The world’s most emotional countries

According to an on-going Gallup study, Americans and Spanish-speakers are the world’s most emotional people.  Not only that, they are happy to the point of exuberance.  Not so with Middle Easterners and former Communists.  From Max Fischer of the Washington Post, who goes so far as to provide a color-coded map of the world’s emotions:

Singapore is the least emotional country in the world. ”Singaporeans recognize they have a problem,” Bloomberg Businessweek writes of the country’s “emotional deficit,” citing a culture in which schools “discourage students from thinking of themselves as individuals.” They also point to low work satisfaction, competitiveness, and the urban experience: “Staying emotionally neutral could be a way of coping with the stress of urban life in a place where 82 percent of the population lives in government-built housing.”

The Philippines is the world’s most emotional country. It’s not even close; the heavily Catholic, Southeast Asian nation, a former colony of Spain and the U.S., scores well above second-ranked El Salvador.

Post-Soviet countries are consistently among the most stoic. Other than Singapore (and, for some reason, Madagascar and Nepal), the least emotional countries in the world are all former members of the Soviet Union. They are also the greatest consumers of cigarettes and alcohol. This could be what you call and chicken-or-egg problem: if the two trends are related, which one came first? Europe appears almost like a gradient here, with emotions increasing as you move West.

People in the Americas are just exuberant. Every nation on the North and South American continents ranked highly on the survey. Americans and Canadians are both among the 15 most emotional countries in the world, as well as ten Latin countries. The only non-American countries in the top 15, other than the Philippines, are the Arab nations of Oman and Bahrain, both of which rank very highly.

English- and Spanish-speaking societies tend to be highly emotional and happy. Though the Anglophone nations of the world retain deep cultural links, it’s not clear if Spain’s emotional depth has anything to do with Latin America’s. According to Gallup, “Latin America leads the world when it comes to positive emotions, with Panama, Paraguay, and Venezuela at the top of that list.” Yes, even Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela is apparently filled with happy people.

Africans are generally stoic, with some significant exceptions. The continent is among the world’s least emotional, though there is wide variation, which serves as a non-definitive but interesting reminder of Africa’s cultural diversity. Each could be its own captivating case study. It’s possible that South Africa’s high rating has to do with its cultural ties to Western Europe, for example, and Nigeria’s may have to do with the recent protest movement in the south and sectarian violence in the north.

The Middle East is not happy. Gallup notes, “Negative emotions are highest in the Middle East and North Africa, with Iraq, Bahrain, and the Palestinian Territories leading the world in negative daily experiences.” Still, that doesn’t quite fully explain the high emotions in the Levant and on the Arabian peninsula, compared to the lower emotions in Libya, Algeria, and Morocco. Perhaps this hints at how people in these countries are being affected by the still-ongoing political turmoil of the Arab Spring.

via A color-coded map of the world’s most and least emotional countries.

A president’s prayer

Uganda has long been one of the most messed-up countries on earth, ruled by murderous buffoons such as Idi Amin.  But the current president, Yoweri Museveni, is trying to change all of that.  On the 50th anniversary of Uganda’s independence from Great Britain, he publicly prayed this prayer:

Father God in heaven, today we stand here as Ugandans, to thank you for Uganda. We are proud that we are Ugandans and Africans. We thank you for all your goodness to us. I stand here today to close the evil past and especially in the last 50 years of our national leadership history and at the threshold of a new dispensation in the life of this nation. I stand here on my own behalf and on behalf of my predecessors to repent. We ask for your forgiveness. We confess these sins, which have greatly hampered our national cohesion and delayed our political, social and economic transformation.

We confess sins of idolatry and witchcraft which are rampant in our land. We confess sins of shedding innocent blood, sins of political hypocrisy, dishonesty, intrigue and betrayal. Forgive us of sins of pride, tribalism and sectarianism; sins of laziness, indifference and irresponsibility; sins of corruption and bribery that have eroded our national resources; sins of sexual immorality, drunkenness and debauchery; sins of unforgiveness, bitterness, hatred and revenge; sins of injustice, oppression and exploitation; sins of rebellion, insubordination, strife and conflict. These sins and many others have characterized our past leadership, especially the last 50 years of our history. Lord, forgive us and give us a new beginning. Give us a heart to love you, to fear you and to seek you. Take away from us all the above sins.

