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Woe is me - America sucks (as usual)
Posted by: McQ on Thursday, August 21, 2008

KameraDSM of the Daily Kos is just depressed when he (or she) considers our prowess in the Olympics and a bunch of statistics he (or she) ran across when looking for negative info on the US:
As we continue to celebrate the Olympics with profound pride and patriotism, I wanted to share some disheartening rankings that reflect our country's stark decline relative to the rest of the world. I list these fully knowing this community's cognizance of such issues, but sometimes numbers yield a haunting, and thus effective, reminder. For anyone truly proud to be American, these numbers should anger, motivate, and prompt action.
32nd - World rank of U.S. infant mortality rate.

First - CEO to Worker pay ratio (531:1) (Second place is Brazil at 57:1)

9th - Adult Literacy Scale (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development)

12th - student reading ability (Source: OECD)

37th - U.S. rank on the Healthcare Quality Index (World Health Organization)

17th - Rank of U.S. on women's rights (World Economic Forum Report)

29th - Life Expectancy

48th - U.S. rank on Journalistic Press Freedom Index (Reporters Without Borders)

13th - U.S. rank on quality of life survey (Economist Magazine)

45th - Environmental Stability Index (Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy)

21st - Aid to poor nations of the world (as percentage of gross national income)

*** These stats are re-presented from Vincent Bugliosi's excellent new book, The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder
We are the wealthiest nation in the world and widely indoctrinated to consider ourselves the "greatest" nation. Of course, if we were to measure our greatness by military might and financial wealth, we'd be No. 1 - no doubt. But what makes a nation truly "great" is its leadership and devotion to social/moral issues. Take seriously the numbers above, and you'll have a hard time finding the tenacity to say we're the "greatest." (To be honest, one should be wary of any person, government or institution that self-proclaims "greatness")
Have to love the name of the book which is the source of the info, don't you?

As with any statistical analysis, you have to look at details.

Let's take foreign aid for instance.

I found a 2005 story (pdf) on that from the LA Times which addresses precisely the claim made by our friend at the Daily Kos, but using a per capita standard.

And the result?
The United States has significantly increased its foreign aid to poor countries but still ranks 12th among the 21 richest nations in its overall performance in helping the world's poor, according to a widely watched annual report.
According to that report, per capita the US gives $.15 through the government and about $.06 privately per day.
The United States spent $18.7 billion in foreign aid in 2003, more than any other nation.
The number one nation, Denmark, gives $.89 per person day.

Sounds like a huge difference until you do the math. Denmark has a population of a medium sized metro area in the US (5,475,791) which means, given the report's number, it doles out exactly $1,778,810,706.35 per year in foreign aid.

So tell me - does 18 billion buy more food, build more schools and help more nations than does 1.7 billion?

Unless my schooling was as bad as some people claim it was, I'd say it is significantly more than Denmark's contribution. But that's the problem when you try to make comparisons like this. The total amount of money is what makes a difference, not the per capita level. While it's nice that Denmark has that per capita level of aid, their total contribution obviously doesn't do what ours can do.

I've covered infant mortality before, and while the problem is a little different, it again is a false comparison when you get into the details.

And that's what you have to watch in "America sucks" laments like KameraDSM's. The old saw of lies, damn lies and statistics was never more true than here.
Like so many at Daily Kos, I've been inspired by the world's athletes at the Summer Games. A simple thought came to me while watching the U.S. runners and gymnasts last night: If the U.S. can be No. 1 in overall medal count for the Beijing Games, there's no reason we can't be the greatest at overcoming our culture's immense moral shortcomings. If we can be patriotic about the 100m butterfly, we can again be patriotic about things other than war and money like, perhaps, helping the "huddled masses yearning to breathe free."
"Immense moral shortcomings" - my goodness. How does this person manage to continue to live here? Of course he (or she) makes no examination at all of the details of the stats he (or she) throws around. It's enough that they look bad for the US and allows him (or her) to engage in a round of self-righteous moral indignation related to our assumed greed, selfishness and moral decline. It obviously fills a need.

So I'll leave him (or her) to cry in his (or her) beer (or wine) while I continue to enjoy the Olympics. I see the games as a perfect representative of the greatness of our country. While we may not be perfect, no set of manipulated stats can hide the fact that we are and we remain the greatest nation on earth - and our immigration stats (you know, those "huddled masses") prove it. Despite repeated statistical attempts to prove we're not worthy, immigrants continue to flood the country and declare it the most amazing place on earth.

