Main | »

For quality of life, U.S. often dead last

The title of this "rave" is the title of an op/ed piece by Edward Renner that appeared in the St. Pete Times on 30 November 2011. Again, I agree with much of what is in this piece. Most Americans do not travel throughout the world and would not know the facts that he gives. Most Americans live in a "bubble" in which they think that everything is the best and everything is exceptional (see my last rave) in the US. Nothing is farther from the truth. To show you this, Renner begins with the following "true" and "false" quiz. Why not take it yourself?

Answer "true" or "false" for each of the following:

The United States is among the top half of the other rich, developed, market democracies of the world — such as France, Germany, Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Denmark, etc.

1. With the lowest incidence of mental illness.

2. With the lowest incidence of drug use.

3. With the lowest infant mortality rate.

4. With the lowest rates of obesity.

5. With the lowest rates of teenage pregnancies.

6. With the lowest rates of homicide.

7. With the lowest rates of people in prison.

8. With the highest level of social mobility (the opportunity for children to do better economically than their parents).

9. With the highest rate of national income spent on foreign aid.

10. With the highest UNICEF Index on the well-being of children.

11. With the highest level of life expectancy.

12. With the highest levels of math and literacy scores of 15-year-olds.

Lets see how you did on the quiz. Renner states the following: "Not only is the correct answer to each of the questions "false," but on the first eight questions the United States is dead last. On the combined index of the number of social and health problems, the United States is last. The common factor accounting for the quality of life in these countries is the disparity of wealth and income within the nation."

Renner points out that "of all the nations, the United States has by far the largest degree of income inequality between the rich and the poor (the Gini coefficient)," and this is the heart of the poor quality of life for the bulk of Americans. He then concludes that "countries with higher levels of health and happiness, and fewer social problems, have:

1. A steeper progressive tax system.

2. A higher maximum marginal tax rate.

3. Government-sponsored universal health care.

4. A government-sponsored social safety net.

5. Government regulation that balances the competing forces of corporate power with the general welfare.

6. A willingness to limit standing military capacity, and the use of armed force only as an intervention of last, rather than first, resort."

Knowing this, is it possible that our dysfunctional government will address the problems to bring the US people up to the standards of the people who live in the countries with higher health and happiness and fewer social problems? The answer is emphatically, "NO!" Americans would like to think of what they were a half century ago and not do anything to create a smaller gap between the rich and poor. They would rather come into your home and tell you: who you should marry, what you can smoke or not smoke, if you can terminate a pregnancy caused by incest, that the earth is 6 thousand years old, and the evolution of living things is a myth.

Reader Comments (2)

How can we have any of the things that you list as solutions when our population can't even read? I was behind a lady at the post office today who couldn't figure out how to use the automated postal center. She was freaking out. I don't think she could read the words or understand the photos. She was not foreign either.

December 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNat

Having lived abroad I agree that there is a prevailing misunderstanding among Americans about what quality of life is supposed to be. Americans are the batteries that drive a machine that leaves them emotionally and physically bankrupt. The banks convince you to get a mortgage on a bigger house, the car dealer convinces you to get a bigger car payment and you need to buy your kids devices with flashy screens to entertain them while you slave to pay for all this stuff. God knows you don't have the time to be with them. The result is a sick society that is bewildered by how they could work so hard and end up with so little. They are so busy doing it they cant get to the time to figure out it's happening to them. I was one of these people and I can tell you, I will never do it again. The solution begins with Americans starting to pay attention to this basic fact then acting on it. Everything else will fall into place after that. Hopefully this happens soon.

December 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSean Pitcher

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>