Newsweek Magazine, which could never be accused of being an America-basher, did it’s first-ever rating this week of the world’s “best” 100 countries in terms of various criteria of well being for its citizens. Guess what? We aren’t even in the top ten!
Actually, for a media news magazine, Newsweek’s ratings process was fairly rigorous and was overseen by some distinguished professionals. Given that such comparisons are always fraught with complications, data problems, judgment calls, etc., nevertheless the results are profoundly disturbing for a country that has long viewed itself (deluded itself?) that it had the “highest standard of living” in the world. The fact is, this is clearly no longer the case.
As a nation, some alarm bells should be ringing. It tells us that we have been doing a lot of things wrong in this country to have allowed countries like Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands and even our neighbor to the north, Canada, to surpass us. Indeed, it is a symptom of our malaise (a word president Jimmy Carter got pilloried for using) that our leaders dare not tell us the truth because they will be accused of being unpatriotic if they say so. But history (and life itself) teaches that the first step in dealing with any problem is to admit that it exists.