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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 9/2/10

So you're proud to be an American, right? Part 2

Message Harold Hellickson

The introduction to the earlier article stated, "when Michelle Obama said she was "proud of my country" she had to be honoring the civil rights progress, from the time of her birth in 1964 to now, that which facilitated her husband's political ascendancy. When she said "for the first time in my adult life" she had to be referring to some of our other accomplishments. Let's look at some of our accomplishments both home and abroad."

This time around, an exploration of the world rank of the U.S.A. in various indices reveals what we think of ourselves, in comparison to other countries, may not be what the media or the Administration would lead us to believe. Both, seemingly, would like us to think the U.S.A. ranks very high in the world in pretty much of everything; if not number one, than pretty close to it.

Apart from being the world's largest debtor nation and number one in both military spending and overall criminality, in the fourteen indices below, the U.S.A. ranks no better than 6th and as low as 114th. While not particularly meaningful, the U.S.A. average rank in these 14 indices is 35th. Minor differences in ranking may be noted where more than one agency's data are reported. The cause is due to different reporting years or a modestly different basket of countries being measured by each agency.

Education Index: Published by the United Nations (UN), the index is a measurement of educational attainment, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita and life expectancy. First ranked is Australia. The U.S.A is ranked 20thjust behind Slovenia and just ahead of Lithuania.

Democracy Index: Published by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), the index is focused on electoral process and pluralism, civil liberties, functioning of government, political participation and pluralism. Sweden is ranked number one. The U.S.A. is ranked 18th just ahead of Japan and just behind the Czech Republic.

Gender Related Development Index and the Index of Gender Empowerment Measure: UN measurements of inequalities between men and womens opportunities in a country, the UN ranks the U.S.A. 13th of the 38 countries listed in both indices.

Gini Index: A measurement of income inequality, it is measured both by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the UN. In that order, the least income inequality is achieved by Sweden and Denmark. The CIA ranks the U.S.A. at 94th just behind the Ivory Coast and just ahead of Uruguay. The UN ranks the U.S.A at 73rd just behind Turkmenistan and just ahead of Senegal.

Global Peace Index: In conjunction with the EIU, various think tanks, institutes and experts judge a nation's peacefulness for the Institute for Economics and Peace. Ranked number one is New Zealand. The U.S.A. ranks 83rd in the world just behind the Republic of Macedonia and just ahead of Angola.

Gross Domestic Product: On a per capita basis the CIA, International Monetary Fund and the World Bank report the U.S.A. ranking as 6th, 6th and 8th respectively. In that order Liechtenstein, Qatar and Luxembourg were ranked 1st with the U.S.A. between Faroe Islands and Andorra, Brunei and Kuwait and Brunei and Switzerland.

Human Development Index: The UN does a composite of three indices; Life Expectancy, Education, and GDP per capita to develop the Human Development Index. Norway ranks number one. The U.S.A. is ranked 13th just ahead of Cuba and just behind Portugal.

Human Poverty Index: Amongst thirty-eight developed countries the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development places Norway at number one. The U.S.A. is ranked 22n between Ireland and the United Kingdom. As an aside, one measure of poverty is the percentage of the population living on less than 50% of the medium income. Norway's percentage is 7.1, the U.S.A.'s is 17.3.

Legatum Prosperity Index: The Legatum Institute provides an annual index of 104 countries. Analysis of 79 different variables related to Economic Fundamentals, Democratic Institutions, Health, Governance, Social Capital, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Education, Safety and Security and Personal Freedom. Finland is ranked number one. The U.S.A. is ranked 9th behind Netherlands and just ahead of New Zealand.

Life Expectancy Index: UN reports a U.S.A. ranking of 38th place trailing number one, Japan by 4 years 5 months. Cuba has a slightly longer life expectancy, Portugal a bit shorter. Similar data from the CIA ranks the U.S.A. at number 50 between Wallis & Futuna and Albania. Number one, Macau, has a 6 year 4 month longer life expectancy than the U.S.A.

Living Planet Index: Reported by the World Wide Fund for Nature, the index relates to biological diversity of vertebrate populations. Costa Rica ranks number one. The U.S.A. is ranked 114th just behind Madagascar and just ahead of Nigeria.

Satisfaction with Life Index: A measurement of happiness developed by Professor A.G. White, Social Psychologist at the University of Leicester, it is an index, studied in 178 countries, with a high correlation to health, wealth and access to basic education. Ranked number one is Denmark. The U.S.A. is ranked 23rd just behind United Arab Emirates and just in front of Vanuatu.

Quality of Life Index: The U.S.A. ranked 13th amongst 111 countries and territories by the EIU. The index is based on nine categories; Cost of Living, Culture and Leisure, Economy, Environment, Freedom, Health, Infrastructure, Safety and Risk and Climate. Ireland ranked number one. Finland was just in front of and Canada was just behind the U.S.A.

So, considering this and the earlier article, just what is it that makes you proud to be an American?

Note: Further information on each index can be found in Wikipedia. The author is indebted to the many contributors that made it possible.

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A retired MBA, I am a former corporate ideologue, former 3rd party advocate and current curmudgeon. While a continued supporter of a 3rd party, I have concluded their efficacy cannot be demonstrated until our form of Government is changed to (more...)
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