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Work • Capitalism

Countries for Losers; Countries for Winners

We all, naturally, want to be winners.

And so, consequently, a great many countries are designed to reward winners. These are the countries that pay a good deal of attention to optimising the conditions of life available to people who win.

In such lands, if one is a winner and falls ill, the hospitals are outstanding:

The transport laid on for winners is superlative:

The housing for winners is spacious, light and uplifting:

And winner children are educated in establishments that resemble five star hotels:

Of course, in such lands, provisions for losers are not so quite so comfortable. There isn’t the money left over. So housing for Losers can be challenging:

Transport for Losers is something of a humiliation:

And the children of losers start to learn young about their negligible status.

This could all sound worrying, but it tends not panic us very much for one fundamental reason related to how the human minds work. Most of us naturally assume that we will – at some point – become winners.

You can see this optimistic part of the brain in action in our well-observed proclivity for playing the lottery. Millions of us show an inclination to believe that we will end up holding a winning ticket – despite the daunting odds.

The chances of winning the UK lottery are one in 14 million. This often isn’t enough to put many of us off.

© Matthew Anderson/Flickr

If we don’t play the lottery ourselves, we may feel a bit sorry for people who do. We may smile at their folly in getting statistics quite so wrong. But in the way we vote, we may display a strikingly similar mindset. We too may cast our votes for political parties determined to reward a tiny subset of winners and cast the vast majority of losers to a less dignified end.

We would do well to study statistics.

Chances of needing to depend on the state for health, housing, transport or welfare over a lifetime:


In short, a degree of financial fragility is the statistical norm; being a loser is the norm. We are far more likely to end up with a mediocre salary, with delicate health and vulnerability to ill-fortune than we are to end up robust, invulnerable winners.

Yet still we insist on creating and supporting Winner Countries. Here are five of the world’s top Winner Countries, countries that go out of their way to make the consequences of winning as pleasant as possible.

Top Winner Countries

5. Brazil

4. India

3. China

2. UK

1. US

There are a few notable loser countries on our planet. They tend not to get the limelight. Here is the list of the world’s top Loser Countries:

5. The Netherlands

4. Germany

3. Switzerland

2. Norway

1. Denmark

In Loser Countries, voters graciously assume that they are and will remain losers – and therefore set about trying to make their condition as pleasant as possible.

They make sure there is a public transport system fit for losers:

Public housing fit for losers:

And public schools fit for complete losers:

In these Countries for Losers, it can be awkward to be a winner. No one applauds you for driving a fancy car. Money won’t buy you schools any better than the loser ones. You might even go to a loser hospital of your own accord. And your taxes might be quite high.

Both Countries for Winners and Countries for Losers have their advantages. The question is whether we are voting for societies that reflect our own statistical realities. By accepting that we will almost certainly be and remain Losers, we might be sad no doubt, but we may also be liberated to scheme to live in societies that make the consequences of failing a lot less bitter.


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