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US dystopia
The Greatest nation on earth might not be all that great in some respects..

Nearly half of American children living near poverty line

National Center for Children in Poverty's Basic Facts about Low-Income Children Report illustrates severity of economic instability and disparity in the US


March 2, 2016 (NEW YORK CITY) -- Nearly half of children in the United States live dangerously close to the poverty line, according to new research from the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. Basic Facts about Low-Income Children, the center's annual series of profiles on child poverty in America, illustrates the severity of economic instability and poverty conditions faced by more than 31 million children throughout the United States. Using the latest data from the American Community Survey, NCCP researchers found that while the total number of children in the U.S. has remained about the same since 2008, more children today are likely to live in families barely able to afford their most basic needs.

"These data challenge the prevailing beliefs that many still hold about what poverty looks like and which children in this country are most likely to be at risk," said Renée Wilson-Simmons, DrPH, NCCP director. "The fact is, despite the significant gains we've made in expanding nutrition and health insurance programs to reach the children most in need, millions of children are living in families still struggling to make ends meet in our low-growth, low-wage economy."

According to NCCP researchers, the number of poor children in the U.S. grew by 18 percent from 2008 to 2014 (the latest available data), and the number of children living in low-income households grew by 10 percent. NCCP defines a low-income household as one where incomes fall below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Threshold (e.g., $48,016 for a family of four with two children in 2014). A family is considered poor if its earnings are below 100 percent of the poverty threshold (e.g., $24,008 for a family of four with two children in 2014).

Published annually since 2009, Basic Facts about Low-Income Children profiles demographic and socioeconomic conditions of poor and low-income children in fact sheets for five age groups, from infants and toddlers to adolescents. Fact sheet data are widely cited by policymakers, researchers, advocates, and the media as authoritative. NCCP's annual fact sheets on child poverty in America are available online at

These are some of the findings in the 2016 edition of Basic Facts about Low-Income Children:
  • More than four in ten U.S. children are living close to the poverty line. In 2014, 44 percent of children under age 18 (31.4 million) lived in low-income households and 21 percent lived in poor families (15.4 million). This is still much higher than at the start of the Great Recession in 2008, when 39 percent of children were considered low income and 18 percent lived in poor households.

  • Children remain more likely than adults to live in poverty. While 44 percent of children live in low-income households, only one-third of adults between 18 and 64 years of age live in these households. In addition, children are more than twice as likely as adults 65 years and older to live in poor families.

  • America's youngest children are still those most likely to live in low-income or poor households. Some 47 percent of children age 5 years or younger live in low-income families, compared to 45 percent of children age 6 to 11 years (10.8 million), and 40 percent of children age 12 to 17 years (9.7 million).

  • Disparities in child poverty persist along racial lines. More than 60 percent of black, Hispanic, and Native American kids live in low-income families, compared to 30 percent of Asian and white children -- a dynamic largely unchanged since 2008.

  • Many children living in poverty have parents with some higher education, and many live in two-parent households. While higher parental education decreases the likelihood that a child will live in a low-income or poor household, nearly half of children living in poverty (48 percent) have a parent with at least some college education. Though data shows that children who live with married parents are much less likely to be poor or low income compared to children who live with a single parent, nearly half of children (47 percent) in low-income families and 36 percent of children in poor families (5.5 million) live with married parents.

Part of Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) is the nation's leading public policy center dedicated to promoting the economic security, health, and well-being of America's low-income families and children. Visit NCCP online at Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter via @NCCP.

About Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health
Founded in 1922, Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health pursues an agenda of research, education, and service to address the critical and complex public health issues affecting New Yorkers, the nation and the world. The Mailman School is the third largest recipient of NIH grants among schools of public health. Its over 450 multi-disciplinary faculty members work in more than 100 countries around the world, addressing such issues as preventing infectious and chronic diseases, environmental health, maternal and child health, health policy, climate change & health, and public health preparedness. It is a leader in public health education with over 1,300 graduate students from more than 40 nations pursuing a variety of master's and doctoral degree programs. The Mailman School is also home to numerous world-renowned research centers including ICAP (formerly the International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs) and the Center for Infection and Immunity. For more information, please visit

And once again, the Nordic countries come on top..

Quote:The results of the group’s annual survey, which ranks nations based on 50 metrics, call to mind other reviews of national well-being, such as the World Happiness Report released in March, which was led by Norway, Denmark, and Iceland, or September’s Lancet study on sustainable development. In that one, Iceland, Singapore, Sweden, and the U.S. took spots 1, 2, 3, and 28—respectively

The Social Progress Index released this week is compiled from social and environmental data that come as close as possible to revealing how people live. “We want to measure a country’s health and wellness achieved, not how much effort is expended, nor how much the country spends on healthcare,” the report states. Scandinavia walked away with the top four of 128 slots. Denmark scored the highest. America came in at 18.
America Is Now a ‘Second Tier’ Country - Bloomberg
Quote:Some 70 percent of young men are ineligible for military service "because of either education — they can't read or write — or health, mostly obesity and diabetes. That's an unbelievable number," Dimon said. The number comes from a Pentagon study a few years back that said the military won't take 71 percent of males aged 17 to 24 for the reasons Dimon cited, as well as taking prescription drugs for ADHD, or having inappropriate tattoos or piercings.
Jamie Dimon: 'America has to get its act together'
The greatest nation on earth? Perhaps not. From Business Insider..

