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Debunking popular myths about the U.S.
email | Craig J. Cantoni

Posted on 05/24/2005 8:11:25 AM PDT by hsmomx3

Listed below are 15 commonly-held myths about social, economic, health and environmental conditions in the United States, followed by facts that debunk the myths. The facts have been gleaned from the Pocket World in Figures 2005, published by the The Economist magazine.

Myth # 1: The U.S. ranks low in human development.

Fact: On the Human Development Index, which measures literacy, life expectancy and income levels, the U.S. ranks above Japan, Switzerland, Denmark, Holland, Luxembourg, the United Kingdom, Austria, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and 38 other countries.

Myth #2: The U.S. is uncompetitive in global markets.

Fact: The U.S. is the world's biggest exporter, twice as big as Japan and three times as big as China. It also ranks first in manufacturing output, with 80 percent more output than Japan and more than twice as much output as either China or Germany. And it is surpassed in per-capita Gross Domestic Product by only Luxembourg, Norway and Switzerland, all of which are tiny, lily-white countries. The social-welfare countries of Germany, France and Italy have a per-capita GDP that is only 66 percent, 67 percent and 57 percent, respectively, of the per-capita GDP of the U.S.

Myth #3: Because the U.S. doesn't produce enough scientists and engineers, it has lost its edge in innovation.

Fact: It ranks first on the Innovation Index, which is a measure of human resources skills, market incentive structures and the interaction between the business and scientific sectors. It also ranks first in the number of Nobel Prize winners in economics, medicine, physics and chemistry. The first-place rankings are in spite of the U.S. ranking fifth in R&D spending as a percentage of GDP and dropping to 10th place on the Index of Economic Freedom.

Myth #4: American roads are congested due to a lack of mass transit.

Fact: The U.S. ranks 42nd in the number of vehicles per kilometer of road. Germany, a country with a lot of mass transit, ranks third.

Myth #5: The U.S. is the most car-crazy country.

Fact: It ranks 12th in the number of cars per 1,000 people, surpassed by such countries as New Zealand, Luxembourg, Iceland, Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Australia.

Myth #6: The U.S. has a high rate of auto accidents.

Fact: It ranks 31st in the number of people injured per miles traveled. Italy, Canada, Belgium, Israel and Germany have more injuries.

Myth #7: The U.S. ranks low in educational achievement.

Fact: Only one nation, South Korea, ranks higher than the U.S. in the percentage of the population enrolled in post-secondary education, in spite of the U.S. having a large number of immigrants from third-world countries.

Myth #8: The U.S. leads in breast cancer, lung cancer and diabetes.

Fact: It does not make the top-20 list in deaths per 100,000 people for breast cancer. The top five countries for breast cancer are Denmark, Iceland, Belgium, United Kingdom and Hungary. The U.S. ranks eighth in lung cancer, surpassed by the Netherlands, Italy, Croatia, United Kingdom, Denmark, Belgium and Hungary. And it ranks 14th in diabetes, surpassed by such countries as Canada, Spain, Italy, Greece and Singapore.

Myth #9: Americans don't read books.

Fact: The U.S. is tied with Singapore in fourth place for book sales per capita. Japan, Norway and Germany rank first, second and third, respectively. France is in 17th place.

Myth #10: American teenagers watch the most TV and drink the most alcohol.

Fact: The U.S. ranks tenth in the percentage of 15-year-old males who watch TV four or more hours a day on weekdays. Ukraine is in first place. The U.S. does not make the top-14 list in 15-year-olds who drink alcohol weekly.

Myth #11: Americans are heavy smokers and drinkers.

Fact: The U.S. does not make the top-20 list in per-capita smoking. Greece is in first place. In beer consumption, the U.S. is in 11th place; and in alcohol consumption, it doesn't make the top-23 list. The Czech Republic ranks first in beer consumption, and Luxembourg ranks first in the consumption of alcoholic drinks.

Myth #12: The U.S. leads in crime.

Fact: The top ten countries for serious assaults per 100,000 people are in rank order: Australia, Sweden, South Africa, Belgium, Ghana, Swaziland, Fiji, Jamaica, Netherlands, United States. The top ten countries for theft are: Australia, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Norway, Belgium, France, Austria, United States, Germany, Iceland.

Myth #13: The U.S. leads in defense spending.

Fact: When measured as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product, the United States does not make the top-39 list. North Korea is first, Israel is tenth, and Singapore is nineteenth. Most Arab countries are on the list, and many rank near the top. For example, Saudi Arabia is fifth, Kuwait is sixth, and Jordan is eleventh.

Myth #14: The U.S. leads in threatened species.

Fact: It is in 21st place in mammal species under threat and in 10th place in bird species under threat. Indonesia, China, India and Brazil rank in the top five in both categories.

Myth #15: The U.S. leads in sprawl and deforestation.

Fact: It ranks third in the amount of forested land and second in the amount of land under protected status. It doesn't make the top-48 list of nations with the highest rural population density. __________

Mr. Cantoni is an author and columnist. His new book, Breaking from the Herd: Political Essays for Independent Thinkers by a Maverick Columnist, retails for $18.95 but can be purchased directly from him for $10. You can contact him at either ccan2@aol.com or haalt1@aol.com.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Editorial; Government
KEYWORDS: cantoni
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To: hsmomx3

ping for later, thanks.


41 posted on 05/24/2005 1:45:04 PM PDT by No.6 (www.fourthfightergroup.com)
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To: hsmomx3
Interesting article, but the truth is that some of these "refutations" are as misleading as the myths themselves. I'll point a few out . . .

Myth #2: The U.S. is uncompetitive in global markets.

