Monday, August 1, 2011
The Greatest Nation on Earth
I am still proud to be an American (despite the national circus that has played out on Capitol Hill recently) but I sure wish our leaders would stop referring to the U.S. as "the greatest nation on earth." The phrase is all arrogance and no ambition. The World Health Organization ranked our health system 37th in the world, behind all of Western Europe and places like Colombia, Chile, and Costa Rica. When it comes to education, the U.S. ranks 25th in math, 17th in science, and 14th in reading out of the 34 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries. So go ahead, well up with tears when you say the pledge of allegiance or sing the national anthem, point to our can-do spirit and moments of courage and resolve, or advances in science, technology, and medicine. But "greatest"? That's one word best left out of our national rhetoric.