But let's give the devil his due. In truth, I think the War Secretary is on to something. For most of us in this country, coming in second would be highly welcome, a real improvement over the current state of affairs, considering that among the nations of the world we are now in:
- 22nd place when it comes to keeping our people out of long-term unemployment
- 35th place in keeping our fellow citizens above the poverty line
- 48th place in infant mortality -- keeping babies alive until their first birthday -- generally accepted as the best overall indicator of a nation's health
- 50th place in life expectancy at birth
- 91st place in overall equality of income distribution and
- 116th place in the share of income held by the poorest 10% of the population.
But take heart, Mr. Outgoing Secretary, we just missed a blue ribbon at something -- the amount of money spent on health care . A "We're Number One!" award just slipped through our grasp when those cagey Maltans figured out how to spend even more than we do, so now we're only, well, a second rate power on health care expenses. You've sounded the alarm not a moment too soon.