This morning I published Part I of this two-part series looking at the 8 criteria that, in part, define nations that might be considered ‘banana republics’ by the modern connotation.
Continued from Part I …
#5 – Inadequate Access to Healthcare. The United States continues to be the only developed country that lacks universal healthcare. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010 was a small step in the right direction of ensuring everyone would have at least basic health coverage, but did not go nearly far enough, and is being shredded by the current regime with no replacement in sight. Add to that the fact that the U.S. has some of the highest medical expenses in the world, and you have many who are left untreated simply because they are not able or willing to go into bankruptcy to treat an illness.
#6 – Dramatic Gaps in Life Expectancy. The disparity in life expectancy rates dramatically illustrates the severity of the growing rich/poor divide in the United States. A recent study by Washington University and published in the Journal of American Medicine Association (JAMA) indicates that average life expectancy now varies by more than 20 years depending on where you live in the United States. Life expectancy for males is 63.9 years in McDowell County, West Virginia compared to 81.6 years in affluent Fairfax County, Virginia or 81.4 in upscale Marin County, Calif. That is especially eye-opening when one considers that life expectancy for males was 68.2 in Bangladesh in 2012 and 64.3 for males in Bolivia, one of the poorest countries in Latin America, in 2011.
#7 – Hunger and Malnutrition. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines food insecurity as a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life. Estimates vary, but most organizations put the number of Americans who suffer from food insecurity as being between 42 – 48 million, or about 1 in every 8 people. In the 1950s and ’60s, hunger was a word associated with developing countries, but the word can now be applied to the U.S. as well. According to the organization Share Our Strength, more than 13 million children go to school hungry, and one in every five lives in a household that is food insecure, without sufficient resources to provide enough food.
#8 – High Infant Mortality. A report released in 2014 by Save the Children found that “the United States has the highest first-day death rate in the industrialized world” (babies dying the day they are born) and that the European Union has only about half as many first-day deaths as the United States: 11,300 in the U.S. vs. 5,800 in EU member countries. “Poverty, racism and stress are likely to be important contributing factors to first-day deaths in the United States,” said the report. Save the Children also reported that the U.S. had a rate of three first-day deaths per 1,000 births, the same rate the organization reported for developing countries like Egypt, Tunisia, Sri Lanka, Peru and Libya. Meanwhile, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, El Salvador and Costa Rica were among the Latin American countries that had only two first-day deaths per 1,000 births. So, a baby born in El Salvador or Mexico has a better chance of living to its second day than a baby born in the United States.Data by Center for Disease Control
In my opinion, there is one other important criteria that should be added to this list, and that is ‘Education’, another area in which the U.S. lags pitifully behind in this 21st century, but perhaps I will address that in a separate post soon.
When I started this post a few days ago, I began with the intention of being a bit cheeky, rather a bit of my usual snark, but as I did more research into each of the above topics, my snark turned into genuine concern, and I lost the urge to crack a joke somewhere along the line. No, we are not becoming, in the true sense of the word, a ‘banana republic’, nor are we likely to any time soon. But we are on a downhill trajectory that, unless corrected, may find us at the bottom of the rubbish heap of industrialized nations. Where we once were a leader, now we lag far behind the pack. Where we once were the example other nations looked to, we are now looked down on as not even being on the same playing field – the farm team, as it were.
I need to make it perfectly clear, also, that much as I might like to, I cannot blame our current course on Donald Trump, for the trend began long before he took office. However, I can and do blame him for failing to even see the problem and implement policies that might reverse these trends, for failing miserably in having any sense of what is right and good for the nation and its people. I blame him for being so concerned with his own self-image and “winning” that he has miserably failed We The People. The current administration and Congress have a delusional sense of values, a misguided notion that if they take care of only the wealthy, the wealthy will see to the rest of us. I think the evidence is to the contrary, and without a government actively working to reverse the trends about which I spoke, we can only sink deeper into a hole we began digging decades ago.
I hope I have provided you with a bit of food for thought, as whatever the faults of this country, whatever mistakes we have made in our 230+ year history, I do not wish to see this nation fail, be turned into just another third-world country because a few wealthy people and a few corrupt politicians did not take their responsibility to the human race seriously.