Letters to the Editor 2019

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To the Editor: 

Here are some things I think all high school students should be taught before they graduate in order to understand better who we are and the U.S.'s place in the world. 

First, these basic concepts: 

HDI is an acronym for Human Development Index. It, along with others, like the Happiness Index and the Legatum Prosperity Index, is a widely used composite measure of health, life expectancy, education, and income, etc., of nations, based on work by Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen. It is sort of shorthand for social well-being, contentment, and standard of living.  

Gini is a statistical measurement of the difference in income between the upper and lower tiers in a society. The higher the Gini number, the less equal people are in that society. The lower the Gini, the more equality or "socialistic" it is.  

Germany, Finland, Norway, New Zealand, Sweden, Denmark, Canada, Singapore, Australia, Iceland, and Switzerland all have much lower Ginis than the U.S.   

All those countries also rank well above us on the HDI (and on the other indexes as well).   

The correlation should be obvious. They have higher standards of living because they believe that some of the money in the upper ranks of wealth should be used to pay for programs for everyone else, like child care, elder care, family care leave, etc.; all things that Biden and the Democrats are trying in their typical bumbling way to enact and the Republicans are staunchly resisting, calling them 'socialist.'   

Previous President Trump mused why Norwegians don't come here, wistfully saying he wished they would. Their response? They politely said thanks, but no thanks  

Visitors from the countries mentioned come to the U.S. for Disney attractions, our beaches, and national parks, and study at our outstanding universities, but residing here? Thanks, but no thanks.  

They like 'socialism' just fine. Thus, it is really rare to find an expat from any of the aforementioned countries living among us.  

That tells us something. After all, who wants to move to a country where quality child care is only marginally affordable and stay-at-home moms don't get the "mother's pension," as they do in wealthy, socialist Germany? Who wants costly medical care and expensive drugs? Who wants to be burdened with massive debt for higher education and to work 10% more hours per year? What person with an elderly parent or sick child does not want paid leave for family care?   

Those people aren't mesmerized by abstract terms like "freedom," "American exceptionalism," MAGA slogans, or too much government control.  

They like the realities of being unencumbered by medical bills, not struggling in their 'golden years' to pay for eyeglasses and hearing aids and be free from dying of Covid. In short, they like what the Democrats are now, in their incredibly clumsy way, proposing.   

I think that should be taught to all kids across our fair land, and that the real issue is not whether such things are "socialist," but whether we want those safeguards for all people, not just the rich, here, as they have in other highly developed countries.  

They should realize that the U.S. is no longer seen as the promised land, as it was in the past. I'm not sure most American adults realize that. 

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