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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 7/29/14

Democracy and Quality of Life Go Hand-in-Hand

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We maintain "democracy units" in many of our embassies throughout the world. These units seek to promote democracy in their assigned countries. Needless to say, they have a thankless and next-to- impossible job. A country that is ranked 13th in democracy and 18th in governmental honesty among the 32 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) member nations has poor credentials for teaching other countries how to govern themselves. Table 1 shows the US ranking in democracy and the extent to which we exceed or fall short of the OECD average rankings for the other components of the quality of life.

Table 1
Table 1
(Image by Neal Q. Herrick, Chap. 7, Reversing America's Decline)
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The irony of our ranking 13th among the 32 OECD nations in democracy (and 18th in governmental honesty) has perhaps been noted by the countries housing our "democracy units." However, they do not appear unwilling to accept the grants of US money offered by these units to support the promotion of democracy.

Democracy goes hand-in-hand with the quality of life

Despite the poor example we set, the "product" being sold by our democracy units is, in itself, of high quality. International rankings show that a nation's democracy ranking is a key indicator of its quality of life. I have used the country data in Tables 1-3 in Chap. 7 of my recent book Reversing America's Decline to illustrate this point. I have arranged 32 [1] Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) member nations into four groups of 8 countries each - according to the democracy rankings assigned them by the Economist Intelligence Unit. Group 1 consists of the 8 countries with the highest rankings -- and so on down to Group 4. Table 2 shows the percentages by which each group of member nations exceeds or falls short of the OECD average quality of life rankings. For example, Group 1 (the group with the strongest democracies) exceeds the OECD average prosperity rankings [2] by 69 percent. Group 4, with the lowest average democracy ranking, falls short of the average OECD prosperity ranking by 72 percent.

The Gore Plan

Al Gore had a better idea for persuading other countries to adopt our form of government. His idea was to lead by example. Under Gore's plan (see pages 106-10 of Reversing America's Decline), we would contribute the funds we now use to support armies of invasion and occupation to a world fund. This world fund would be used to help the impoverished nations of the world "get back on their feet." Like the original Marshall Plan of the late 1940's, the Gore plan would focus on loans.

In the late forties the Marshall Plan won us friends and admirers throughout the world. They admired our generosity and our willingness to extend the hand of friendship to our recent enemies. They associated democracy with generosity, humanity, prosperity and peaceful intent.

Mr. Gore proposed, in effect, that we abandon our imperialism and adopt a foreign policy based on the Marshall Plan. Unfortunately, the Gore Plan was rejected. It was rejected by our oligarchy of 1992 just as any similar plan would be rejected by our oligarchy of 2014. We cannot expect any meaningful changes in our foreign or domestic policies until we ordinary Americans regain control of our federal government.


Ordinary Americans on the right are working with their state legislators to call a Convention of States (COL) aimed at altering the Constitution to include such provisions as term limits and a balanced budget. Why is it that we ordinary Americans on the left content ourselves with exposing outrageous actions and events that are symptomatic of our oligarchy? Do we think our oligarchy is going to take action to destroy itself? Let's petition our Democratic state legislators to join the Republican COL in calling for a convention. Of course, we on the left would make our support for a convention contingent on an " application provision " [3] prohibiting the use of private money in the election of delegates - or, alternatively, requiring that delegates be drawn by lot from among each congressional district's registered voters. Without a guarantee that the convention would be truly representative, it would simply replicate our present Congress.

[1] Some OECD member nations did not have sufficient data.

[2] The average ranking is the ranking that would result from a random selection of nations rather than from a selection based on union density. Since there are 32 countries in the survey, the average ranking is always 16.5.

[3] Congress is required to call a constitutional convention upon receiving "applications" from two-thirds of the state legislatures. Schoolars tell us that these applications must be similar in order to be counted toward the two-thirds. They do not agree, however, on the criteria for "similar."

(Article changed on July 30, 2014 at 08:07)

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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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