Monday, 1 September 2014

America, America ….

We hear a lot about American exceptionalism – what they lead the world in, what they think they lead the world in, and their unshakeable belief in their god-given right to do so.  

The USA has the highest per capita ownership of guns in the world at 88 per 100 people.  They are, quite simply, nuts about guns.  To the annoyance of the US gun lobby, parents have to wait until their kids reach the age of 7 before they can start teaching them how to shoot a gun - and they often learn by firing at a human shaped target. 

A  few days ago a 9 year-old American girl accidentally shot a gun instructor in the head when she lost control of the Uzi machine gun he was teaching her how to use.  
The Israeli made Uzi is a nasty little thing. Like most guns, it was developed with the sole purpose of killing or disabling human beings – most particularly in the context of close quarter 'combat' - aka crowd control.

The USA spends more money on  'defence' than the next 13 countries combined and it is the top supplier of weapons to other countries.

It imprisons more of its citizens than any other country; it has 5% of world's population but 25% of its prisoners - a grossly disproportionate number of whom are black and hispanic.

It leads the world in the consumption of opiate painkillers, consuming 80% of the world's production.

35% of its population is obese and health issues arising from that are of epidemic proportions.

It wastes 57% of its energy annually.

50% of its population breathe air that is polluted enough to cause health problems and polluted air causes an estimated 200,000 early deaths annually.

It used to have one of the safest water supplies in the world but its infrastructure is crumbling rapidly under the weight of a lack of investment and the strain of dealing with the 50,000 chemicals in use and increasing leaching and spills from the country’s massive toxic waste dumps. Attempts to privatise supplies have failed and led to the obscenity of poor people having their water supply cut off when they are unable to pay the bills.

 In terms of GDP, the USA is the world's richest country, but it ranks:

3rd in the world in terms of inequality of wealth distribution;

16th in literacy;

27th in the world in median household income; 

27th in life expectancy;

61st in environmental protection.

It's 46th in infant mortality - behind Cuba and Korea, most of Europe, Australia, NZ and Canada. 

Annually, twice the number of US babies die on the first day after birth than in all 27 European Nations combined, although 1 million more babies are born in Europe. (Save the Children's State of the World's Mothers’ Report).  

A major contributor to the USA's infant mortality rate is the high number of premature births among poor women who experience low levels of primary health care and high levels of physiological and psychological stress during pregnancy.  This is a judgment on the American health-care system and on American society as a whole. 

So what is the relevance of all this to us here today just 18 days out from an election?

Make no mistake - this is the sort of society we are on track to become if the Right continues to set the political, economic and social agenda.  We are already well on the way and  the rolling back of all the social advances that people of my generation took for granted, simply has to be halted and reversed.

The only way to do that is to vote in a progressive government - and then camp on its doorstep and force it to do those things it promised to do - and more. 

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