Monday, March 3, 2008

America is NOT the Greatest Country In the World Repost Part 1

This is a blog I wrote based on the 2005 UN census on Human Development. Since this blog was originally posted; the 2007 census has come out and America has slipped down even further.

Dated April 30 2007, here is the original blog entry stating that GDP and standard of living have very little to do with each other:

America is NOT The Greatest Country In The World (Repost)

And no this isn't some crazy lib America bashing, this is just me presenting some scientific data; in the hopes that a lot of Americans will read this, pass on the information and realized that a lot of the things we grow up believing aren't necessarily true.

It's very hard to argue with conservatives (or even a lot of liberals) about life here and how much it could improve; because Americans are brought up from a very early age to believe that America is the greatest country in the world. Even when criticizing it, we have to add the disclaimer: "this is the greatest country in the world BUT."

Most people who believe this; either have only traveled to third world countries and love to compare the USA to those countries OR in many cases; have never even left the United States but believe wholeheartedly in America's superiority.

So here is SCIENTIFIC data. Firstly, I present to you the richest countries in the world, and second, those countries which rate the HIGHEST on the UN's Human Development Index; which ranks countries by standard of living.

I am doing this to demonstrate that yes, we are the richest, but that doesn't mean that people in the USA live better lives than people in other countries that are not as rich. It's all about that nations priorities and how wealth is distributed

So here it is top 10 richest countries in terms of Gross Domestic Product (in USA Millions)

— European Union 12,626,921
1 United States 12,409,465
2 China 8,572,666
3 Japan 3,943,754
4 India 3,815,553
5 Germany 2,417,537
6 United Kingdom 1,926,809
7 France 1,829,559
8 Italy 1,667,753
9 Brazil 1,627,262
10 Russia 1,559,934

Now let's take a look at the top 10 countries in terms of Quality of life (along with their rank in wealth)

1. Norway (44th richest country)
2. Iceland (126th richest)
3. Australia (16th richest)
4. Ireland (50th richest)
5. Sweden (32nd richest)
6. Canada (12th richest)
7. Japan (3rd richest)
8. United States (Richest)
9. Switzerland (36th Richest)
10. Netherlands(22nd richest)

So making more money than other countries doesn't necessarily translate into a better quality of life for it's citizens.

What does the UN judge as "quality of life" ? All nations are scored based on the following criteria:

Life expectancy,
Educational attainment
Adjusted real income(what's left after taxes)
Human Rights

So despite the fact that all the nations on the top 10 pay higher taxes than the United States does; their incomes are actually much higher (when compared to the cost of living)

And anybody who will try and argue with me that any of the countries above don't have the "nice" things we do; you have obviously never traveled overseas. I lived in London for six months (not even listed in the top 10) People there have Ipods, Playstations, nice clothes, go out to bars....the world outside of the USA is not technologically backwards 10 years (or fashion backwards as many American's ironically like to joke about)

We need to wake up to the reality. Yes 8th is a pretty good score considering how many countries exist in the world; but with all this wealth, why aren't we number one? Why are we being force fed this idea of a "No. 1 USA" when the reality is we are not number one. Yes we're close...but we could definitely do a lot better.

End of Post

Ok, wow. I was really ticked off a year ago. So here is an update.

The 2007 census is out and here are the top 10 countries on the UN's HDI list.

1. Iceland (up one from 2006)
2. Norway (up one from 2006)
3. Australia (up one from 2006
4. Canada (up two from 2006)
5. Ireland (up one from 2006)
6. Sweden (up one from 2006)
7. Switzerland (up two from 2006)
8. Japan (up one from 2006)
9. Netherlands (up one from 2006)
10. France (up six from 2006)

We are no longer in the top 10. Sad.

Number 11 is Finland, which is at the same spot it was in the previous year.

And number 12 is the United States. Up FOUR from 2006. Which means that during the 2006 census, we where ranked at number 16. Who knows how things got better between 2006 to 2007.

My point remains; we need to stop assuming our wealth makes us the greatest place on Earth to live and realize that their is indeed room for improvement. We could learn a lot from the countries in the top 5. A strong social net does not have to equate decreased real income. Businesses are walking all over us and laying us off left and right telling us we are too expensive to keep.

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