|US (upper right) leads the world in energy consumption|
The other day this one featuring Hans Rosling caught my attention.
The premise of the video is that our world view of things like life expectancy and health in "third world" countries is very, very wrong.
Here in the United States we tend to think that we have the best life expectancy and the best healthcare system. But this video shows some interesting facts. (You can see this at www.gapminder.com.)
For example, we can see that life expectancy in 1800 was lead by Asia and was the world leader at about 35 years of age. By 1900 Asia was still the world leader at perhaps 40 years of age. But by 2,000 life expectancy rose significantly for everyone - the lowest being 35 years in the poorest countries.
In the US our life expectancy lags many, many other countries.
Similarly, in child mortality the US lags perhaps dozens of other countries.
What's interesting here, though, is the countries with the lowest child mortality: Japan, Iceland, Norway, among others. The US is on par with Serbia and Brunei in child mortality.
Most countries that take a substantial portion of their food from the sea lead here.
In the Murder per 100,000 people category the US lags in an even more dismal position behind Communist China.
So what does this tell us?
For one thing, if you play with the "timeline" at the bottom of the chart you will see that, as I have written here, life in the US was different fifty years ago. Then the US was much more of a leader in many of these categories.
So, what happened?
The progress in the US from the 1960's on began to "slow down" and our leadership was taken over by other countries, whose progress in these areas accelerated so that they overtook us.
Despite the fact that we used more energy than anyone else.
Now interestingly (and not really very surprising) is that this UN data does not show some interesting facts like percentage of the population involved in government and related infrastructure.
If you play around with this tool for a while you see that our problems here are of our own making.
For example, we are the world leader in obesity.
We spend 1% of all household power used in the US on powering video game consoles (see this) - not from gapminder.org.
We rank high in corruption.
We are world class wasters of energy.
We are the world leaders in wasting healthcare resources. The char below shows us (again, upper right) spending the most on healthcare of any country. All for a paltry 30th or so position in overall health metrics (life expectancy, infant mortality rate, etc.)
And since I was a child we have fallen behind the rest of the world (run the slider back to the 1950's to see this).
Personally I see this as a catastrophic failure of the "baby boom" generation to live up to its expectations. Instead of building on the victories of WW II we squandered our position in the world on "self fulfillment," drugs, and "feeling good" about ourselves (I could not find a category for these on the gapminder chart but I am sure we are world leaders).
What the hard data says is that we waste our healthcare and energy dollars more than any other countries and get very poor results from them.
(At least we feel good about being losers though... probably due to our world-class consumption of anti-depressants - again no category for this on the chart.)
We don't need to spend more money - we need to do better with what we do spend - a lot better.
And this is the crux of the issue - here in the US we are well taxed - but we get effectively very little for it - particularly in healthcare.
And because no one can think for themselves we see nothing wrong with this state of affairs.
No outrage that we spend the most in the world on healthcare for 33rd place.
I think that the answer is lack of morals and corruption.
We place a high value on the dollar and making money and government run health systems are primary targets for rip-offs.
Having hundreds of government workers doing the someone's job for them is the same as corruption because there is no guarantee the "government worker" is going to make an efficient decision.
If you don't believe me thus far see this article.
Here in the US pregnant women don't get enough iodine. Iodine is cheap and plentiful and absolutely necessary for health. Many years supply costs maybe $20 USD.
Yet for our world-leading spending on health care pregnant women are seriously deficient in iodine.
Basic vitamins and minerals not being supplied by our "world class healthcare system."
We even have an expensive FDA and regulations up the wazoo - and they do nothing.
Seems to me this is a real war against women...