July 17, 2008
The Land of the Imprisoned and the Home of the Fearful

Can’t think why this isn’t all over the traditional media here in the US. The Guardian’s got it, and the Beeb, but a Google search didn’t find a mention in any large American outlet. Perhaps it’ll make the evening news…

Or perhaps our esteemed newspaper editors don’t think it’s newsworthy that the US, still the world’s number one economy, has fallen to number twelve in livability, according to the American Human Development Report. Presumably those who aren’t resigning in protest over cuts in newsroom staff are either struggling to stay above water and have no political capital to spend on such stories, or are living high enough off the wages of collaboration not to care.

The report, funded by Oxfam America, the Conrad Hilton Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation, lists the eleven countries ahead of us; all have lower per-capita incomes.

Those countries score better on the health and knowledge indices that make up the overall human development index (HDI), which is calculated each year by the United Nations Development Programme.

And each has achieved better outcomes in areas such as infant mortality and longevity, with less spending per head.

Japanese, for example, can expect to outlive Americans, on average, by more than four years. In fact, citizens of Israel, Greece, Singapore, Costa Rica, South Korea and every western European and Nordic country save one can expect to live longer than Americans.

Unsurprisingly, the lack of health care for 47 million Americans is a big part of our deficit. As a result, we’re 42nd in life expectancy and 34th in infant mortality. If we were to match Sweden, about 20,000 more American babies would make it to their first birthday every year. Culture of life, my ass.

For the Stephen Colberts among us, there are still some opportunities to wave the flag. We remain first among the world’s richest countries in child poverty; 15% of American children live in families with incomes of $1,500 a month or less.

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.

It has 5% of the world’s people but 24% of its prisoners.


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Posted by Chuck Dupree at July 17, 2008 05:21 PM
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World's leading prison-state.

Posted by: Michael on July 17, 2008 10:21 PM
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