We pray for national unity. Unite us as Ugandans and eliminate all forms of conflict, sectarianism and tribalism. Help us to see that we are all your children, children of the same Father. Help us to love and respect one another and to appreciate unity in diversity. We pray for prosperity and transformation. Deliver us from ignorance, poverty and disease. As leaders, give us wisdom to help lead our people into political, social and economic transformation.

We want to dedicate this nation to you so that you will be our God and guide. We want Uganda to be known as a nation that fears God and as a nation whose foundations are firmly rooted in righteousness and justice to fulfill what the Bible says in Psalm 33:12: Blessed is the nation, whose God is the Lord. A people you have chosen as your own.

I renounce all the evil foundations and covenants that were laid in idolatry and witchcraft. I renounce all the satanic influence on this nation. And I hereby covenant Uganda to you, to walk in your ways and experience all your blessings forever. I pray for all these in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

via Michael Avramovich, Should Ugandan President Museveni Lead the Way? – Mere Comments.

Does this suggest theocracy or at least a “state church”?  Or is it a good example of a leader praying for himself and interceding for his people?

Whatever happened to crime as an issue?

Charles Lane says that Republicans are victims of their own success when it comes to the issue of crime.  What was once a potent issue for Republicans have faded from the public’s mind, as crime rates have fallen dramatically, due largely to Republican-initiated policies that now even Democrats support.

Americans were unhappy about many issues as 2012 began. In one area, though, contentment reigned. By a margin of 50 to 45 percent, a Gallup Poll reported, the public felt “satisfied” with the nation’s policies on crime.

It was a well-founded sentiment. In 2010, Americans were less than a third as likely to be victimized by violent crime as they had been in 1994; the murder rate had declined by roughly half. Today we are approaching the low murder rates of the 1950s.

For the Republican Party, this is a triumph — and a disaster, as the 2012 election results proved.

It is a GOP triumph, because the enormous decline in crime over the past two decades coincided with the widespread adoption of such conservative ideas as “broken windows” policing and mandatory minimum sentences.

Whether such policies actually caused the crime decline is a separate, and much-debated, social-science question. The important thing is that many people believe that they did. As a result, conservative crime doctrine remains dominant in politics, with the two parties differing mainly over how to control and punish unlawful conduct most cost-effectively.

Hence the 2012 disaster for the GOP. Beginning with Richard Nixon’s “law and order” campaign for president in 1968, Republicans pretty much owned the issue. Fear of street crime — and its association, accurate or not, with post-’60s moral license, liberal Democratic policies and the rise of an urban black population — converted many a white working-class Democrat into a Republican.

The GOP advantage on crime contributed to Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980, George H.W. Bush’s defeat of Michael Dukakis in 1988 and the GOP takeover of the House of Representatives in 1994.

When Gallup asked voters in January 1995 to name their top priority for the new Congress and President Clinton, 78 percent responded “reducing crime.” Given the murder rate at the time — 9.0 per 100,000 population — this was understandable. Sixty-six percent named “reforming the welfare system.”

Clinton got the message. In 1996, he signed the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, a main purpose of which was to limit death-row appeals. And, of course, he signed a historic welfare reform measure.

As the first Democratic president since Clinton, and the first African American one ever, Barack Obama has done essentially nothing to reverse Clinton’s crime and welfare policies. . . .

Indeed, Obama’s assimilation of conservative doctrine extended even to the war on terrorism, an area with which 72 percent of the public pronounced itself satisfied in last January’s Gallup Poll. Closing Guantanamo is out; drone strikes on al-Qaeda suspects are in. After four years of the Obama war on terror, you could almost summarize the two parties’ policies this way: Republicans waterboard, Democrats kill.

It’s true, as many commentators have noted since Nov. 6, that liberals seem to have the upper hand in the culture wars, after years of losing to the GOP. The 2012 electorate favored liberal positions on abortion, gay rights and the role of women in society.

We’ll never know whether 2012 would have played out the same way if crime had staged a comeback during the recession, as many expected. Certainly in the past, crime was as important to the Republican brand as abortion and gay rights, if not more important.

Safer streets, though, have blunted what was once a sharp wedge issue, and, perhaps, freed the electorate to consider social and moral issues in a different light.

via Charles Lane: Republicans a victim of safer streets – The Washington Post.

