America isn’t the greatest country in the world, an opinion New York Daily News senior justice writer Shaun King tried to pass off as fact in his latest piece.
“The United States of America is the Brooklyn Nets. We are not the best country in the world. This is not my opinion. These are the facts. … And in every demonstrable category, our country is coming up very, very short,” King wrote earlier this week.
King tried to position a subjective statement, “America is not the greatest country,” as an objective fact by examining flaws in our country’s criminal justice and healthcare system, as well as poverty and income inequality. The only problem, though, is that King’s evidence is heavily flawed and doesn’t really provide an accurate picture of what’s going on in America.
Let’s take a closer look at the issues in King’s “Here’s why the United States is not the best country in the world.”
King first examines America’s “criminal justice nightmare” and how America incarcerates more people than any other country in the world, with King taking particular issue with the amount of black men incarcerated in the U.S.
Of the 222 nations with accurate data, more than half of them, lock up less than 150 people per 100,000 citizens. When race is considered, the numbers skyrocket with African-Americans being incarcerated an average of 500% more than their white counterparts — and as much as 1000% more in states like Oklahoma and New Jersey. The United States imprisons a higher percentage of African-Americans than South Africa did during apartheid …
While the United States does have an incredibly high incarceration rate, there are other possible explanations for why black man are jailed at such high rates. The higher rate of black crime could explain it, something King does not mention. King’s comparison of the United States to South Africa is also a little dubious: Politifact said the claim “appeared” to be true based on “known evidence.” They also noted that direct numbers on the incarceration rate of South Africa during the time are “elusive.”
King also cites America’s death penalty as why it can’t be great, noting that Mexico and the EU have ended executions.
These are our peer countries when it comes to the death penalty. Canada to the north and Mexico to the South have banned executions. The entire European Union banned executions — and actually requires the ban of all of its member states.
It’s hard to take King’s claim seriously when he holds Mexico up as a paragon of human rights. While it’s true that Mexico banned the death penalty, it means little in light of the rampant human rights violations in the country, like citizen torture, extrajudicial killings and the slaughter of 124 crime reporters from 2000-2016.
As for the European Union, Sweden canceled an up-coming music festival after a slew of sexual assault reports.
King then turns to law enforcement officers in America, saying they have performed the worst “crimes against humanity” in the world.
I could go on and on here — describing gruesome details of some of the worst human rights abuses and crimes against humanity that I’ve heard of the world over — all done by law enforcement officers in America.
While American cops have committed some heinous crimes, positioning them as the worst in the world is a statement that doesn’t hold up. Brazilian police officers killed 11,000 people from 2008 to 2013; meanwhile, American police officers fatally shot 11,000 citizens over the course of thirty years. Mexican police officers allegedly killed 16 unarmed protesters who were kneeling and had their hands up in 2014.
King cites healthcare and the lack of health insurance as further proof that America cannot be the best country.
Tens of millions of people in the United States have no health insurance coverage whatsoever right now. Now, Donald Trump and the Republican Party are proposing new legislation that could add an astounding 22 million more Americans to the rolls of the uninsured — which could push the total number of uninsured American men, women and children past 50 million.
King leaves out a key fact out in his 22 million figure — the Congressional Budget Office reveals that approximately 10 million of those 22 million would not have healthcare due to personal choice.
King addresses the “income inequality” problem in America, claiming that a country that has such a high rate of child poverty cannot possibly be considered great.
Some of this is specifically about education and how outdated and outmatched our systems are, but this is also a conversation about poverty. Child poverty in America is an abomination. According to a UNICEF evaluation, of the 41 wealthiest nations in the world, the United States is ranked 36th in their child poverty measurement — with an astounding 32% of American children living below the poverty line.
What King fails to mention is that the measure of poverty is completely relative. UNICEF marks the poverty level of each country as 60 percent below the nation’s median income. It’s hard to compare U.S. child poverty with other countries when the poverty level is different for each. Also, the report notes that an income of $30,000 (about the U.S poverty level) places a person in the richest 1.23 percent of the world’s population.
King turns to the minimum wage, complaining that as the rich are getting richer, it’s the everyday American who is just trying to fight to make a livable wage.
While the rich are getting richer and richer, everyday people are fighting tooth and nail all over this country to increase the minimum wage to something they can actually live off of. It’s not just lack of work, which is a problem all by itself, but the unlivable wages made by the working poor, that have caused a third of all American children to live in poverty.
There’s been a lot of debate as to whether raising the minimum wage actually helps lift people out of poverty. A June study demonstrated that Seattle’s $13 minimum wage actually hurt employees — some lost their jobs and those who still had a job had their hours cut. It’s also worth noting most minimum wage recipients are from the ages of 16-24.
And for those who believe that America is the greatest nation in the world? King explains their understanding of greatness is probably motivated by greed or white supremacy.
“If it is your opinion is that the United States is the greatest nation in the world, your definition of greatness is likely skewed by blind patriotism, greed or white supremacy,” King wrote.
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