Tag: United-States

How big is the U.S. military budget?

April 1, 2010 | By | 1 Reply More
How big is the U.S. military budget?

This article by the U.K. Guardian puts it in perspective:

[T]he United States spent a staggering $607bn (£402 bn) on defence in 2008. Currently engaged in what will likely be the longest ground war in US history in Afghanistan. Harbourer of thousands of nuclear weapons. 1.5m soldiers. Fleets of aircrafts, bombs and seemingly endless amounts of military technology.

I know that many Americans would read the above paragraph with pride and contentment. I consider it succinct evidence that we are a paranoid war-mongering nation. I consider these enormous military expenditures tragic, considering all of the other things that we could and should be doing with most of that money.

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China examines human rights record of the United States

March 26, 2010 | By | 5 Replies More
China examines human rights record of the United States

China has issued a detailed report that examines the human rights record of the United States for the year 2009. Plain-spoken. Unvarnished. disturbing.

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The twelve countries with the highest quality of life

October 5, 2009 | By | 2 Replies More
The twelve countries with the highest quality of life

The twelve countries with the highest quality of life do not include the United States. We come in at number 13, which means that we”re not doing badly as a whole. But we’re not doing as well as we should be doing, assuming (as many conservatives insist without reference to any metric) that there is no greater country than the United States. We were beaten in the rankings by many “socialist” countries, such as Norway, Canada, Sweden and France.

The U.N.’s measurement system is the Human Development Index, a complex objective formula, not a subjective determination. Some of the many dozens of factors that go into the HDI include the following:

  • Adult illiteracy rate
  • Asylum seekers by country of asylum
  • Average annual change in consumer price index (%)
  • Children underweight for age (% under age 5)
  • Combined gross enrolment ratio in education (%)
  • Earned income (estimated), ratio of female to male
  • Female adult literacy rate (% aged 15 and above)
  • Female estimated earned income (PPP US$)
  • Female life expectancy at birth (years)
  • GDI rank
  • GDP per capita (PPP US$)
  • Government expenditure on health as a percentage of total government expenditure
  • Government expenditure on health per capita (PPP US$)
  • Healthy life expectancy at birth (years)
  • Human development index value
  • Human poverty index (HPI-1) rank

Consider, also, this recent news from the Commonwealth Fund:

Although the United States now spends $2.4 trillion a year on medical care — vastly more per capita than comparable countries — the nation ranks near the bottom on premature deaths caused by illnesses such as diabetes, epilepsy, stroke, influenza, ulcers and pneumonia

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The U.S. War on Drugs by the numbers

September 1, 2009 | By | 11 Replies More
The U.S. War on Drugs by the numbers

In the current edition of Esquire Magazine, John H. Richardson mentions the:

startling lack of controversy that greeted last week’s news that Mexico had suddenly decriminalized drugs — not just marijuana but also cocaine, LSD, and heroin.

In his article, Richardson describes the drug war in the U.S. with some staggering numbers. For instance, every year the U.S. “war on drugs” costs:

15,223 dead and $52.3 billion spent each year — which is, incidentally, almost enough to pay for universal health care.

One can’t help but think of Einstein’s well-used definition of insanity: “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

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Time to stop the drug war

February 11, 2009 | By | 5 Replies More
Time to stop the drug war

Johann Hari sums it up at Huffpo:

Which country was just named by the US Joint Chiefs of Staff as the most likely after Pakistan to suffer a “rapid and sudden collapse“?

Most of us would guess Iraq. The answer is Mexico. The death toll in Tijuana today is higher than in Baghdad. The story of how this came to happen is the story of this war — and why it will have to end, soon.

When you criminalize a drug for which there is a large market, it doesn’t disappear. The trade is simply transferred from pharmacists and doctors to armed criminal gangs. In order to protect their patch and their supply routes, these gangs tool up — and kill anyone who gets in their way. You can see this any day on the streets of London or Los Angeles, where teenage gangs stab or shoot each other for control of the 3,000 percent profit margins on offer. Now imagine this process on a countrywide scale, and you have Mexico and Afghanistan today.

How bad have things gotten in Mexico?

In 2007, more than 2,000 people were killed. In 2008, it was more than 5,400 people. The victims range from a pregnant woman washing her car to a four year-old child to a family in the “wrong” house watching television. Today, 70 percent of Mexicans say they are frightened to go out because of the cartels.

Writer Christina Gleason sums up some of the carnage here in the U.S.:

According to the Department of Justice, over half of all sentenced federal prisoners are drug offenders. Over 80% of the increase in the federal prison population was due to drug convictions between 1985 and 1995. In addition, a 2006 report claimed that 17% of State prisoners and 18% of Federal prisoners committed their crimes in order to obtain drug money. According to a 2001 report, the average sentence for all offenses was 56.8 months. The average sentence for drug offenses was 75.6 months, while the average sentence for violent offenses was 63.0 months. Someone is arrested for violating a drug law every 17 seconds. Someone is arrested for violating a cannabis law every 38 seconds.

What’s the solution? Hari quotes Terry Nelson a former U.S. drug enforcement officer who has seen the light:

Legalizing and regulating drugs will stop drug market crime and violence by putting major cartels and gangs out of business. It’s the one surefire way to bankrupt them, but when will our leaders talk about it?

Why do most people reject this solution? They are afraid that the people who are already getting drugs will continue getting drugs, I suppose. They are failing to consider the extent of the violence and the fact that the drug war is taking valuable money out of the economy to accomplish next to nothing. If you doubt me, go watch a drug court docket. Talk about meaningless rubber stamping. People with drug records as long as your arm simply revolve through the system. In state court, judges struggle to find ways to keep from filling our prisons with nothing but drug offenders. That is the extent of the problem.

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It’s irresponsible to be discussing lipstick on pigs while the U.S. is in decay

September 12, 2008 | By | 1 Reply More
It’s irresponsible to be discussing lipstick on pigs while the U.S. is in decay

Why is McCain so irresponsible?   Because he is spewing lies (and see here).   But that is only half the reason McCain is so irresponsible.   The other half of the reason is that McCain is failing to deal with multi-front crises faced by the United States.   We are a nation in decay, according to a forecast […]

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The U.S. is trying to permanently occupy Iraq

June 16, 2008 | By | 2 Replies More
The U.S. is trying to permanently occupy Iraq

McClatchy News is reporting this: Iraqi lawmakers say the United States is demanding 58 bases as part of a proposed “status of forces” agreement that will allow U.S. troops to remain in the country indefinitely. Leading members of the two ruling Shiite parties said in a series of interviews the Iraqi government rejected this proposal […]

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How bad is the financial condition of the United States?

June 1, 2008 | By | 1 Reply More
How bad is the financial condition of the United States?

Ask David M. Walker, the Comptroller General of the United States and head of GAO. Here’s what he said in a Dec 17, 2007 speech at the National Press Club: “If the federal government was a private corporation and the same report came out this morning, our stock would be dropping and there would be […]

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Charlie Rose tries to understand Iraq

March 26, 2008 | By | 1 Reply More
Charlie Rose tries to understand Iraq

Charlie Rose is having such a difficult time listening to his guests, because he has so obviously bought into the standard mainstream media view on the Iraq conflict (which is essentially the view developed by the Bush Administration).   He appears simultaneously ignorant yet preachy as two men with genuine familiarity with the people of Iraq repeatedly […]

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