Falling life expectancy and the collapse of the United States

Gennaro Carotenuto

According to studies conducted separately by Columbia University and the World Health Organization, the United States has, in only ten years, gone from the 24th to the 49th in the world rankings of life expectancy. That is, to live around 4.5 years less than the long-living Japanese or 2.2 years less than the Italians, located in the twentieth place.

In 1960, U.S. citizens were in fifth place, behind Scandinavian countries and Holland and Australia. It took 40 years to lose 19 places and only 10 in fall another 25. Among the causes of the collapse of their real life expectancy are obesity, smoking, alcoholism, poor nutrition, improperly treated diseases, violence and other problems typical of countries that have a much worse index of human development.

And it is no longer taboo, even in major newspapers, including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, to talk openly of the decline of the country of Barack Obama, who begins the ninth year of the war in Afghanistan. Even in some cases, the situation is described as nothing less than "the collapse of American empire."

Various statistics, similar to those of life expectancy, confirm a seemingly unstoppable deterioration of the quality of life: at the end of 2009, the National Center for Health Statistics placed the country in the position of 30th in the world in infant mortality, one of the basic parameters of development. U.S. newborns die for reasons similar to those of adults, due to an inadequate way of life, "poverty." The number of premature born is one of the leading causes of infant mortality, and it is more than twice that of Finland.

But the bad thing is that the United Nations agrees, in general, and places the U.S. in position 33 or, the estimates of their own Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), relegates the U.S. to the 46th position in any event, behind Cuba, located around 28th place, and almost on par with Italy. In addition, all statistics or estimates for 2009 or 2010 were significantly worse than those of only one or two decades ago and, despite the global crisis being a factor, no other country has registered a decline as pronounced in indicators of quality of life.

Even after surviving the first twelve months, children and adolescents in the U.S. are not safe, according to UNICEF. Among the twenty richest countries in the world, America is the second worst in regard to child welfare. Just above the UK, the last of a league that includes the Netherlands in the first place and Italy in the eighth.  At the schools, things have also gone from bad to worse: American students rank as 33rd or 27th or between OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries in terms of results in the humanities, and 22nd for science subjects. This means that to maintain leadership, there is more to it than just the prestigious Ivy League universities and the abundance of Nobel prizes, if the masses have a very poor education.

There are many statistics and reports that speak of a country that is throwing itself over a cliff quickly and tumbling rapidly in areas ranging from the low stability of the banking system (according to the World Economic Forum, it competes with Venezuela at No. 100 in the world) to the drastic reduction public transport. In cities and smaller towns, to cope with the crisis, entire lines of buses and trains are deleted from their routes. Research suggests a stratospheric debt that affirms the need (sic) to reduce compulsory school in some states. That is also not forgetting the tragedy of over two million people in prison or the freezing of salaries for soldiers in army service. Some observers of the country are now talking openly about the decline of the empire.

Just take a look to understand that across the Atlantic, something big is happening with unexpected rapidity.

The Wall Street Journal, the bible of world capitalism, has in an article mentioning the abandonment of projects to pave thousands of roads in various regions of the United States because there is no money to do so. John Habermann, a professor at Purdue University, concludes that the U.S. is returning to the stone age, referring to the broken stone on which the citizens must lead the country that invented the culture of the automobile.

If Professor John Habermann, who has recently conducted a workshop entitled Back to the Stone Age, dedicated precisely to the reappearance of dirt roads, exaggerates the size of the jump backwards, Glenn Greenwald, from Salon, and many with him, agree that something is happening that only ten years ago would have been considered unthinkable to see in our lifetime: the collapse of U.S.A.

Translated from the Spanish version by:

Lisa Karpova


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Author`s name Lisa Karpova