Recently, I was scolded for saying the United States was en route to becoming a Third World nation.
How many of you actually know what the First, Second, Third, and Fourth World mean? I would venture to guess very few know the actual difference. And I wasn't really wrong when I said We, the People were heading in that direction.
So, here's a little geopolitical history:
The First, Second, Third, and Fourth world designations are holdovers from the Cold War, and the phrase was probably coined by Mao Zedong:
- First World nations are the ones who allied with the United States after World War II and into the Cold War... a/k/a the original NATO allies: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, West Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States. The list has changed a bit, but this is close enough for government work.
- Second World nations were the ones that aligned with China and Russia a/k/a the old Iron Curtain/Soviet Bloc countries.
- Third World nations were ones who remained un-allied. However, now they are the "developing nations," classified by various indices: their Political Rights and Civil Liberties, the Gross National Income (GNI) and Poverty of countries, the Human Development of countries (HDI), and the Freedom of Information within a country.
- Fourth World nations, a comparatively new designation, were originally cultural entities. The fourth world refers to "nations", e.g., cultural entities and ethnic groups, of indigenous people who do not compose states in the traditional sense. Now, however, it's more commonly used to describe the most poverty-stricken, and economically troubled parts of countries in the Third World.
Since Feckless Leader is working hard to shred all our alliances, we are no longer closely tied to the other First World nations, making the US pretty much an outlier. Since we don't align (at least not officially) with Russia and China, the US isn't a Second World nation. As for Third World, well, draw your own conclusion.
Common parlance presupposed Third World nations to have high rates of poverty and maternal and neonatal death rates; lack potable water, comprehensive public education, and have a generally low standard of living.
Approximately 14% of the US total population lives in poverty. This is a tough number to reconcile because it doesn't accurately reflect households where income may be above poverty but expenses like health insurance, heat, and water may reduce that income to no discretionary spending for essentials like clothing and transportation. Nor does it take into account separate populations like Indigenous Americans still living in dire conditions on reservations, inner city minority populations, or rural/agricultural populations who continue to live in almost subsistence mode. Those are not only pockets of poverty, they are also often food and medical deserts where those services are unavailable to the local population.
Potable water is problematic not only in Flint, Michigan, but anywhere where unregulated manufacturing and mining has polluted the ground water. Cancer clusters are not the anomaly they once were. People remaining in those areas are there because they could not afford to get out. Remember Erin Brockovich? She was right all along.
The Maternal Death rate in the most developed nations:
Pretty shocking, huh? How can we continue to deny health insurance to the local population? One would think an entire party that views a woman as an incubator would want to make sure women are healthy enough to bear children. But, NO! They may force a woman to carry a fetus to term, but they do nothing to improve the chances of a live birth. And speaking of live births.....
Of the 27 most developed nations in the world, the US also had the highest infant mortality rate in 2014: 582 infant deaths per 100,000 live births. Both race and economic strata were significant contributing factors. Denying minority women access to health care is hardhearted and cruel to those children they were forced to carry to term.
Public education is progressively underfunded. Class sizes are excessive in most school districts. Teachers are underpaid and undervalued and no one wants to be a teacher because it's a lose/lose career. Lousy pay, lousy hours, and no readily available supplies...unless you buy them yourself. If you don't love it, you shouldn't do it. You give everything you've got to the kids, and even then it's not enough. Our kids deserve better and they're not getting it. We're losing our competitive edge in maths and sciences. All too often, advanced education is simply unaffordable for too many talented kids making it just plain unattainable. Not much separates too many of our inner city and out-state rural kids from the kids on streets all over the globe.
No education, no jobs with upward mobility. We doom an entire generation and significant segment of the population to low income, high poverty, and conditions that breed high crime rates. It really is a vicious cycle.
The slide is no longer imperceptible; we feel ourselves swirling down into the maelstrom more acutely every day. We see it in the lies from the podium, we hear it in the hateful rhetoric from both sides, and we watch it in dog-whistle ads that are starting to show up on television. We, the People are not stupid; we get it. We are aware of what's happening. Now, the only thing left is to see if we can find a middle ground in which we can stand together to fight off the inevitable.
Feckless Leader will be addressing the nation tomorrow night from the Oval Office. Addresses like that carry a certain gravitas, and are usually reserved for sorrowful events. This one is of his own making.
The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Losing a pet is akin to losing a person you love.
They are beings. You love them, they love you.
Even if he's a grandpuppy.
May Chewie's memory be for a blessing.