Right Thinking From The Left Coast
Do, or do not. There is no 'try'. - Yoda

Sunday, August 22, 2010

We’re #!1!

Newsweek has an entertaining infographic ranking the top 100 countries in the world by education, health, quality of life, economic dynamism and political environment.  The US comes in at #11, Finland is #1.

What hurts the US ranking is health—which is ordered entirely by life span—and education.  But both ranking are a little bit silly.  The education ranking is based on literacy rate and average years of schooling.  We get hit because our literacy rate is 99% rather than 100%.  I actually think that ranking is, if anything, generous, given the poor performance of American students on international testing.  However, I would note that, if you have/use the opportunities available in this country, you can get an amazing education.  The American university system is far larger and more open than any in the world.

As for health being ranked on lifespan ... well, I’ve blogged on that before.  The infamous WHO rankings have us #1 in healthcare responsiveness.  Our lower lifespan compared to countries like Japan (ranked #1) has less to do with an evil healthcare system and more to do with an obesity rate that is ten times higher.

As for the countries ranked higher than us, they show a bit of the peculiarity in the rankings.  Finland is #1, but mostly because there’s no metric for “living in an ice cold place next door to a famously psychotic superpower”.  I can understand Switzerland’s #2 ranking; it’d be my top choice if I could live anywhere in the world besides the US.  Australia ranks #4—higher than us on education and health, lower on economic dynamism (the high political environment ranking was before they had a hung parliament).  And that’s without any bonus for the barramundi and chips.  That jibes with my limited time spent in Australia (now about four months over the last ten years).  This quality of life is high here but the overall wealth is a bit lower than what we experience in the US (and less concentrated).  My mother-in-law probably described Australia’s economy best—it’s about seven years behind the US.  So Australia 2010 is like the US 2003.  The trade-off is the greater security of a welfare state, a tradef-off the Aussies seems to be fine with.

Ranking at the ass end of economic dynamism and 71 overall is Sean Penn’s tropical paradise of Venezuela.  That doesn’t count for the quadrupling of the homicide rate in the last decade—a trend Chavez is trying to censor.  Michael Moore’s beloved Cuba ranks #50.  But in both cases, Newsweek is accepting, at face value, figures on education and health coming out of communist countries.  As we have shown extensively at Moorewatch, those numbers should be taken with enough salt to preserve a beached whale.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 08/22/10 at 02:44 PM in Polls and Surveys  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink
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