Gender-Gaps, The Peace Index, and Happiest Countries

(This is the bringing together of two older posts from 3-years ago with the addition of Dr. Sommers’ video just below)

GENDER EQUALITY

The “Global Index of Peace” works in similar fashion to the Global Gender Gap Study sponsored by the World Economic Forum. Professor, scholar, and feminist, Christina Hoff Sommers explains where such endeavors go wrong:

A DEBATE ON THE PEACE-INDEX

In a prolonged debate about the above “poster,” one young gentleman brought up an issue I hadn’t really encountered all that much in my years of discussing like topics. So I wanted to isolate it and post it here for other “arm-chair apologists.” I will post his an my discussion on the matter of the “global peace index.

Challenge

I agree, this image is highly ignorant and is very “Bumper Sticker” Now with a statement like “ATHEISM KILLS” One is tempted down the path of teleological thinking and must thus assume that Atheism is Bad as a result, but is it? I did some looking and thought to use a country with the highest percentage of Atheists as a case in point. Norway is currently one of the most Atheist countries in the world percentage wise with about 46 – 85% stated as “Atheist/Agnostic/Nonbeliever in God” While the same for the US is only 3 – 9%. The Current Global Peace index rates Norway 18 out of 158 while the US only gets 88th.

First Response by Me:

…question. Will Norway be able to enter a country by being “weighty” enough to get a coalition of many countries, and stop a dictator from taking over another country… keeping peace on the world stage? (First Gulf War for instance). The peace index doesn’t. If you combine all the times the US has injected itself into stopping calamity and bloodshed (WWII, the Cold War [which includes battles like Vietnam, Korea, and the like]), peace is our main business. Why? Do Western mores based in Grecian-Judeo-Christian understanding [and how it was applied in the U.S.] make the West more adamant about rights?

Second Challenge:

…you are correct the Global Peace index does not account for political weight and or the ability to step in as a country and use military force for the greater good. However, while we can all agree that Hitler was an evil man who needed to be stopped, it is hard to then make the logical bridge that all dictators must be stopped. Even if it is the right thing to do as I assume your point is stating, The United States certainty hasn’t made the effort of ridding the world of evil dictators. You state we should be valued in greater respect for our past military interventions such as the Cold War, which included battles like Vietnam, Korea, and the like. However, many of these proxie wars were less about peace as they were about ideology (The Red Scare). I do not believe such wars were wars of necessity and I do not believe that “Peace is our main business” All of the above should only contribute to a lower ranking on the Global Peace index. This is where you and I could spend much time on the deference in philosophies between the pros and cons of an interventionist militant government.

You ask, “Do Western mores based in Grecian-Jude-Christian understanding make the West more adamant about rights?” While I believe this question is open to much interpretation, I also believe I have already answered it by showing how Norway is leading by example for good while having a large percentage of it’s population non believers of Western based Grecian-Jude-Christian morals….

My Second Response:

…”RED SCARE” ~ not a scare as much as a fact. For instance, communism was overthrowing government-after-government:

Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, Yugoslavia, and half of Germany, North Korea, Somalia, Ethiopia, Angola, Mozambique, Congo-Brazzaville, Benin, on and on.

[….]

Economic health, military stockpiles, foreign policies, are correlated with a non-belief system. So one aspect that makes the U.S. not fair well is our stockpile of military weapons. Thats One, two is countries that do score well on the global peace indicator with religious populations (Chile, Portugal, Malaysia, etc.), alongside those countries with a high atheist population that score poorly on the GPI (Russia, North Korea, Azerbaijan, etc.) seem to not make the cut in these Internet lists. Many of the countries said to be “atheist” are in fact still a) inhabited by a Christian majority, and/or b) possess a Christian history and ethos that has ALLOWED secular humanism to both exist and to openly criticize the very tenets from out of which it was born. Sweden, for instance, suffers from above average incidents of violent crime (rape being the highest in Europe). So the stats you provided break down under further investigation.

