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America: A fallen leader?

Melvin B. Miller | 7/13/2017, 6 a.m.
Every year at this time it was once common for American youth to celebrate July 4th with shouts of “we’re ...
“With Trump at the helm, the U.S. is no longer number 1.” Photo by Dan Drew

Every year at this time it was once common for American youth to celebrate July 4th with shouts of “We’re number one!” This was an exuberant recognition of the economic achievement of the United States, as well as the nation’s commitment to the principle of democracy. The election of Donald Trump to the White House has muted this practice.

Many of those involved in civil rights and the advancement of the interests of the working class and the poor were often offended by the “We’re number one!” slogan. Those chants precluded recognition of America’s shortcomings that required attention. One of the good things that Donald Trump accomplished in his political campaign is to acknowledge that the nation has flaws. His theme “Make America Great Again” affirms that the country’s ranking has fallen.

According to the U.S. News and World Report, the United States is no longer number one. It ranks 7. According to the U.S. News analysis, the top 10 nations, in numerical sequence, are Switzerland, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, Sweden, United States, Australia, France and Norway. Of course there are some categories in which America is in the lead, but to be out front on these items is not always complimentary. Only one industrialized country is afflicted with more adult obesity than the United States. That distinction rests with Mexico. In America, 68 percent of the adult population is overweight and 28 percent are obese. Mexico takes first place, however, with 70 percent overweight and 30 percent obese, according to a report in 2010.

In another category, the rate of imprisonment, the United States is clearly the world leader. With 716 of every 100,000 of its residents in prison, the U.S. is by far the world’s greatest jailer. While the U.S. has only 4.4 percent of the world’s population it imprisons 22 percent of the world’s inmates.

Despite publicity to the contrary, the U.S. is by no means the healthiest of the industrialized nations. The Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council performed a study of the relative health of the U.S. and 16 other nations. The results should not satisfy objective analysts that health care in the U.S. is adequate.

The countries involved in the study included the U.S. News top 10 countries as well as Portugal, Netherlands, Finland, Austria, Italy and New Zealand. All those countries had some form of universal healthcare at the time of the study except for the U.S. The Affordable Care Act had not as yet been implemented at the time of the study. The results of the study indicate the projected decline in adequate health care if the Senate proceeds with their intention to eliminate Obamacare.

The U.S. has the second highest mortality rate from non-communicable diseases of any of the countries considered. According to a New York Times analysis, a 15-year-old American girl has a 1 in 25 chance of dying before she turns 50. That is twice the risk of the other countries in the group. A 2016 survey found that more than 40 percent of U.S. respondents skipped doctor’s appointments because of costs. Only about 8 percent of respondents in Britain did so.

The strategy of the Republicans in the U.S. Senate seems to be to maintain the record of the U.S. with the poorest health record of the industrialized nations. No more “We’re number one!”