In the November/December, 2004 issue of the AARP magazine there is an interesting article describing some research in which the authors looked at 16 industrialized countries on 17 indicators regarding quality of life for senior citizens.
The United States ranks 13th out of 16 behind countries like Australia, Canada, Netherlands, Japan, Canada, and France. We are, however, doing better than United Kingdom, Germany, and Italy.
Some of the indicators the United States does worst on are Life Expectancy at Birth, Total Health Costs, Public Spending on Social Programs, Economic Inequality, and Retirement Age for Full Benefits.
It is interesting how the richest, most powerful nation in the world does so poorly at taking care of its most vulnerable citizens, namely, its seniors and its children.
Perhaps our perverted policies which lead to the fighting of wars for "freedom and democracy" while we neglect the welfare of our own citizens leaves much of the world wondering about what the United States values really are. If freedom and democracy are such great things and yet the United States enriches its elite by waging pre-emptive wars while it treats its own citizens poorly and further bankrupts the nation, it might make one wonder if these are the kinds of government policies that people would really want?
Americans continue to support policies that favor an industrial/military corporate elite rather than their own, their elderly parents, and their children and grandchildrens' best interests. It is puzzling especially because they claim to do this based on "values".
In looking closely at cultural indicators, though, people don't seem to act on the very values that they claim to espouse, namely Christian values for justice, equality, and service to the poor. Vulnerable populations continue to be marginalized, pushed aside, and deprived as the elite and affluent capitalize on activities that enhance economic rewards at the same time they oppress and disregard the needs and desires of the more vulnerable and less powerful.
Check out the AARP article.