Atheism is a rejection of an absolute ethic. Virtues do not exist. You may apply what is morally good by law, but this has proven (like Nietzsche prophesied) to break down quickly with no “Law Above the Law.” Again, atheist defenders themselves admit this and I quoted them above.

Which Mussolini commented on this power struggle for ethics: “Everything I have said and done in these last years is relativism by intuition…. If relativism signifies contempt for fixed categories and men who claim to be bearers of an objective, immortal truth… then there is nothing more relativistic than fascistic attitudes and activity…. From the fact that all ideologies are of equal value, that all ideologies are mere fictions, the modern relativist infers that everybody has the right to create for himself his own ideology and to attempt to enforce it with all the energy of which he is capable.”

[….]

…to make another point on the “peace index,” which I took to the wood shed already, [includes as a negative a country that has capital punishment, or, the death penalty]. In Norway, Breivik killed 77 people (almost all children). The maximum sentence he can get for his crimes are 21-years in prison, which he got. Now, I am sure there have been white-collar extortionists (like a Madoff type schemer) that have been sentenced to near the same, if not the same. So Norway, because they do not have capital punishment, is higher on the “peace index,” but in fact they cheapen life by making a crime of killing children (77-of them) equal to $$$$ lost.

“It’s become common knowledge that Denmark, Sweden and Norway routinely rank highest on lists of the world’s happiest nations…” (The World’s Happiest Countries Take The Most Antidepressants)

(As usual, all graphics/pics are linked to other resources.) Often I hear about how much lower the crime rate is in Europe, at times having the “Peace Index” thrown into the conversation without any meditation on what exactly this “index” says. Happiness is another moniker often thrown around without any comparisons of “what constitutes ‘happiness’.” So lets deal first with happiness, and then get into the peace index and gun-control/stats.

HAPPINESS

What constitutes happiness between the States and Europe? Let’s delve — quickly — into this topic via Forbes (2006):

The average American works 25 hours a week; the average Frenchman 18; the average Italian a bit more than 16 and a half. Even the hardest-working Europeans–the British, who put in an average of 21 and half hours–are far more laid-back than their American cousins.

Compared with Europeans, Americans are more likely to be employed and more likely to work longer hours–employed Americans put in about three hours more per week than employed Frenchmen. Most important, Americans take fewer (and shorter) vacations. The average American takes off less than six weeks a year; the average Frenchman almost 12. The world champion vacationers are the Swedes, at 16 and a half weeks per year.

Of course, Europeans pay a price for their extravagant leisure. The average Frenchman produces only three-quarters as much as the average American, even though productivity per hour is slightly higher in France.

This raises more than one interesting question. First, why do Americans choose to work so much? (Or, if you prefer, why do Europeans choose to work so little?) Second, who’s happier?…..

Why indeed.

I think this is answered a bit later in a newer poll/study, found at Live Science (see also FoxNews):

Americans really do love to work, it seems, while Europeans are much happier if they skip burning the midnight oil in favor of leisure. That’s according to a new study finding longer work hours make Europeans unhappy while Americans get a very slight (albeit not statistically significant) bliss boost from the extra grind.

“Those who work longer hours in Europe are less happy than those who work shorter hours, but in the U.S. it’s the other way around,” said study author Adam Okulicz-Kozaryn, a clinical assistant professor of public policy at The University of Texas at Dallas. “The working hours’ category does not have a very big impact on the probability of happiness of Americans.” [Happiest States’ List]

The study, based on survey data, can’t tease out whether work causes happiness or unhappiness, though the researchers speculate the effect has to do with expectations and how a person measures success.

Okulicz-Kozaryn used surveys of European and American attitudes for the study. The surveys included questions about the number of hours worked and asked respondents to identify if they were “very happy,” “pretty happy” or “not too happy.”

