It’s a Wonderful Life
Ever hear of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)? They are one of the many “feel good” organizations whose mission is to promote policies that will improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world.1 Formed in 1961 with the US and 33 other members, they are relevant once a year when their “Better Life Index” rankings are released. What’s measured? Every year different facets in 11 categories including housing, income, jobs, community, education, environment, civic engagement, health care, life satisfaction, safety and work-life balance are tallied.2 Not surprisingly, the US didn't score well in some areas. However, in the areas which seem to be pretty darn important, we continue to excel.
If you are looking for complete and utter happiness, The Land Down Under is for you. The US finished a mere 6th in the overall happiness when measuring all 11 categories.3 If you are looking for effective and inexpensive healthcare system, then again you are living in the wrong place. Our spending in healthcare is 2.5 times higher than other developed countries.3
Speaking of efficiency, our governmental spending of resources (taxes) was polled to be 76th and our government was viewed 54th most trustworthy.3 And this study was done before Conservative Groups were targeted by the IRS; Attorney General Eric Holder’s secretly pursued Fox News James Rosen’s phone records, and the White House and State Department seemingly changed their stories hourly regarding Benghazi. Thankfully, we were a safer country than Estonia, Russia or Mexico…..but only barely.3
However if you are a capitalist, at your core are two very important fundamentals: income and housing. On that front we are still number 1! The US has the highest average level of household wealth at $116,000 with the highest level of personal earnings of $54,450. Americans also have the most disposable income at $38,000 per capita.3
Our housing is the most spacious with the most amenities. I bet you never thought much about basic indoor plumbing being important. If you are one the 638 Million Indians, 58 Million Indonesians or 50 Million Chinese still going in the open air, you would think about it often.4 Of course, we rank first when it comes to this area of housing and we have 2.3 rooms per person in each house.
Yet, we still have thousands of people in this country with a car, 2 LCD TV’s, and 2 cell phones still receiving government assistance in this country.5 Able-bodied, entitled adults are heading households with 3 kids existing on the dole for years who truly have no clue what the impoverished or dreamless have to endure in say…Senegal or Syria.
So…yes…while we have distinct and noticeable warts growing to take us from 1st to 8th as the most competitive country in the world.3 The free and entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well. We may be living in a time where those in power push to morph capitalism into their version of socialism. However, when you try to mix two distinct, opposing forces or components looking for a moderated end, you more likely end with the outcome of mixed vinegar and bleach. So we may not be happiest, healthiest or smartest country in the world today. But there’s a reason why people are still risking everything they have including life and limb to make it to our shores alive. It’s a wonderful life and we need to keep it that way. Capitalism still leads the world out of the outhouse!
3 “Where the U.S. Economy is Still No. 1,” Rick Newman. The Exchange. June 4, 2013. http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/the-exchange/where-u-economy-still-no-1-170204699.html
4 “India tops list of nations lacking toilets,” Agencies. The Economic Times. Nov 22, 2010 http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2010-11-22/news/27615299_1_toilets-india-tops-list-population,8
5 “Air Conditioning, Cable TV, and an Xbox: What is Poverty in the United States Today?” Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield. The Heritage Foundation Leadership for America. July 19, 2011. http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2011/07/what-is-poverty?query=Air+Conditioning+Cable+TV+and+an+Xbox:+What+is+Poverty+in+the+United+States+Today 10
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