The greatest country on the planet

In the United States, our politicians like to say that we are the greatest country on Earth. It’s become painfully obvious that we are not the best by any number of metrics, except military power.

We lag behind in health care coverage, overall health, education, infant-mortality and income disparity just to name a few categories.

Now a new UN report says that American and British children are faring badly compared with other rich countries:

On Wednesday February 14th Unicef published a report comparing the well-being of young people in 21 rich countries, and concluded that British and American youths endure the worst quality of life of any. In contrast, North European children, especially the Nordics, apparently have a lovely time.

Where Britain and America really score badly is in the categories of relationships and risky behaviour. British and American children apparently spend less time (and eat fewer meals) with their parents, compared with the other countries, and seem to be somewhat less happy with their friends and in school. Some of this is especially messy to assess and the report’s authors acknowledge “obvious problems of definition” when subjective measures and self-reporting are compared. Maybe British and American children are better at moaning than others. But many of the data seem reliable enough. There is statistical evidence (at least in Britain and America) that children in single-parent families are worse off in some ways, when school drop-out rates or eventual educational attainment are measured, for example. And family breakdown may be a contributing cause to the worryingly high rates of risky behaviour—younger sex, more drug taking, dreadful diets, and high levels of drinking, bullying and violence—in Britain and America. (Source: The Economist)

We need to recognize that being a great nation requires constant hard work and pragmatism. Saying it does not make it so. (Thanks for the link Dylan)