The Banana States of America — Part II

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.infant mortalityData 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.

15 thoughts on “The Banana States of America — Part II

  1. Thank-you for this well researched and well written two part presentation of our present predicament. A far cry from the “Make America Great Again” that was promised.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! Nope, not even going in the same direction as the “MAGA” promise. But then, I wonder if he defines the word ‘great’ in the same way we do? Perhaps he only meant he would make it great for himself?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. All fine points. I’d like to add one more indicator of “banana republic” that is bipartisan in my opinion — the criminalization of political difference. It’s not enough to win elections; conservatives wanted to see Bill Clinton in jail; liberals wanted George W. Bush and Dick Cheney in jail; conservatives want Hillary in jail; liberals want Trump in jail. Prison as an appropriate place for your political opponents is becoming a normalized idea in the US, which seems to me another hallmark of a banana republic.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. The figures are all worrying aren’t they and yet there’s not one scheme I know of that’s going forward to try and correct a single one. Yet the Government have known about this for some time and this Government even actively prevented President Obama going ahead with Obamacare to try and reverse the healthcare problems. You say Trump can’t be held to blame for these issues yet I say it’s his fault that Obamacare isn’t even at the standard he started his term of office at. The Democrats need to wake up unless they’re happy for it to continue down this path.
    Cwtch.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, they are all very worrying and getting worse day-by-day, with none trying to find ways to correct the problem, but rather further demolishing the well-being of the people by rolling back environmental regulations, chipping away at ACA and Dodd-Frank, and taking our hard-earned money to give to the wealthy 1% so that they can watch the interest grow in their offshore accounts. Like you, I do blame Trump for those things, but merely thought I ought to point out that much of this devolution began decades ago. Obama tried to work on several of these issues, but largely failed because Congress had a mandate to disapprove anything he wanted. And ACA was watered down to begin with, and is now more or less ineffective, especially for those who need it most.
      I agree … the democrats need to take their collective heads out of their posteriors and get busy, for November 6th is less than 6 months away by my calclulations. But don’t hold your breath. Sigh.
      Cwtch

      Liked by 1 person

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