List of '10 Best Countries to Live in' (Supposedly)

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In an earlier article, I mentioned that lists ranking the "top" or "best" countries in the world are all over the web. Well, a friend sent me one today. It was produced by Condé Nast Traveler and is typical of the genre.

This is their list:

1. Norway
2. Australia/Switzerland (tie)
(Due to the tie for number 2, there is no number 3)
4. Germany
5. Denmark/Singapore (tie)
(No number 6)
7. The Netherlands
8. Ireland
9. Iceland
10. Canada/The United States (tie)

Curious about how they arrived at this ranking, I decided to look more closely at their criteria. The list is based on the United Nations Development Program's annual Human Development Index. Looking at that report, you discover why Condé Nast—a Leftist media behemoth that owns Vanity Fair, GQ, Allure, and Vogue—likes it. It is precisely the sort of data and social agenda-laden report that I railed against in that earlier article. A simple word search of the document yields these results:

Gay: 34 times
Transgender: 30 times
Bisexual: 29 times
Lesbian: 27 times
LGBTI: 8 times

I then looked at every instance where these words were used in the report. Each time, they were used favorably or in defense of these lifestyles. So concerned was the United Nations that this "human right" be legalized and promoted in every country, that the report said that "awareness campaigns need to be launched in households …" (Italics mine.)

But what about Christians? Christians are the world's largest religious group, numbering 2.2 billion people. According to The Spectator (UK), they are also the most persecuted, dying for their faith at a startling rate of 100,000 per year. That translates to 11 per hour. So, given these facts, how many times were Christians mentioned in the UN report?

Christian: 0 times

What about the Christian religion?

Christianity: 0 times

What about the persecution of Christians? Persecution was mentioned three times, but not once in this context.

"Religion" was mentioned 17 times, but six of those were in a single footnote. Religions were lumped together and often unfavorably. Yet, when it came to LGBTI issues—I have no idea what the "I" refers to—those generating this report made great distinction between an apparent multitude of sexual identities and preferences. What percentage of the world's population are the "T"s and "I"s? More than, say, Hindus and Buddhists, who also netted zero mentions in this study?

What this tells us, of course, is that religion is unimportant to those generating this report and, for that reason, they weren't qualified to produce such a study in the first place. Perhaps they are unaware of it, but religion is very important to the vast majority of the world's population. Yet, the gurus over at the UN, in a weighty study that essentially ranks the quality of life in 185 countries, didn't think it merited a substantive discussion. LGBTI activism, however, was of great importance to them, and that is what the above countries all have in common. In each of them, LGBTIs are practically a protected species.

As I have said, your ranking will be determined by your criteria, and your criteria will be determined by that which is important to you. I find little in rankings of this kind that reflect my values and those of many people that I know, be they American or otherwise. And that is because these studies generally place a premium on things that, while important to those committed to a progressive agenda, are of little importance to most people. Globally, people aren't losing sleep over the polar icecap and paid paternity leave. They are, however, preoccupied with concerns of safety, provision for themselves and/or their families, and the ability to live their lives freely.

Let me show you a different statistical ranking; one that is, I think, much more telling than what activist-academics at the UN are writing. It is a de facto ranking of the world's countries. In a global poll conducted by Gallup and published in June, 14 percent of the world's population would like to migrate permanently to another country—that's roughly 700 million people. Of that number, a whopping 21 percent—or 147 million people—would like to move to The United States of America. The next highest country was Germany with six percent. Norway, Number One on the UN's ranking, didn't even make the list.

This raises some very interesting questions. Chief among them is this: Why do these people want to come to America? What makes America—dare I say it?—"exceptional"? As we continue our Around the World in 80 Days journey, we will seek to answer that question.

To understand what we are doing and why, read this. Follow the rest of the expedition here.

Larry Alex Taunton is a cultural commentator, freelance writer, and the author of The Faith of Christopher Hitchens and The Grace Effect. You can follow him at larryalextaunton.com or on Twitter @larrytaunton.