Comparing the United States to the World: Part 1 of 2

I’ve heard or read many American’s who are proud to claim that America’s government is second to none and that the United States is the best place to live; that the U.S. offers the most freedoms in the world and the highest quality lifestyle for its citizens.

But for years I’ve been seeing surveys comparing countries to each other and the United States is seldom number one. The latest list was the World’s Best Place to Be a Woman. Iceland was # 1, and the United States was number twenty-three on that list. Source: Yahoo!

For another list, The Huffington Post reported that Denmark was the happiest country in the world. The reasons why might surprise you. 1. Denmark supports parents; 2. Health care is a civil right—and a source of social support; 3. Gender equality is prioritized; 4. Biking is the norm; 5. Danish culture puts a positive spin on its harsh environment, and 6. Danes feel a responsibility to one another. For details, I suggest you click on the Huffington Post link.

The United States was # 17 on that list.

Another list compared the freest countries on the Earth, and the United States was only number seven. reported, “The Fraser Institute, Canada’s leading public policy think-tank, Germany’s Liberales Institute, and the libertarian leaning Cato Institute have completed a study that found the United States seventh on the list of the top 10 freest countries in the world. New Zealand, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, Australia, Canada, and Ireland all finished above the U.S.”

Bloomberg reported on the World’s Healthiest Countries. Singapore was ranked 1st, and the United States didn’t even make the top twenty.  In fact, the United States was thirty-three of the forty countries on that list, and if you read the comments by scrolling down to the bottom of that Bloomberg’s page, you will read some Americans making excuses why the list can’t be accurate. I suspect that every list that doesn’t rank the United States #1 will be challenged by some proud, patriotic Americans.

How does America compare for gun violence?

There is also the International test for fifteen year olds known as the PISA that compares student achievement. America doesn’t do well there either.

The OECD Education Rankings compares a number of facts. For example, the upper-secondary graduation rate of 2011 [graduation from high school] and the United States was below average on that list of twenty-nine countries. In fact, the United States was # 22.

But I think that list is unfair because the United States high school graduation rate is being compared to countries that combine graduate rates from students who graduate from high school on two tracks: Academic and Vocational. And the United States does not have a vocational track for high school graduation.

There is even a list for The Most Peaceful Countries in The World. This list compares 158 countries, and the United States was #88; China was #89. I’m sure that many Americans will argue that this list isn’t fair because America is the world’s policeman but how many countries in the world want America to be the world’s cop? Has anyone ever asked that question?

And did ask: Should the U.S. be the police of the World? The result of this debate was 24% said yes and 76% said no. This seems to be a blazing hot-topic because when I Googled it, there were 505 million results. It would probably take a hundred lifetimes to sift through that list so I only looked at a few on the first page of the search

What about health care—that very hot-button issue in the United States today? How does the U.S. compare? Bloomberg reported on the Most Efficient Health Care: Countries.  There were forty-eight countries on this list and the United States was ranked #46.  Only Serbia and Brazil were worse.

How about a few lists where America might be number one? That list will appear in Part 2 on November 8, 2013


Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran and English-journalism teacher.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy that started life as a memoir and then became a fictional suspense thriller. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

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