Cheerful stuff for a gloomy Friday. Christian Science Monitor: “The United States is the world’s only military superpower and has the globe’s largest economy. Yet, by some measures, the US is a second-rate industrial nation – at best.” Quoting CSM via plastic.com:
Most Americans take it as a given that the US economic model is the best in the world, way better than the interventionist models offered by European social democrats or by Chinese Communists. Many non-Americans disagree, and they argue that by some measures, the US is a second-rate industrial nation at best. 17% of Americans, and 21.9% of US children, live below the poverty line, the worst showing among 16 wealthy nations in a recent study. In life expectancy, the US shared the bottom rung of the study with Denmark, even though Denmark spends half what the US spends on medical care per person. Even in areas like productivity and employment, where the US considers itself a world-beater, it came in at number 5, even as Americans work the most hours. But in certain respects, the US is truly unequaled. For example, the US’ Defense Dept. budget is responsible for 47% of world military spending, with no other nation or combination of likely adversaries coming anywhere close. It spends 57 times more than all “rogue” nations combined.
So where does the perception that Americans live better than anyone in the world come from? Is it a left-over mystique from the 1950s that seldom gets re-examined? A lie we tell ourselves to reinforce the status quo? An artifact of hubris? Or are we just not paying attention?