And if you don't quite understand that point, look at the US men's gymnastic team as the perfect example - 2nd generation Chinese, 2nd generation Indian, 2nd generation Russian among the rest of the team. Their parents saw the potential living in the US presented and their children realized it.

Yup, the Olympics make the point very well. Too bad our friend can't sit back and just enjoy the fact that he (or she) lives in the greatest nation on earth.

UPDATE: Edited to reflect the "per day" contribution I missed in the article (HT: Robin).
 
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I really, really don’t get it. If I thought the US sucked as badly as these people do, then I’d be looking for somewhere, anywhere to move.

Every so often, they make their "I’m going to move to Europe/Canada" threat. Virtually none of them do. That speaks for itself. I don’t care what they say, they like it here. Otherwise, they would do something about it. I rate actions above words.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Too bad our friend can’t sit back and just enjoy the fact that he (or she) lives in the greatest nation on earth.
That’s only true when Democrats run things, McQ.These are Kossacks we’re talking about.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
MAN WE SUCK! It must be George Bush and his policies for 8 never ending years after he stole two elections.

So, let’s all go live with Obama’s half brother, sounds like he’s on easy street from what I read ( I can barely read, but....I saw a couple words I understood).
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
So, what he’s really saying is that if we oppose Obama’s policies, not only will we be racist, we’ll be immoral to.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
"Environmental Stability Index"


"So tell me - does 18 billion buy more food, build more schools and help more nations than does 4 million?"

Irrelevant. Haven’t you learned by now, it is the effort and intentions that counts, not the results? Think of it as a sort of Special Olympics type thing for all us morally challenged folks.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
An unexamined list of statistical rankings like that is worthless.

How much of the data is self-reported by the governments of the different countries? How reliable is that reporting? Subject to how much scrutiny and review? And what sort of parameters do those countries use in their counting for the self-reporting?

Some of the rankings are just flat-out suspect, like the one about press freedom. There is so much restriction on free speech in Europe now that it seems that "free press" there means that you can run as many anti-American pieces as you want, but that if you criticize Islam you can be charged with inciting racial hatred.

And if you look around the world, in what countries is the free press flourishing, exactly? Russia? China? Cuba? Venezuela?

That’s not a defense of American media, certainly. But don’t we have a First Amendment here and isn’t there an earnest alternative media in the U.S. called the blogosphere that is accessible to everyone with internet access? (Oh, wait, now I’ll have to hear about the ’Orrible "digital divide," just the latest sin of America.)

And I do not yearn for the perfection of American society, because there is no such thing as a perfect society, and the price to get something that resembles a perfect society is the very thing that kills societies.

Where are the statistics about how many tens of millions of immigrants, legal and illegal, have entered and stayed in the U.S. over the past 30 years?

And where is their place in some of the other statistics?

But the bottom line implication of lists like the one presented is that it is the state’s job to fix these deficiencies. Freedom to do for yourself isn’t sufficient, you see. And the more freedom is seen as insufficient, the more freedom is squeezed out of the equation to be replaced by the state. (I think of my local public school system, which now has a budget more than twice the size of the two local municipalities — town and village — put together.)

I wonder how many people in the U.S. have now lived their lives waiting to be delivered from their problems by the government? How’s it working out for them?

 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://newpaltzjournal.com
I think you’re misreading that article from the LA Times slightly, McQ. It says that Denmark gives $0.90 ($0.89 via the government and $0.01 privately) per person per day. The US, on the other hand, gives $0.21 per person per day ($0.15/$0.06). That’s about 1.8 billion for Denmark annually, and about 22 billion for the US per year (assuming we still give at the same rate; I’m using the current estimated population).

Honestly, I think this sort of measure of charity is fundamentally flawed (especially if it doesn’t take into account non-financial aid given to foreign countries, or provide a consistent standard for each country), but even given that, I think these numbers show exactly the opposite of what KameraDSM intended. To my eye, we come out looking better than Denmark here.

While you’re right that we give considerably more in total than Denmark, but when gauging the generosity of the people, I think the per capita amount is probably the best measure you can get... provided that we don’t count government spending, since money taken by citizens at gunpoint can’t rightfully be called charity from those citizens. On average, Denmark’s citizens give $3.65 annually, while we give $21.90. That’s American stinginess in action — we are only giving six times what they do, per person.
 
Written By: Robin S.
URL: http://onestackmind.com
The American Left would leave this country, except the only places they have that fits their mentality are North Korea, Cuba, and Venezuela.