13 ways other countries are leaving the United States in the dust
  • Technological and social innovations mean things are changing quickly around the world.
  • The United States is slipping behind other countries in key measures of progress.
  • The US trails other nations in areas such as press freedom, passport strength, internet speed, and cost of education.

American politicians often boast that their country is the greatest in the world.

But in a lot of ways, the United States is slipping in the world rankings. From the price Americans pay for education to the strength of their passports, there are plenty of ways people from other countries have it better.

Read on to see 13 areas where America has some catching up to do:

View As: One Page Slides


While every country does healthcare a little differently, the fact remains that the United States is the only wealthy country in the world without universal healthcare coverage.

The US spends about three times more per capita on healthcare expenditures than other countries with comparable incomes, yet Americans have a lower life expectancy than people in those countries, according to The Los Angeles Times.

The US also leads wealthy countries in preventable deaths — in 2013, 112 out of every 100,000 Americans under 75 died from complications or conditions that could have been avoided with better healthcare, the Times reported.

Social progress

The not-for-profit Social Progress Imperative ranked social progress in 128 countries in 2017 based on three criteria: basic human needs like food, water, and shelter; foundations of well-being such as access to information and environmental quality; and opportunity, including personal rights and freedoms and access to education.

The US came in 18th on the list, while Denmark, Finland, Norway, Iceland, and Switzerland took the first five spots.

Free higher education

The price of college tuition is becoming harder and harder for Americans to afford. Collectively, Americans hold more than $1.3 trillion in college loan debt.

The daunting prospect of affording college is inspiring some Americans to study in countries with free higher education.

Countries such as Germany, France, Norway, Sweden, and Slovenia all offer free or virtually free college education.

High-speed transportation

High-speed rail is critical to improving a country's economy, boosting productivity, and increasing mobility.

While plans for high-speed transit have been in the works in the United States for decades, such a system of transportation is still several years away.

The fastest train in the US, Amtrak's Acela Express, tops out at around 180 miles per hour, but its average speed is only 68 miles per hour.

Meanwhile, Japan, France, China, South Korea, Spain, Italy, Germany, Belgium, and Italy all have trains that regularly push 150 miles per hour.

Internet speed

The United States may have invented the internet, but it lags behind several other countries when it comes to internet speed today.

According to Akamai, an American content delivery system, the US had just the 10th highest average internet speed in the world in 2017.

The fastest internet speeds can be found in Western Europe and Asia Pacific: South Korea ranks highest, followed by Norway, Sweden, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Finland, Singapore, Japan, and Denmark.

Minimum wage

Although some states have set higher benchmarks than federal law requires, minimum wage in the United States is just $7.25 an hour. That amounts to just over $6 of take-home pay after taxes.

There are six countries where workers take home more than $8 an hour, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Australia tops the list with $9.54 an hour, followed by Luxembourg, Belgium, Ireland, France, and the Netherlands.

Vacation time

The United States doesn't offer a federal standard for paid vacation days, instead allowing employers to decide for themselves.

Most American companies offer around 10 days of paid leave a year, although many workers feel pressured not to use them all.

Kuwait tops the list with 30 paid vacation days a year, followed by the United Kingdom with 28, and Austria, the Comoros, Denmark, Djibouti, Finland, France, Luxembourg, Norway, Sao Tome and Principe, and Sweden offer 25 days apiece.

The US is one of only six countries in the world with no such standard.

Parental leave

The United States is also one of the only countries in the world, and the only developed country, that doesn't offer paid leave for new parents, according to Pew Research.

Among developed countries, Estonia leads the way with 87 weeks of paid leave for new parents — that's more than a year and a half. Japan and several European countries — Bulgaria, Hungary, Japan, Lithuania, Austria, Czech Republic, Latvia, Norway and Slovakia — each offer more than a year off as well.

Climate change

When Syria joined the Paris climate agreement in November, it made the US the only country in the world to be left out of the deal.

The absence of the United States prompted many world leaders, including France's Emmanuel Macron and the UK's Theresa May, to signal that the US was threatening to give up its leadership position on climate change.

Press freedom

Every year, Reporters Without Borders updates its rankings of press freedom around the world. The United States ranks a less-than-stellar 43rd on the list out of 180 countries ranked.

Among the reasons for America's low ranking, according to the organization, were its lack of a federal "shield law" guaranteeing reporters' right to protect their sources, the arrests of journalists covering protests around the country, and attacks on the media and the press lobbed by President Donald Trump.

Norway was rated as having the highest amount of press freedom, followed by Sweden, Finland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Costa Rica, Switzerland, Jamaica, Belgium, and Iceland.

