America by the numbers

This is the article I mentioned previously. I read through it quickly and was like, ‘Wow, how misguided are these “America pwns all” fools…’

Seems like America isnt the Great Nation it claims to be:


No concept lies more firmly embedded in our national character than the notion that the USA is “No. 1,” “the greatest.” Our broadcast media are, in essence, continuous advertisements for the brand name “America Is No. 1.” Any office seeker saying otherwise would be committing political suicide. In fact, anyone saying otherwise will be labeled “un-American.” We’re an “empire,” ain’t we? Sure we are. An empire without a manufacturing base. An empire that must borrow $2 billion a day from its competitors in order to function. Yet the delusion is ineradicable. We’re No. 1. Well…this is the country you really live in:

* The United States is 49th in the world in literacy (the New York Times, Dec. 12, 2004).

* The United States ranked 28th out of 40 countries in mathematical literacy (NYT, Dec. 12, 2004).

* Twenty percent of Americans think the sun orbits the earth. Seventeen percent believe the earth revolves around the sun once a day (The Week, Jan. 7, 2005).

* “The International Adult Literacy Survey…found that Americans with less than nine years of education ‘score worse than virtually all of the other countries'” (Jeremy Rifkin’s superbly documented book The European Dream: How Europe’s Vision of the Future Is Quietly Eclipsing the American Dream, p.78).

* Our workers are so ignorant and lack so many basic skills that American businesses spend $30 billion a year on remedial training (NYT, Dec. 12, 2004). No wonder they relocate elsewhere!

* “The European Union leads the U.S. in…the number of science and engineering graduates; public research and development (R&D) expenditures; and new capital raised” (The European Dream, p.70).

* “Europe surpassed the United States in the mid-1990s as the largest producer of scientific literature” (The European Dream, p.70).

* Nevertheless, Congress cut funds to the National Science Foundation. The agency will issue 1,000 fewer research grants this year (NYT, Dec. 21, 2004).

* Foreign applications to U.S. grad schools declined 28 percent last year. Foreign student enrollment on all levels fell for the first time in three decades, but increased greatly in Europe and China. Last year Chinese grad-school graduates in the U.S. dropped 56 percent, Indians 51 percent, South Koreans 28 percent (NYT, Dec. 21, 2004). We’re not the place to be anymore.

* The World Health Organization “ranked the countries of the world in terms of overall health performance, and the U.S. [was]…37th.” In the fairness of health care, we’re 54th. “The irony is that the United States spends more per capita for health care than any other nation in the world” (The European Dream, pp.79-80). Pay more, get lots, lots less.

* “The U.S. and South Africa are the only two developed countries in the world that do not provide health care for all their citizens” (The European Dream, p.80). Excuse me, but since when is South Africa a “developed” country? Anyway, that’s the company we’re keeping.

* Lack of health insurance coverage causes 18,000 unnecessary American deaths a year. (That’s six times the number of people killed on 9/11.) (NYT, Jan. 12, 2005.)

* “U.S. childhood poverty now ranks 22nd, or second to last, among the developed nations. Only Mexico scores lower” (The European Dream, p.81). Been to Mexico lately? Does it look “developed” to you? Yet it’s the only “developed” country to score lower in childhood poverty.

* Twelve million American families–more than 10 percent of all U.S. households–“continue to struggle, and not always successfully, to feed themselves.” Families that “had members who actually went hungry at some point last year” numbered 3.9 million (NYT, Nov. 22, 2004).

* The United States is 41st in the world in infant mortality. Cuba scores higher (NYT, Jan. 12, 2005).

* Women are 70 percent more likely to die in childbirth in America than in Europe (NYT, Jan. 12, 2005).

* The leading cause of death of pregnant women in this country is murder (CNN, Dec. 14, 2004).

* “Of the 20 most developed countries in the world, the U.S. was dead last in the growth rate of total compensation to its workforce in the 1980s…. In the 1990s, the U.S. average compensation growth rate grew only slightly, at an annual rate of about 0.1 percent” (The European Dream, p.39). Yet Americans work longer hours per year than any other industrialized country, and get less vacation time.

* “Sixty-one of the 140 biggest companies on the Global Fortune 500 rankings are European, while only 50 are U.S. companies” (The European Dream, p.66). “In a recent survey of the world’s 50 best companies, conducted by Global Finance, all but one were European” (The European Dream, p.69).

