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Article posted Aug 16 2010, 6:27 PM Category: Commentary Source: Activist Post Print

10 Signs The U.S. is Becoming a Third World Country

Activist Post

The United States by every measure is hanging on by a thread to its First World status. Saddled by debt, engaged in wars on multiple fronts with a rising police state at home, declining economic productivity, and wild currency fluctuations all threaten America's future.

The general designations of the ranking system for world status date back to the 1950s, and have included countries at various stages of economic development. Since the Cold War, the definition has come to be synonymous with repressive countries where a wealthy class of ruling elites segment society into the haves and have-nots, many times capitalizing on the conditions that follow an economic crisis or war.

While much of the world is still mired in poverty, the reduced cost of innovative tools such as computing and connectivity ironically puts traditional Third World countries at the forefront of a new lean-and-mean economy that is based on ideas of empowerment for the disenfranchised. For better or worse, the world is leveling due to Globalism. However, America and other over-leveraged countries face this re-balancing of the globe at a time when they have dwindling resources. We can speculate about who and what is to blame for America's fantastic fall, but for the purposes of this article we shall focus on the obvious signs that the United States is beginning to resemble a Third World country.

1. Rising unemployment and poverty: Unemployment numbers, food stamps, and home foreclosures continue to reach new record highs. The ugly reality of those numbers was recently on display when 30,000 people showed up to apply for public housing in East Point, GA for 455 available vouchers. Fights broke out, people were fainting from the heat while in line, and riot police showed up to handle the angry poor.

2. Economic dependence: The United States finished 2009 with a debt-to-GDP ratio of 85%, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The current trend projects the United States to finish 2010 at 94% and 2011 at 98%. The 90% level has become the IMF's make-or-break point for countries hoping to grow their way out of debt. If the government debt load climbs above 90% of GDP, economic growth slows so much that growth is no longer a viable solution for reducing that debt, and the IMF insists on austerity measures. Surpassing this debt threshold has also caused China's lead credit rating agency to cut America's credit rating.

3. Declining civil rights: Everyday freedoms are often a casualty of a society in collapse. As the anger of the populace mounts in response to declining economic conditions and political corruption, the government counters by increasing draconian measures that restrict the political rights and civil liberties of its citizens.

America is becoming a country like China, which has one of the lowest scores according to Freedom House. In America, private discussions and movements are monitored, free speech is corralled, the freedom to assemble for protest is by government decree, and independent thought that questions the political system is increasingly looked upon with suspicion. A final indicator is when the government insists upon secrecy for its own actions, while new laws and systems are created to put the individual under nearly constant surveillance.

4. Increasing political corruption: When political corruption becomes the accepted norm, as opposed to the exception, then there's a good bet your country resembles the Third World. Congress and all major institutions face a growing crisis in confidence, where a record-low 11% of the population believe Congress is doing a good job. It now seems obvious to all observers that big corporations directly control the agenda in Washington -- much like typically corrupt Third World countries.

5. Military patrolling the streets: The rise of a militarized police state is a hallmark of most Third World countries, particularly in times of rapid economic collapse. America's declaration of the War on Terror has created a constant threat to National Security that has allowed for the military to be deployed on American soil. Building upon the War on Drugs, this has created a fusion between the military and local police, where military-grade weapons and tactics are being used against American citizens in a cascade of violent confrontations over non-violent offenses. Military checkpoints are moving farther inland, away from meaningful border control functions, and a full-blown military presence in American cities has been planned by the U.S. Army War College.

6. Failing infrastructure: As 46 of 50 states are on the verge of bankruptcy, cities are going dark, asphalt roads are returning to the stone age, and nationwide budget cuts are leaving students without teachers, supplies, or a full-time education. These are common features one will see as they travel through the poorest of Third World countries.

7. Disappearing middle class: During the last presidential debate season, they argued that a family income of $250K was solidly middle-class. Well, Census data shows less than 15% of families make over $100K, and only 1.5% of families make over $250K. The income gap between the rich and poor has increased at a staggering pace, while many more middle-class folks join the ranks of the poor every day. Cavernous income gaps may be what Third-World nations are best known for.

