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Not So Happy in the Good Old USA

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The latest pseudo-scientific nonsense delivered by a “big data” analysis of dreck dredged up from social media comes from an outfit called “Jetpac” that publishes travel guides.

Jetpac’s city guides are based on what the company promises was an analysis of “every pixel of public Instagram photos….” Much of this was done in service of lechery of various sorts. Referring to its “Image Magic” the company claims that it finds “the bars where women go” and, if you happen to be a collectivist, you can “follow your tribe” to find out where your sort of people might be going. One of these tribes, the ever so inclusive and progressive company points out, has the four letter acronym LGBT.

As part of its analysis, the company has given every country a “smile score” that was determined by “how much the subject was grinning” in the analyzed photos, reports the UK’s Daily Mail.

Based on this, the company has decided that Brazil is the happiest place on earth. By comparison, the good old USA managed to be only mildly amused in its Instagram pics and came in at 33rd. This despite the fact that America is host to both Disneyland and Disneyworld, the former having had its “happiest place on earth” title poached by a South American country overrun by piranhas, crocodiles, poisonous snakes, mosquitoes, botflies, giant anacondas and, last but not least, the world’s most venomous spider.

Oh, how far Americans have fallen! But why has the nation fallen into such malaise? Here are five contributing factors:

  1. You can no longer be sure if you can trust the cops — These days, you can open up a news Website on practically any day of the week, and find several examples of outrageous or even criminal behavior on the part of police officers. Here’s a couple of random examples from just the past seven days. Example A: police in Hawaii asked legislators to keep a provision in a anti-prostitution measure that would continue to allow them to sleep with prostitutes. Giving police a free pass to sleep with prostitutes is fraught with the potential for abuse. It opens the door to new ways for police to blackmail and abuse prostitutes who, in many cases, are already abused and victimized. The program is repugnant. Example B: 23-year-old college student Cameron Redus was pulled over by campus police officer Chris Carter and killed by him on December 6. Redus was drunk, and Carter said the student charged him. Yet an autopsy just released has revealed that Carter shot the student 5 times at close range, including once in the back. The autopsy found that Redus had gunshot wounds to his left eye, chest, back, elbow and hip. While reports indicate that Carter ordered Redus to “stop resisting” 50 or more times, a witness said he didn’t hear any warning from the police officer before the shots were fired. “I didn’t hear him say anything like, ‘Get down on your hands and knees,’ you know? I didn’t hear him say anything. He just started shooting,” the witness told San Antonio’s KSAT television station. “He emptied the gun on him,” the witness continued. “Boom, boom, boom. Six shots — five or six.”
  2. Obamacare puts everyone at risk — Death panels, taxes, fines, the probability of Obamacare induced unemployment, higher premiums: no one is immune to the effects of nationalizing health insurance. The so-called Death Panel of Obamacare is really the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) to be made up of 15 non-elected members. Its purpose is to limit Congressional authority over Medicare. Writing in the New England Journal of Medicine, Professor Jonathan Oberlander noted: “…the IPAB is empowered to recommend changes to Medicare if projected per-beneficiary spending growth exceeds specified targets.” If Congress doesn’t implement IPAB recommendations, then “they are to be implemented by the secretary of health….” Moreover, writes Oberlander, “Other rules make it difficult for Congress to override these procedures … or eliminate the board altogether…” Additionally, as Congressman Paul Ryan has pointed out, IPAB could restrict the availability of health care for seniors. IPAB would be “in charge of cutting Medicare each and every year in ways that will lead to denied care for current seniors,” Ryan warned. But, it’s not just seniors who need to worry about Obamacare. American workers and taxpayers also need to worry. The Congressional Budget Office has projected that Obamacare will reduce workforce participation by the equivalent of two million full-time jobs in 2017. For progressives, this is spun as a good thing in that people won’t have to work to get insurance. But then, progressives always like it when the state turns people into easily manipulated parasites. In addition, companies facing the Obamacare employer mandate are worried and have reduced hiring. In its “Beige Book” for March 6, 2013, the Federal Reserve noted that some “companies are hiring the absolute minimum to get by due to uncertainty about the Affordable Care Act.”
