Maryann Tobin

Many Americans are under the impression that they are living in the greatest nation on earth. But that is not true, according to statistics.

When it comes to educating children, 22 countries beat the United States in math. The U.S. also ranks 17th in reading, and comes in 16th place for young adults with college degrees.

The United States also has a poor quality health care system.

Despite the fact that Americans pay more for their health care than any other nation on earth, the quality of care is low, compared to the 36 other countries that beat America.

Life expectancy in the U.S. is also on the decline. “The Annual Review of Public Health was released and this year’s results show the United States lagging behind every industrialized nation on Earth, except Qatar,” according to Whiteout Press.

The current system of health care rationing to those with insurance also creates a life expectancy imbalance based on wealth. Poor Americans live an average of five years less than their wealthy counterparts.

But even wealthy Americans are living shorter lives. “Principal author Justin Denney of Rice University and colleagues said the average life U.S. expectancy for a person born today is 78.49 -- significantly lower than for people born in Monaco, Macau and Japan, which have the three highest life expectancies at 89.7 84.4 and 83.9 years, respectively,” according to upi.

As America has pursued conservative trickle-down economic policies, average wages have declined and poverty has grown, especially among children.

“Across the nation, the research by the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that child poverty increased in 38 states from 2000 to 2009. As a result, 14.7 million children, 20 percent, were poor in 2009. That represents a 2.5 million increase from 2000, when 17 percent of the nation's youth lived in low-income homes,” according to CBS News.

According to Census data, by 2011, poverty rates grew to include 1 out of every 6 Americans.

The collapse of the U.S. financial markets in 2008, due to deregulated Wall Street gambling and mortgage securities fraud, sparked the worst recession since the 1930s and has left millions of Americans homeless under an epidemic of foreclosures.

So what is America doing wrong?

While there is no simple answer to that question, it seems that the problem lies in priorities. In a political environment wrought with partisan wars over budget cuts versus public investment, a real vision for the future has gotten lost in daily battles.

Without investment in education and the physical health of the nation, what country can have a bright future?

Other countries have moved their focus away from the issues of the past. But America is locked in partisan combat over taking the country backwards. And that’s why Japan, India, Germany, and other free nations, are beating America.

The battle between conservatives and progressives is not working for America. Progressives' efforts to change America's course is being blocked by conservatives. And conservatives are so busy waging war on the working class that they refuse to admit that their efforts are only making things worse for the majority of Americans.

In the 1970s, when America was growing economically and socially, people had a different attitude. Their war was with Vietnam, not other Americans. The goal was peace. There was a war on poverty because Americans believed that the nation would be stronger if fewer people went hungry. Today, there is a powerful movement by conservatives to cut or eliminate food assistance programs for the poor.

America is all about attitude, and her attitude has changed over the past 40 years. Today, the United States in not in a race to achievement, like putting the first man on the moon. The race is on to demonize the government so the public can be convinced to willingly hand the country over to corporate CEOs, under the guise of capitalists know best.

Capitalists care about making money and there is nothing wrong with that in and of itself. But capitalists do not necessarily care about governing the more than 300 million Americans who may be more interested in the quality of their families’ lives than they are in just turning a profit.

Despite what the Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United, corporations are not human beings. But the mere fact that such a ruling would even be considered shows how much America’s attitude and priorities have changed. And look at what that change has caused. America’s rank continues to drop in life expectancy, education, and health care quality. Wages are stagnant, the gap between rich and poor has become a growing epidemic, more children are going hungry, and fewer people seem to care.

If America is ever going to be the greatest nation on earth again, its people need a major attitude and priority adjustment.

“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” John F. Kennedy


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