Millennium Post

Is US now a Third World nation?

With all due respect to the reports published by United Nations and other similar global bodies, there are certain anomalies that nobody points out, at least publicly. These anomalies have been going on for years, if not decades, falling in line with Western interests. Even if we track global history in the post-World War II period, these irregularities are vivid and clear. For example, Japan was for long considered an emerging economy, rather than a fully developed one, despite its per capita income being higher than the many so-called developed nations. 

The same pattern still persists with other nations, like South Korea, which is even now considered an emerging country, although its per capita income (in PPP terms) is higher than Spain’s and at par with Italy’s (both Spain and Italy are recognised as developed nations). Again, Qatar has one of the highest per capita incomes (PPP) in the world, yet is not recognized as a developed nation.

Such reports are not only politically designed in order to keep emerging nations (and investors) at bay but to maintain the status quo. These contentious listings also allow First World nations to have an upper hand in all decisions made at global forums and to dictate terms of trade and taxes.

Such inconsistencies in rankings also symbolize the general racial and geographic discrimination prevalent in certain geopolitical groups. Global bodies like United Nations don’t exist in isolation, but are run and controlled by Western powers. One of the blatant displays of such inconsistency is the Human Development Index (HDI), showing an upward looking graph of American living standards, despite the ‘Great Recession’ pervading the nation since 2008. Despite the fact that the US economy registered negative growth in the year 2009 and 2011, the HDI report still showed a rising standard of living in America! 

While it is not impossible for such a thing to happen, it is indeed very unlikely. According to a poll by Gallup, the percentage of employees who felt that their standard of living is improving had been as low as 40 per cent in 2008. As per the same survey, the overall proportion of population in United States that felt that the economic condition in the country was improving was at an abysmal 19 per cent in the first quarter of 2009. Yet, the UN report reveals that standard of living has been continually rising in United States! 

In reality, the situation now is that many of the attributes that were and are often used to describe Third World countries seem now to be well prevalent in the United States. Take for instance sewage leakages, which are common in Third World nations and deemed to be absent in First World countries. This is in fact a chimera. Around 240,000 water-mains break every year in the US with around 75,000 to 80,000 overflowing sewers all across US including even in New York. Sewage leakages have also reintroduced chronic water-borne diseases (which had got almost completely eradicated) back in America hitting hundreds of thousands of people across the nation.

On another front, US produces more food than what it needs for domestic consumption. Even then, hunger is widespread in this nation. Yes! Hunger – a phenomenon that is usually said to be confined to nations like ours. Around 50 million people in America find it difficult to have two square meals a day. This is the worst hunger situation in America since the last 50 years. This is more because of an increasing unemployment rate, which is oscillating at around 6-7 per cent. This has led to increasing homelessness with more than 650,000 Americans having no shelter. 

Putting these numbers into perspective, the disparity in America is increasing like never before. The richest 1 per cent of people received almost 20 per cent of the gross national household income in 2012, thus taking the income gap between the rich and poor to as high as what it was back in 1913! The same trend is seen in education, health and freedom. And despite such falls, the HDI score of US mystifyingly increases by notches year after year.
Although it is difficult to question the credibility of reports published by organizations as reputed as the United Nations, all the evident inconsistencies symbolize the prejudices practiced by these so-called organizations of repute. This is also perhaps a reflection of the fact that the US-led developed nations can do whatever and get away with it. By manipulating UN reports, the task of an economic recovery through improved investors’ and consumers’ confidence levels would be easier. 

While there cannot be any doubt on the economic benefits that an American recovery will radiate to the world, the means of doing it are certainly questionable and unethical. Manipulating reports is just a small part of the manipulating mechanism spread across the Western world – with the fig show of Weapons of Mass Destruction that Obama’s predecessor Bush had put up to attack Iraq, being a symbolic example. But then as they say, lies, damned lies and statistics go well with the Americans (and the Western world, if you may)!
The author is a management guru and director of IIPM think tank
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