Pick any colloquialism that suits; the bloom is off the rose, Elvis has left the building, that dog no longer hunts, no lead left in the pencil, the halcyon days of American dominance is becoming, figuratively speaking, nothing but a memory. Yeah, we can still kick anyone’s ass in a stand up fight, for whatever that is worth. And yes, the world still looks to us to clean up their messes or lend weight to a moral argument in chastising the latest super bully, but in the last few decades the rest of the world has found their sea legs and has adopted their own views of national exceptionalism. I, for one, welcome any autonomy they find under their pillow and applaud their pursuit of self-reliance. Doing their own heavy lifting frees us up to focus on what is best for us. Looking inward, supporting yourself in all things, trade, defense, national character, border security, each nation should fend for itself and join in alliances only when beneficial to that country in the pursuit of its own interests.

Americans can no longer take for granted that we dominate in all things. Although we still do some things pretty well; unleashing the entrepreneurial spirit, creating wealth, having the best universities, science/technology/engineering/medical innovation, entertainment, social networking, porn, possessing guns, beer (sorry Germany, but we have more kinds of beer and more breweries than anywhere) diversity,  but other cherished accomplishments, those things previously viewed as American as apple pie, have fallen by the roadside.

First, the good news; in creating/saving wealth we still dominate.

Average household wealth varies widely across OECD countries, ranging from a low of $4,429 in Turkey to a high of $176,076 in the United States. Across the entire OECD, the average household wealth was $90,570.

This stat is eroded a bit by the fact that most Americans are still ruled by instant gratification and easy credit; hence their savings rate is pretty bad.

$176,000 isn’t even close to what most people will need once they stop working.

Now, the bad news; our economic ranking among other nations keeps dropping 

Economic freedom has increased around the world during the last 30 years, capitalism has proven to be a smashing success. Here is how economic freedom is actually measured;

The cornerstones of economic freedom are personal choice, voluntary exchange, freedom to compete, and security of private property. Economic freedom is measured in five different areas: (1) size of government, (2) legal structure and security of property rights, (3) access to sound money, (4) freedom to trade internationally, and (5) regulation of credit, labour, and business.

The analysis shows that living in an economically free country plays a greater role in one’s life satisfaction than does income, age, employment or even a country’s political system.

Economic freedom promotes educational achievement, which segues to the next area of diminished American gains, the fruits of our public education system;

The last chart is the 2018 World Happiness Index. happiness – or well-being – is subjective and notoriously difficult to quantify. General health, satisfaction with how the government works and whether it odious or harmonious to citizens living out their lives as they choose, societal norms that conform to their views, quality of life, all these are thrown into the blender;

It is interesting that many nations rank high on all these “efficiency” charts. Their attitudes on free trade, civil liberties, property rights, freedom of the press, less intrusive government using fewer regulations and lower taxes to allow its citizen greater wealth prosperity, promotes the individual and his own pursuit of excellence.


The Nordic nations score high on the happiness index, I guess people do like to be taken care of. The U.S. has increasing fallen year after year on the happiness index, I guess money can’t buy happiness after all. Lack of confidence/control in our government is a reason, ever-increasing obesity, substance abuse, depression; all these erode contentment and promote stress.


I suspect that in both education and happiness, we will continue our downward slide. But there is no excuse for us to suck as economic freedom. Rule of law, limited government, regulatory efficiency and open markets, there are the very pillars on which our nation was built. We can and must do better in this regard.

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I don’t think we should be pessimistic. If you dig into the American profile from Heritage’s Economic Freedom study, it says this: While the U.S.’s economic freedom ranking has dropped due to comparatively better improvements in other countries, the increase in its overall score would seem to indicate that the decade-long decline in America’s economic freedom may have been arrested. There are signs of renewed labor market dynamism and increased growth, and major regulatory and tax reforms are spurring business confidence and investment. https://www.heritage.org/index/country/unitedstates Our national score will probably improve next year when the corporate tax rate reduction is taken… Read more »

While writing the post I purposely avoided the politics of the index

Yeah, I don’t mean to politicize it either. Heritage did mention it though, but it’s hardly a surprise that they prefer Trump’s policies to Obama’s.

