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We’re number 1

We’re number 1

We love traveling. On a recent trip to Iceland we were greeted by our rental car agent at the Airport. She was picking up us and another couple of ladies that had reserved cars. Their rental office was located about 5 miles from the airport terminal. While process the rental agreement we were discussing our touristy plans. The agent mentioned that many Europeans have a problem with Americans. One of the ladies brought up the “ugly American” view, but the agent stated “No, that is not the problem”. When pressed she gave it considerable thought before her reply. “My best way to describe the issue is that we view Americans as naïve.”

What she meant by this is that most Americans do not realize that every other country has real value and that the US could “learn” from other countries. America is not the best at everything. Saying so does not make it so.

Making America great again is an attractive notion. I wonder if the road to greatness can be achieved by recapturing the glory days, or if we need to recognize that the world has changed and we need to better understand how to compete in the new environment?

When I was starting a career, my view was that the primary factor that made our country the best was the can-do attitude of our entrepreneurs and the work ethic of the work force. I remember swelling with pride in this assumed knowledge. I no longer feel this way. One measure of productivity is per capita GDP (Gross Domestic Product). While have maintained a top 10 position among all countries for decades we are far from #1. There are several “so called” socialist countries with equivalent or higher productivity.

An unfortunate area where the US ranks number one is healthcare cost per capita. We currently are spending 16% of our GDP on healthcare and that rate has been increasing for decades. If you factor in just this one item and view net, per capita, GDP after healthcare expenditures we fall 6 positions.

I remember a time when we stood at the top of the heap in terms of standard of living. This factor is a combination of: Life expectancy at birth, infant mortality per 1,000 live births, mean years of schooling of adults, safety, expected years of schooling of adults & gross national income per capita. While we still rank in the top 10, we have been again passed by several “so called” socialist countries.

Are we willing to evaluate our performance and learn from others that are doing a better job? If we make it past that hurdle are we willing to make the changes leading to improvement? Is our rental car agent correct about Americans being naïve?

The 2nd Amendment (con’t)

Additional thoughts:

Obviously, today’s times are much different and I seriously doubt that the founding fathers would have even considered this type of amendment if there had been a well-funded, substantial Army.

But I need weapons to protect my family. Well, apparently, they do not in other countries.   Also, consider that of the murders in the U.S.A. where guns are involved 30.2 % of these are committed by friends, acquaintances and/or family. This represents many more than the total murders in most other 1st world countries!

I think that examining the gun control regulations of other (less violent) countries just makes good common sense. The Australia experience is often held out as a positive example of what can be done and deservedly so. After the mass murder event in 1996 that killed 35, the Conservative controlled Parliament passed extensive gun control legislation. The outcome was a tremendous reduction in the murder rate. Currently the murder rate here by gun is fully 20 times greater than in Australia (.14 vs 2.97 per 100,000). The details on the Australian experience can be viewed at:

An October 2017 (well before the recent massacre) polls showed that  85% of voters said that gun violence was a serious problem and 58% rated it as very serious and yet our elected officials continue to ignore the will of the people. As with most cases regarding our bought and paid for representatives you can discover the problem by following the money. The money trail leads directly to the NRA. Another example of Political Party $ over People.

The 2nd Amendment

The 2nd Amendment

Quite some time ago I posted the following to my blog. In light of the recent mass murders I thought it worth repeating with some additional thoughts added (in next weeks posting).

 Guns, guns and more guns!

Just when you thought I had offended just about everyone, well not quite. I have several friends that are staunch NRA supporters. Actually, I am not at opposed to gun ownership as long as they are registered. I see registration as an important item for law enforcement. I am in favor of our law officers having the latest armament available. My concern is regarding the “facts” regarding murder rates in the US vs. other countries. I often the comment “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people”. That does make sense, but the facts seem to indicate otherwise. Let’s compare our experience to a few other “civilized” countries:                     Source:

Current Worldwide Homicide/Murder Rate

Country or Area Rate (rate per 100,000 population) Note Source
  Australia                                                         1.23  

Belgium                                                             1.83                                                                                 Canada                                                                1.67                                                                             Denmark                                                          1.4                                                                                    France                                                               1.35                                                                           Germany                                                             .8                                                                                Iceland                                                                  0

I could go on, but you get the idea

U.S.A.                                                                 5.22

The issue is, are we safer because we have more guns (or less gun control)?                             The other comment that I hear often is: “it’s a Constitutional issue; the 2nd amendment gives me the right to own as many and whatever type of weapons that I want”. I would suggest that this is not entirely true, and even if it was we might want to modify our thinking based on the facts. Let’s look at the entire wording of the 2nd amendment to the Constitution: “Amendment II A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

Yep, that is the entire amendment. It should be obvious that the intention of this right had to do with the need to maintain the militia, which at the time made excellent sense. At the time of the writing the Bill of Rights in 1789 the standing Army (created in 1784) was extremely small and the founding fathers realized the need to call on local militia troops should the country face another threat from a substantial foe. In 1812 the opportunity presented itself:  Source:                              “The United States was not prepared to prosecute a war, for Madison had assumed that the state militias would easily seize Canada and that negotiations would follow. In 1812, the regular army consisted of fewer than 12,000 men. Congress authorized the expansion of the army to 35,000 men, but the service was voluntary and unpopular; it offered poor pay, and there were few trained and experienced officers, at least initially. The militia objected to serving outside their home states, were not open to discipline, and performed poorly against British forces when outside their home states. American prosecution of the war suffered from its unpopularity, especially in New England, where anti-war speakers were vocal. “Two of the Massachusetts members [of Congress], Seaver and Widgery, were publicly insulted and hissed on Change in Boston; while another, Charles Turner, member for the Plymouth district, and Chief-Justice of the Court of Sessions for that county, was seized by a crowd on the evening of August 3, [1812] and kicked through the town”

stay tuned for some additional thoughts on this topic next week