By Nathan Wellman
Source: U.S. Uncut
The United States of America is possibly the wealthiest nation in the history of the world. However, many third-world countries actually surpass America in many of the most vital gauges for measuring human development.
Here are five of the most jaw-droppingly unforgivable ways in which America is lagging behind the rest of the world:
1. America’s criminal justice system is broken
The U.S. represents only 5% of the world’s population, but this one country comprises 25% of the world’s prison population. According to the NAACP, a disproportionate 58% of America’s prisoners are African-American or Hispanic despite these demographics only adding up to about 30% of the U.S. population.
The only nation that imprisons a greater percentage of its citizens than America is North Korea. The U.S. jails 716 people for every 100,000 Americans, according to the International Center for Prison Studies. That’s nearly twice as many as Russia (484 prisoners per 100,000), and far more than Iran (284) or China (121). For context, the U.S. only jailed around 100-200 people per 100,000 citizens in the 1970s, and the incarcerated rate is only getting worse today, even as crime rates fall. A staggering 60% of prisoners are in jail for nonviolent drug charges.
Inside prison, about 600 victims are raped every day, according to an estimate from the Justice Department. An in-depth DOJ investigation found that of the approximate 217,000 prisoners raped each year, 17,000 were juveniles.
2. Gun Violence is an epidemic
America has 20 times more murders when compared to the average rate of the developed world. Even terrorism-plagued Iraq has half the murder rate of the U.S. Over half of the deadliest mass shootings from the last 50 years happened in America, and 79% of those shooters got ahold of their guns legally. Some American cities, particularly New Orleans and Detroit, even surpass many Latin American countries, which suffer from some of the highest gun violence rates in the world.
3. Healthcare costs too much and delivers too little
America is the only developed country that does not ensure healthcare to all of its citizens. Even in the wake of the Affordable Care Act, millions of poverty-stricken Americans have no medical insurance because Republican governors have refused to expand Medicaid, even though the federal government is paying the cost and the simple measure would actually save money for their states.
Life expectancy in many American counties is lower than Nicaragua, Algeria, or Bangladesh. The U.S. is unusual among developed countries in that Americans die in the tens of thousands as a direct result of a lack of health insurance. America also spends twice the percentage of our GDP on healthcare than the average wealthy country for these substandard results.
4. Inequality is rampant
Unfortunately, the U.S. has the worst rates of income inequality in the world, according to the 2015 Global Wealth Report conducted by Allianz. The wealthiest one percent of Americans own nearly half of the nation’s wealth invested in stocks and mutual funds, and the overall gap between rich and poor has only grown since the recession, with almost all income gains going to the top 1% since 2009.
Despite the idea of America being a meritocracy, those born in the poorest 20% of the American population have less than a 3% chance of making it to the top quintile.
5. Infrastructure is crumbling
America is quite literally falling apart.
One study concludes that the U.S. needs to invest $3.6 trillion into infrastructure over the next six years. One out of every nine American bridges (66,405 bridges) have been labeled “structurally deficient.”
Water runs through dilapidated wooden pipes in certain parts of South Dakota, Alaska, and Pennsylvania. Some of Detroit’s sewer lines still used today were originally constructed in the mid-1800s.
A whopping 45% of Americans have no access to public transit, and the construction of the infamously still-incomplete Second Avenue subway line in New York City has been hit with delays dating all the way back to World War II.
America certainly has and continues to achieve greatness in many ways. But if we want to truly earn our oft-proclaimed slogan of “Greatest Country in the World,” these fatal flaws in our system must be acknowledged and addressed. Otherwise, the emperor will continue to parade about with no clothes, and we run the risk of being completely surpassed by a world marveling at our oblivious nakedness.