Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Speeding Down an Increasingly Rubble-Strewn Path to a Region Where Being Second Rate Is Good Enough

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The railroad tunnel project, all set and ready to go, would have provided jobs for 6,000 construction workers, not to mention all the residual employment that accompanies such projects. What we’ll get instead, if it is not built, is the increased pollution and worsening traffic jams that result when tens of thousands of commuters who would have preferred to take the train are redirected to their automobiles.

Bob Herbert unloads on Chris Christie as a symptom of everything going wrong in America. There’s more collapsing empire watch from Glenn Greenwald, who notes:

Just to underscore the rapidity of the decline, as recently as 1999, the U.S. was ranked by the World Health Organization as 24th in life expectancy.  It’s now 49th.  There are other similarly potent indicators.  In 2009, the National Center for Health Statistics ranked the U.S. in 30th place in global infant mortality rates.  Out of 20 “rich countries” measured by UNICEF, the U.S.ranks 19th in “child well-being.” Out of 33 nations measured by the OECD, the U.S. ranks 27th for student math literacy and 22nd for student science literacy.  In 2009, the World Economic Forum ranked 133 nations in terms of “soundness” of their banks, and the U.S. was ranked in 108th place, just behind Tanzania and just ahead of Venezuela.

There is, however, some good news:  the U.S. is now in fifth place in total number of executions, behind only China, Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, and comfortably ahead of Yemen and Sudan, while there are two categories in which the U.S. has been and remains the undisputed champion of the world — this one and this one.  And, of course, the U.S. is not just objectively the greatest country on the planet, but the greatest country ever to exist in all of human history — as Dave Roberts put it in response to these life expectancy numbers:  “but we’re No. 1 in bestness!” — so we’re every bit as exceptional as ever.

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