* “Fourteen of the 20 largest commercial banks in the world today are European…. In the chemical industry, the European company BASF is the world’s leader, and three of the top six players are European. In engineering and construction, three of the top five companies are European…. The two others are Japanese. Not a single American engineering and construction company is included among the world’s top nine competitors. In food and consumer products, Nestlé and Unilever, two European giants, rank first and second, respectively, in the world. In the food and drugstore retail trade, two European companies…are first and second, and European companies make up five of the top ten. Only four U.S. companies are on the list” (The European Dream, p.68).

* The United States has lost 1.3 million jobs to China in the last decade (CNN, Jan. 12, 2005).

* U.S. employers eliminated 1 million jobs in 2004 (The Week, Jan. 14, 2005).

* Three million six hundred thousand Americans ran out of unemployment insurance last year; 1.8 million–one in five–unemployed workers are jobless for more than six months (NYT, Jan. 9, 2005).

* Japan, China, Taiwan, and South Korea hold 40 percent of our government debt. (That’s why we talk nice to them.) “By helping keep mortgage rates from rising, China has come to play an enormous and little-noticed role in sustaining the American housing boom” (NYT, Dec. 4, 2004). Read that twice. We owe our housing boom to China, because they want us to keep buying all that stuff they manufacture.

* Sometime in the next 10 years Brazil will probably pass the U.S. as the world’s largest agricultural producer. Brazil is now the world’s largest exporter of chickens, orange juice, sugar, coffee, and tobacco. Last year, Brazil passed the U.S. as the world’s largest beef producer. (Hear that, you poor deluded cowboys?) As a result, while we bear record trade deficits, Brazil boasts a $30 billion trade surplus (NYT, Dec. 12, 2004).

* As of last June, the U.S. imported more food than it exported (NYT, Dec. 12, 2004).

* Bush: 62,027,582 votes. Kerry: 59,026,003 votes. Number of eligible voters who didn’t show up: 79,279,000 (NYT, Dec. 26, 2004). That’s more than a third. Way more. If more than a third of Iraqis don’t show for their election, no country in the world will think that election legitimate.

* One-third of all U.S. children are born out of wedlock. One-half of all U.S. children will live in a one-parent house (CNN, Dec. 10, 2004).

* “Americans are now spending more money on gambling than on movies, videos, DVDs, music, and books combined” (The European Dream, p.28).

* “Nearly one out of four Americans [believe] that using violence to get what they want is acceptable” (The European Dream, p.32).

* Forty-three percent of Americans think torture is sometimes justified, according to a PEW Poll (Associated Press, Aug. 19, 2004).

* “Nearly 900,000 children were abused or neglected in 2002, the last year for which such data are available” (USA Today, Dec. 21, 2004).

* “The International Association of Chiefs of Police said that cuts by the [Bush] administration in federal aid to local police agencies have left the nation more vulnerable than ever” (USA Today, Nov. 17, 2004).

No. 1? In most important categories we’re not even in the Top 10 anymore. Not even close.

The USA is “No. 1” in nothing but weaponry, consumer spending, debt, and delusion.

by Michael Ventura
February 23, 2005


Blair to Blame for Soldier’s Death, Says Wife


Let me get this straight in my head, because right now I am beginning to wonder if logic and reason have flown away to have a party somewhere and not informed the civilised world. What you are saying is that Tony Blair caused the death of this man? Right? Never have I seen such a pile of crap. This is how it works:

  • You join the army
  • You fight for your country
  • You die

It’s not difficult, is it? Not exactly ROCKET SCIENCE.

If it wasn’t Iraq, it would have been somewhere else, maybe even somewhere closer to home like Northern Ireland. You simply cannot join the Armed Forces and then complain when you get shot at, or blown up.

“Ann Toward said Guardsman Anthony John Wakefield would not have died if Mr Blair had not sent troops into war.”

I’ll give you a cookie for that one. It’s tantamount to saying that you wouldn’t get hit by a bus if you didn’t cross the road. Very true, but unavoidable. Joining the Army is asking for trouble. I don’t care what your stance on the war is. I am not exactly thrilled by our involvement, but we are there now so need to get on with the task in hand. But you have to agree that this is such a stupid thing for her to say. Granted, Blair sent him overseas, BUT HE DIDN’T HAVE TO GO! We have this thing, us Humans, called ‘choice’. We might not have full freedom to do as we please but we always have a ‘choice’. Gdsm Wakefield’s ‘choice’ was to join the Army and therefore his death was caused by HIM. Nobody else, HIM. He is the reason he is dead, not Tony Blair. The sooner muppets wake up and understand this the better.

