The Myth of American Primacy

by DAVID ROSEN

The New Year season is a good time to reflect on the U.S.’s true standing in the world.

Politicians of every stripe ceaselessly repeat the well-worn clich?s about America’s uniqueness and prowess at 4th of July, Memorial Day, election campaign and other patriotic celebrations.

But how exceptional are we?

The following list of some 35 categories compares our standing to other nations.

Sadly, the five categories in which America ranks #1 are Military Expenditure, Incarceration, Marriage, Cosmetic Procedures and Obesity.

Read on ?

U.S. Ranked #1

Military Expenditures (2008)

#1 ? U.S. = $663.2 billion (4% of GDP)
#2 ? China = $98.8 billion (2% of GDP)

Source: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) Military Expenditure Database (2009)

Military Expenditure per GDP (2005)

#1 ? Omar = 11.4%
#25 ? U.S. = 4.2%

Source: CIA Factbook

Incarceration Rate

#1 ? U.S. = 756 per 100,000 (1,613,740 in 2009)
#2 ? Russia = 629 per 100,000 (86,9814 in 2006)

Source: King’s College London International Centre for Prison Studies: U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics

Marriage Rate ("crude," 2007)

#1 ? U.S. = 7.4 per 1,000
#7 ? Denmark = 6.7 per 1,000

Source: National Healthy Marriage Resource Center

Cosmetic Surgical Procedures (2009)

#1 ? U.S. = 1.5 mil
#2 ? Brazil = 1.0 million

Source: ISAPS

Obesity Rate

#1 ? U.S. = 34% (2008)
#2 ? Mexico = 30% (2006)

Source: OECD

Happiness

#1 ? Costa Rica = 76.1
#114 ? U.S. = 30.7

Source: Happy Planet Index 2.0

Satisfaction with Life Index (2006)

#1 ? Denmark = 273.4
#23 ? U.S. = 246.7

Source: Adrian White, "A Global Projection of Subjective Well-being: A Challenge To Positive Psychology?"

Subjective Well-Being (2007)

#1 ? Denmark = 4.24
#16 ? U.S. = 3.55

Source: World Values Surveys

National Economy

Gross Domestic Product (2009)

#1 ? European Union = $14.4 trillion
#2 ? U.S. = $14.1 trillion

Source: CIA Factbook

Per Capita GDP

#1 ? Lichtenstein = $122,100 (2007)
#11 ? U.S. = $46,000 (2009)

Source: CIA Factbook

Human Poverty Index (2007-2008, lowest)

#1 ? Sweden = 6.3
#17 ? U.S. = 15.4

Source: Human Development Index

Current Account Balance (2009)

#1 ? China = $297.1 billion
#190 ? U.S. = ($378.4 billion)

Source: CIA Factbook

Competitive Economy

#1 ? Switzerland
#4 ? U.S.

Source: World Economic Forum

Digital Economy

#1 ? Sweden
#3 ? U.S.

Source: Economist Intelligence Group’s "e-readiness"

Information Technology

#1 ? Sweden
#4 ? U.S.

Source: World Economic Forum

Environmental Impact

Renewable Electricity Production (2009)

#1 ? China = 682.1
#3 ? U.S. = 413.2

Source: BP Statistical Review of World Energy, June 2009

Environmental Impact (worst to best)

#1 ? Brazil
#2 ? U.S.

Source: University of Adelaide’s Environment Institute in Australia

CO-2 Emissions (Climate Change Performance Index, of 56 countries, 2008, best to worst)

#2 ? Germany = 3.0% share
#55 ? U.S. = 21.4% share

Source: Germanwatch

Wellness

Life Expectancy

#1 ? Japan = 82.6 years
#38 ? U.S. = 78.2 years

Source: United Nations (2005-2010)

Infant mortality (to 1,000 live births, 2009)

#1 ? Iceland = 2.9
#33 ? U.S. = 6.3

Source: UN Population Division

National Health Systems

#1 ? France
#37 ? U.S.

Source: World Health Organization

Health Care Expenditures (% of GDP, 2006)

#1 ? France = 11.0%
#37 ? U.S. = 15.8%

Source: OECD

Overweight Rate

#1 ? Mexico = 70% (2006)
#2 ? U.S. = 68% (2008)

Source: OECD

Domestic Life

Divorce Rate (of marriages, 2002)

#1 ? Sweden = 54.9%
#7 ? U.S. = 45.7%

Source: Americans for Divorce Reform

Cohabitation Rate (20 year-old plus, 2007)

#1 ? France = 14.4%
#6 ? U.S. = 5.5%

Source: National Healthy Marriage Resource Center

Non-Married Childbirths (2007, US and Europe)

#1 ? Sweden = 54.7%
#6 ? U.S. Denmark = 38.5%

Source: National Healthy Marriage Resource Center

Motherhood Ranking (best to worst)

#1 ? Norway
#28 ? U.S.

Source: Save the Children "Mothers Index"

Gender Gap (narrowest to widest)

#1 ? Iceland
#19 ? U.S.

Source: World Economic Forum

Education

Secondary School Graduates (2008)

#1 ? S. Korea = 93%
#18 ? U.S.= 73%

Source: OECD

College Graduates (25-34) (2007)

#1 ? Canada = 55.8%
#12 ? U.S. = 40.3%

Source: the College Board

Reading

#1 ? Korea = 539
#15 ? U.S. = 500

China was divided into three regions (Shanghai, Hong Kong and Macao) and Shanghai and Hong Kong out-performed the U.S).

