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We are a worldwide social network of freethinkers, atheists, agnostics and secular humanists.

The Opiate of Exceptionalism

By SCOTT SHANE

IMAGINE a presidential candidate who spoke with blunt honesty about American problems, dwelling on measures by which the United States lags its economic peers.

What might this mythical candidate talk about on the stump? He might vow to turn around the dismal statistics on child poverty, declaring it an outrage that of the 35 most economically advanced countries, the United States ranks 34th, edging out only Romania. He might take on educational achievement, noting that this country comes in only 28th in the percentage of 4-year-olds enrolled in preschool, and at the other end of the scale, 14th in the percentage of 25-to-34-year-olds with a higher education. He might hammer on infant mortality, where the United States ranks worse than 48 other countries and territories, or point out that, contrary to fervent popular belief, the United States trails most of Europe, Australia and Canada in social mobility.

The candidate might try to stir up his audience by flipping a familiar campaign trope: America is indeed No. 1, he might declare — in locking its citizens up, with an incarceration rate far higher than that of the likes of Russia, Cuba, Iran or China; in obesity, easily outweighing second-place Mexico and with nearly 10 times the rate of Japan; in energy use per person, with double the consumption of prosperous Germany.

How far would this truth-telling candidate get? Nowhere fast. Such a candidate is, in fact, all but unimaginable in our political culture. Of their serious presidential candidates, and even of their presidents, Americans demand constant reassurance that their country, their achievements and their values are extraordinary.

More here

The article links to a blog Ranking America. The U.S. is #1 in small arms ownership and tied with Nigeria at 24th in  frequency of sex.

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Here's a link by question to America's rank in over 700 topics.

According to Freedom House, the United States is tied for sixteenth in terms of freedom of the press. Finland and Iceland are are tied for first.

chart-of-press-freedom

According to the Heritage Foundation’s 2011 Index of Economic Freedom, the United States has a freedom from corruption score of 75, which makes the United States rank nineteenth out of one hundred seventy-nine ranked countries. New Zealand ranks first, with a score of 94.

According to the World Values Survey, 34.4% of Americans report being “very happy,” which makes the United States rank twenty-first out of fifty seven countries ranked in that category. Mexico ranks first, at 58.5%.

According to the World Values Survey, 34.4% of Americans report being “very happy,” which makes the United States rank twenty-first out of fifty seven countries ranked in that category. Mexico ranks first, at 58.5%.

The only truly exceptional aspect of the USA is its constitution and even that is getting old.

I've added the Ranking America site to our Pages under the Pages 3 menu.

Very useful, thanks for the pointer, Chris.

I'm glad you found it useful Michel. 

I heard a constitutional scholar talk about a course he was offering about the advances made in state constitutions with each new state that entered the union. He said generally the newer the constitution the better it was written.

"American exceptionalism" is a concept that I've always reviled. It leads to misinformation, taboos (as ion subjects that cannot be addressed), abuse of power, military might, etc.

It is akin to religion in my mind, it's an opiate to keep the American people (both from the left and from the right) from using critical thinking, and achieving progress.

I agree with you Adriana. I hate American Exceptionalism too and see it as Divine Hubris. 

Anyone who dares say America isn't #1, or points out problems are labeled un-american, or unpatriotic. It seems to be worse now than when President Johnson declared a war on poverty. Today presidential candidates won't even admit such problems exist.

I,ve always been wary about the news on T.V. or daily newspapers whether american or canadian

TV is probably the worst source for news. Independent press, meaning it's only supported by reader donations is probably the best source of news. Actually the absolute worse news source is from political candidates. Listening to the Presidential debates one would think Iran threatened to attack Israel when in fact it is the exact opposite. I'm tired of Israel being treated like a disabled child that does no wrong.

To test how much you know about the worldwide image of the United States, we invite you to take our short 10-question quiz. Then see how you did and browse our reports and interactive database to learn more about how people around the world view the U.S. and President Barack Obama, as well as their opinions on globalization, democracy, extremism and other important issues.

The quiz is based on key findings from the Spring 2012 survey by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project, conducted in 21 countries among 26,210 respondents from March 17 to April 20.  The countries surveyed were Brazil, Britain, China, Czech Republic, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Lebanon, Mexico, Pakistan, Poland, Russia, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey and the United States.

Take the Quiz!

I scored 60.

I didn't notice my score, but it was worse than 60%. I probably got 30% correct.

When I lived in Oregon I had internet access provided by the Oregon State Economic Development Agency because no private telecommunications company provided internet access to the rural area I lived. My internet account included 5 mail addresses and 5 ea. 50 MB web sites in the basic account that was priced according to average amounts paid for compatible private accounts. The web pages were handy and allowed subscribers to post photographs and other information that could be linked to in email. That saved space on data centers because high load items didn't have to be repeatedly sent. I was shocked when I moved to California and found that none of the ISP's provided web sites as part of their package. Congress fucked up by not mandating web pages with basic ISP packages. As far as I know internet access isn't even considered a public utility so  there is no agency the public can address complaints to. This system is fucked. Congress need to rewrite the rulebook.

The US ranked 28th in global internet speed.

The report by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) said the average download speed in South Korea is 20.4 megabits per second (mbps) -- four times faster than the US average of 5.1 mbps.

Japan trails South Korea with an average of 15.8 mbps followed by Sweden at 12.8 mbps and the Netherlands at 11.0 mbps, the report said.

It said tests conducted by speedmatters.org found the average US download speed had improved by only nine-tenths of a megabit per second between 2008 and 2009 -- from 4.2 mbps to 5.1 mbps.

"The US has not made significant improvement in the speeds at which residents connect to the Internet," the report said. "Our nation continues to fall far behind other countries."

