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American Fool, Why The Arrogance-Get Your Facts Straight?

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factfiction.png  Native citizens of the United States who have not travelled abroad are prone to say they live in the greatest nation on earth.  Some beat their chests with pride stating: USA, the greatest nation on Earth.  What is the basis for such statements?   Why do they display such arrogance?  Obviously they believe the dogma.

Foreign travellers in the United States have conversations of the type described below.  Expatriates abroad hear the same type of conversations between newly arrived US citizens and locals on a regular basis.

A recent conversation was overheard between a US citizen, who just arrived in a developing country, and a multi-lingual local.  Note the new arrival only spoke English and was keen converse with a native of another country.    Some light conversation transpired between the two before the head-to-head discussion about the greatness of the United States.  The local asked the visitor, why do you say your country is the greatest?  The American said it just is, don’t you know that?   The visitor must have thought the local was a fool. 

The local questioner responded: by what benchmarks or metrics do you claim this distinction?  A number of things were cited and in the end it was agreed America had more weapons of mass destruction than any country on the planet.  In the end the Arrogant Fool could point to military might and be proud.  Really, for what reason do you spend all your money on those weapons, when so many other things are in disrepair?

The overheard conversation addressed a number of metrics of life in any given geographical area of the world. 

The Fool was asked to consider health care as not being a reason he lived in the greatest nation. He was informed of the following: The United States ranks among the last of industrialized nations in healthcare  (http://www.commonwealthfund.org/News/News-Releases/2008/Jan/New-Study--U-S--Ranks-Last-Among-Other-Industrialized-Nations-on-Preventable-Deaths.aspx ).  Other studies place the United Sates as having the worst health care of all industrialized nations (http://www.alternet.org/personal-health/us-health-worse-nearly-all-other-industrialized-countries ).  On top of it all, the United States has the highest healthcare costs in the world (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_care_in_the_United_States ).  The United States is one of the few industrialized nations in the world that does not guarantee access to health care for its population.

In 2007, 62.1% of filers for bankruptcies claimed high medical expenses. A 2013 study found that about 25% of all senior citizens declare bankruptcy due to medical expenses, and 43% are forced to mortgage or sell their primary residence.[3]

Maybe healthcare is not so great because physicians and “Healthcare Professionals” are the second or third largest spenders lobbying to congress.   They spend billions to influence lawmakers to their favor (http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/mems.php ) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lobbying_in_the_United_States)  Maybe care providers are not after improving your health, but rather their financial well-being.

The conversation then addressed education, as those not living in the USA are by many considered to be ignorant and poorly educated.  The American fool stated his country had the best education systems in the world.  The Fool stated He lived in a place where people could have a free education and a right to one.   Again, the traveller was corrected and informed his country did not even rank in the top 15 nations for general education (http://www.ibtimes.com/us-17th-global-education-ranking-finland-south-korea-claim-top-spots-901538 ).  In math and science areas, the scores are even worse for US students where they ranked 31 of 74 in mathematics, 23 of 74 in science, but 17 of 74 in reading (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Programme_for_International_Student_Assessment ).  Maybe with less money spent for bombs and nuclear submarines and more on education, things might improve.

The Arrogant Fool moved into quality of life matters and informed the developing country resident, life was really great in the United States.  Again the fool was asked for facts and only produced subjectivity and dogma.  The facts bear out the fool is again uninformed.

 For life expectancy (measure of health, mental health, attitude, stress) the USA ranks 49 of 224 countries surveyed (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_rankings_of_the_United_States - cite_ref-2Highlights From PISA 2009) and 114 of 143 in terms of general happiness (http://www.who.int/mental_health/prevention/suicide/country_reports/en/index.html).  Happiness measurement is a combination of mental health factors and includes suicide rates per capita.  In terms of economic prowess, measured by Gross Domestic Product per capita, the USA ranks 11 of 227 nations (2009, ·  ^ 2012 World Competitiveness Yearbook).  On quality of life, USA is far from number one and ranks 13th of 111 countries surveyed (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quality-of-life_Index). 

Being defeated in the defence of his position, the arrogant fool moved to the usual dogma of freedom and democracy.  Typical dogma used by the uninformed and in this example, the Arrogant Fool was no exception.  He stated his subjective perspective that he lived in the freest country with no corruption and real democracy.   A free press keeps his nation open and democratic.   In the Index of Democracy (which includes freedom and democracy) the United States ranks a measly 17th of 167 nations (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_rankings_of_the_United_States[5] ). In an index of civil and political liberties published by NationMaster (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NationMaster  )  the United States ranks seventh of 140 nations ([24]).    According to Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Without Borders ) the United States ranks 20 of 175 nations ([19] )on a scale of Freedom of the Press Index (Worldwide Press Freedom Index) .  According to World Audit (http://www.worldaudit.org/publisher.htm ) the Arrogant Fool’s country ranks 12th in democracy and freedom of press, and 15th in corruption. 

Not something to be proud of if you believe you live in the land of the free and brave. 

With the recent revelations of mass surveillance and militarization of domestic police, these rankings will surely go down in future surveys.

Military might is where the defending Arrogant Fool turned in the end to make his point about greatness.  And in this metric, he had his facts straight.  The United States spends at least four times more than the next leading nation in defence spending (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_military_expenditures ).  In one metric of very expensive military hardware (aircraft carriers) the United States is the clear leader.  It has more carriers in service than all other nations combined (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_aircraft_carriers_by_country ).   Using other metrics such as nuclear submarines, the USA certainly has more (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_submarine_operators ) and it also wins in the area of general weapons of mass destruction (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_level_of_military_equipment ).

The Arrogant Fool in the end made his point that his country leads the world in something.  While we do not know how many bombs the US has, the conversationalists agreed it was likely the USA had more bombs.  One has to wonder why having some many bombs makes his country such a great place to live and the source for such arrogance.
 

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Biography 

Raymond Johnson, MBA, Ph.D. ** Pseudonym
Scientist, Businessman, Thought Provoker and Author

Raymond spent his formative years in a small town in Iowa.  Later he graduated from Iowa State University with a Bachelors degree in Science.  His studies focused upon biochemistry, chemistry, and physiology.  Graduate studies were immediately pursued at the University of Missouri-Columbia, where he received his MS (physiology). At this same institution, he completed a Ph.D. in the area of life sciences with emphasis in endocrinology and molecular biology under the tutelage of a National Academy member. He also received an MBA from the University of Missouri. Post-graduate work, included a postdoctoral Fellowship in pharmacology and toxicology at Kansas University Medical School. He also held an appointment as a Visiting Scientist at Harvard Medical School working in the area of matrix biology.

Following these educational experiences, Dr. Johnson has worked in business development and science.  He has been a founding member of two biotechnology companies that serve the global pharmaceutical industry.  He is also the director of a consulting company that enables start-up companies to expand.

Today, Dr. Johnson spends more time than before pondering cultural differences, societal perception, and political matters.   At times he summarizes these matters into thought provoking essays.

 

 

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