New Orleans The conservative weekly news magazine from the United Kingdom, The Economist, publishes a “Pocket World in Figures,” ranking countries across the globe in areas large and small. Celebrating the US Declaration of Independence and our oft repeated claim by politicians that the United States is the “greatest country on earth,” it seemed like a good day to take a look at how we shape up in the world.
We are world shakers it seems, but much of that has to do with business. We are number one in “global competitiveness” and number seven in “business environment” for example. We are number two after Japan in the number of new patents at last count. The top eight largest non-financial companies are our domestic giants including Exxon, Apple, Google, Berkshire Hathaway, Microsoft, General Electric, Johnson & Johnson, and Chevron. The two largest banks in the world are the US-based Wells Fargo and JP Morgan Chase. We have the longest highways, the most railroad miles, and the most air miles travelled, and therefore the most tourism. I can tell we’re all swelling up with pride. At least for business.
We don’t rank so high in other areas though, particularly ones that impact all of our people. We are 45th for example in life expectancy. What kind of slogan is that: live free, die early? We have the 3rd highest rate of obesity, even though we are at the top of health spending. We also rank 3rdin cannabis usage.
We are first in the number of our people in prison. We are 18th in our cost of living and first in the percentage of our people involved in giving. We are second in the level of our emissions.
We are mighty and armed to the teeth. We are 15th in defense spending as a percentage of our GDP. Our armed forces are second only to China in size, but we lead in actual defense spending with five times the amount of the number two China. We are second as an arms exporter, trailing only Russia.
How about tech where we have the big head? We are sixth in the number of computers per 100 people, but only 28th in availability and subscribers to broadband and 9th in mobile broadband. We are 22nd in telephones but not even in the top 34 for mobile telephones. We are tied with Austria at 24th in terms of internet users per 100 people, but we are number one in Facebook users, internet hosts, and music including downloads.
Energy? We produce more than anyone other than China, and we use more than anyone other than China, while our consumption per person is 11th in the world, and they don’t make the top 22 listed by The Economist.
We won’t starve though. We are first in agricultural output and tied for 11th with Japan and Denmark for the least dependent on agriculture in our economy.
Our government debt is 11th and our government spending is 27th.
We rank 15th in our level of democracy trailing Canada and the United Kingdom right above us, God Save the Queen.
America, what a country! But, this is just the facts, ma’am.