"People in Japan can upload a high-definition video in 12 minutes, compared to a grueling 2.5 hours at the US average upload speed," the report said.

It said 18 percent of those who took a US speed test recorded download speeds that were slower than 768 kilobits per second, which does not even qualify as basic broadband, according to the Federal Communications Commission.

Sixty-four percent connected at up to 10 mbps, 19 percent connected at speeds greater than 10 mbps and two percent exceeded 25 mbps.

The United States was ranked 20th in broadband penetration in a survey of 58 countries released earlier this year by Boston-based Strategy Analytics.

South Korea, Singapore, the Netherlands, Denmark and Taiwan were the top five countries listed in terms of access to high-speed Internet.

US President Barack Obama has pledged to put broadband in every home and the FCC has embarked on an ambitious project to bring high-speed Internet access to every corner of the United States.

According to the CWA report, the fastest download speeds in the United States are in the northeastern parts of the country while the slowest are in states such as Alaska, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

The report by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) said the average download speed in South Korea is 20.4 megabits per second (mbps) -- four times faster than the US average of 5.1 mbps. Japan trails South Korea with an average of 15.8 mbps followed by Sweden at 12.8 mbps and the Netherlands at 11.0 mbps, the report said. It said tests conducted by speedmatters.org found the average US download speed had improved by only nine-tenths of a megabit per second between 2008 and 2009 -- from 4.2 mbps to 5.1 mbps. "The US has not made significant improvement in the speeds at which residents connect to the Internet," the report said. "Our nation continues to fall far behind other countries." "People in Japan can upload a high-definition video in 12 minutes, compared to a grueling 2.5 hours at the US average upload speed," the report said. It said 18 percent of those who took a US speed test recorded download speeds that were slower than 768 kilobits per second, which does not even qualify as basic broadband, according to the Federal Communications Commission. Sixty-four percent connected at up to 10 mbps, 19 percent connected at speeds greater than 10 mbps and two percent exceeded 25 mbps. The United States was ranked 20th in broadband penetration in a survey of 58 countries released earlier this year by Boston-based Strategy Analytics. South Korea, Singapore, the Netherlands, Denmark and Taiwan were the top five countries listed in terms of access to high-speed Internet. US President Barack Obama has pledged to put broadband in every home and the FCC has embarked on an ambitious project to bring high-speed Internet access to every corner of the United States. According to the CWA report, the fastest download speeds in the United States are in the northeastern parts of the country while the slowest are in states such as Alaska, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news170447728.html#jCp
The report by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) said the average download speed in South Korea is 20.4 megabits per second (mbps) -- four times faster than the US average of 5.1 mbps. Japan trails South Korea with an average of 15.8 mbps followed by Sweden at 12.8 mbps and the Netherlands at 11.0 mbps, the report said. It said tests conducted by speedmatters.org found the average US download speed had improved by only nine-tenths of a megabit per second between 2008 and 2009 -- from 4.2 mbps to 5.1 mbps. "The US has not made significant improvement in the speeds at which residents connect to the Internet," the report said. "Our nation continues to fall far behind other countries." "People in Japan can upload a high-definition video in 12 minutes, compared to a grueling 2.5 hours at the US average upload speed," the report said. It said 18 percent of those who took a US speed test recorded download speeds that were slower than 768 kilobits per second, which does not even qualify as basic broadband, according to the Federal Communications Commission. Sixty-four percent connected at up to 10 mbps, 19 percent connected at speeds greater than 10 mbps and two percent exceeded 25 mbps. The United States was ranked 20th in broadband penetration in a survey of 58 countries released earlier this year by Boston-based Strategy Analytics. South Korea, Singapore, the Netherlands, Denmark and Taiwan were the top five countries listed in terms of access to high-speed Internet. US President Barack Obama has pledged to put broadband in every home and the FCC has embarked on an ambitious project to bring high-speed Internet access to every corner of the United States. According to the CWA report, the fastest download speeds in the United States are in the northeastern parts of the country while the slowest are in states such as Alaska, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news170447728.html#jCp

Report: America Ranks Behind Estonia In Internet ‘Freedom’. Here’s Why

The United States does not have the “freest” Internet in the world, according to the annual Freedom House transparency and access report, Freedom on the Net. Slow and gentrified broadband access and occasional government intrusion stunted the U.S. to the #2 spot, with the tiny Eastern European technological powerhouse, Estonia, taking the gold medal. With online voting, access to electronic medical records, and widespread broadband access, Estonia is the envy of the digital world.

“Although the United States is one of the most connected countries in the world, it has fallen behind many other developed nations in terms of Internet speed, cost, and broadband availability,” explains the U.S. report. The U.S. lags behind Japan, South Korea, Norway and Sweden in access to blistering fast Internet (average peak speeds in Hong Kong — 49 Mbps — are nearly twice that of the U.S. — 28 Mbps).

The United States Congress and the Federal Communications Commission have allocated nearly half a billion dollars to connect rural farmers to the same Bittorrent-friendly speeds that allow the rest of the country to pirate Game of Thrones.

Other reasons for America’s less-than-superlative results include:

  • A relative oligopoly from AT&T, Comcast, Time Warner, and Verizon, who control 50 percent of the Internet Service Provider (ISP) market
  • Homeland Security’s penchant for secretly shutting down Internet sites, such as hip-hop blogs that were wrongly believed to be pirating Chris Brown’s Deuces.
  • In 2011 San Francisco suspended cell phone service to preempt a protest of a shooting by a metro policy officer and, most recently, Twitter was forced to disclose the secret tweets of an Occupy Wall Street protestor.

Estonians, in addition to having widespread public WiFi and more than 200 ISPs, enjoy access to some of the most advanced public services on the planet:

The full report, which is largely about the most egregious violations of Internet freedom, can be seen here.

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