I have been sick for the last week. The kind of sick when you start making up your will in your head and then realize that there is nothing in your will, but outstanding bills. I cried, I bargained with God, I burnt in fever. I went to a very dark place. Your life looks very different when you are not feeling well. While I was contemplating what's the wording on my tombstone should be :), I watched "Oprah" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7s89ptz0dA or I drifted in and out of consciousness through the show. It was about Copenhagen, Denmark and why it is where "the happiest people in the world" live. It made me think about all the changes that the people of this great country would appreciate, changes that make people happy in a small country like Denmark. Here are some of them...without any political agenda.
1. Universal Health Care
Please don't call me a "socialist", because believe me as a Russian citizen I KNOW what that means. All I am asking for is that on top of the beautiful choices this country provides, there should be a simple guarantee that no one will need to choose between getting their family in debt or DYING. It's a simple human right.
2. More disease prevention services.
Government sponsored programs that teach prevention, provide free mammograms and other medical screenings.
3. 1 year of maternity leave.
It's truly insane to have a need to choose whether you should go back to work after 12 weeks or sacrifice your hard won career to stay home.
4. Cheap or free daycare.
Do I pay for daycare, which is almost the cost of my paycheck or do I stay home and clip coupons, while my husband has small heart attacks from all the pressure of bringing home the money.
5. Assigned "on call" nurse for the first 3 months of a baby's life.
Not all of us are lucky to have our parents come and help us in those trying times. You are exhausted, sleep deprived and still in shock from labor. It would be nice to be able to call someone for help if only for an hour.
6. 40 hour work week.
I am lucky to have that, but I see a lot of people who get offered a certain salary and then added "but there is a lot of overtime". We live in a time when you feel guilty leaving the office to be with your family ON TIME.
7. OPTION of free higher education.
It's not a good start of your professional young life when you get out of college already with a huge debt or worse, join the army risking your life so you have a chance at a brighter future for free.
8. Required internship programs.
If you ARE paying thousands to get that degree, there should be a way to find out exactly what that job in theory looks like in reality.
9. Travel abroad.
80% of Americans do not have a passport. Enough said.
10. Consume less, enjoy life more.
I would like to also mention that people in Denmark pay 50% of their salary in taxes but after getting everything above plus 4 years of unemployment at 90% of your salary....ask me if I care.