Thursday :: Jul 17, 2008

Startling Conclusions- Or Not


by Turkana

How horrendous has the Bush Administration been? Forget foreign policy, for a moment. Let's think about how we treat ourselves. How the Bush Administration treats us. If you wanted to give a people the greatest natural and human resources in the world, no imminent or proximate threats, and tell them to intentionally design a socioeconomic system that completely screws it up, they probably couldn't do a much better job than have the Bushies. From The Guardian:

Despite spending $230m (£115m) an hour on healthcare, Americans live shorter lives than citizens of almost every other developed country. And while it has the second-highest income per head in the world, the United States ranks 42nd in terms of life expectancy.

These are some of the startling conclusions from a major new report which attempts to explain why the world's number-one economy has slipped to 12th place - from 2nd in 1990- in terms of human development.

The American Human Development Report, which applies rankings of health, education and income to the US, paints a surprising picture of a country that spends well over $5bn each day on healthcare - more per person than any other country.

The report, Measure of America, was funded by Oxfam America, the Conrad Hilton Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation. It shows each of the 11 countries that rank higher than the US in human development has a lower per-capita income.

Second to twelfth. Since the Nineties. Hmm. What's changed since then?

Some of the problems are obvious:

One of the main problems faced by the US, says the report, is that one in six Americans, or about 47 million people, are not covered by health insurance and so have limited access to healthcare.

As a result, the US is ranked 42nd in global life expectancy and 34th in terms of infants surviving to age one. The US infant mortality rate is on a par with that of Croatia, Cuba, Estonia and Poland.

Fills one with patriotic pride, doesn't it?

The US has a higher percentage of children living in poverty than any of the world's richest countries.

Let's all put on our American flag lapel pins, and everything will be okay!

It also reveals 14% of the population - some 40 million Americans - lack the literacy skills to perform simple, everyday tasks such as understanding newspaper articles and instruction manuals.

Which is obvious to anyone who reads the comments from this site's right wing trolls...

And while in much of Europe, Canada, Japan and Russia, levels of enrolment of three and four-year-olds in pre-school are running at about 75%, in the US it is little more than 50%.

An ignorant people is a compliant people.

Inequality remains stark. The richest fifth of Americans earn on average $168,170 a year, almost 15 times the average of the lowest fifth, who make do with $11,352.

If that's not a number that screams at you, none could. Twenty percent of Americans earn $11,352 a year. And they're supposed to survive and thrive on that? In the wealthiest nation in the world?

The US is far behind many other countries in the support given to working families, particularly in terms of family leave, sick leave and childcare. The country has no federally mandated maternity leave.

Family values? Why don't we make that a campaign theme?

The US also ranks first among the 30 rich countries of the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development in terms of the number of people in prison, both in absolute terms and as a percentage of the total population.

The upside is that they aren't homeless or hungry. Right? That's the best-funded means of help available to our disadvantaged- our taken advantage of. Because that's who we are. That's what we've become. A people that doesn't take care of each other. A people that prefers to throw people in prison than to care for them.

The smartest thing the Obama campaign has done was to make "change" their campaign theme. Because even though Obama does not represent the sort of paradigmatic change his more obsessed fans would like to believe he represents, he is still a radical change from what we've had the past seven-plus years. Which John McCain certainly is not.

Turkana :: 11:34 AM :: Comments (11) :: Digg It!