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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 4/1/14

The USA's Slipping World Rankings

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The following paragraphs are extracted from Chap. 7 of Reversing America's Decline: Jefferson's Remedy, by Neal Q. Herrick They discuss a number of international indices suggesting the nature and extent of America's decline.

EXTRACT. The principal measures of national performance show our country indecline. The World Competitiveness Index ranked America number 1 as recently as 2008. In 2009 it slipped to second. In 2010, it was ranked fourth and, in 2012, sixth... In 2007, the Legatum Prosperity Index ranked us number three in the world. We slipped down to number six in 2008; number nine in 2009 and number 10 in 2010. The Gini Index measures the gap between the rich(the top ten percent) and the poor (the bottom ten percent). That is, it measures the extent to which ordinary people share in a country's wealth. The country with the smallest "gap" in 2007 was Denmark -- with a ratio (UN) of 24.7. ((Image)) Our Gini increased by 23 percent from 1967 -- 2007. In 2007, we ranked 73rd in the world in income equality. Turkmenistan was 72nd and Senegal was 74th.[1] The life satisfaction rankings were launched by OECD in 2011. They rank the US 13th among 32 OECD member nations. Seventy percent of American respondents expressed satisfaction with their lives. The Netherlands and Denmark are ranked 1st and 2nd with 93 percent and 90 percent respectively.

In 2011 the US, the "cradle of democracy," ranked 16th among the OECD countries on the Economist Intelligence Unit's DemocracyIndex. Most critical, the US, was ranked 18th (among 32 OECD countries) onTransparency International's Corruption Perception Index in 2011. This Index, however, would more accurately be called the "honesty" Index since it ranks the nation perceived as the least corrupt (New Zealand) is number 1 on its list. In 2006 (the first year of the Corruption Perceptions Index) we were given 7.8 points for governmental honesty (on a scale of ten).That figure had dropped to 7.1 by 2011. Our score on the Democracy Index was 8.22 (of a possible ten) in 2008 and 8.11 in 2011. The rankings presented in Tables 1 and 2 are intended to persuade the reader (1) that our country is in crisis and (2) that alterations in our public policies might be an effective approach to dealing with this crisis.

The associations shown in Tables 1 and 2 indicate that there are changes we can make in national political and economic policies that could improve our political and economic conditions. The structures of democracy and government honesty are both directly influenced by public policy. For example, prohibiting the use of private money in federal elections would improve the effectiveness of our election system. Altering the impeachment provisions soas to make them both strict and enforceable would reduce illegal and unconstitutional actions on the parts of our federal civil officers. These structures are also positively associated with competitiveness and prosperity.

The relationship in these matters is indirect. That is, altered public policies could increase democracy and governmental honesty. These factors, in turn, are [positively associated with competitiveness and prosperity. While it is true that associations do not prove causal relationships, they certainly point out possibilities for further investigation and consideration. The persistence of these associations when the 32 OECD countries are grouped by their levels of democracy, honest government etc., while it does not prove causality, makes it highly improbable that the groupings are a result ofrandom selection.


[1] The increase from 1967 -- 2007 was derived from Gini Coefficientdata published annually by the US Department of Labor.

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Neal Herrick is author of the award-wining After Patrick Henry (2009). His most recent book is (2014) Reversing America’s Decline. He is a former sailor, soldier, auto worker, railroad worker, assistant college football coach, (more...)

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