I guess it depends upon your definition of “happy”

| July 15, 2006

A “study” by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) has concluded that Columbia is one of the top five happiest places to live in the entire world:

LONDON (AFP) – The tiny South Pacific Ocean archipelago of Vanuatu is the happiest country on Earth, according to a study published measuring people’s wellbeing and their impact on the environment.

Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica and Panama complete the top five in the Happy Planet Index, compiled by the British think-tank New Economics Foundation (NEF).

The index combines life satisfaction, life expectancy and environmental footprint — the amount of land required to sustain the population and absorb its energy consumption.

And this Washington Post article shows just how happy a place Columbia is:

BOGOTA, Colombia — Colombian rebels killed 10 civilians and took 170 hostage, authorities said Friday, in a show of force before conservative President Álvaro Uribe, popular for cutting crime as part of his U.S.-backed crackdown on the rebels, starts his second term next month.

In its biggest kidnapping operation in years, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, moved late Thursday against the town of Riosucio in northern Choco province.

Note that, according to the NEF’s “study”, Britain ranks 108th and the United States 150th out of 178 countries. This, of course, explains why such large numbers of Brits and Americans seek to emigrate to Columbia each year. More seriously, it shows that you can reach just about any conclusions you want if you are free to select your own premises and criteria.

Also note, by the way, that I actually spent two years living in Central America, including in both Costa Rica and Panama, and that I visited there as recently as less than 10 years ago. Costa Rica, one of my favorite countries, had actually declined in terms of quality of life, infrastructure, and social services from the time when I was originally there (1972-74) to my visits in the late 1990s. Likewise, a few years ago I was approached about doing expert witness work in a lawsuit being tried in Bogota, Columbia. One of our points of negotiation involved full-time security services, since Strategic Forecasting at that time listed Columbia in general — and Bogota in particular — as one of the most dangerous regions in the world for travelers.

Hat tip to ForteanTimes and PoliBlog, respectively. ..bruce..

UPDATE (07/16/06):  Victor Davis Hanson has reprinted on his website Bruce Thorton’s review of 1491: New Revelations of America before Columbus by Charles C. Mann. Mann’s book and Thorton’s review both discuss the pervasive Western view of pre-Columbian Americans as somehow being in harmony with nature. To quote from Thorton’s review:

Five hundred years [after Columbus], little has changed. Too many interests are served by such myths. Popular culture has found in Indianism a lucrative commodity, as in Walt Disney’s Pocahontas or Kevin Costner’s Dances with Wolves. And critics of American society, whether identity-politics tribunes or anti-capitalist leftists, have found in what Mark Twain called an “extinct tribe that never existed” a powerful weapon for attacking the perceived crimes and dysfunctions of modern America — from ravaging the environment to fetishizing private property. What is lost, of course, is the historical truth of the Indian and his conflicted, quirky humanity.

I cite this here because I believe that same mindset is reflected in the NEF “study” cited above.  ..bruce..

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Category: Geopolitics, Main

About the Author ()

Webster is Principal and Founder at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at Brigham Young University. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at bwebster@bfwa.com, or you can follow him on Twitter as @bfwebster.

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