The best way to improve the United States is for Americans to get over their sense of exceptionalism
American exceptionalism resides in the minds of millions of American citizens and its leaders. It exists for the sole purpose of control. When a group, race or nation believes themselves to be exceptional, it can blind them to the problems that exist around them. In other words; if someone looks upon them-self as exceptional, there is no need for improvement. As the old saying goes, if isn’t broken, why fix it? So, in order for the country to improve, Americans need to come to the realization that America is not exceptional.
The other day I stumbled upon an article in the Huff-Post that listed a number of things the United States was the best and worst at. The article was full of graphs, but had little content and context. So, with Vladimir Putin’s words still echoing through my head, I decided to use some of the info with my own witty content to show you all just how exceptional the United States isn’t.
10. The United States is the only country with an advanced economy that does not require companies to give workers paid vacations. Every French citizen is guaranteed 30 days of paid vacation a year with one civic holiday. The UK gets 28, Canadians gets 10 paid vacation days with 9 civic holidays. Americans on the other hand get a big fat doughnut… Not even Christmas or Easter.
9. Infant mortality rates in the US are among the worst in the developed world. 5.9 out of every thousand Americans will not see their fifth birthday. This statistic ranks the country out of the top 50.
8. There are four countries in the entire world that have not mandated paid maternity leave for mothers of newborns: Lesotho, Swaziland, New Guinea and the United States. If a woman gets pregnant in the US, she is at the mercy of her employer. Depending on the company you work for, you might just have to take an unpaid “vacation” at the very moment you can least afford it. It’s not unheard of for women to lose their jobs entirely.
7. When it comes to overall health and wellness (healthcare, pollution, clean drinking water, etc.) The US was ranked 11th by Forbes. Believe it or not I was surprised it was ranked so high given the US healthcare system, pollution standards and average life expectancy. Either way 11th is not exceptional. Iceland, Finland and Sweden fill out the top three.
6. The United States incarcerates more people than any other country. You might think this makes the US exceptional at fighting crime, but it doesn’t quite work that way. There are so many facets to the reasons behind this you could write a book. It starts with the war on drugs, racial profiling, mandatory minimum sentences, private prisons, and immigration issues.
5. The United States is number one when it comes to Spending money on education. Unfortunately, money does not always guarantee results. While The United States can brag they have the best university in the world (Harvard), the country’s education system as a whole is ranked 17th in the world as of 2011.
4. The United States has the highest cost of prescription drugs. It’s bad enough that healthcare itself might cost you an arm and a leg (no pun intended), but when you need to buy your meds, the high cost of prescription drugs can easily leave you armless, legless and homeless. Prescription drugs north of the border are normally 2 or 3 times cheaper.
3. The US sells more weapons than any other country. Now, you might be wondering why I included this on a list of reasons why the United States is not exceptional. I suppose it’s because there are many people out there who think it does. Sorry folks, selling record amounts of weapons of mass destruction doesn’t make you exceptional. Some people would go so far to say it makes you inhuman.
2. The United States spends more on healthcare than any other country, but the healthcare system’s efficiency is ranked 46th in the world according to Bloomberg. In a few years, when the Affordable Care Act is in full swing, healthcare costs might go down and the ranking might rise, but it still won’t compare to the best in the world.
1. Inequality in the US is the worst among industrialized nations. I suppose if you represent 1% of the population you might be apathetic towards this little fact, hell you might even take pride in it. But we all know one of the best ways to gauge the economic health of a nation is the middle class. Unfortunately more and more people are falling out of this category and upward mobility is proving to be more difficult.