You know the phrase, America: We’re Number One. Stephen Colbert shouts it all the time on his show to get his crowd into a frenzy. It was a criticism brought against Obama during the campaign when he said he wanted to bring change. If we’re number one, why change it? Glenn Beck has repeatedly said that we have the best health care system in the world, so why fix it?
I would be inclined to agree with all these people, if it were actually true.
Let’s examine the facts. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the United State’s health care system is ranked 37th in the world. We’re behind countries like Oman, Monaco, Colombia and Cyprus. And that doesn’t even count our overall level of health, ranked 72nd of 191 countries. Life expectancy in the USA? It’s 78 years, which ranks 42nd in the world, behind Cuba. Infant mortality rate is 46th behind the Czech Republic, Slovenia, and the Isle of Man. But we’re number one, right? Only if you count cost. United States citizens pay the most for health care in the world.
But it doesn’t just stop with health care. Best place to live in the world? The United States, right? Wrong. But we’re in the top ten, right? Wrong again. According to a recently published study by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the good ‘ole U.S.A ranks 13th on the "best places to live" scale. What are the top ten, you ask? Norway, Australia, Iceland, Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, France, Switzerland and Japan. The list was formulated based on life expectancy, literacy, school enrollment and gross domestic product per capita.
So what does this all mean? Well, we certainly aren’t number one, for starters. But it also means we need to buckle down as a country and do something about it. We need to actually realize that the rest of the industrial world has some form of universal health care except for us. We need to realize that our public schools and No Child Left Behind are allowing our kids to fall further and further behind the rest of the world in math and science. We need to stop reprimanding congressmen for shouting something at the president and instead work to solve the major problems that are facing the country. These problems aren’t republican or democratic problems, they are American problems.
You want to see true progress and change? Then stop the attacks, the divisive talk, put aside your petty differences and actually focus on the facts. Abraham Lincoln said, "Let the people know the facts and the country will be safe." You know the facts. Now do something about it or we have no right to say we’re number one.