Neoliberal policies in America over the last 30 years have led to massive economic inequalities.
Policies such of tax cuts for the rich and restrictions in welfare spending mean that now even working people on relatively high incomes cannot afford rent in some of the more expensive areas of America, such as California.
As a result, we have a situation where hundreds of thousands of in-work Americans are forced to live in their vehicles in parking lots, as the documentary below explores.
The documentary starts with the case study of one woman who works as a carer and a cleaner and used to live in a very nice house with her husband in California.
The relationship broke down, and she preferred to leave the house and him behind, but her income of $1800 a year meant she simply couldn’t afford to rent anything in her local area, and so she chose to live in her car instead.
She parks in a free parking lot where a charity has provided water, toilets and an outdoor kitchen for use, and it’s most interesting to note that it’s not the State funding this, but charities.
We see a lot of other people in the same situation – working, but living in their vehicles.
Another guy, aged 53, used to work as a computer engineer, working 50 hours a week earning $7000 a month ($80K a year), but he had a burn out and then some heart problems and after 6 months of unemployment benefit and then nothing he burnt through all of his savings and eventually couldn’t afford to live in an apartment anymore.
He now sleeps in the driving seat of his car (which looks very uncomfortable) and does temporary work to try and get back on track.
Homelessness in Richmond, Virginia
Virginia has one of the highest homeless rates in America and this section of the video starts off with a clip of local police evicting a tenant who is behind with the rent at gun point. Entering with guns drawn is standard, the tenant is actually half way through packing and willing to go.
In Virginia, if you’re only five days behind with payment you can have a late payment order made agains you, and you then have a week to pay, and then be evicted and rendered homeless immediately.
We now get to see a guy who has been living in a motel room for 2 years at the cost of $1300 a month, sharing with his partner. He cannot rent because of his past late payment notices – the State keeps a public database of late payments which landlords can search and they tend not to rent out to people with a history of bad debt.
(It’s quite interesting to compare this to the case in the UK, where we seem to have the other extreme, as evidenced in the ‘Nightmare Tenant’s type programmes – where tenants seem to have too many legal rights to stay put while the landlord just soaks up their debt!)
Poverty in the Apalachians
The documentary now moves away from homelessness in cities and focus on poverty in rural America, heading to the Apalachians. It’s often said that the American Dream got lost somewhere along the way in Apalachia.
Apalachia is home to mainly white working class Americans, 80% of whom voted for Trump, and support seems to be unwavering despite the fact that life hasn’t got better for them under his administration.
We witness a family of five who are on benefits and receive around 1200 EU a month to live off (which I think includes food stamps) – this involves the parents eating only one meal a day at the end of the month. They rely on a free food for kids meal truck that hand out food to children in the area.
Lindon B Johnson created food stamps as part of his war on poverty, and to this day 40 million U.S. Citizens still receive them.
We also get to see a Veteran who is retired on 700 EU a month and receives about 650 EU in food stamps, to feed her, her niece and her three children.
Of course they’re all overweight.
Once a month a team of Doctors provides free medical check ups – many people here, like around 20 million Americans, have no medical insurance. The service is very popular! It’s not just Doctors, it’s also dentists.
The scene looks like something out of a war zone – a triage centre.
A more extensive welfare state would help these people
This video will challenge your stereotypes about homeless people – these are all people who are hardworking and want to get ahead but just had bad luck in life which set them on the path to homelessness.
The State in America offers very little assistance to such people – and the fates of these individuals seem to be a good argument for having a more extensive welfare state like we do in Britain which offers support such as free health care and housing benefit for longer periods.
A more socialist solution would simply be to have more state housing – designated not for profit housing in which people can stay, even have it subsidised at cost maybe?!?
Los Angeles – the Homeless Capital of the United States
In the last few years the number of homeless in Los Angeles have risen from 33 000 to 59 000
Here we get to see Elvis, a guy who has a plan to combat the problem of homelessness. He gave up his job (he lives off his partner) and helps those less fortunate.
He builds small wooden cabins which cost $1000 (paid for by donations) – they have window locks and a solar panel to power an alarm and a light – they basically allow people to get a secure night’s sleep.
However, they are illegal as the mayor has forbidden him to put them on the sidewalks of the streets, but Elvis carries on regardless.
We get to see a scene where Elvis delivers a cabin to a couple sleeping on the streets, an upset resident calls the police and there is a ‘remove or destroy order’ put on the cabin. They do manage to find a spot for it on private land, but that’s the way it goes in Los Angeles!
