According to data produced by the General Social Survey Americans are getting more miserable. On a scale between 1 and 3, where 1 represents “not too happy” and 3 means “very happy”, Americans on average give themselves 2.18. In 1993 the figure peaked at 2.26. The downward trend has been confirmed in the latest World Happiness Report, the overall life satisfaction of Americans falling 6% between 2007 and 2018. Reasons given for the fall include:
- Social media: young people, alone on their phones or computers, watching others who seem so good looking, apparently successful, earning good money, with plenty of friends.
- The opioid epidemic
- The poor state of health of very many Americans, linked with soaring health costs and the sheer frustration of dealing with health insurance companies, whose objective in life seems to be not to pay out.
- The gig economy and chronic economic insecurity.
- Wretched housing and lack of local amenities experienced by black people, plus the insecurity caused by guns.
- The general feeling of helplessness in a society which is dominated by a very rich 1%, the perceived unfairness and the corruption caused by too much money being flung at politicians in return for favours.
- The catch-22 situation that young people find themselves in – they are told they have to go college or university to get a good job, but in the process acquire huge student debts that often prevent them saving enough to buy their own houses.
In the Republican desperation to reduce taxes and benefits, aimed at the poor, to jthe benefit of their election donors we have got it all wrong. Society should not be so skewed and so unfair. We will surely pay for it.