Contrary to Popular Belief, America is Bad at… Well, a Lot of Things


Jasper Coen, Staff Reporter

‘America is the freest nation in the world.’ How many times have you heard this statement? For most of us, it’s probably a fairly common phrase. ‘We’ve got the greatest healthcare in the world. The greatest economy. The best rates of employment,’ and so on and so on. However, upon further inspection, we start to see that these claims may not have quite the base we make it out to have. Digging a little deeper, we find the disappointing truth that, far from being the best, America is often one of the worst at many things in the developing world. 

Now don’t get me wrong, America is certainly the richest country in the world with the totality of American households owning over 100 trillion dollars in wealth. To put that number in perspective, one million seconds is 11.5 days, one billion seconds is almost 32 years, one-hundred trillion seconds is 3,171,000 years. That means that if you started counting every dollar (one dollar a second) when the first primates started appearing, you’d barely be nearing the finish line in the present day. So then, if we’re the richest and most prosperous country in the history of the entire world, why is our standard of living so much lower than many poorer countries?

Why is it that places like Germany and Finland, which are poorer than America, have happier, healthier populations? Why is it that, despite our great wealth, on a list of 35 developed countries’ rates of child poverty America was ranked second to worst? Well, it’s because their taxes go to things that actually benefit them. Healthcare policies, social welfare programs, are all things that have been proven to directly benefit and increase the general standard of living of the people of a nation. In the US however, our taxes don’t go to social welfare or healthcare. Instead, a majority of our taxes go to our ridiculously inflated military budget as well as paying for expensive insurance premiums. And the worst part is, we pay more and get less for it. When totaling up all taxes that we as Americans pay, we end up paying more than most developed nations. A place like Canada has a total tax rate of about 11% of the wealth made that year (and a higher standard of living than the US). Compare this to the United States’ rate of over 43% and you can see the true absurdity that is the taxes we pay. And all of this to yield a significantly worse result for the average American worker. 

In return, we trade these taxes for some of the most terrible services the developed world has to offer. Case one: the American healthcare system. In the developed world, America has a sort of unholy healthcare trifecta. The three points that make up this awful healthcare triangle are as follows: America’s healthcare is one of the most expensive, least efficient, and least effective. We have a low life expectancy, a lack of healthcare supplies, a high infant mortality rate, and crippling poverty brought on by medical debt. Many people forgo medical care entirely due solely to cost. Think, for just a second, about how entirely messed-up that is. People choose not to get life-saving medical attention because our government is unwilling to give us a system that has been proven to increase the general standard of living in the majority of the developed world. 

To which some might respond with, “At least we have the freedom to choose which healthcare service we use!” However, this ‘freedom’ really isn’t all that incredible. We’re given choices sure, but that doesn’t change the fact that, whatever we choose, we’re still paying more money for a worse service than countries with free healthcare. Some would also claim things like “Why should my taxes be going to pay for other people’s healthcare?” However, it may not be other people’s healthcare you’re paying for. On average people in America at the very least go to the doctors for a physical check-up or similar procedure four times a year. So it is definitely of benefit to you personally. In fact, you could see it as a sort of ‘super insurance’ where you pay money annually and in return get all of your medical bills completely covered. Also, if you’re worried about where taxes are going it seems much more prudent to talk about things that don’t improve our overall quality of life like the overinflated military budget. In fact, military spending makes up over 50% of our total federal spending. So if you want to look at where you’re being taxed an unfair amount of money, maybe we should be turning our eyes towards foreign wars.

And the list goes on and on and on. Americans work more than people of any other rich country just to avoid starving. With the disgustingly meager ‘benefits’ provided to American workers, most people find themselves living paycheck to paycheck. Not a great place to be if you’re looking for happiness and fulfillment. As our poverty levels rise and rise, so too the levels of suicide and drug overdose-related death become higher and higher. Our lives keep declining. In the midst of this, our government sits back and funnels money into wars and prisons. Recruitment for the newly graduated debt-ridden kids ready to die for their government in hopes they’ll have a chance of getting tuition. And jail time to keep the less fortunate of us off the streets for charges of drugs they use to cope with the economic hellscape of our declining nation. And if we don’t do anything about it, these problems aren’t going anywhere.