My poor baby!

Sarah is in hospital. When I woke up this morning I had two missed calls recieved at 4 am this morning from Sarah. I tried to call and got through to voicemail. Very strange, thought I. I few minutes later I got a text saying, ‘Everythings ok will speak to you later’. Called again, voicemail once more.

I’ve been worried sick all day. It just isn’t like her to not turn in for work and to not give an explaination. I sent several messages and called a few times to try and find out what was going on, but naturally, no reply.

I’ve just recieved a call from her Dad’s partner saying that she is in hospital and has had her appendix out. My poor babe under the knife and I wasn’t there to support her. I feel awful about that. I’m going to have a bite to eat and then go up to the hospital to see how she is. I’ll update you on this later.


Just got back from the hospital. She was tripping out on morphine which was, uh, interesting. I’ve never seen her high before. Couldn’t help but smile. Anyway, she seems to be in high spirits and despite the obvious pain was able to sit up and talk to me. She should be out on Thursday sometime but I told her to make the most of it and take as much time off as she could. It’s what any conscientious employee would do, right?

I’ll pass on your regards whether you want me to or not.


A new life!

I just got this email:

hello everybody,
wonderful news. sara gave birth to a beautiful bouncing baby boy on saturday 30th april@ 15-16. i am frantically trying to contact everybody, and sara will be talking to everyone when she comes out of hospital. no name yet. but he weighed 9 pounds eight ounces.

love neil, sara & baby. xxxx

It’s good to get some good news for once. The circle of life begins again.

My love and sincere congratulations go to Neil and Sara.


Should I feel guilty?

My mother called me yesterday to tell me that my Gran (her Mother) has had a stroke. I haven’t seen Gran in months, maybe even a full year now and the news was completely expected. Gran is 88 and has been ill for sometime now. She is a shadow of the person she used to be.

People die. It is the only thing that is certain to happen in your life; you will eventually die. My Gran will die and I have this cold, matter-of-fact, acceptance of this. The news did not inspire concern or worry in me. I didn’t think to myself, ‘I hope she is ok, I hope she pulls through’. I know that one day, one day soon, she will pass on after a long, hard life, and that her suffering will be at an end. She is blind, bored, lonely and I would imagine frustrated. My Gran was always such a strong lady. She raised eleven children by herself after her husband died when the youngest child was still a baby. She never remarried. This woman is an example of how one should lead their lives when faced with adversity. She never gave up, never threw in the towel, she did everything to keep her family together. I want to remember this woman I have such respect for as the strong character I knew in years gone by. I don’t want to see her as I know I will be effected by what I see. Is this selfish?

I do not think I will see my Gran before she dies. I have no plans to travel to Grimsby to see her as I know it will be painful for me. Am I right to put my concerns for me above those of others? What benefit would she get from my visit before her death? Sometimes I feel so cold and heartless that it makes me feel sick. Surely most ordinary people would be making plans to get to her bedside to see her before the inevitable, but not me. I wonder what this means? What effect this has on my personality. My biggest worry is my Mother. She has always been close to Granny, always. I know she is upset by this turn of events. I know she feels guilty because she lives away too. I know she will be wanting to get to see her Mother and I think that is entirely natural and expected. Should I go with her? Should I go to support her?

The extended family group is not one I am close to. In fact, I haven’t seen most of them for years and wouldn’t recognise many of the legion of cousins, half-cousins, second-cousins, spouses, uncles, aunts who make up the Mawer clan. I stand outside of that group and would be unable to share their grief. For that reason I do not want to be part of the impending tragedy. I would feel alien and awkward knowing that I do not share the depth of tragedy that they do.

I will go to the funeral – I’m talking as if she is already dead, and perhaps the woman I knew is already dead. The body is a vessel of consciousness. A shell, and at death it is an empty shell. The soul (if such a thing exists) is the sum total of a person, the body, frail as it is, will falter and fail. – I will go to pay my last respects and then I will commit this woman to memory. To my memories where she will remain for as long as I live.

I’m crying now. Big bad me is crying over this loss. I suppose this means it effects me more than I thought it did, or perhaps it is just the realisation that someone I loved has already gone. I have to stop. I love you, Gran, I will miss you, but I can’t see what has become of you now, lest it destroys the memories I have of you from when I was a boy.