They found that the likelihood of Europeans’ describing themselves as “very happy” dropped from around 28 percent to 23 percent as work hours climbed from under 17 hours a week to more than 60 hours per week. Americans, on the other hand, held steady, with about a 43 percent chance of describing themselves as happy regardless of working hours.

The results held even after the researchers accounted for possible confounding factors, such as age, marital status and household income….

[….]

“Happiness depends upon satisfaction with your income, satisfaction with you family life, satisfaction with your work, satisfaction with your health,” he said.

“People trade off work and leisure,” Easterlin explained, and so any attempt to explain the results of this study would have to take that into account. “[Happiness] has to do with what you think the goals are of people in the two countries.”

American happiness is a pursuit important enough to include in one of our Founding documents, right next to life and liberty. This “pursuit” we are use to (and is being harmed/deformed by the welfare state growing larger) creates innovation. For instance David Mamet notes the following:

In my family, as in yours, someone regularly says, “Hey, you know what would be a good idea … ?” And then proceeds to outline some scheme for making money by providing a product or service the need for which has just occurred to him. He and the family fantasize about and discuss and elaborate this scheme. Inherent in this fantasy is the unstated but ever-present truth that, given sufficient capital and expertise or the access to the same, the scheme might actually be put into operation (as, indeed, constantly, throughout our history, such schemes have), bettering the lives of the masses and bringing wealth to their creators. Do you believe such conversations take place in Syria? In France?

David Mamet, The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture (New York, NY: Sentinel Publishing, 2011), [FN] 120.

Some can be happy with less pay and trusting the state will care for them enough to go on 12-week vacations. While doctors, for instance, may enjoy a month-long vacation in France [mandatory vacation], this “happiness” rather than hard-work often has deadly consequences, one being — for instance — nearly 15,000 people dying in a heat wave in France in 2003 (a record for Europe… previously Italy held it with 3,000).

  • …Health Minister Jean-Francois Mattei has ordered a separate special study this month to look into a possible link with vacation schedules after doctors strongly denied allegations their absence put the elderly in danger. The heat wave hit during the August vacation period, when doctors, hospital staff and many others take leave…

So Europe being “happier” than the United States is something of a misnomer.

FAUX HAPPINESS

About the above graphic:

…the moods of Scandinavian nations may be more closely linked to medicine than anything else. The chart depicts the relative amounts of antidepressant consumption across several different European nations. Iceland — not technically in Scandinavia but nearby — leads with 118 daily doses per 1,000 people. Denmark, Sweden and Finland are all close behind…. The report notes that the prevalence of antidepressants in Europe is a growing trend. “In all European countries for which data is available, the consumption of antidepressants has increased a lot over the decade, by over 80% on average across EU member states,” it reads. According to the report, 30 percent of Icelandic women over the age of 65 had an antidepressant prescription in 2008. 

It may seem paradoxical that the world’s happiest nations also take the most antidepressants.

“Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” We pursue it, not expecting government to provide it for us. If government doeas, a simple economic law states — basically — that creativity is squelched:

  • “A fundamental principle of information theory is that you can’t guarantee outcomes… in order for an experiment to yield knowledge, it has to be able to fail. If you have guaranteed experiments, you have zero knowledge”

George GilderInterview by Dennis Prager {Editors note: this is how the USSR ended up with warehouses FULL of “widgets” (things made that it could not use or people did not want) no one needed in the real world.}

PEACEFUL/SAFE

When people do, austerity more-often-than-not leads to riots and collapse. And why in many European countries the EU is being rejected, and conservative parties are getting landslides (like UKIP in the UK). People are fed up with horrible health care, no incentive to succeed, taxes, crime, and immigration issues. 

Okay, I feel my point has been made. Innovation comes by a drive to work hard, as much as you wish in fact… whereas Europe forces people to work less, and thus is stagnant in relation to this said innovation. What about crime rates and violence, yes, even gun violence? Lets see. Firstly, I deal with some of the more pressing issues with the Peace Index here. But in this conversation, I wanted to deal with violent crimes… which include more than gun violence. As Europe gives birth to a generation divorced of their cultural heritage, you will see a rise in violence, and then a rise in reaction to it. Maybe an over-reaction?

