Home > Breaking the Chains > The U.S. is #1. Yay! No wait. I mean, Boo!

The U.S. is #1. Yay! No wait. I mean, Boo!


As the sun sets on the American Empire, a divided nation is distracted and reeling from two wasteful wars and an economic meltdown brought on by the unprecedented act of  waging war while cutting taxes for the wealthy and putting deregulated foxes in charge of our hens. We are desperate for something to celebrate. We’ve always been winners but we find ourselves in a severe batting slump. How deep is our malaise? Areas where we find ourselves, at best, also-rans or, at worst, broken down beside the road and no longer in the race include:

Health Care (According to the World Health Organization the U.S. ranks 37th)

Most Livable Place (23rd according to the World Factbook)

Literacy (A United Nation’s Study has us tied with 26 other nation for 21st place)

Quality of Life (13th according to The Economist Intelligence Unit)

We’re not even 1st in GDP anymore.

But there are many areas where the U.S. is the undisputed leader. Before you don the party hats and break out the bubbly you better take a gander.

The U.S. is #1 in:

Indebtedness (according to the CIA World Factbook 2010)

Oil Consumption (again according to the CIA even though we are no longer 1st in GDP)

Military Spending (according to Global Security.org and more sources than I have room to quote  we spend more than twice the rest of the world combined on our military)

Obesity (according to the OECD Factbook)

Prison Population (again OECD)

Health care Spending (W.H.O. says that despite having one of the worst health care systems among economically advanced nations we spend, on average, double the money)

Our differences have never been greater, the debate more shrill. At the center of that debate is the size of our government and, specifically, taxes even though we rank 47th in tax burden among developed countries.  47th!  Maybe it’s not the level of our taxation that matters but what we are getting for our tax dollars. Instead of health care, we get military adventurism. Instead of education, job security and sufficient leisure time we get corporate subsidies.

Civic pride and boosterism is great. We should be proud of the things we do well. But our boastfulness too often degenerates into myopic, xenophobic, ethnocentric, jingoistic sound bites. Our corporate controlled media is not informing us of the truth of our situation. Conservatives like to get on their high horses about freedom and personal responsibility but we can be neither free nor accountable if we are deceived and manipulated, if our decisions are prompted by lies.

The truth is that we are #1 in a lot of areas. And it’s not something to cheer about.

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Categories: Breaking the Chains
  1. Gary Templeton
    June 23, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    I find it sad we put a man on the moon over forty years ago and today we can’t figure out how to run our cars on something other than oil or even have one high speed rail line. No one seems to care. We’ve evolved or should I say devolved from a can-do nation to a can’t-do nation. There’s no sense of sacrifice for the common good. No long term vision. Why don’t we see the importing of oil as a threat to our national security and rise to the challenge by driving a smaller car or build an efficient transit infrastructure? Maybe it’s because people would have to change their way of life and that scares them – you know, like Socialism. This American exceptionalism will be our downfall. Yet we go blissfully along getting our news from FOX and entertained by Dancing With The Stars. When did we become so obsessed by war and the military technology but not solar power? We settle our disputes with guns and we mourn for a week when a celebrity dies. There’s something terribly wrong here and it scares me.

    Yep, we’re number one in so many ways. None of which I will be buying party hats to celebrate.

    I don’t think we could put a man on the moon today. That truly makes me sad.

  2. June 23, 2010 at 10:51 pm

    War is a cash cow. It’s a profit center. It’s capitalism, subsidized though it is. Come to think of it, it is the perfect American industry. Socialized risk, privatized gain.

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