Friday, January 04, 2008

What goes around, comes around

This was in yesterday's Financial Times
Everybody’s thoughts may be on Iowa, so maybe it is appropriate to spare one for George W. Bush, entering the last year of his presidency. In so doing, there is no reason to be charitable.
I thought it was worth highlighting that statement. It shows how little respect the rest of the world has for Bush. There are no kind words for him because he hasn't left the world a better place.

Sadly, there are no kind words for our country either. This is how the Toronto Star described us in a recent article: Welcome to Third World, USA

Apparently, the Wall Street Journal insulted Canada in the mid-1990s by calling them "an honorary Third World country." Now that the tables have turned, they're more than happy to reciprocate.
Ironically, the U.S. today has many more features in common with Third World status than Canada ever did back in the mid-1990s.

What is usually meant by a Third World economy? A half-century ago, the term was associated with the economically underdeveloped countries of Africa, Asia, South America and Oceania. The common characteristics of these Third World countries were high levels of poverty, income inequality, high birth rates and an economic dependence upon the advanced countries. Third World countries were simply not as industrialized or technologically advanced as Western countries.

But what are some of the distinguishing characteristics of contemporary Third World countries? They go beyond these nations’ fiscal position or undue concentration on natural resource exports.

The glaring features today include poverty, lack of democratic institutions, controlling oligarchies and the unequal distribution of income and wealth. In other words, the few enjoy a rich lifestyle while the many share subpar incomes and poverty.

Another characteristic of Third World countries is that a major portion of their fiscal expenditures is allocated to the military. In many Third World countries, the military is controlled by an elite or a small collection of the wealthy.

Finally, in many Third World countries one finds that leadership is passed from one generation to the next, often via a close relative.
Check, check and check. They also point out that there's an ideological difference between us and other countries:
[...] most Western democracies see the elimination or reduction of economic inequality as a good idea. Indeed, it is a generally accepted principle that the underlying causes of economic inequality based on such non-economic differences as race, gender, or geography should also be minimized or eliminated.

In other words, there is a strong predilection in most Western countries to level the economic playing field as much as possible. This seems not to be the case in the United States. [emphasis added]
This is our country after decades of Republican control and two terms under Bush. No wonder "change" resonated with the voters in Iowa yesterday.


abi said...

I hear you about Iowa and change. But I'd feel better about the results if Huckabee hadn't won. That scares me.

expatbrian said...

Good post, Kathy and true. The US is sinking into an abyss of disrespect and loathing around the world and you can't blame those who hold that opinion. They have strong evidence to support it.
This election is critical as it will be the first job of the new administration to turn this diplomatic nightmare around. No other US administration in history has had to face this task.

Lew Scannon said...

Let's hope that when the people vote for change this time, the politicians follow through and give it to us. Because, if I recall correctly (and I do) in 2006 they promised us change and really haven't changed a thing.

Larry said...

The Third World USA is what this nation is quickly becoming and this dark cloud has already mushroomed out of control.

Jolly Roger said...

This country not only fits the generally accepted definition of a third-world nation, we also resemble the fabled tin-pot dictatorship more and more thanks to "Baby Dunce" Bush.

Kathy said...

Abi, I don't think Huckabee could make it all the way to the White House. He might have the support of Republican evangelicals, but from what I've been reading the rest of the GOP'ers aren't too crazy about him.

Expat, you're right about the challenges the country faces. Sadly, I read somewhere that experts feel it will take 2-4 more administrations to right all the wrongs that Bush inflicted on us.

Lew, I think that's partially why we're seeing relative newcomers generating excitement. People are tired of old-school establishment politicians that haven't delivered on their promises.

Larry, you're right about conditions getting out of control. It's amazing how quickly one administration was able to mess things up, eh? So much for checks and balances.

Jolly Roger, "Baby Dunce." Did you make that up? I like it. :-)