Meanwhile, the democratic-socialist Nordic countries of Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Finland, and Sweden enjoy the top spots in detailed survey of OECD nations.
Not dead last, but close to it.
That’s where the United States came out in a new survey of the world’s 41 highly-developed nations measuring access to social justice and the opportunities they afford their respective citizens and residents.
The Social Justice Index (SJI), detailed in a 274-page report (pdf) and put out by the Bertelsmann Stiftung foundation in Germany, ranks the more than three dozen European Union and OECD nations based on six key social justice dynamics: poverty, education, the labor market, intergenerational justice, health, and social inclusion and nondiscrimination.
While the group said “the picture is rather bleak across the board,” it is the Nordic countries which generally rank highest—with Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Finland, and Sweden the top five. On the other end, the U.S. came in near the very bottom, ranking 36 out of 41 nations overall, only coming out ahead of Chile, Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, and Mexico.
Especially on the issue of poverty, the foundation said in a statement, the U.S. under President Donald Trump “falters considerably” compared to other developed nations. According to the group:
The risk of poverty in the country remains high at 17.8% – only Israel exceeds this rate. Children and youth (poverty risk of 21%) as well as senior citizens (23.1%) are particularly at risk of poverty. There are no improvements to be expected on the horizon; instead, the recent cuts in social spending taken by the Trump administration raise fears that poverty will increase rather than decrease.
Setbacks have also been registered in the area of intergenerational justice, where the United States numbers among the five worst performers. This is in part due to the country’s weak environmental policies: with greenhouse gas emissions reaching 19.86 tons per capita, the United States is one of the biggest polluters in the sample (rank 40). The country’s weak efforts to leave behind an intact environment are also reflected in its failure to expand renewable energies, which account for a mere 8.7% of the country’s total energy generation. In addition, the government’s high budget deficit threatens to place a heavy financial burden on young and future generations. The per capita debt burden bearing down on every child in the United States is already exceedingly high at $351,810 (rank 38).
The index further explains that the U.S. “fails miserably” when it comes to placing value on the interests of both older and younger generations when it comes to its domestic policies. It also cites Trump’s horrific environmental record as an area of particular concern.
“The Trump administration has been a rapidly escalating disaster for environmental policy,” said one expert quoted in the report. “Although some of the more liberal states will attempt to continue reducing carbon emissions, no national action can be expected during Trump’s presidency. Indeed, Trump has promised to rejuvenate the coal-mining industry, an economic absurdity.”
A son of a slave reflects on his American story
At 88, Dan Smith has witnessed some of the defining moments in America's fraught battle for racial equality.
He protested in Alabama, marched on Washington with Martin Luther King Jr, and attended the inauguration of the first black president, Barack Obama.
He also represents a living link to the nation's dark past: his father Abram was born a slave, 157 years ago.
As a boy, his elderly father told chilling stories: about the "hanging tree" where slaves were lynched, and the master who forced a slave to lick a wagon wheel. The man lost part of his tongue when it froze to the steel.
Japanese ministers visit Yasukuni Shrine, first since 2016
Four Japanese cabinet ministers paid their respects on Saturday at a war shrine seen by neighboring countries as a symbol of Tokyo's past militarism, in the first such visit since 2016.
Nationalist Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent a ritual cash offering to the Yasukuni Shrine in central Tokyo to mark Saturday's 75th anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II but was not expected to visit in person, local media said.
Yasukuni honors 2.5 million war dead, mostly Japanese, who perished in the country's wars since the late 19th century.
Kamala Harris is boosting Biden in a state Trump desperately needs to win: report
On Saturday, Politico reported that Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) being added to Joe Biden's ticket has "electrified" a group of voters who normally are ignored by both parties: West Indian voters. And this could make a big difference in Florida — a state that could decide the outcome of the election.
"Calls from Caribbean radio show hosts flooded the Biden campaign from South Florida. And a jolt of excitement shot through the crowd of early vote poll workers at the Lauderdhill Mall, in the midst of Broward County’s growing Jamaican community," reported Marc Caputo. "'There was just this sense of energy,' state Rep. Anika Omphroy, a daughter of two Jamaican immigrants, said in describing the moment the announcement was received. 'It was all Black women out there working under the tents,' she said. 'It was 98 degrees in August in South Florida, so it was too hot to cheer. But you could feel it, this sense.'"