We must be doing something right, because the same people that complain about us still want our money.


My 2c worth…. I think it makes sense that people are most happy in places where: (a) there is a decent public health system, so you don’t need to fear the consequences of the inevitable health issues we all must face, and certainly don’t need to face the risk of working hard to establish a nice life and retirement for yourself but then having all that wiped out through sheer bad luck, (b) there is a quality public education system, from birth (having a public system doesn’t inherently mean that it’s a quality system, but knowing you don’t need to… Read more »



So the NHS ultimately paid for it? Then how does ‘Saved From Socialism’ work in this case, if socialism ultimately funded it? Didn’t socialism ultimately save them from having to spend $170K of their own money?

…not only would the NHS pay for the surgery, they would also send two cardiologists and a cardiac surgeon to learn from the doctors at Boston Children’s.


Sounds like a great result for everyone.

Out of interest, what would parents in the US have to pay for that to happen? What if they couldn’t afford it?


Are you talking about putting all your retirement money in the stock market then the day that you retire have a market crash to the point of losing everything? No, any variation on a healthcare issue financially ruining you. Not having to worry about that, in my view, provides for greater happiness overall. I found that for every study that said it is a good thing, another existed that said the opposite. I am convinced by what I have studied (and it’s a fair amount) that what happens before the age of 3 can fundamentally affect a persons life. Always… Read more »


but there is a reason Canadians come to America for better care; Can you expand on that (your link is behind a paywall)? I’ve read the stats that show Canadians accessing U.S. health care can be misleading because they include snow birds vacationing in the south and that it would be quote rare for a sick individual in Canada to be reviewing U.S. health care as a viable option for treatment. And that 99% of Canadians could not afford significant medical care not covered by government insurance, so going to the U.S. is not an option. I remember Trump made… Read more »


Oh, OK. I don’t think that happens as often as those socialized medicine pushers think or would like. Maybe not. Certainly there seemed to be a large number of examples popping up in the US when the Obamacare debate was raging. But yeah I don’t have the stats. People have insurance and for those that don’t, the emergency room treats them anyway. Something catastrophic, they still get treated and worse come to worse they declare bankruptcy, but it still beats having your government say ,”Too bad, so sad, but you are on your own”. Again that was one specific example,… Read more »


1 in 4 Americans refuse medical care because they can’t afford it


Just because a person is insured, it doesn’t mean he or she can actually afford their doctor, hospital, pharmaceutical, and other medical bills.


IMHO that sort of stat isn’t consistent with ‘happiness’, which is why I included healthcare as one of the aspects of a country I would expect to be important.


I’ve linked to WSJ articles before, were those also behind paywalls?

Yes, and I’ve mentioned it before.

The Canadian ‘snow birds’ example appears to involve very rich people who can somehow afford to spend 6 months heading south for warmer climate over winter. They’re likely to be older, and given it’s for 50% of the year, it makes sense that they’d need to use healthcare.

The polls in your opening post are presumably cross-sections of each country. You could always cherry-pick and find certain segments that prefer American healthcare (because they can personally afford it). But that’s not actually telling you much.


As was mine about the politics of pre K. None of this changes what I said about school and pre-school education. Having access to affordable and quality pre-school education, and free school education would be what I would envisage makes a population ‘happier’. What you quoted was them trying to cover their butt in the face of horrible press but I understand that you need to make excuses for them. I’m happier to stick with the evidence. However I can’t find any which explains why the NHS initially said no, and what the process was for them to ultimately say… Read more »


But I have zero confidence that MY government could pull it off, they can’t. The incompetence, bureaucracy, duplicity, redundancy, the waste is so prolific so pronounced, it is a miracle they can fund any program at all. Fair enough. I am aware that a lot of this has to do with the size of a country/population. It’s an undisputed fact that the US is a home to amazing medical innovation too. Also, congrats on the World Rugby championships. For the rest of you guys, San Francisco hosted the rugby world championships;New Zealand beat England to win the cup. The lady… Read more »

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