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Letter to the editor: America First! America First! America First!

Posted: Friday, Feb 17th, 2017

The above headline states one of the more memorable phrases from Donald Trump’s inaugural address. I know that President Trump was talking about “America First” with regard to setting priorities, but I would like to point out some “America Firsts” with regard to our country’s rank in various categories: (I obtained my information online, mostly from Wikipedia, which cited several world-recognized organizations that compile statistics, and other reliable sources)

Guns per 100 residents: U.S. - #1 at 112.6 guns per 100 residents; 300 million guns total; next highest: Serbia, Yemen, Switzerland, and Cyprus

Arms Exports: U.S. - #1; 31% of exports globally, 2010-2014

Energy Use per capita: U.S. - #1at 87,216 kWh/capita in 2008; next highest, E.U. at 40,821 kWh/capita

Generation of Solid Waste: U.S. - #1; with 5% of world’s population, U.S. generates half of globe’s solid waste

Healthcare costs: U.S. - #1; 17.6% of Gross Domestic Product (U.S. ranks 10th in overall healthcare)

Military Spending: U.S. - #1; gross spending at $596 billion; next highest - China at $215 billion

Consumption of Earth’s Resources: U.S. - #1 in most categories; China highest for coal, copper and a few others)

Categories where U.S. is close to #1:

CO2 Emissions: U.S. - #2, at 5+ billion tons gross; #1 – China at 10+ billion tons gross (China’s population is over 1.3 billion; U.S. population is over 324 million)

Economic Inequality (after taking out taxes and transfers): U.S. - #2 of countries in OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development)

Incarceration Rate (inmates held in adult facilities): U.S. - #2, with 693 inmates per 100,000 residents; #1 – Seychelles, with 799/100,000

Infant Mortality under 5 years of age: U.S. – 5th highest of 34 countries in OECD; U.S. below Turkey, Mexico, Chile, and Slovakia

Obesity, car accidents, heart and lung diseases, sexually transmitted infections, adolescent pregnancies, injuries, homicides: U.S. highest or near highest of OECD countries

Life Expectancy: U.S. ranks 27 out of 34 OECD countries

Some good news: U.S. ranks #1 in charitable giving, volunteering, and helping strangers.

Let’s make our “first” priority to become #1 in: recycling, overall health, conservation of land and resources, accessible healthcare, literacy, living wage, education spending, care for mentally ill, low unemployment rate, helping people get out of poverty, helping people succeed in society after incarceration, and low recidivism rate—just to name a few!

Elise Rudolph


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