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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

America? Number 1?


"WE'RE NUMBER 1!"

and 

"USA! USA! USA!"

Remember those?  Remember all that?

A new report was just issued, pretty much turning all that on its head:


From access to healthcare and education, gender equality, attitudes toward immigrants and minorities, the U.S. looks like a second-rate nation.

A bit about the study:

Harvard business professor Michael E. Porter, who earlier developed the Global Competitiveness Report, designed the SPI. A new way to look at the success of countries, the SPI studies 132 nations and evaluates 54 social and environmental indicators for each country that matter to real people. Rather than measuring a country’s success by its per capita GDP, the index is based on an array of data reflecting suicide, ecosystem sustainability, property rights, access to healthcare and education, gender equality, attitudes toward immigrants and minorities, religious freedom, nutrition, infrastructure and more.
The index measures the livability of each country. People everywhere depend on and care about similar things. “We all need clean water. We all want to feel safe and live without fear. People everywhere want to get an education and improve their lives,” says Porter. But economic growth alone doesn’t guarantee these things.
Some of the indictments findings:
  • While the U.S. enjoys the second highest per capita GDP of $45,336, it ranks in an underperforming 16th place overall. It gets worse. The U.S. ranks 70th in health, 69th in ecosystem sustainability, 39th in basic education, 34th in access to water and sanitation and 31st in personal safety.
  • More surprising is the fact that despite being the home country of global tech heavyweights Microsoft, Cisco, IBM, Oracle, and so on, the U.S. ranks a disappointing 23rd in access to the Internet. “It’s astonishing that for a country that has Silicon Valley, lack of access to information is a red flag,” notes Michael Green, executive director of the Social Progress Imperative, which oversees the index.
  • the U.S. remains in first place for the number of incarcerated citizens per capita, adult onset diabetes and for believing in angels.
  • New Zealand is ranked in first place in social progress. Interestingly, it ranks only 25th on GDP per capita, which means the island of the long white cloud is doing a far better job than America when it comes to meeting the need of its people. In order, the top 10 is rounded out by Switzerland, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Canada, Finland, Denmark and Australia.
  • Unsurprisingly these nations all happen to rank highly in the 2013 U.N. World Happiness Report with Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Sweden among the top five. So, what of the U.S? In terms of happiness, we rank 17th, trailing neighboring Mexico.

The article and author rightly point out that, what with so much of the nation's wealth going to the already-wealthy, the middle- and lower-classes and working class people are getting soaked while the rich get richer.
So what're ya' gonna' do about it?

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