The Being Homeless Role Play in Waco Texas
The video finishes with a project in Waco, Texas. Once a month, people come to act out what its like to be homeless for 24 hours – to give them a feel for the reality.
Relevance to A-level sociology
This documentary should be of interest to any student studying the Global Development option – it’s a good illustration of the level of inequality in the United States, one of the richest countries on earth, and shows that even very wealthy countries have pockets of grim poverty and social problems such as homelessness.
Find out more….
The story of how the Los Angeles authorities have prevented Elvis from donating tiny homes is pretty depressing – an example of the State actually preventing a DIY solution to poverty.
The New Rulers of the World (2001) by John Pilger provides a good example of a Dependency Theory analysis of the consequences of neoliberal globalisation, focusing on Indonesia as a case study.
The fact that this is a dependency view of development is quite clear from John Pilger’s own summary of the documentary:
“There’s no difference between the quite ruthless intervention of international capital into foreign markets these days than there was in the old days, when they were backed up by gunboats…. The world is divided between the rich, who get richer, and the poor, who get poorer, and the rich get richer on the backs of the poor. That division hasn’t changed for about 500 years” (the link above will take you to this quote)
Below I provide a brief summary of the documentary. The documentary is 15 years old now, but it provides a very useful introduction to the following concepts within global development.
It provides an unambiguous example of a Dependency Theory analysis of underdevelopment in one country – Indonesia
It’s an especially useful analysis of neo-colonialism – how economic institutions now work to extract wealth from a poor country.
It introduces you to the role of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in an accessible way.
NB this documentary is now over 15 years old, so you might like to think about the extent to which it still applies to Indonesia 15 years on, and the extent to which you can generalise this analysis to other countries today.
(NB – the headings below are my own, not from the documentary)
John Pilger – The New Rulers of the World – intro section
In recent months, millions of people around the world have been protesting against a new economic order called globalisation.
Never before has the human race enjoyed such enormous capacity to create wealth and reduce poverty, but never before has inequality been so great.
A small group of individuals controls more wealth than the billion people in Africa, and just a handful of corporations dominate a quarter of the world’s economic activity – for example General Motors is now bigger than Denmark.
The famous brands of almost everything are now made in poor countries, with wages so low it borders on slave labour.
Tiger Woods is paid more money to promote Nike than the entire workforce in Indonesia are paid to make Nike products.
Is this the new global village we’re told is our future, or is this an old project, that used to be run by the divine right kings, but is now run by the divine right of corporations and the government s which back them?
This film is about the New Rulers of the World – and especially their impact on one country – Indonesia.
Indonesia –history/ background
Indonesia is where the old imperialism meets the new. This is a country which should not be poor as it is rich in natural resources such as oil and gold, copper, timber and the skills of its people.
It was first colonised by the Dutch in the 16th century, and plundered by the west for hundreds of years, a debt which is yet to paid back.
Pramoedayo Ananta Toer (ex political prisoner)
“For hundreds of years Indonesia and many other countries were sucked dry by the European countries, who became strong, and the masters of finance and commerce, and now they are dictated to by the World Bank and the IMF – Indonesia has been turned into a country of beggars because its elite is spineless.
George Monbiot (well-known environmentalist)
“We’re told that globalisation is going to bring us all together and help combat poverty but what we’ve actually seen is the opposite – the poor are becoming poorer, and the wealthy are becoming staggeringly wealthy”.
Rich and poor in Indonesia
The World Bank famously called Indonesia a ‘model pupil’, a success story of economic growth.
To illustrate this success the video now cuts to a lavish wedding between two merchant families – these are the elite who have reaped the benefits of globalisation –the freedom to earn money and let that money make more money.
However, Indonesia is also a very unequal country and only a relatively few people have benefited from this economic growth: 70 million people live in extreme poverty – and they’ve calculated that it would take one of the waiters working at the wedding 400 years to pay for such a wedding.
The lavish wedding is contrasted to an Indonesian labour camp less than 5 miles way where young people make the cheap consumer goods we consume in the west.
This is the backyard of global capitalism, the side we don’t see, the human price we pay for the cheap goods we buy. The average worker here gets £0.72 a day, the minimum wage in Indonesia, just over half a living wage (according to the government).
Dormitories are made from breeze blocks, they flood when it rains, and open sewers spread diseases which kill children.
The labour camp is set in an economic processing zone, which is basically a vast area of sweat shops.
Investigating Poor Working Conditions in Indonesia
The documentary crew posed as fashion buyers to gain access and secretly filmed in one factory, and also conducted dozens of interviews with workers in these factories.
Working conditions are claustrophobic, frenzied, the workers fatigued, and working under strip-lighting in temperatures of up to 40 degrees (the management however have air conditioned offices.
They also have horrendous working hours – which can be upped when deadlines for orders are due. The workers are typically young women and one worker is on camera saying that she once worked a 24 hour shift with no breaks. She says she is too scared to refuse or even question the working hours.
These factories are owned by Taiwanese and Korean contractors who take orders from companies such as GAP (whose products were made in the above factory where the workers are paid extremely low wages).
GAP has codes of conduct which are supposed to apply to working conditions globally, and GAP representatives do visit the factories, but the workers interviewed say they are warned by management to not tell them about forced overtime.
Dita Sari – Trade union leader
Points out that codes of conduct are meaningless in a country like Indonesia because there is high unemployment and terrible poverty, so the people are desperate enough to put up with dismal working conditions, and the government is unwilling to enforce the codes because they want Indonesia to be as attractive as possible to international companies (which means keeping labour cheap).
If you pay £8.00 for a pair of boxer shorts, then an Indonesian worker will receive approximately £0.04 pence of that.
In the previous year, the profits of gap were just short of £2 billion, and the CEO ‘earned’ £5 million, figures typical of many multinational companies.
For the sake of the documentary, they had to keep the factories anonymous, because the workers would have Victimisation from contractors and violence from anti-unionists.
Barry Coats – World Development Movement
We should aim to be better informed as consumers – when we buy something, we need to ask the company where it was produced and to give assurances that the workers are treated fairly.
The secret history of globalisation in Indonesia
In the 1960s General Suharto seized power in Indonesia secretly backed the United States and Britain.
Suharto removed from power the founder of modern Indonesia, Sukarno – a nationalist who believed in economic independence for the country. He had kept the Transnational Corporations and their agents, the World Bank, and the IMF, out of the country, but with Suharto coming to power they were called back in to ‘save’ Indonesia.
This regime change was one of the bloodiest mass murders in post WW2 history, with more than a million people estimated to have died in the process. Suharto took brutal steps to consolidate his power by rounding up thousands and thousands of civil servants, school teachers and basically anyone with communist leanings and murdering them.
He did this with the support of the CIA, who provided a list of 5000 people they wanted dead, and the British ambassador at the time suggested a little shooting was necessary to ease the transition, while British war ships played a supporting role in protecting Indonesian troops.
Within a year of Suharto’s coming to power the economy of Indonesia was effectively redesigned, giving the west access to vast natural resources, markets and cheap labour, what Nixon called ‘the greatest prize in Asia.
The American press reported these events not as a crime against humanity, but in terms of ‘The West’s best news for years’.
In 1967 – a conference in Switzerland planned the corporate take-over of Indonesia, with most of the world’s large international companies represented, such as ICI, General Motors and American Express. For western business this was the start of the gold rush which later became known as globalisation, and barely anyone mentioned the million dead Indonesians.
Professor Jeffrey Winters
Has never heard of a situation like this where global capital holds a meeting with the state and hammered out their interests. The conference lasted for three days – and the companies present hammered out policies which would be acceptable to them on a sector by sector basis. They basically designed the legal infrastructure for investment in the country.
It basically becomes clear from a series of interviews, despite their evasiveness, that the international business community new they were dealing with a nepotistic mass murderer.
Globalisation – the British arms connection
Globalisation began in the 1980s when Margaret Thatcher dismantled manufacturing and poured billions of pounds into building up the arms industry. Suharto was an important customer for the UK arms industry at that time, and sales to Indonesia were supported by ‘export credits’, in other words, a large part of Suharto’s arms bill was paid for by the British tax payer.
So important was Suharto to British arms exporters, that he was welcomed to London by the Queen.
The World Bank and the IMF – The New Rulers of the World
Who are the new rulers of the world? Their empire today is greater than the British Empire ever was. Basically they are the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund, two bodies which are the agents of the richest countries on earth, especially America.
Initially set up to help rebuild European economies after WW2, they later they began offering loans to poor countries, but only if they privatised their economies and allowed western companies free access to their raw materials and markets.
Debt has been used by an instrument by the World Bank and IMF to get their policies implemented. The poorest countries are in a cycle of poverty, and current debt-reduction (not forgiveness) is not sufficient to allow them.
The difference between Tanzania and Goldman Sachs
Tanzania – is a country with a GDP of $2.2 billion shared among 25 million, Goldman Sachs is an investment bank with profits $2.2 billion dollars shared among 162 partners.
The World Bank says its aim is to help poor people, calling this gobal development. It’s an ingenious system, a sort of socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor – the rich get richer on running up debt, cheap labour and paying as little tax as possible, while the poor get poorer as their jobs and public services are cut to pay just the interest on the debt owed to the World Bank.
Here in Indonesia, the hand-outs to the rich have been extra-ordinary, internal documents from the World Bank confirm that up to a third of the banks loans went into – around $8 billion.
The 1998 Financial Crash, the End of Suharto and Indonesian Debt Repayment
Globalisation means that capital (big money) can be moved anywhere at any time, without warning.
In 1998 short-term capital was suddenly pulled out of Asia, collapsing the miracle economy overnight. This actually benefitted Nike in Indonesia, because they ended up labour costs were cut to 25% of what they had been previously.
With the economy collapsed, and Indonesia on the verge of revolution, Suharto was forced to step down, having already stolen an estimated $15 billion.
During his reign of more than 30 years, Suharto had handed out public utilities to his family and cronies, driving from Jakarta airport, you actually paid a toll to Suharto’s daughter.
The bank presents itself as an economic development agency, focusing on poverty reduction, but in fact, the bank operated during the entire cold war as an institution which distributed money to mainly authoritarian regimes in the third world that supported the West in the Cold War.
The Indonesian elite instigated many development projects with World Bank loans during Suharto’s 30 year reign, and many of them were seen as opportunities to skim money for themselves. In total, $10 billion remained unaccounted for out of $30 in loans. Of course the debt remained, and still had to be paid back to the World Bank.
According to the auditor general of the World Bank, if the citizens of Indonesia made a legal challenge against the World Bank over the remaining debt (given that they never received the money), the World Bank would be bankrupt, because this has gone on the world over.
Interview with Chief Economist of the World Bank – Nicholas Stone
In response to the question of how the World Bank didn’t realise that $10 billion of aid money to Indonesia had gone missing, his response was firstly to deny any knowledge of the $10 billion figure, then (on having been shown the World Bank’s own report) to say that figure was made up. He finally argued that progress had been made during Suharto’s regime if we look at literacy and infant mortality figures, even if the numbers in poverty had doubled from 30 million to 60 million.
When asked why there was such a silence over the atrocities of Suharto, he simply said the World Bank got it wrong, and they will get it wrong in the future too.
Globalisation creates debts, creates misery, creates crisis, and creates privatisation, which pushes up the prices people have to pay for basic goods. In effect the money stolen by the Suharto regime is being paid back by the people who never benefited from that money.
Debt and the International Monetary Fund (IMF)
Every day nearly $100 million is transferred in debt repayments from the poorest countries to the richest, it is a debt that can never be paid back, given that half the world’s population live on less than $2 a day.
Interview with Stanley Fischer, from the International Monetary Fund
John Pliger asks whether debt cancellation should be a priority if we are to alleviate poverty, given that some countries spend half their GDP on debt repayments.
Fischer argues that we should not necessarily cancel their debt – we should rather look at the policies on education and health, and look at what sort of economies they run – do they integrate into the world economy, or do they run corrupt economies.
Fischer basically argues that countries need to repay their debts because they need to keep more resources flowing into their countries, and if they don’t repay them, they’ll never be leant to again. He sees debt as a ‘normal’ part of expanding enterprise and increasing economic growth.
NB – The subtext to the interview is that Western financial institutions depend on the debt repayments being kept up too.
(In order to keep up debt-repayments) the government, as recommended by the IMF. has cut subsidies on electricity, water and education, which means that the workers have to pay more their children through school.
Now people now eat two meals rather than three meals a day.
Protests at the World Trade Organisation
Two years ago, protestors from all over the world converged on Seattle at a meeting of the World Trade Organisation….
Evaluation – How Valid are the Findings of this Documentary Today?
The documentary makes the following claims, all of which are worth investigating to see if they are still true today….
The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer
200 Corporations control 25% of world economic activity
The World Bank and the IMF dictate economic policy to poor countries
These economic policies are shaped by the 200 (or so) largest global corporations and work in their interests, not in the interests of the majority of people in poor countries.
There is a small elite in poor countries which benefit from these economic policies and enforce them, against the interests of the majority.
I’ll provide a summary of the rest at a later date… In the meantime, you might like to actually watch the rest of it!
The United States ranks either at the top, or very near the top on several of the main development indicators used by the World Bank and the United Nations, but if you look more closely you find that the United States might not be so ‘developed’ after all.
This post starts out by exploring the seemingly positive indicators which suggest that the United States is one the most developed nations on earth, before looking at some other statistics and evidence which reveal the darker side of life in the United States, outlining some of the many areas where the U.S.A. looks very underdeveloped, despite its huge wealth and income.
Evidence for the apparent high levels of development in the United States
The U.S. ranks very high up the league tables for many economic indicators of development, such as Gross National Income, Gross National Product, and for total wealth. It also scores very highly in the United Nations Human Development Index which measure income, education and life-expectancy.
Gross National Income and Gross Domestic Product
The United States is the wealthiest country on earth by a long way, at least measured in terms of Nominal Gross National Income, where it’s GNI of $17 trillion is a long way ahead of second place China’s $10 trillion (2014 figures). GNI basically measures the value of goods produced in a country + wages earned abroad (fuller definition here).
The chart below shows rankings by GDP (Gross Domestic Product) which measures economic output in a slightly different way to GNI, but gives very similar rankings to the vast majority of countries when compared to the GNI rankings (see link above for the differences between GDP and GNI).
In terms of GNI per capita (GNI per person), the United States is also very near the top of the league table, coming 6th if we exclude the tax havens at the top, and the only country with a population over 200 million anywhere near the top.
According to Credit Suisse’s ‘World Wealth Report 2015‘, we see the same story in terms of wealth, where the Unites States remains one of the few countries with very high levels of wealth.
The Human Development Index
If we take a slightly more in-depth look at the development levels of the United States, then according to Human Development Index (2015 figures) which gives countries a score based on a combination of GNI per capita, the average levels of education and life expectancy, the USA is in the highest ‘very high human development’ category and it still ranks an impressive 8th (the U.K. is 14th), and as with GNI per capita is the only country with a huge population in the top 10.
Evidence of Underdevelopment in the United States
Despite its coming near the top of the league tables for many economic indicators, the U.S.A. comes much lower down many of the international league tables for social development, which suggests that the U.S.A. is failing to translate its enormous wealth and high levels of income into appropriate levels social development.
The rest of this post explores the relatively poor performance of the United States in terms of social development (and I look at some more economic indicators too.)
The United States has VERY HIGH income and wealth inequalities
According to the OECD, the USA was the third most unequal country in terms of income (2014 data).
The most graphic way of displaying this is through the GINI coefficient. This ranks nations according to equality – A nation where every individual’s income is equal would have a gini index of 0. A nation where one individual gets all income, while everyone else gets nothing would have a gini index of 100.
To put this in terms which might be slightly easier to understand: In the USA, the top 20% of income earners take home almost nine times as much as the bottom 20% of income earners.
(NB – The U.K. isn’t much better – with the income of the top 20% being 6 times greater than the income of the poorest 20%.)
The graph below illustrates the increasing income inequalities in America – the share of national pre-tax income going to the top 1% has increased from around 13% to 21% (for only 1% of the population), whereas the share of income which goes to the bottom 50% has decreased from around 19% to 13%.
In pre-tax income dollars, this means the top 1% earn an average of $1.3 million a year, while the bottom 50% of the American population earned an average of $16,000, which means that the top 1% earn 81 times the bottom 50%, compared to 1980 when it was only 27 times more.
Looking at post tax income, the difference isn’t so stark – the top 1% today earn 40* the bottom 50%, but again, if you look at the 40 year trend, the income of the rich has increased much faster than the income of the bottom 50%, whose income levels have more or less stagnated…
If we look at the distribution of wealth in America, rather than income, there is an even higher degree of inequality.
According to Allianz’s new Global Wealth Report (2015) which includes not just salary, but also property and investments held by a family found that America’s wealth inequality is even more gaping its income inequality.
The U.S. has $63.5 trillion, or 41.6% of the world’s private wealth (next to China with 10.5%, the U.K. is 4th with 5.6%), but the U.S. also has the largest wealth inequality gap of 55 countries studied, according to the report.
Allianz calculated each country’s wealth Gini coefficient — a measure of inequality in which 0 is perfect equality and 100 would mean perfect inequality, or one person owning all the wealth. It found that the U.S. had the most wealth inequality, with a score of 80.56, showing the most concentration of overall wealth in the hands of the proportionately fewest people.
