Sunday, March 27, 2011

Tracking Our Downward Spiral

The Ways in Which America Still 'Leads' the World
by Richard Clark

According to Yes Magazine, amongst 20 of the world's wealthiest countries, America now has:

* the highest poverty rate, both generally and for children;

* the greatest inequality of incomes;

* the smallest amount of government spending (as a percentage of GDP) on social programs for the disadvantaged;

* the lowest number of paid holidays, annual leave days and maternity leave days;

* the lowest score on the UN's index of material well-being of children;

* the worst score on the UN's gender inequality index

* the lowest social mobility (i.e. in America, more members of the lower and middle class remain stuck in that class than ever before);

* the highest public and private expenditure on health care (as a portion of GDP), and yet accompanied by:

- the highest infant mortality rate

- the greatest prevalence of mental health problems

- the highest obesity rate

- the largest percentage of people going without health care due to cost

- the greatest number of low birth weight children per capita

- the greatest consumption of anti-depressants per capita

- the shortest life expectancy at birth (except for Portugal);

- the largest amount of carbon dioxide emissions and water consumption per capita;

- the lowest score on the World Economic Forums Environmental Performance Index and the largest Ecological Footprint per capita (except for Belgium);

- the highest rate of failing to ratify international agreements;

- the lowest amount of spending on international development and humanitarian assistance as a percentage of GDP;

- the largest amount of military spending as a portion of GDP;

- the largest amount of international arms sales;

- the largest negative balance of payments (except New Zealand, Spain and Portugal);

- the lowest scores for student performance in math (except for Portugal and Italy) (and far down from the top in both science and reading);

- the highest high school drop out rate (except for Spain);

And now, to top it off, America is leading all other industrialized democracies by bringing back debtors' prisons!

Millions of folks around the good ol' USA have been screwed over by predatory lenders and fine-print credit card contracts, and now, partly because of that, many of them are swimming in debt. And now, some of these people are actually being thrown in prison for going into debt. That's right, America in the 21st century is bringing back debtors' prisons! People who can't pay off their credit cards can now be thrown in jail in a third of the states in our nation -- and since the start of 2010, over 5,000 arrest warrants have been issued against people who owe as little as $1,000 to massively profitable corporations like Capital One. (Source: Thom Hartmann's emailed newsletter)

So let me get this straight. A few years after the financial crisis, where massive fraud was perpetrated by Wall Street, not one bankster is in jail, but 5,000 lower- or middle-class Americans, who were screwed over by these banksters, were sent to debtors' prison??!

Republicans have set our country back more than 100 years -- to the 1800's -- when the Robber Barons ruled and our politics were corrupted to the core.

Be proud, Americans. Be very proud.

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