VIOLENCE

Firstly, if you are an in-depth kind of reader, at this link you will find multiple debates and appearances of John Lott on CNN and other programs discussing gun crime. But let’s deal with a place that has for years made gun ownership illegal, the United Kingdom. Here is the headline from The Telegraph on the topic:

UK is violent crime capital of Europe: The United Kingdom is the violent crime capital of Europe and has one of the highest rates of violence in the world, worse even than America, according to new research.

Analysis of figures from the European Commission showed a 77 per cent increase in murders, robberies, assaults and sexual offences in the UK since Labour came to power.

The total number of violent offences recorded compared to population is higher than any other country in Europe, as well as America, Canada, Australia and South Africa.

Opposition leaders said the disclosures were a “damning indictment” of the Government’s failure to tackle deep-rooted social problems.

The figures combined crime statistics for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The UK had a greater number of murders in 2007 than any other EU country – 927 – and at a relative rate higher than most western European neighbours, including France, Germany, Italy and Spain. 

 It also recorded the fifth highest robbery rate in the EU, and the highest absolute number of burglaries, with double the number of offences recorded in Germany and France.

Overall, 5.4 million crimes were recorded in the UK in 2007 – more than 10 a minute – second only to Sweden.

Chris Grayling, shadow home secretary, said: “This is a real damning indictment of this government’s comprehensive failure over more than a decade to tackle the deep rooted social problems in our society, and the knock-on effect on crime and anti-social behaviour.

“We’re now on our fourth Home Secretary in this parliament, and all we are getting is a rehash of old initiatives that didn’t work the first time round. More than ever Britain needs a change of direction.”

The figures were sourced from Eurostat, the European Commission’s database of statistics. They are gathered using official sources in the countries concerned such as the national statistics office, the national prison administration, ministries of the interior or justice, and police.

A breakdown of the statistics, which were compiled into league tables by the Conservatives, revealed that violent crime in the UK had increased from 652,974 offences in 1998 to more than 1.15 million crimes in 2007.

It means there are over 2,000 crimes recorded per 100,000 population in the UK, making it the most violent place in Europe.

Austria is second, with a rate of 1,677 per 100,000 people, followed by Sweden, Belgium, Finland and Holland.

By comparison, America has an estimated rate of 466 violent crimes per 100,000 population.

France recorded 324,765 violent crimes in 2007 – a 67 per cent increase in the past decade – at a rate of 504 per 100,000 population. 

…read more…

Which segways into a recent comparison in crime and gun-control in a Wall Street Journal article by Joyce Lee Malcolm, entitled: “Two Cautionary Tales of Gun Control: After a school massacre, the U.K. banned handguns in 1998. A decade later, handgun crime had doubled.” Here is an interview of her in regards to the article, followed by excerpts from said article:

Larry Elder Interview & Wall Street Journal Article

Here are portions of the article:

…Great Britain and Australia, for example, suffered mass shootings in the 1980s and 1990s. Both countries had very stringent gun laws when they occurred. Nevertheless, both decided that even stricter control of guns was the answer. Their experiences can be instructive.

In 1987, Michael Ryan went on a shooting spree in his small town of Hungerford, England, killing 16 people (including his mother) and wounding another 14 before shooting himself. Since the public was unarmed—as were the police—Ryan wandered the streets for eight hours with two semiautomatic rifles and a handgun before anyone with a firearm was able to come to the rescue.

Nine years later, in March 1996, Thomas Hamilton, a man known to be mentally unstable, walked into a primary school in the Scottish town of Dunblane and shot 16 young children and their teacher. He wounded 10 other children and three other teachers before taking his own life.