Fact: The U.S. is the world's biggest exporter, twice as big as Japan and three times as big as China. It also ranks first in manufacturing output, with 80 percent more output than Japan and more than twice as much output as either China or Germany. And it is surpassed in per-capita Gross Domestic Product by only Luxembourg, Norway and Switzerland, all of which are tiny, lily-white countries. The social-welfare countries of Germany, France and Italy have a per-capita GDP that is only 66 percent, 67 percent and 57 percent, respectively, of the per-capita GDP of the U.S.

GDP is not an accurate indicator of a nation's "competitiveness" from a global perspective. And export statistics don't mean much unless they are listed in terms of population. I can almost guarantee you that per-capita exports for the U.S. are very low compared to many other industrialized nations.

Myth #4: American roads are congested due to a lack of mass transit.

Fact: The U.S. ranks 42nd in the number of vehicles per kilometer of road. Germany, a country with a lot of mass transit, ranks third.

This "fact" doesn't have anything to do with the myth. What this tells us is that the U.S. has a lot of roadway miles in very sparsely-populated areas -- something that anyone who has driven across this country would know. It doesn't say anything about the number of vehicles per kilometer of road in areas where most people live and work.

Myth #6: The U.S. has a high rate of auto accidents.

Fact: It ranks 31st in the number of people injured per miles traveled. Italy, Canada, Belgium, Israel and Germany have more injuries.

Again, the "fact" has nothing to do with the "myth." The myth that is supposedly debunked here is the rate of auto accidents -- not the rate of auto accidents involving injuries. And since the information about auto accidents per mile traveled is generally available from the same sources that were consulted for the numbers presented here, I suspect the author is being deliberately misleading here.

Myth #7: The U.S. ranks low in educational achievement.

Fact: Only one nation, South Korea, ranks higher than the U.S. in the percentage of the population enrolled in post-secondary education, in spite of the U.S. having a large number of immigrants from third-world countries.

Anyone who thinks that getting a post-secondary education in the U.S. makes you "educated" is delusional.

Myth #8: The U.S. leads in breast cancer, lung cancer and diabetes.

Fact: It does not make the top-20 list in deaths per 100,000 people for breast cancer. The top five countries for breast cancer are Denmark, Iceland, Belgium, United Kingdom and Hungary. The U.S. ranks eighth in lung cancer, surpassed by the Netherlands, Italy, Croatia, United Kingdom, Denmark, Belgium and Hungary. And it ranks 14th in diabetes, surpassed by such countries as Canada, Spain, Italy, Greece and Singapore.

This one is almost identical to the auto safety argument described previously. The "myth" apparently involves the number of cases of these various ailments, while the "fact" addresses only the number of deaths from these ailments.

Myth #12: The U.S. leads in crime.

Fact: The top ten countries for serious assaults per 100,000 people are in rank order: Australia, Sweden, South Africa, Belgium, Ghana, Swaziland, Fiji, Jamaica, Netherlands, United States. The top ten countries for theft are: Australia, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Norway, Belgium, France, Austria, United States, Germany, Iceland.

Don't tell me about serious assaults, and don't tell me about theft. Tell me about all crimes -- these numbers are readily available, so why aren't they used?

42 posted on 05/24/2005 2:12:52 PM PDT by Alberta's Child (I ain't got a dime, but what I got is mine. I ain't rich, but lord I'm free.)
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To: avg_freeper
I'm right on it.

43 posted on 05/24/2005 2:14:46 PM PDT by evets (God bless President Bush and VP Cheney)
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To: hsmomx3

bookmark


44 posted on 05/24/2005 7:55:31 PM PDT by chaosagent (It's all right to be crazy. Just don't let it drive you nuts.)
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To: Marie
We simply can NOT allow America to keep falling behind in beer consumption.

Allus (hic!) did wanna do muh patroti...patritotic...oh, dang it, spilled another one on th' keyboard...

45 posted on 05/24/2005 8:06:31 PM PDT by Billthedrill
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To: hsmomx3

bookmark


46 posted on 05/25/2005 3:32:46 PM PDT by Talking_Mouse (Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just... Thomas Jefferson)
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To: hsmomx3

Strange posting. Most of the "popular myths" seem to be straw men set up specifically be debunked. Furthermore many are so generally stated that the rebuttal is meaningless and the way in which the rebuttals are stated is designed to mislead. The work seems to be that of a propagandist, not a serious academic.

The U.S. is certainly not as bad as the claims many so-called conservatives impute the radical left or to their centrist kin, the liberals. But then the only people I ever hear making those claims are on the radical right. I would like to see some verifiable evidence that these myths even exist other than on right-wing talk shows and some of the less respectable right-wing mass media.

The U.S. is a good country, by and large. Better than many. Better than most, actually. However it isn't the BEST country by any measure that I know of, except perhaps in its immigration policies. The impression that I get when listening to the radical right is that this is God's country and is the best place to live on Earth. My belief is that God has no country and my experience tells me that this isn't the best place to live... it's just better than most. There are scads of things that need fixing starting with giving every child an EQUAL opportunity to succeed from the time he/she is born. If we do that one thing, this actually could be the best country on Earth, but we are heading in the opposite direction.


47 posted on 06/10/2006 12:04:51 AM PDT by Frans Bouman
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To: Frans Bouman
There are scads of things that need fixing starting with giving every child an EQUAL opportunity to succeed from the time he/she is born. If we do that one thing, this actually could be the best country on Earth, but we are heading in the opposite direction.

And how, pray tell, Mr. Socialist Faggot do we do that, when human beings are NOT GENETICALLY equal in terms of intelligence or ability?

48 posted on 06/10/2006 12:12:41 AM PDT by Clemenza (The CFR ate my bilderburgers! Time to call for a trilateral commission to investigate!)
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