Passport strength

People who hold a United States passport can travel to 158 countries visa-free — a good mark, but not quite the highest in the world, according to Passport Index's annual ranking.

Germany leads the world by this metric, as the German passport allows travelers to enter 161 countries without visas.

Other countries whose passports are stronger than those issued by the US include Singapore, the United Kingdom, Denmark, France, South Korea, and 12 others.

Rule of law

The World Justice Project ranked the United States 18th in the world in its most recent rule-of-law rankings, judged by criteria like accountability, absence of corruption, respect for fundamental rights, and access to justice.

The top 10 countries were Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Netherlands, Germany, Austria, New Zealand, Singapore, and the United Kingdom.

Gun violence

When it comes to gun violence, the United States is more similar to countries in Latin America and the Caribbean than countries than wealthier countries in Europe and Asia.

The US ranks 31st in the world in gun deaths per 100,000 people, with a rate of 3.85. Singapore and Japan boast the lowest rates, while the United Kingdom, Denmark, and Germany are close behind.
Quote:Bart van Ark, chief economist at The Conference Board,wrote on CNBC: “This year, CEOs expressed heightened concern over the potential impact of income inequality on social and business environments.” Inequality is increasing in the U.S. and a subject that Trump will likely avoid.

A team of researchers recently examined mortality in the U.S. and other wealthy nations in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development for children from birth to age 19 from 1961 to 2010. Child mortality is 
closely linked to income inequality. From 2001 to 2010 the risk of death in the U.S. was 76% greater for infants and 57% greater for children ages 1 to 19, according to the study, “Child Mortality In The US And 19 OECD Comparator Nations: A 50-Year Time-Trend Analysis,” published in Health Affairs journal.

“During this decade, children ages 15 to 19 were 82 times more likely to die from gun homicide in the U.S.,” the study found. “Over the 50-year study period, the lagging U.S. performance amounted to over 600,000 excess deaths. Policy interventions should focus on infants and on children ages 15 to 19, the two age groups with the greatest disparities, by addressing perinatal causes of death, automobile accidents, and assaults by firearm.”
Inequality in America stalks CEOs, Trump and billionaires at Davos - MarketWatch
Quote:Score another one for Seoul while Silicon Valley slides. The U.S. dropped out of the top 10 in the 2018 Bloomberg Innovation Index for the first time in the six years the gauge has been compiled. South Korea and Sweden retained their No. 1 and No. 2 rankings. The index scores countries using seven criteria, including research and development spending and concentration of high-tech public companies.
The U.S. Drops Out of the Top 10 in Innovation Ranking - Bloomberg
Quote:In her powerful new book, “Nomadland,” award-winning journalist Jessica Bruder reveals the dark, depressing and sometimes physically painful life of a tribe of men and women in their 50s and 60s who are — as the subtitle says — “surviving America in the twenty-first century.” Not quite homeless, they are “houseless,” living in secondhand RVs, trailers and vans and driving from one location to another to pick up seasonal low-wage jobs, if they can get them, with little or no benefits.

The “workamper” jobs range from helping harvest sugar beets to flipping burgers at baseball spring training games to Amazon’s AMZN, +2.87% “CamperForce,” seasonal employees who can walk the equivalent of 15 miles a day during Christmas season pulling items off warehouse shelves and then returning to frigid campgrounds at night. Living on less than $1,000 a month, in certain cases, some have no hot showers. As Bruder writes, these are “people who never imagined being nomads.”

Many saw their savings wiped out during the Great Recession or were foreclosure victims and, writes Bruder, “felt they’d spent too long losing a rigged game.” Some were laid off from high-paying professional jobs. Few have chosen this life. Few think they can find a way out of it. They’re downwardly mobile older Americans in mobile homes.

I think it has been the pretty bad economic times. We saw in the 1980s a shift from pensions to 401(k)s; that was a raw deal for workers. These retirement plans were marketed as an instrument of financial freedom, but they were really transferring risk from the shoulder of the employers to the backs of the workers.
Many older Americans are living a desperate, nomadic life - MarketWatch

See the rest of the article for an interview with the author of the book.
Quote:Over the past 50 years, lots of things have changed in the United States. Here are a few examples.
1) A child’s chance of earning more than his or her parents has plummeted from 90 to 50 percent.
2) Earnings by the top 1 percent of Americans nearly tripled, while middle-class wages have been basically frozen for four decades, adjusting for inflation.
3.) Self-inflicted deaths — from opioid use and other drug addictions — are at record highs.
4) Nearly one in five children in the US are now at risk of going hungry.
5) Among the 35 richest countries in the world, the US now has the highest infant mortality rate and the lowest life expectancy.

These facts, and many others, are cataloged in a new book by Steven Brill about America’s gradual decline over the last half-century. Brill has been writing about class warfare in the US since 2011, and the picture he paints is as depressing as it is persuasive. The book argues the people with the most advantages in the American economy have used that privilege to catapult themselves ahead of everyone else, and then rigged the system — to cement their position at the top, and leave the less fortunate behind.
Steven Brill explains what killed the American dream - Vox

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