I decided to write this particular post after reading an article about how the United States â€œperformsâ€ in a range of different areas as opposed to the other big nations in the world. The verdict? The U.S. has A LOT of work to do. Here is an excerpt from the article that states how low the world's wealthiest nation has sunk: \nâ€œConsider just a few wake-up-call facts from a long and dreary list: The United States now ranks lowest or close to lowest among advanced â€œaffluentâ€ nations in connection with inequality (21st out of 21), poverty (21st out of 21), life expectancy (21st out of 21), infant mortality (21st out of 21), mental health (18th out of 20), obesity (18th out of 18), public spending on social programs as a percentage of GDP (19th out of 21), maternity leave (21st out of 21), paid annual leave (20th out of 20), the â€œmaterial well-being of childrenâ€ (19th out of 21), and overall environmental performance (21st out of 21). \nAdd in low scores for student performance in math (17th out of 21), one of the highest school dropout rates (14th out of 16), the second-highest per capita carbon dioxide emissions (2nd out of 21), and the third-highest ecological footprint (3rd out of 20). \nAlso for the record: We have the worst score on the UN's gender inequality index (21st out of 21), one of the highest rates of failing to ratify international agreements, the highest military spending as a portion of GDP (1st out of 21), and among the lowest spending on international development and humanitarian assistance as a percentage of GDP.â€ \nYes, it really is that bad. And if you just look at these statistics, some other things become more clear. For example, look at the mental health numbers and then look at the amount of shootings and acts of terror that have become commonplace in the United States in the past year or two, from the disaster at the Boston Marathon to the mass shooting in Newton, CT. Look at the lack of public spending for social programs that can rehabilitate the nation and offer a new set of values and cognitive thinking. \nAnd then look at statistics like poverty and and life expectancy and realize that people work their asses off to make ends meat, mostly so they don't end up in poverty in the first place. But all work and no play makes Danny a dull boy. What do you get for working hard? An early death. How's that for a anticlimactic ending? \nMany could read this article and take different things out of it as I have. Some might think of solutions to the obvious problems that have inflicted the core of this once-great nation, and I use the term in past tense to show how far the United States has actually fallen; maybe not in terms of wealth or greed, but in terms of not taking care of its people and displaying an â€œevery man, woman and child for themselvesâ€ mentality. The dichotomy between the rich and poor has reached a whole new level of outrage and sadness. \nTo avoid the temptation of going completely berserk, I will add some thoughts to how I think society can improve in the United States and how the â€œAmerican Dreamâ€ can once again become something that Americans themselves respect again. \nPeople do whatever the fuck they want Isn't that the country that has been built since World War II? â€œLove it or leave it!â€ \nIf you are going to blame the people who eat the trashy food (and I'm not immune to eating garbage food from time to time), then the places that serve the trash food should be blamed as well. HOWEVER, other countries have McDonald's and Burger King and are still as thin as we are. Most people I know are actually health conscious/not obese. \nDestroying obesity takes two things: 1) eating better and 2) living a healthier lifestyle (drop soda for water, exercise semi-daily, etc.) \nJust look at the Chris Christie thing: he knows people don't want a fat president, so he gets weight surgery three years prior to the election. It's no accident. \nAnd in regards to Michelle Obama, I see where she is coming from but I also think her goals are a little too high. Kids don't want to eat apple slices; they want chocolate and junk food. So what? I did that and I'm perfectly fine today, and all the other kids I went to elementary school and middle school and high school and even college are fine as well. And if she wants people to eat organic, then lower the price. Shit is too expensive for a low-to-middle income family to buy all the time. \nGreed has made people villains - and it's legal 1. The income/money discussion is a result of American Greed. The richest people have all the money and the middle and lower classes are duking it out just to salvage a respectable life. On that note, there really is no major difference between the middle and lower classes; it's almost the same thing cloaked in different vocabulary. You have the wealthy, the rich - then everyone else standing in line, most of whom will never be â€œrich.â€ \n2. Speaking of rich, what makes people rich nowadays? A â€œgroundbreakingâ€ social media network? An app on a smart phone? Making videos on YouTube? Many of the ways people looked at the world just 20 years ago is intrinsically different due to how the world has developed. Many things people used to need are no longer needed, and that impacts a sect of society (production) that used to bank - literally - on people buying these goods and making them profit. \n3. I think the people are somewhat to blame. Actually, plenty to blame. People are always complaining about the officials who are elected into office, whether as a local councilman or the president. But do those very people realize that they are supporting the very evils they detest? The entire political system is a sham, a giant joke played on the American public and NOBODY SEEMS TO GIVE A FUCK. Why is that? Is the political system too big and too powerful to fail? Perhaps. Or maybe people are too scared to fight a system that big and put their own freedoms on the line. You never see protests anymore in this country; people don't care as much. The average person will say, â€œI'll go to work, grab a beer after work, go to sleep and do it all over again tomorrow.â€ It's like a perpetual cycle of rape and self-loathing that has spiraled out of control. \nKeep art in education, rather than trying to dispose of it In terms of education, I do agree with you on the overblown attitude toward standardized testing. It's kind of humorous that the ACT and SAT determine college entry, along with GPA at what may or may not be a fine institution. I do think standardized testing exists because many schools earn money from the students who perform well, as well as the teachers who taught those same students. I could be wrong on that last point but I thought that was how it worked. \nAlso, I constantly see the arts berated on this board and in a lot of other places. I think the arts are integral to society and should not be treated as a throwaway major at a higher institution, and that is only because the jobs don't pay as well as, say, an engineer or a physician. That's obvious, but if the United States once went by the motto of â€œchasing the American dreamâ€ then that same motto should be adhered to when discussing the dreams of the children and even the adults who want to create their own happiness and manufacture their own passions in a positive environment. Frankly, as someone whose life is dictated by art, it's bullshit that the U.S. seemingly wants to put all the eggs into the basket of the science and medical fields, among other professions and subjects that produce high-paying jobs and (tada) great infrastructure for the rest of society. If nobody else benefits on some level beyond aesthetics, then it's probably not worth doing in the government's eyes. \nThe Common Man is more apt to promote change than the Man In Power I don't see these issues as partisan issues as I see them as societal issues. Of course those in Congress can help cure such ailments in the fabric of our culture, but they choose not to and I wouldn't trust them with a 10-foot pole. Is anyone really surprised that the U.S. is first in the world in military and last in poverty rates? That dichotomy tells the whole story, even if you don't know how or why it happened. \nPeople - like you and me - need to change the conversation and focus on what made America great and why it suffers today. That's a pretty good start in my eyes. \nWe need a revolution. Not one that contains bludgeoning weapons or mass artillery. No, we need a social revolution where people start asking more questions to get better results. I think we as a nation are at least smart enough to try that. \nMaybe.