Saturday, February 19, 2011

Next stop: Cairo, Texas

Historically, Egyptians have gotten the short end of the stick, as have so many of the peoples of the Middle East. The recently departed regime of Hosni Mubarak was just the latest to preside over an enormous gap in prosperity and prospect between enormously rich upper classes and the unhealthy, underemployed and bleak-futured masses.

Kind of like Texas...

The Lone Star State, headed by the out-of-touch rightist regime of Governor Rick Perry, is on the verge of bankruptcy, in spite of its very rich elite of oilmen, government contractors and high tech millionaires. Texas has a third-world child mortality rate, a top-down rigid educational system that produces one of the highest state illiteracy rates in the U.S., and a medieval, pro-football-anti-science Christian-oid fundamentalism comparable to Pakistan's madrassas.

(See Gail Collins' fine column in the NY Times: here.)

Texas, unfortunately, may be a model for where the U.S. is moving. In spite of Republican screams about "European" (gasp!) socialism, the folks in the old world are not doing so badly. (They're not, of course, all Marxists). Here are some of the 2010 unemployment rates, for comparison:


What about debt? Certainly those free-spending Europeans must be awash in red ink (get it?). Well, not actually: check this out:

OK, I'll stop being cute. The point of today's blog is to present some statistics which I dug out with the aid of search engines; I deliberately avoided the Leninist press, of course. Here's some more:


Once again, the red-white-and-blue greatest-economic-system in the world is verging on the greatest system in the third world.

Finally, Charles Blow from the NY Times presented the following table comparing some measures of U.S. quality of life with that of other countries:


(To be fair, the U.S. has a very diverse population, so comparisons with some of the homogeneous populations of Europe may be misleading. On the other hand, we certainly aren't doing a very good job living up to our stated ideals about equality and opportunity. Furthermore, our healthcare system is a disgrace by any measure, as is our chauvinist reluctance to study and learn from the successful examples of others; we could easily and profitably copy France's hybrid public/private system, for example.)

BTW: I mentioned the Kochs in yesterday's blog. Here's the link to Jane Mayer's fine New Yorker article about them: Covert Operations (8/30/2010).

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