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America: Lookout World, We’re Number Fifteen!

Go USA!! There’s just no way to describe that feeling of pride swelling in your chest; that overpowering urge to strut around and shout from the rooftops “We’re Number Fifteen! Yeahhh!!!”

Take it easy now, we’re still Number One when it comes to manufacturin g weapons, occupying other countries and guzzling the world’s resources. But for wimpy things like the average working wage, fourteen countries rank higher than us.

This statistic comes from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. It’s a group of thirty of the world’s richest countries. Their data is based on the after-tax income of the “average worker.” This includes everything from manufacturin g, mining and construction to the service industry to financial services and real estate.

Britain has the world’s wealthiest middle class. Only one country in this group — Hungary — has a wider gap than the U.S. between the richest and poorest.

Before this group started using the after-tax income of the average worker, they were calculating this statistic by including everybody — billionaires  , the homeless, you name it. And this is how the Bush Administrati on tries to show how well everyone is doing. When billionaires get richer, the overall statistics look better.

The stupidity of this “logic” was pointed out by Molly Ivins a few years ago: If Bill Gates walks into a soup kitchen where forty homeless people are waiting in line, the “average person in that soup kitchen is worth one billion dollars.

But hey, number fifteen isn’t so bad. Let’s look at our infant mortality rate: We’re number Thirty-Seven . Thirty-six countries — including Cuba, Macau and the Isle of Man — have a higher infant survival rate than we do.

How about literacy? Twenty countries — including Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Georgia and Cuba (again??? Damn You Fidel Castro!) — have a higher literacy rate than the United States.

Priorities I guess.

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