In this paper, I create an ideal country called Strada, which has unique physical, ecological, and structural features that would foster the greatest happiness for its citizens. These features appeal to the basic human needs of having a good health care system, a sound physical environment to live, and enough economic resources for citizens to buy their needs and wants. This paper also outlines the need for a sound governance structure that premises on the principles of justice and mercy and a respect for religious diversity, as the tenets for a reliable social framework to maintain a stable social order in Strada. The blend of different features characterizing the country is bound to foster the greatest happiness for most of its citizens because happiness is the most reliable indicator for human development
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Suffering, greed, hardships, war, and many other struggles characterize today’s world. Most of these problems stem from human flaws in leadership, governance, environmental management and, spirituality (Sustainable Development Solutions Network, 2016). Indeed, as Robert (2003) says, “the rise of acquisitive urges and the destructive powers of modern science and industrial production have defiled the innocence of human societies, almost everywhere” (3). Although the list of mistakes we make as a people may be longer, the problems facing many societies today generally stem from the neglect of our innate human values, such as love and compassion. From this background, people could wonder how an ideal world would be like. The idea of an ideal world often has many definitions attached to it. However, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (2016) observes that there is no perfect premonition of such a society. Nonetheless, describing an ideal world comes with many questions, such as how would people relate? What type of governance structure would promote law and order in such a country? What would the race and ethnic composition of such a country be, and how would such people coexist peacefully in the same national space? In this paper, I describe a hypothetical country, known as Strada, which fosters happiness for the greatest number of people. This paper highlights the tolerance for religious diversity, establishment of a proper governance structure, promotion of a sound natural habitat, and the creation of a universal health care system as the main characteristics of Strada.
- Happiness – “combination of how satisfied you are with your life (for example, finding meaning in your work) and how good you feel on a day-to-day basis” (Sues, 2015, p. 4)
- The greatest number of people – majority population
- Natural habitat – the physical environment that the residents of Strada would be living in
Undoubtedly, religion plays a significant role in the spiritual development of different societies. Some communities believe that it is important to people’s wellbeing because of its regulative effect on people’s behaviors and thoughts, while others believe its importance is mostly confined to spiritual development. Based on these assumptions, it is unsurprising that religion inspires the process of developing laws for many societies (Akimova & Medvedeva, 2014). Strada would be a religiously neutral country because its citizens would tolerate different religious beliefs out of respect for the fact that all human beings are equal. Therefore, the notion of a religious country does not exist in this context. The underlying principle explaining the respect for different beliefs comes from the fact that all human beings worship one God and the religious practices associated with different communities are inconsequential in the wider understanding of a respect for a “higher power.” Therefore, in Strada, people would appreciate religious diversity. Similarly, those who subscribe to the major religion would not belittle minority religious groups, irrespective of the connotations, or stereotypes, associated with them. For example, a Muslim in Strada would feel equally as important as a Christian would feel in the same country. Conversely, a Christian in the same country would feel as important and respected as a Muslim in the same country would feel. Therefore, in Strada, the assumption of religious superiority does not exist because all religious beliefs are equal. Comprehensively, in this society, all people would have an equal chance of experiencing happiness because of the tolerance and respect for religious diversity. Stated differently, “people are happier living in societies where there is less inequality of happiness” (Sustainable Development Solutions Network, 2016, p. 2).
The concept of civilization mostly revolves around the principle of proper governance. While some philosophers believe that governments exist as an official and dominant physical force in the society, others believe that they exist to oversee the proper use of force (Landauer & Rowlands, 2001). Based on this principle, Thomas Jefferson says, “for this reason, it must specify objective laws to clarify the use of force, and it must have the ability to enforce these laws” (Landauer & Rowlands, 2001, p. 6). The principles of mercy and justice would inspire the governance structure of Strada. Respecting the principle of justice alone would ensure that the concepts of equity and impartiality guide law enforcement efforts. In this regard, there would be no bias, or injustice, in the criminal justice system because the people would expect that law enforcement officers have a flawless application of inexorable laws.