Each party’s wrong ideas on taxes

As our lawmakers try to prevent us from falling off the “fiscal cliff” when the Bush tax cuts expire with the new year and mandatory federal reductions click in, Matt Miller argues that BOTH Republicans AND Democrats are laboring under two wrong ideas when it comes to taxes.

Republicans believe our fiscal woes can be solved by cutting taxes.  And Democrats believe our fiscal problems can be solved by raising taxes on the rich.  Miller tries to show why neither will work and how such ideological blinders will prevent effective solutions.

See Matt Miller: Dead ideas on taxes – The Washington Post.

Perhaps it isn’t that one side is right and the other wrong, or that both are partially right, but that both are wrong!  Where does that leave us?

If this is true, does anyone have any viable suggestions for putting our financial house in order?


Stop watching my filthy show

Angus T. Jones, the teenager who is the “half man” on the popular sit-com “Two and a Half Men,” has had a conversion experience and is now telling people to stop watching his show, which has been paying him $8 million a year:

Less than two years after Charlie Sheen was booted from “Two and a Half Men,” his co-star, Angus T. Jones, 19, has blasted the series as “filth” and suggested people should stop watching.

“If you watch ‘Two and a Half Men,’ please stop watching ‘Two and a Half Men.’ I’m on ‘Two and a Half Men,’ and I don’t want to be on it,” said Jones in a videotaped testimonial for the Forerunner Chronicles.

The group is linked to the Voice of Prophecy Seventh-Day Adventist church in Los Angeles, where Jones worships.

“Please stop watching it and filling your head with filth,” Jones pleaded.

Jones has played Jake, a sarcastic kid who lives with his single dad (Jon Cryer), since the hugely successful series launched in 2003. As one of the highest-paid teens, he takes home around $8 million annually, about $350,000 per episode.

And until last year, Jones shared the screen with Charlie Sheen — one of Hollywood’s most notorious hedonists.

After he suffered a public meltdown in 2011, Sheen’s character was killed off, and he was replaced by Ashton Kutcher.

In the video, Jones says the show is part of the plan of “the enemy”— presumably Satan.

“If I am doing any harm, I don’t want to be here,” he said.

“I don’t want to be contributing to the enemy’s plan. … You cannot be a true God-fearing person and be on a television show like that. I know I can’t. I’m not OK with what I’m learning, what the Bible says and being on that television show.”

Alas, he said, his hands are tied. “I am under contract for another year so it is not too much of a decision on my part. I know God has me there for a reason for another year.”

Jones says that he went to a Christian school but wasn’t really religious. His parents’ marriage broke up a couple of years ago, he said, and he fell into temptation.

“At the time, I also started dating this girl, and when I look back now, I see that as a time when the enemy was trying to push me in that direction. But God knew he was going to pull me out at the last second,” Jones said.

via Angus T. Jones blasts ‘Two and a Half Men,’ calls the hit series ‘filth’ – NY Daily News.

This makes him sound rather fanatical, but see this thoughtful interview.

Cliff diving

On New Year’s Day, the Bush-era tax cuts will expire and mandatory cuts in government spending will go into effect, a double-whammy to the economy that is being called “the fiscal cliff.”  Republicans do not want the tax increases and Democrats do not want the spending cuts.  So Congress is negotiating with the President about compromises, reforms, and trade-offs, all in an effort to avoid what nobody wants, the country going off the cliff.

But might falling off the fiscal cliff, in the long run, be the best solution, despite the horrible short-term consequences?  Under that scenario, taxes would rise dramatically (giving the government more revenue, the Democrats’ dream) but also government expenditures would be cut dramatically (resulting in a smaller government, the Republicans’ dream).  The combination of higher revenues plus lower expenditures would solve the deficit.

Isn’t this a true bi-partisan solution?  Don’t we as a nation need to take our bitter medicine before we can get better?  Other countries, such as Great Britain, have gone through austerity programs as a necessary step to fiscal health.  Could we Americans handle austerity?

(I am not necessarily advocating this, simply proposing for now a mental experiment.  Some of you suggested this in yesterday’s discussion of “Breaking Pledges,” but it’s worth discussing in its own right.)