The OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) released its 2009 statistical survey of member states a little over three months ago. The OECD -- which is not some crazy left-wing liberal think tank, but a respectable, centrist, pro-business organization that played major roles in the implementation of the EEC and other progressive democratic initiatives in Europe -- is comprised almost entirely of high-income, developed, "First World" nations*. Here are some of the things the most recent statistical survey revealed:
* Of nine leading social indicators -- employment rates, student literacy rates, income equity, gender wage gap, life expectancy, infant mortality, crime victimization, overall well-being, and total income per capita -- the U.S. ranked in the top three only in the last category. In two categories (income equity and infant mortality), it ranked in the bottom three. In those same categories, it showed overall forward progress in only one category (gender wage gap) and showed a significant decline in six.
* Americans worked more hours per year than any other country surveyed, and had less leisure time. They had the second-longest work week, the second-longest work year, the second-worst record for illness and maternity leave, and by far the least number of holidays and vacation days.
* Americans spend less time eating than all but two countries, but have the highest level of obesity of all those surveyed.
* The U.S. ranks 27th of 30 in social spending as a percentage of net national income.
* Only in Mexico is the average age of a woman when she has her first child lower. The U.S. also has the third-highest fertility rate of all countries surveyed.
* Although it is fashionable on the right to blame many of these social factors on immigration, eight countries included in the 2009 statistical survey had a higher percentage of foreign-born citizens.
* The U.S. has far and away the highest divorce rate of all countries surveyed -- among heterosexuals, anyway.
* 25 of 30 countries surveyed spend more on preschool child care than the U.S.
* The U.S. life expectancy rate is ranked 25th out of 30 in life expectancy (that is, we have the 5th-worst life expectancy of all countries surveyed), in overall height (a leading indicator of physical health), and in low birth weight; our child poverty rate is 27th of 30, as is our income inequity level; our infant death rate is ranked 28th out of 30, as is our overall poverty rate.
* We imprison a higher percentage of our citizens than any other country surveyed.
* In only three countries surveyed does a single parent get less assistance from the state than in America. Those benefits are the third least-generous of any country, and the U.S. ranks 27th both in work incentives for single parents and in wage levels for single parents.
* The U.S. has the highest reported levels of mental illness of all countries surveyed, and the highest degree of severity in those reporting mental illness.
* More people responded that they are "very dissatisfied" with their job in the U.S. than in any other country surveyed.
* The U.S. ranked 3rd-highest for auto theft, 5th-highest for burglary, 3rd-highest for sexual assault, 5th-highest for assault, and 5th-highest for personal theft of all countries surveyed.
* Only two countries surveyed have less social protection for the elderly in terms of money set aside for pensions and retirement plans.
* The U.S. ranked 29th of 30 in trade union representation.
* No country spends more on health care.
Keeping all that in mind -- that is, keeping in mind that in a number of rather important ways, the richest country in the world is on the very precipice of becoming a Third World nation, and that we spend more money on health care than any country in the history of the world in exchange for southeast Asian levels of life expectancy and infant mortality -- please note that a bunch of ignorant, know-nothing loudmouths have just aided and abetted multi-billion-dollar insurance and health care companies in ensuring that once again, there will be no meaningful health care reform in America.
Well done, everybody. Let's pat ourselves on the back for this one.
*: Nations included in the survey were Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States. So, keep in mind that when you stack up U.S. results, you're not only comparing them to barely-out-of-the-third-world countries like South Korea, Turkey, and Mexico, and countries like Hungary and Slovakia that were Soviet satellites less than 20 years ago, but any country not included in the survey is either one too tiny to have any kind of substantial economic power, or one where vast numbers of people currently live in what Americans would likely consider intolerable poverty.