Although offenders would be required to endure stern justice whenever they contravene different legal provisions, they would expect mercy because every citizen of Strada who is aware of his/her own shortcomings would show compassion for those who have erred in judgment. Therefore, in this society, the principles of justice and mercy would be inimical. They would also inspire the formation of an ideal government because the application of the principle of justice would imply that the law treats every man as he deserves, while the principle of mercy would mean that the law treats them better than they deserve. Both justice and mercy share a direct relationship with happiness because most happy societies experience fairness, justice, and mercy (Sustainable Development Solutions Network, 2016). This is why Landauer and Rowlands (2001) say, “the longing for justice is men’s eternal longing for happiness” (p. 2). Using the same framework of analysis, the authors say, justice is equal to social happiness because the social order guarantees a fair governance system that fosters happiness (Landauer & Rowlands, 2001). An ideal government would require the implementation of both principles in the enforcement of law and order. Comparatively, in present-day society, many people have trouble combining both principles. However, in Strada, this would not be the case because, while law enforcement officers would not hesitate to extend absolute justice on the citizens, they would not shy away from showing mercy to offenders.
The economic development of a society is an important aspect of its social and political development. This is true for Strada because it would be difficult to disentangle its economic system from its political system, or from its cultural system. Nonetheless, perfect competition, free trade, and free markets are the main models that would characterize the system. Under the model of perfect competition, there would be many buyers and sellers, free flow of information, homogenous products, well-defined property rights, and no barriers to market entry. The maximization of profits by sellers, presence of rational buyers, few (or no) externalities, zero transaction costs, and non-increasing returns to scale would also characterize the same system (Morris, 2008). In the perfect market condition described above, the quantity of goods sold would equal the quantity of goods supplied. Therefore, there would not be any wastages or shortfalls in the market, as it would be efficient. Similarly, sellers would not make super-normal profits at the expense of buyers and, conversely, buyers would not buy goods at extraordinarily cheap prices and at the expense of manufacturers and sellers. The presence of free trade policies would also characterize the economic system of Strada because the country would be striving to have an economic system that offers people the opportunity to engage in mutually beneficial trade (without coercion). Therefore, in this type of system, there would be a free movement of capital, labor, and other factors of production because their restricted movement is often responsible for the imperfect economic conditions we have today. Globalization has tried to eliminate some of these market inefficiencies. In a book titled, “Why Globalization Works,” Wolf (2004) says,
“An analysis of trade starts from the assumption that the movement of capital and labor is prevented. A country is a jurisdiction with a circumscribed pool of labor, capital, and land. The argument for trade is that it increases opportunities for owners of these factors of production to engage in mutually beneficial transactions. It is an extension across frontiers of the division of labor.” (p. 80).
Generally, the free trade would pose several advantages to customers and traders alike because customers would have a better access to goods and services and enjoy low prices of the same because of low (or no) tariff and non-tariff barriers, while traders would be enjoying economies of scale from the same. Strada would also have an economic policy that promotes free markets. In such a system, there would be an increased production of goods and services because there is a low level of government involvement in a free market system (Wolf, 2004). This type of system is synonymous with many capitalistic countries where the role of the government in the country’s economic system is regulatory and meant to ensure there are fair trading practices taking place. The opposite is true in many communist countries where the role of government is imposing, as it could dictate prices, dictate the ownership structures of companies, and prevent the entry of competitors in the market (among other influences) (Morris, 2008). In this regard, the players rarely have the freedom to pursue market policies that support their business operations. The economic policies of Strada would allow for increased freedom of goods and services and increased innovation of market strategies where players have the freedom to do as they please, so long as their practices are fair and do not infringe on the rights of others to innovate in the same way and make a profit. Comprehensively, based on this analysis, the economic policy of Strada would hinge on perfect competition, free trade, and free markets. The diagram below explains how these attributes would interact through a hub and spoke economic model.
Health Care Structure
In a civilized country, such as Strada, it is difficult to ignore the role of health care in improving the health and wellbeing of its citizens because the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (2016) says, “differences in social support, incomes, and healthy life expectancy are the three most important factors of happiness” (p. 2). Here, the role of the country’s health care system would be to help people live longer and healthier lives. Strada would have a universal health care system that would enable the citizens to realize this goal. This health insurance model would not be employer-based, or government-based; instead, citizens would have an opportunity of buying health insurance for themselves. Insurance companies would disclose the prices of the health insurance policies, as a matter of transparency, to allow citizens to make the best choices that suit their financial potential. This design alone would accommodate the different types of economic potentials of different demographics, or economic groups, in Strada. The role of the government would be to define the minimum benefits package that the health insurance providers would offer to the public. The available health insurance packages would allow the beneficiaries of the insurance policies to assume a portion of the health care costs through deductibles and co-insurance policies. The purpose of doing so would be to incentivize the frugality of the health system (Cowen, 2008).
