Pursuit of Happiness: The Story of American Democracy

Pursuit of Happiness: The Story of American Democracy

Pursuit of Happiness: The Story of American Democracy

Pursuit of Happiness: The Story of American Democracy

Excerpt

One day in the spring of 1937, listeners on the British radio had a shock. Three foreigners, long resident in England, were to speak on a fifteen-minute program. Each was to say what impressed or interested most about Britain.

The foreigners were Scandinavians -- one a Dane, one a Swede, one a Norwegian. And the thing which strikes a Scandinavian about the rich nations like England and the United States is something which many people do not like to hear mentioned.

The Dane, who was a woman, spoke first. She paid England pretty compliments; but when it came to saying what impressed her most about that country, she admitted it was the unholy contrast between the rich and the poor. Coming from Denmark, she had not known it was possible for such an opulent country as England to have so many needy citizens. She had not known it was possible for the human conscience to endure the contrast which is so characteristic of the Great Powers: the contrast between the super-rich and the abominably poor.

The Norwegian speaker was a man. He too was polite about the many virtues of the English. Yet the thing that impressed most was the contrast between the very rich and the very poor. Norway is a poor country; but it does not have citizens who are poor in the way millions of the English are poor -- or millions of the Americans. It had not seemed possible to this . . .

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