Source: OECD PISA

Science Education

#1 ? Finland = 554
#20 ? U.S. = 502

China was divided into three regions (Shanghai, Hong Kong and Macao) and each out-performed the U.S.

Source: OECD PISA

Math Education

#1 ? Singapore = 562
#28? U.S. = 487

China was divided into three regions (Shanghai, Hong Kong and Macao) and each out-performed the U.S.

Source: OECD PISA

Telecommunications Services

Internet Users (2008)

#1 ? China = 298 million
#2 ? U.S. = 231 million

Source: CIA Factbook

Wired Broadband (2010)

#1 ? Netherlands = 37.8 per 100 (6.2 mil subscribers)
#14 ? U.S. = 27.1 per 100 (183.3 mil subscribers)

Source: OCED

Wireless Broadband (2010)

#1 ? Korea = 95.0 per 100 (146.3 mil subscribers)
#9 ? U.S. = 44.4 per 100 (136.3 mil subscribers)

Source: OCED

Broadband Data Rate (downsteam)

#1 ? Korea = 36.9 Mb/s
#31 ? U.S. = 9.9 Mb/s

Source: Speedtest

Broadband Data Rate (upsteam)

#1 ? Korea = 20.3 Mb/s
#33 ? U.S. = 2.5 Mb/s

Source: Speedtest

Please add you own categories and circulate.

DAVID ROSEN is the author of “Sex Scandals America: Politics & the Ritual of Public Shaming” (Key, 2009). He can be reached at drosen@ix.netcom.com.  

 

 

 

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
Weekend Edition
July 31-33, 2015
Roberto J. González – David Price
Remaking the Human Terrain: The US Military’s Continuing Quest to Commandeer Culture
Jeffrey St. Clair
Bernie and the Sandernistas
John Pilger
Julian Assange: the Untold Story of an Epic Struggle for Justice
Lawrence Ware
Bernie Sanders’ Race Problem
Will Parrish
The Politics of California’s Water System
Andrew Levine
The Logic of Illlogic: Narrow Self-Interest Keeps Israel’s “Existential Threats” Alive
ANDRE VLTCHEK
Kos, Bodrum, Desperate Refugees and a Dying Child
Paul Street
“That’s Politics”: the Sandernistas on the Masters’ Schedule
Ellen Brown
The Greek Coup: Liquidity as a Weapon of Coercion
Sam Husseini
How #AllLivesMatter and #BlackLivesMatter Can Devalue Life
Stephen Lendman
Russia Challenges America’s Orwellian NED
Jeffrey Blankfort
Leading Bibi’s Army in the War for Washington
Geoffrey McDonald
Obama’s Overtime Tweak: What is the Fair Price of a Missed Life?
Brian Cloughley
Hypocrisy, Obama-Style
Robert Fantina
Israeli Missteps Take a Toll
Pete Dolack
Speculators Circling Puerto Rico Latest Mode of Colonialism
Paul Buhle
The Leftwing Seventies?
David Swanson
Vietnam, Fifty Years After Defeating the US
David Rosen
Hillary Clinton: Learn From Your Sisters
Shepherd Bliss
Why I Support Bernie Sanders for President
Louis Proyect
Manufacturing Denial
Howard Lisnoff
The Wrong Argument
Robert Hunziker
Human-Made Evolution
Colin Todhunter
GMOs: Where Does Science Begin and Lobbying End?
Masturah Alatas
Six Critics in Search of an Author
Mary Lou Singleton
Gender, Patriarchy, and All That Jazz
Ron Jacobs
Black Literature and the FB Eye Blues
Charles Larson
Tango Bends Its Gender” Carolina De Robertis’s “The Gods of Tango”
July 30, 2015
Bill Blunden
The NSA’s 9/11 Cover-Up: General Hayden Told a Lie, and It’s a Whopper
Richard Ward
Sandra Bland, Rebel
Jeffrey St. Clair
How One Safari Nut, the CIA and Neoliberal Environmentalists Plotted to Destroy Mozambique
Martha Rosenberg
Tracking the Lion Killers Back to the Old Oval Office
Binoy Kampmark
Dead Again: the Latest Demise of Mullah Omar
Kathy Kelly – Buddy Bell
No Warlords Need Apply: a Call for Credible Peacemaking in Afghanistan
Ramzy Baroud
Darker Horizons Ahead: Rethinking the War on ‘IS’
Stephen Lendman
The Show Trial of Saif Qaddafi: a Manufactured Death Sentence
John Grant
The United States of Absurdity, Circa 2015
Karl Grossman
The Case of John Peter Zenger and the Fight for a Free Press
Cesar Chelala
Cultural Treasures Are Also Victims of War
Jeff Taylor
Iowa Conference on Presidential Politics
July 29, 2015
Mike Whitney
The Politics of Betrayal: Obama Backstabs Kurds to Appease Turkey
Joshua Frank
The Wheels Fell Off the Bernie Sanders Bandwagon
Conn Hallinan
Ukraine: Close to the Edge
Stephen Lendman
What Happened to Ralkina Jones? Another Jail Cell Death
Rob Wallace
Neoliberal Ebola: the Agroeconomic Origins of the Ebola Outbreak