Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Is U.S. Wealth Inequality Linked to Poor Comparison to Other Countries?

There were two charts that caught my eye this week.

One shows the unequal distribution of wealth in the U.S. such that the very tippy top percentile of citizens control huge amounts of the money in our economy and society. See it HERE.

The other shows how the good old USA is by no means "the best" at everything compared to other modern, industrialized nations that most Americans just assume we're better than. See it HERE.

However, I was thinking that these two graphs probably are correlated. As in, the inequity of wealth pooled in the bank acounts of a small number of people may indeed correlate to the poor performance of the U.S. vs. other comparable nations when it comes to things like life expectancy, unemployment, student performance, prison population and even how many people who run out of money so they cannot buy food.

Sure, there are some other measures where we probably are #1 like amount of money spent on healthcare vs. relative health of the population, number of gun owners per 100,000, obesity rate, etc. But obviously these are not badges of least in my opinion.

People like to think that it doesn't get any better than the U.S.A., but if you look at countries such as Canada, Norway, Australia, Germany and other this does not seem to be true. I'm not saying I want to move from the U.S. But, what can we learn from these other nations? What are they doing that we're not? What is it about their societies, priorities and systems that they have a better overall standard of living - at least by the measures in the charts?

Well, that's fodder for another post at another time. But here's one thought I'll shoot out there for consideration...while all those societies are peaceful democracies based on a capitalist economic foundation, the tend to be of a more "we're all in this together" mentality while the U.S. tends to be of a "I got mine, screw you" mentality.

No comments: