The topic below was originally posted in my blog, the Intrepid Liberal Journal.
An editorial in the March 12th edition of The Nation, (subscription required) noted that Great Britain and the United States have the worst quality of life in the developed world. They cite statistics in a new Unicef Report entitled, Child Poverty in Perspective: An Overview of Child Well-Being in Rich Countries.
Unicef’s 52 page report makes for sobering reading. 21.7 percent of American children live in households that earn income less than half the national medium. American children rate poorly with infant mortality, low birth weight, early childbearing, family instability and child poverty. As The Nation’s Ruth Marcus reports in her fine article, “The Care Crisis,” these pitiful ratings are linked to the status of women.
I found the closing paragraph in The Nation’s editorial on Uncicef’s report especially pertinent:
That the two countries deemed to do the least for their own children are those that have led the war in Iraq is obvious. The reasons are less easy to pin down. One can talk about military as opposed to social spending; about pro-business, oil-driven economies; about the distractions of patriotism and the culture of aggression; about valuing the imperatives of power above the duty of care. But however one chooses to name it, the deep, intractable connection between military adventurism abroad and the neglect of needs at home has never been more starkly evident. The pity is that it’s so difficult to fight the problem, so hard to focus on a pregnant teenager too scared to ask for help or a child hungry at school when the casualty figures from Baghdad demand our attention. The fog of war may be most blinding for the folks back home.“
I would add that if society is judged on how the very young and old fare, unfettered free market capitalism does not measure up. I’m not advocating across the board socialism in our society. But for profit health care is clearly a failure and the time has come to develop a new model. Hopefully, the 2008 presidential campaign facilitate the change we so urgently need.