This is a very useful video providing an infographical overview of wealth inequality in the USA (2016)
These statistics on income and wealth inequality are one of the main reasons why I think it’s fair to argue that America is in some ways an underdeveloped country – because such unequal distribution of income and wealth means the people at the bottom are effectively marginalised and don’t benefit from all that wealth and income sloshing about – what we effectively have are pockets of people who don’t benefit from the economic growth (‘development’) which the country as a whole has enjoyed over the past decades.
At least the bottom 20% (about 50 million of people in the U.S.A) face a daily struggle to get by, really only earning just enough for the basics of life – housing, heating, food, utilities, transport, maybe enough to save for birthday presents and a decent Christmas, but that’s pretty much it
Some grim evidence for this lies in the fact that 30 million Americans still can’t afford health insurance (Fiscal Times 2016), with a further 20 million only benefiting from it because of Obamacare (which may be Trashed following Trump’s election), which totals 50 million, or about 20% of the population. If 50 million people lack sufficient money for health care, they sure as hell won’t have enough money to fully participate in the full-blown joys of consumerism which is so much part of American culture.
So that’s 30 million (possibly soon to rise back up to 50 million) people within the United States, unable to access basic health care, just like in many poorer countries, which is pretty compelling evidence for labeling the United States ‘underdeveloped’. (NB if those 50 million people made up a country, it would be 28th most populated country on earth, out of 233).
On top of this, the relatively poor in America also have to contend with everyone else’s wealth and income being conspicuously consumed and displayed around them – on the streets, but especially in the media (if they’re stupid enough to watch T.V, which is most people), which adds an aspect of indignity into just earning enough to get by.
Of course if you were to compare the richest 10% with the bottom 10% the multiplier effect would be even greater, and it’s this section of the population which will be most likely to experience the many problems that come with poverty and extreme relative deprivation – facing the insecurity of flexible working conditions, living on sink housing estates, the threat of homelessness, the worries of debt, and living in the midst of higher crime areas.
15% of the population of America live below the official poverty line
Obviously related the above statistics, The Atlantic notes that the official US census data shows that ‘14.9 per cent of Americans, or almost 47 million people, falling below the poverty threshold of about $24,000 for the year.’ (2014 figures).
HOWEVER, the supplemental data shows that the true figure is slightly higher – standing at 15.3%.
America has relatively low life expectancy and healthy life expectancy
In 2016, the USA ranked a dismal 53rd for Life Expectancy, and the USA is one of only very few countries with ‘very high’ human development where the average life expectancy of the population is below 80 (you can see this in the Human Development Index table above), and in fact, according to the table below, there are several countries which are nestled alongside the USA, such as Puerto Rico and Cuba, which are considerably poorer but do much better on this key indicator of human development.
If you look at World Health Organisation data on healthy life expectancy, then the relative development levels of the United States look even worse. There is a marked contrast between the USA and Europe European countries, which have similar levels of GNI per capita and education to the USA, have healthy life expediencies of 70+, while the United State’s healthy life expectancy languishes in the 65-69 bracket below, alongside the much poorer South American countries and China.America has 1.5 million children of primary-school age out of school
You might have thought that every industrialised, developed nation on earth had figured out how to keep 99% of its kids in school for 13 years or so, well America fails to do so. According to World Bank data, it has a dismal primary enrolment rate of 93%, which slips down to 86% for tertiary education, and there are nearly 1.5 million children out of school (2014 figures)
America is the 114th least peaceful country in the world
According to the Global Peace Index, America has witnessed the fourth largest decrease in peacefulness in last ten years, in terms of how far it’s regressed, it’s right next to Syria in the international league tables for the ten year decline in peacefulness.
The Global Peace Index 2017 notes that: ‘The past year has been a deeply worrying one for the US, with the presidential campaign highlighting the deep divisions within American society. Accordingly, the score for intensity of organised internal conflict has worsened. Data have also shown a declining level of trust in government and other citizens which has generated a deterioration in the score for level of perceived criminality in society. Social problems within the US are also likely to become more entrenched and racial tensions may continue to simmer. Reflecting these tensions, rising homicide rates in several major American cities led to a deterioration in the homicide rate indicator, contributing to the decline in the US’s peace score.’
HOWEVER, the main contributing factor to America’s high violence rating is it’s continued high levels of expenditure on its military and heavy weaponry. Despite military expenditure declining in recent years, relative to other nations, the U.S. still spends a fortune on the machinery of violence.
On the subject of military expenditure…. America’s recent $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia and support for their war against Yemen doesn’t help its peacefulness score. …