Since 1920, anyone in Britain wanting a handgun had to obtain a certificate from his local police stating he was fit to own a weapon and had good reason to have one. Over the years, the definition of “good reason” gradually narrowed. By 1969, self-defense was never a good reason for a permit.

After Hungerford, the British government banned semiautomatic rifles and brought shotguns—the last type of firearm that could be purchased with a simple show of fitness—under controls similar to those in place for pistols and rifles. Magazines were limited to two shells with a third in the chamber.

Dunblane had a more dramatic impact. Hamilton had a firearm certificate, although according to the rules he should not have been granted one. A media frenzy coupled with an emotional campaign by parents of Dunblane resulted in the Firearms Act of 1998, which instituted a nearly complete ban on handguns. Owners of pistols were required to turn them in. The penalty for illegal possession of a pistol is up to 10 years in prison.

The results have not been what proponents of the act wanted. Within a decade of the handgun ban and the confiscation of handguns from registered owners, crime with handguns had doubled according to British government crime reports. Gun crime, not a serious problem in the past, now is. Armed street gangs have some British police carrying guns for the first time. Moreover, another massacre occurred in June 2010. Derrick Bird, a taxi driver in Cumbria, shot his brother and a colleague then drove off through rural villages killing 12 people and injuring 11 more before killing himself.

[….]

Six weeks after the Dunblane massacre in 1996, Martin Bryant, an Australian with a lifelong history of violence, attacked tourists at a Port Arthur prison site in Tasmania with two semiautomatic rifles. He killed 35 people and wounded 21 others.

At the time, Australia’s guns laws were stricter than the United Kingdom’s. In lieu of the requirement in Britain that an applicant for permission to purchase a gun have a “good reason,” Australia required a “genuine reason.” Hunting and protecting crops from feral animals were genuine reasons—personal protection wasn’t.

With new Prime Minister John Howard in the lead, Australia passed the National Firearms Agreement, banning all semiautomatic rifles and semiautomatic and pump-action shotguns and imposing a more restrictive licensing system on other firearms. The government also launched a forced buyback scheme to remove thousands of firearms from private hands. Between Oct. 1, 1996, and Sept. 30, 1997, the government purchased and destroyed more than 631,000 of the banned guns at a cost of $500 million.

To what end? While there has been much controversy over the result of the law and buyback, Peter Reuter and Jenny Mouzos, in a 2003 study published by the Brookings Institution, found homicides “continued a modest decline” since 1997. They concluded that the impact of the National Firearms Agreement was “relatively small,” with the daily rate of firearms homicides declining 3.2%.

According to their study, the use of handguns rather than long guns (rifles and shotguns) went up sharply, but only one out of 117 gun homicides in the two years following the 1996 National Firearms Agreement used a registered gun. Suicides with firearms went down but suicides by other means went up. They reported “a modest reduction in the severity” of massacres (four or more indiscriminate homicides) in the five years since the government weapons buyback. These involved knives, gas and arson rather than firearms.

In 2008, the Australian Institute of Criminology reported a decrease of 9% in homicides and a one-third decrease in armed robbery since the 1990s, but an increase of over 40% in assaults and 20% in sexual assaults.

What to conclude? Strict gun laws in Great Britain and Australia haven’t made their people noticeably safer, nor have they prevented massacres. The two major countries held up as models for the U.S. don’t provide much evidence that strict gun laws will solve our problems.

Ms. Malcolm, a professor of law at George Mason University Law School, is the author of several books including “Guns and Violence: The English Experience,” (Harvard, 2002).

Of course America’s worst massacre involving a school is the Bath Bombing (below), Michigan (1927). And a bomb killed 168 people in the Oklahoma City Bombing. So if someone wants to kill another… no amount of government regulation will decrease this fact:

  • “…we have no government, armed with power, capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

John Adams, first (1789–1797) Vice President of the United States, and the second (1797–1801) President of the United States. Letter to the Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts, 11 October 1798, in Revolutionary Services and Civil Life of General William Hull (New York, 1848), pp 265-6.

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