And those places suuuuuuuuuuuck.

So, they would rather stay here, mock this country, and pretend they like it. And then vote for Barack Obama, the do-nothing, say-nothing candidate who represents their every idea about how bad this country truly is.
 
Written By: James Marsden
URL: http://
Where are you getting those $0.15 and $0.06 per person number from? If you go with the $18.7 billion per year figure (which is probably low, when you consider other things like the US military helping out with natural disasters, etc.), and use 300 million people as the US population, then you get a per capita figure of

$18,700,000,000.00 / 300,000,000 people = $62.33 per person.

So, either we are blowing Denmark out of the water, and are in first place by a mile, or something is wrong with all of those numbers. Almost certainly, Denmark’s number is also in billions. In that case, their foreign aid per capita would be just under $1000 per person per year. That sounds more reasonable.

However, I think this entire discussion misses the point. Denmark can spend that kind of money because it spends almost nothing on national defense, because we spend our blood and treasure to keep Western civilization safe.
 
Written By: A_Humble_Engineer
URL: http://
How great can our nation really be if she’s here? Other nations have the virtue of not having her...

These people are so tiresome

 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
KameraDSM,

Which way are the rafts pointed?
 
Written By: Achillea
URL: http://
Well Achillea,
people WOULD be sneaking into Denmark if it weren’t geographically so difficult, so few French and Swedes and Germans trying to escape the paradise they live in to get to the paradise of the Danes (the North Sea and all makes the rafting difficult, and Denmark probably doesn’t do the illegal-alien-welcome-to-my-house thing like we do, they probably round them up and deport them without, at any time, being mean and violating their rights as illegal aliens you know).

I don’t know how the average American makes it through each day, in our crappy country, where we’re all being quietly arrested and sent to Guantanamo to waterboard in the Bay of Pigs for a couple of weeks and made to sign secrecy agreements not to say anything about it later. Where we have queues for gas, and queues for basic food items, and shortages of rice, and food riots, and a faulty infrastructure, and millions dying from malnutrition, and millions dying from improper medical care and high infant mortality (best not to mention fetal mortality!) and disease running rampant, and it’s all the fault of Chimpy Bush!tler and the Republican party and the conservative Christians in the flyover states.

So let’s not just pick on Denmark!
There are clearly many many other countries that are so much less crappy than ours!
I just can’t decide which of them to move otherwise I’d be gone tomorrow!
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Recently in a bookstore I was disturbed to see that The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder was written by Vincent Bugliosi. His previous book, Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy was a monumental masterpiece that Bugliosi spent 20 years writing. In it he presents a painstaking, convincing, and beautifully written timeline of the assassination, and then proceeds singlehandedly to demolish every major conspiracy theory surrounding the JFK assassination plus many of the minor ones. It’s an amazing and important book.

I’d long concluded that the ultimate facts of the assassination were unknowable short of exhuming JFK’s body and even then we might not know. Bugliosi convinced me that Oswald was indeed the lone nut acting entirely on his own.

So I’m quite disappointed that Bugliosi, after doing America the high service of laying to rest all the ghosts and demons of that terrible day in 1963, has succumbed to Bush Derangement Syndrome.
 
Written By: huxley
URL: http://
I’ve seen Thomas Sowell demolish lists like this.
I too have watch quite a bit of Olympics. Another thing that has struck me is how much opportunity America provides to athletes of the world. Swimming for Auburn and Texas. Running for various universities. Haven’t heard of any Cuban or North Koreans defecting yet. Wonder why that is?
 
Written By: tom scott
URL: http://
Consider that the USN in fact protects Taiwan. How much of a contribution does that amount to?

Then consider all the other places we protect. Latin American has been under the protection of Anglo-American sea power since independence. Sure, we don’t get much credit for this, but it’s true. And it is hard to calculate our contribution, since we were going to have a navy anyway, and it is comparitely cheap for us to use that navy to protect others.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
I think you’re misreading that article from the LA Times slightly, McQ. It says that Denmark gives $0.90 ($0.89 via the government and $0.01 privately) per person per day. The US, on the other hand, gives $0.21 per person per day ($0.15/$0.06).
Good catch, Robin - I did miss the "per day". Same effect though.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Consider that the USN in fact protects Taiwan. How much of a contribution does that amount to?
Of course, and we provide security guarantees to Japan as well. After the Cold War, an expensive enough venture against a totalitarian eclipse of freedom, the U.S. effectively became the status quo superpower (the power that corrects violations of the status quo of the sovereign state system—like the invasion and annexation of Kuwait) and the guarantor of strategic peace (a good example is our role as honest broker between nuclear Pakistan and nuclear India in Bush’s first term).