  3. The Big Brother Surveillance State — The government’s intelligence agencies are watching everyone. Phone calls and emails are being intercepted and stored for spies and their algorithms to sort through at their leisure. What the Snowden revelations have made very clear is that everyone is a suspect and everyone is being watched all the time. George Orwell’s 1984 used to be considered a sci-fi dystopian tale that “couldn’t happen here.” But it did happen and it’s worse than even Orwell could have imagined. The wanton violations of the Fourth Amendment are so out of control that Wired magazine, one of the biggest popular technology magazines on the planet, has now felt compelled to publish a detailed article titled “How to Keep the NSA From Spying Through Your Webcam.” Wired’s Kim Zetter reported: “…the NSA uses a plug-in called GUMFISH to take over cameras on infected machines and snap photos. Another NSA plug-in called CAPTIVATEDAUDIENCE hijacks the microphone on targeted computers to record conversations. Intelligence agencies have been turning computers into listening devices for at least a decade, as evidenced by the Flame spy tool uncovered by Kaspersky Lab in 2012, which had the ability to surreptitiously turn on webcams and microphones and perform a host of other espionage operations. Researchers believe Flame has been around since 2007.” Moreover, if you say something the surveillance state or its sympathizers doesn’t like, you can be disappeared into a mental institute or worse. Don’t believe it? Check out the story of Brandon Raub or read up on some of the nastier provisions of the the National Defense Authorization Act that have been signed into law by President Obama each year since 2012.
  4. Economic Malaise — America was once the world’s prime economic powerhouse. Built on the power of free enterprise, America became the manufacturing and financial capital of the world. Never in all of human history was one nation, blessed with freedom, ever able to make such strides of forward progress, not just in technology, but also in the well-being of its citizens. Even the poorest Americans were wealthier than most anyone else had ever been in all of human history. This marvelous legacy is now almost a bit of nostalgia. Writing in the Wall Street Journal in December, William Galston noted: “A survey by the bipartisan group No Labels (full disclosure: I am a co-founder) finds that only 38% of people think America’s best days are ahead of us, versus 48% who think that time is behind us. Only 26% believe that the next generation of Americans will be better off than this generation and fully 62% believe the coming generation will be worse off.” A good reason for the dark outlook is the precipitous decline of manufacturing. In a paper examining the decline, Justin R. Pierce of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve and Peter K. Schott of the Yale School of Management describe what they call the “Surprising Swift Decline of U.S. Manufacturing Employment.” The write: “According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. manufacturing employment fell from 19.6 million in 1979 to 13.7 million in 2007. Surprisingly, more than half of this decline occurs in the years following the relatively mild 2001 recession.” Currently, U.S. manufacturers employ just slightly more than 12 million. Why the trouble in the manufacturing segment? Simply put, successful manufacturing requires affordable energy, a well-educated pool of talent, and, like all business, minimal government meddling and taxation. The U.S. is failing badly in all three areas.
  5. Unconstitutional Government — There is far too much government at every level, and at the federal level, the unconstitutional bureaucracy is bleeding the nation dry. The federal debt is the best gauge of just how out of control government has become. Total federal debt is now well over $17 trillion. Much, much worse, are federal unfunded liabilities stemming from welfare state programs. These result from the expectation that the future value of tax revenues to the federal government will be far short of the future value of expected government spending, and are in the main associated with such shortfalls in the Social Security and Medicare programs. It is estimated that federal unfunded liabilities now amount to nearly $127 trillion. How this will be paid is anyone’s guess, but there are few options. Among them are massive increases in taxes, monetization of the debt via Federal Reserve action, or a combination of both. No matter how you slice it, however, the economics of the situation are grim in the extreme. But the root of the problem is unconstitutional government. Welfare state programs are an affront to the Constitution. We face catastrophe today because progressives from the time of Woodrow Wilson to the present have worked tirelessly to expand government beyond the boundaries set by our charter of government and envisioned by those who wrote it.

These alone are five good reasons America is no longer unambiguously happy. In light of them, it’s a testament to the eternal optimism of the American people that the nation is only 33rd on the list of “happy” nations.

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