost wastage draining resources from the rest of the American economy. The U.S. is also one of the highest-drainage countries via financial services. Medical services and financial services are increasingly eating up the U.S. economy. The most-competitive nations (on the World Economic Forum rankings) tended to have socialized health insurance, or even socialized healthcare, but the propaganda from America’s major “news” media say that this nation is already too “socialistic.” The services that drain resources from the rest of the economy spend a large proportion of that drainage upon advertising and other propaganda-expenditures that go toward the aristocrats who own the “news” media, so “socialism” (which is respected in countries such as Denmark and all of Scandinavia) is widely thought by Americans to be a variety of communism, what sank the Soviet Union. That’s a Big Lie, but it’s common in the U.S.

Furthermore, the Gallup-Deaton study contained a remarkable graph, “Figure 5: Confidence in Healthcare and Medical Systems Around the World,” which showed that the public in every industrialized country other than in the U.S., and even the people in some developing countries such as Thailand Vietnam and Cuba, had vastly higher confidence in their healthcare than did Americans. Americans were not only the sole industrialized country that had no centralized government control over health insurance, but were also the sole industrialized country whose populace distrusted their healthcare providers. (Perhaps the U.S.’s being the most corrupt industrialized country had something to do with this widespread mistrust of healthcare providers in the U.S.) How much U.S. press-coverage was there of that? None.

Gallup and Deaton foolishly didn’t list and show the rankings of the 155 countries that Gallup had surveyed, except of the top few, but Forbes published the full rankings on 14 June 2010, when Francesca Levy headlined “Table: The World’s Happiest Countries.” This table showed that Gallup had produced their ranking from a composite of four factors on their questionnaires: Percent Thriving, Percent Suffering, Percent Struggling, and Daily Experience (questions about what happened that day). This complete rank-list showed that the U.S. was #14 of the 155 countries. The U.S. scored closer to Mexico, below it, than to Canada, above it. The rankings placed at the top the nations that generally scored at the top also on two economic indicators: per-capita income, and economic equality (low gini). For example, Singapore, which has high per-capita income but fairly low equality, scored #81 on happiness, which was midway, in the Gallup rankings. Denmark and Finland, which have high per-capita incomes and extremely high equality, were at the top in happiness. And Togo and Burundi, which have the world’s lowest PCIs, and moderate equality, were at the bottom in happiness. Of course, the poor countries that have extreme inequality, such as Chad, Benin, and Burkina Faso,

Furthermore, in yet another measure of happiness, the U.S. didn’t rank in the top 12%, but only at the very top of the bottom two-thirds: On 5 May 2009, the OECD issued “Society at a Glance 2009: OECD Social Indicators”, which ranked the 30 OECD nations on (among other things) “Life Satisfaction.” Since the OECD consists almost entirely of the world’s wealthy industrialized democracies, the U.S. ranked only 11th out of these 30 nations. The top ten on “Life Satisfaction,” in order, here were: Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, Switzerland, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Belgium, and Sweden. This same study ranked countries also on health, and also on the percentage of the national income that was spent on healthcare; the U.S. was only middling on health, but was far and away the most wasteful, #1, having the highest percentage of its national income spent (thus wasted) on it. America would have won, hands down, any contest for the wastefulness and inefficiency in its healthcare expenditures, but wouldn’t even have been competitive on the average quality of healthcare provided to its public.

Incidentally, as far as Ukraine is concerned: The Gallup-Deaton study showed (see page 6) that Ukraine and Moldova were the bottom two countries on “Life Satisfaction” (and that was before the 2014 Ukrainian civil war). So, there does seem to be a correlation between being a rotten place to work, and having unhappy workers.

And, perhaps the most remarkable conclusion from the research is that, despite U.S. propaganda (from the aristocrats who own America’s major “news” media and who hire and fire its “reporters” to write the propaganda they want), America is not only among the bottom third of all ranked nations on workers’ rights and protections, but is also among the lowest-ranked of industrialized nations on happiness or well-being of the public. If the American public are inclined to think otherwise, then the people who control America’s “news” media have been very successful at what they are being paid to do, which is to deliver a complacent public of obedient (even if unhappy — including low-paid, and becoming lower paid) workers.

Of course, since President Obama has spent over $5 billion of U.S. taxpayer money in order to overthrow the democratically elected President of Ukraine and has cleaned out the entire gold reserves of the Ukrainian Central Bank of its former $1.8 billion in gold bars as a down payment against that debt, leaving a net debt owed by Ukraine to the U.S. of around three to four billion for that overthrow, one might wonder whether the happiness of people in either Ukraine or U.S. will be improved by that operation by Obama on behalf of America’s aristocracy.

Some readers might consider this article to be partisan, but it is that only if the research-findings are. And they aren’t. What’s partisan is instead the propaganda that’s fed daily to the American people and that causes the scientific evidence to seem partisan to the people who have been taken in by that propaganda. Now, which media will report this? It’s being submitted to them all. So: we’ll soon know.


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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