Who else could play those roles, and have we spent and do we spend enough damn money on it?

Now that the Russians has its hand back in the game in Georgia (rolling eyes), let’s see how many states turn to them for solving their geopolitical problems? Venezeuala (did I spell that right?) maybe? Cuba? Iran? Putin can pull them all together into the Bad Actors Alliance.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://newpaltzjournal.com
Of course, and we provide security guarantees to Japan as well. After the Cold War, an expensive enough venture against a totalitarian eclipse of freedom, the U.S. effectively became the status quo superpower (the power that corrects violations of the status quo of the sovereign state system—like the invasion and annexation of Kuwait) and the guarantor of strategic peace (a good example is our role as honest broker between nuclear Pakistan and nuclear India in Bush’s first term).
I think there is a failure to realize how important this role is; part of the reason is that prior to the US playing it, England did. So really, for the last 200 years Anglo-Americans, by virtue of their navies, have made the world a much safer place.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Maybe Denmark can afford the extra foreign aid since they are very strict about allowing immigration...I just read in the Economist that some Danes with foreign wives end up moving to Sweden because their wives can’t live in Denmark.

Hey, I am against illegal immigration and can understand worries about cultural change, but not letting your citizen’s wives into the country?
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
overcoming our culture’s immense moral shortcomings

heheh. Now THAT is truly funny coming from a lefty.
I’m not sure what (s)he means by "immense moral shortcomings", but when one thinks about morality and the decline of morality, certainly we see FAR more immoral activity on the left and the left is FAR more to blame for the decline. The relativists with their "do anything if it feels good" seem blind to the impact their "arts" and "education" have had on the culture.

I tend to be socially liberal in many respects, but c’mon, the decline of morality can be directly traced from the ’60’s hippies to today’s "activists". When "anything goes" - it usually does.
 
Written By: slick
URL: http://
One obvious problem with the comparison of per-capita charity is that the U.S. contributes massively via its military to keep the shipping lanes safe, to ensure that all those Kroners can safely get to their destination. Denmark cannot send aircraft carriers filled with food to people in need after an earthquake or a tsunami. Well, perhaps they can, but they choose to allow the U.S. to carry that burden. And by allowing the U.S. to take up the defense of Denmark and the rest of Europe, and the job of Top Cop of the World, it sure frees up a lot of Kroners for other things, doesn’t it?
 
Written By: sk
URL: http://
Thank you, thank you, thank you for the report on infant mortality rate. I have heard the U.S. had a high infant mortality rate most of my life, 54, and never have I heard the other side. It never seem right to me. Is there someplace I can find out about the other things on the list. I have these thing brought up when I am talking to a liberal and have never had a good answer. Now I have one.
Thanks again!
 
Written By: shunha7878
URL: http://
overcoming our culture’s immense moral shortcomings
Why is it assumed as a matter of faith among these idiots that our cultures "immense moral shortcomings" are worse than every other culture?

 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Oh, shark, you silly boy, don’t you know that the powerful false consciousness generated by the prevailing bourgeois ideology in America prevents the masses, by in fact oppressing them, from achieving at long last true social justice?

This is our "immense moral shortcoming," that we have failed to fulfill the promise of The Revolution (that’s not a reference to the amerikkkan revolution, however).

And as for being "worse than every other culture," don’t you understand that we are the very cause of the failings of every other culture, all of which struggle to overcome our despotic political and cultural hegemony, our empire in fact, even as we rub their faces in the mud that the vast machinery of our military and colonial oppression leave behind?

Ask Boris Erb if you don’t believe me!

Or ask Bill Ayers!

And why haven’t you at least reviewed your underlines in your library of Noam Chomsky titles?
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://newpaltzjournal.com
To shark and all the rest of you white, racist, capitalist, imperialists:

Here, at long last, be schooled by Barack Obama’s schoolmaster. And for God’s sake meditate on that portrait on the wall.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://newpaltzjournal.com
And why not take a look into the eyes of he that will wreak vengeance upon you as you lie in your beds!

Behold your slayer (in the video at the bottom of the post)!
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://newpaltzjournal.com
"Behold your slayer..."

Reminds me of those cute little Cambodian kids who helped Pol Pot.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://

 
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