To make sure that the unemployed and the poor also get health insurance, the government would subsidize the health care insurance policies for the poor. However, this process would be on a graduated basis. The goal of doing so would be to discourage people from spending more than 10% of their income on health insurance policies. Since the citizens would have to shoulder a part of their health care costs, the general assumption is that they would choose highly deductible plans (Cowen, 2008). These plans would often have significant cost-sharing features. Nonetheless, those who wish to have a supplementary coverage would be free to do so.
Under this health care model, the citizens of Strada would also have the freedom of choosing their doctors and the appointment times. This universal health care system would be a driving force in promoting the social and economic growth of the country because as Cowen (2008) points out, “healthy people do more than merely survive” (p. 407). Therefore, in this system, the citizens would engage in economic activities that lead to the socioeconomic development of the country, including going to school and eventually pursuing a profitable career. Using this analogy, Strada would easily realize a self-sustainable future, which has a strong and measurable impact on different generations. In other words, the country’s health care system would eliminate most barriers to health to allow the people to focus on what is most important for their personal growth. Such goals may include providing for their families, building a home for their families, travelling around the world, investing, or even helping underprivileged people in the society. This system would foster happiness in Strada.
In the context of this study, we describe the natural habitat as the physical environment that the residents of Strada would be living in. Strada would have an ideal environment for its residents because the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (2016) says, “When countries single-mindedly pursue individual objectives, such as economic development to the neglect of social and environmental objectives, the results can be highly adverse for human well-being, even dangerous for survival” (p. 3). Based on this assertion, love, nature, animals, clean rivers, clean lakes, clean streams, plush gardens, and well-organized recreational parks would characterize Strada. This environment would be free from pollution and unnecessary disturbances, such as construction and unplanned developments. The moderate exploitation of natural resources and a respect for the ecological soundness of the natural habitat would also characterize the same environment.
Strada would be clean, attractive, and full of greenery, which is ideal for undertaking different types of physical activities, including hiking, walking, and playing. This type of environment would be ideal for the residents of Strada, as it would provide them with the resources to live well, including providing clean water to drink, abundant food to eat, unpolluted air to breathe and an expansive land to live on (among other resources that would be sufficient for their survival) (Robert, 2003). To maintain this type of natural habitat, the government would mostly be responsible for regulating human activities that affect the environment. In this regard, it would be the final authority for approving all types of developments in the country. Similarly, it would have the ultimate authority to stop any type of human activity that would affect the environment. In this regard, it would have the absolute authority of managing environmental matters. A sound natural habitat would be important in improving the wellbeing of the residents of Strada, including supporting their physical, emotional, and psychological development. Above all, the residents of Strada would have a duty to care for the environment. This responsibility includes preventing its destruction and keeping it clean for purposes of maintaining the ecological sustainability of the environment.
This paper recognizes that different people derive happiness from different kinds of activities. Consequently, the societal ideals outlined in the report mostly relate to factors that would foster happiness for most people, and not all people. In this paper, I have described Strada as an ideal country that has unique physical, ecological, and structural features that would foster the greatest happiness for its citizens. These features appeal to basic human needs of having a good health care system, a sound physical environment to live, and enough economic resources to buy basic needs and wants. To maintain a stable social order, governing the interaction of people in this society, this paper also outlines the need for a sound governance structure that premises on the principles of justice, mercy, and a respect for diverse religious beliefs. The blend of different features characterizing Strada is bound to foster the greatest happiness for most of its citizens because happiness is the most reliable indicator for human development, as described by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (2016) report on human happiness. The focus on good governance and religious tolerance alone emphasize this fact because research has shown that most people are happier in societies that have less inequality and more respect for people’s diversity. This is why many countries around the world, which uphold these values, have the highest happiness indices in the world. Therefore, the description of Strada as an ideal country affirms the work of independent research studies that have identified the strongest predictors of happiness as being the social, political, and economic characteristics described in this report.
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