I have to cringe when I hear or read right-leaning politicians and commentators wax poetic about how the U.S. has the “greatest” system in the world – the best health care, the best education, the best government, etc, etc, etc. It’s not that I don’t support the effort for the U.S. to be the best it can, but to categorize things as the “greatest” or “best” implies that these accolades represent achievements perfected and maintained to a level we need no longer worry our pretty little heads about it.
All one has to do is take a walk down the street – pretty much any street in the country with the exception of perhaps Rodeo Drive – to see that we are a long way away from the best we could be.
Case in point: The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development released results of a study on the well-being of children in its 30 member states, and America – despite spending well over the per child average for OECD members – has some of the industrialized world’s highest rates of infant mortality, teenage pregnancy and child poverty.
Only Mexico, Slovakia and Turkey fare worse on infant mortality. The only OECD country with a higher teenage pregnancy rate is Mexico.
I’m sure there are those out there who would tear apart the study for a variety of reasons: the OECD is French-based, it is socialist malignant mumbo-jumbo aimed at destabilizing a capitalist system, the study comes from “Europe,” etc, etc, etc, etc ….whatever.
The truth is, for all the talk show babble about family values, we are failing – as individuals, as families, as a society – to safeguard a prosperous future for our children. And I, for one, certainly hope that is not the “best” we can do.