|COMMENT Bob Weaver|
Most US citizens cling to a belief in American Exceptionalism.
There is much in present day and in the nation's history to support that belief.
The third international Social Progress Index, which measures nutrition, education, medical care, human rights, health, justice, equality, poverty, obesity, clean water and other factors of well-being now ranks the US at about 16th in the overall rankings, much worse in specific categories.
In education, the country continues to slide down a slippery slope.
It is a country that cannot admit to itself that racial prejudice still permeates the nation.
America spends more on its war machine than the rest of the world combined, and locks up more people with an incarceration rate the highest in the world.
While the United States represents about 4.4 percent of the world's population, it houses around 22 percent of the world's prisoners at 2.3 million individuals.
Most of the incarcerations are for non-violent crimes.
America has a worse suicide rate than 80 other countries — and lower life expectancy than 29 others, and more women are dying from childbirth than 54 others.
It is worse with traffic fatalities than 36 other countries.
Murder is sky-high in the pistol-polluted nation, where more guns are in the hands of "good guys" than anywhere in the world, related to the NRA slogan that they make the nation safer.
The WV Legislature is cocked to passed a "free carry" of concealed weapons, where anyone over 21, no matter how impaired, can stick a pistol in their pocket.
The nation is first in just one category - access to higher education, although it has become un-affordable to most American working families.
According to the study, the US stands 39th in nutrition and health; 30th in personal safety and 15th in "tolerance and inclusion."
According to the study, life is best in Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Iceland, New Zealand and Canada.
Columnist Nicholas Kristof commented. "What saddens me is that our political system seems unable to rise to the challenges."
America is a nation whose income equality has widened dramatically, stagnant wages for the working class for over 25 years,
There are plenty of reports by left and right politicians, and by think tanks, that explain income inequality and juggle the numbers.
You can start or end where you want depending on what you read and want to believe.
The bottom line, about 1% does own about 99% of the nations wealth, and almost half of Americans seem ok with that.
The top 100 CEOs range from Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslau salary at $156 million down to Dominion Resources CEO Thomas Farrell's $20 million.
One report by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist David Cay Johnston conducted for Tax Analysts found incomes of the bottom 90% of Americans grew only $59 (adjusted for inflation) from 1966 to 2011, while incomes for the top 10% rose by $116,071.
In Washington there is a glaring battle, or so it seems, between the right and left over raising minimum wage because it would hurt small businesses.
There has been little reporting on the calamitous results of the globalization of millions of American jobs, supported in fact by both political parties, deaf to the "giant sucking sound."
It is now a country that lets the nations infrastructure deteriorate — and loses jobs that would stem from repairs, while we spent $2 trillion on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, with the outcomes poor.
The top criteria for any nation should be how well its citizens are able to reach their own potential. It's disturbing that America does so poorly.
It is now a country that has surrendered to government surveillance over what was once scared rights to privacy, in the name of making the country safer.
Then there is the National Debt.
On June 30, 2015, debt held by the public was $13.08 trillion or about 74% of the previous 12 months of GDP. Intragovernmental holdings stood at $5.07 trillion, giving a combined total gross national debt of $18.15 trillion or about 102% of the previous 12 months of GDP.
$6.2 trillion or approximately 47% of the debt held by the public was owned by foreign investors, the largest of which were the People's Republic of China and Japan at about $1.3 trillion and $1.2 trillion respectively for the two countries.
It is still a great nation of which to be proud.