In a recent editorial, the Antelope Valley Press suggested that presidential hopefuls and other Americans might find it educational to examine how other nations handle their health care systems.
But the same kind of logic might be applied to a study of New Zealand, which is basing its entire budget on the “Happiness of its People.”
It’s reported that New Zealand is the first Western country to prioritize well-being over economic growth.
The country’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stood before the United Nations last year, calling for more kindness in politics. She made a pledge that her country would be one where “success in measured not only by the nation’s GDP but by better lives lived by its people.”
Now, the people of New Zealand have had their first real look at what that lofty idea means in real life with the national budget — the first under Ardern’s government — that focuses on well-being.
“What Jacinda Ardern is doing is groundbreaking,” Jason Hickel, an anthropologist at the London School of Economics said. “Ardern’s government is setting an example that the rest of the world can and should follow.”
New Zealand has a population of just 4.8 million people, so America — with 328,900,709 — is in a much more complicated stratum, unable to quickly make substantial changes relate to its divisive national opinions and lifestyles.
But we should all be working toward greater kindness as opposed to quarrelsome hardcore oppositional positions.
Here are the problems the New Zealand officials are concentrating on: Inequality, homelessness, mental health and domestic violence.
The country is doing fairly well by traditional measures, with about 3% annual growth.
All new spending in New Zealand focuses on one of the five cornerstones identified by the government: Supporting mental health with a focus on young people, reducing child poverty, lifting the incomes and opportunities of the indigent people, moving to a low-emission and sustainable economy and supporting a thriving nation in a digital age.
Close to $1.25 billion will be spent on mental health, $210 million to combat domestic and sexual violence and around $656 million toward improving the lives of children.
“The challenges facing humanity globally — increasing inequality, rising populism and rapid environmental degradation, including the crisis with our climate — show governments worldwide are missing the crucial and pivotal role they play in stewardship, and in creating and maintaining collective well-being,” Anna Matheson, senior lecturer in health policy, Victoria University of Wellington said.
OK, if you believe that kindness has no place in America, you may leave the room and go fight among yourselves.