8. Devalued currency: The value of the Federal Reserve Note (U.S. dollar) has declined 96% since the inception of the Federal Reserve in 1913. The value of the dollar is based on its supply in circulation and, to a lesser extent, the demand for those dollars. For the last three years, the money supply has spiked literally off the charts. It can be argued that the dollar has become America's top export as the world's reserve currency, and if the volatile dollar is scrapped, which the U.N. and IMF now suggest, then demand will plummet, killing the currency.

9. Controlling the media: A government-influenced media that censors information is a key component of Third World countries. In some countries it is openly owned by the State. In America, privately-owned major media is not as balanced or as diverse as it seems; the concentration of ownership has led to censorship when national and corporate interests have sometimes overlapped. The persecution of high-profile investigative journalists such as WikiLeaks is set amid a backdrop of the proposed Internet censorship of bloggers who wish to remain anonymous. The end of net neutrality creates a pay-to-play system that can lead to further corporate and government control of information and opinion. Cybersecurity initiatives are the final nail in the coffin, as the entire free flow of information can be vetted in a China-style system of "identity management." On the street, the police state and media control have converged in the recent rise of arrests for those who videotape the police. This is a huge blow to First Amendment rights and the role of photojournalists who wish to document public police behavior.

10. Capital Controls: Many nations have enforced capital controls as their economies collapse. It most recently happened in Argentina and Venezuela as they sought to keep the remaining wealth within their borders. The SEC already has adopted policies to allow money market funds to suspend withdrawals during a financial crisis, while the recent HIRE bill (HR 2487) puts restrictions on Americans moving capital to foreign countries. Some economists suggest that the national debt has gotten so high that the government must now force investment of private capital into U.S. Treasury debt.

Key economic indicators point to a situation potentially worse than the Great Depression. The land of opportunity for so many is devolving into a system of government corruption, corporate looting, and military rule that threatens to sink the American Dream. The capital flight from America has left a dwindling middle class holding an empty bag. This style of underinvestment in the foundation of society is similar to what already has led to the exodus from the rural Midwest. Now, there are ominous signs of a silent exodus of young, intelligent professionals seeking opportunities to realize their dreams outside of America; they are becoming known as Generation Xpat. Lastly, many skilled immigrants have returned to their home countries to seek a better quality of life, which might be the scariest indicator of all.
Activist Post is an Independent News blog for Activists challenging the error of establishment.

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Comments 1 - 10 of 10 Add Comment Page 1 of 1

Posted: Aug 17 2010, 6:38 AM

71200 The end is near...prepare now or suffer with the masses!

Posted: Oct 16 2010, 5:45 AM

124177 I would like to add one more to that list, the decline of valid music.

Here`s a quote from William Shakespeare`s "merchant of Venice"; the man that has no music in himself, nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds, is fit for treasons, strategems an spoils; the motions of his spirit are dull as night, an his affections dark as Erebus; let no such man be trusted" {Erebus was the son of the god Khaos {chaos} and darkness itself that filled the "crannies" of the earth, eg such as reclusive carnivore spiders do}. Confucius, 550--479, said "if one should desire to know whether a kingdom is well governed, or if its morals are good or bad, the quality of its music will furnish the answer. Music produces a kind of pleasure that human nature cannot do without".
Rock was much more than the universal language, it was as vital for Man`s survival as water. What happens to a world thats rockless? To find out, just type "war news" in your PC search engine, or read Henry Makow, Jewish Ph.D. who states “central bankers have empowered a bizarre cabal of gangsters-perverts-misfits to create wars an mayhem. For example, chaos relieved winston churchill`s chronic depression. At the beginning of WW-1, he confessed to his wife, “everything is tending to catastrophe an collapse. I am interested, geared up, an happy. Is it not horrible to be built like this?”

jukit babalu


Posted: Dec 08 2010, 12:45 AM

649 The term "Third World Country" comes from the Cold War. The "First World" referred to America, and the "Second World" referred to the USSR as well as their allies. "Third World Countries" were simply those not aligned or involved with the US or USSR for much of the 21st century.

I know this is the interent and you're free to spew whatever nonsense you like but please, try to get your facts straight next time.

Posted: Feb 05 2011, 10:27 PM

72175 the definition of terrorist from the Oxford English Dictionary is government

Posted: May 16 2011, 1:31 PM

66154 IDEAS !
Get it straight yourself

Posted: Jun 20 2011, 12:40 AM

70178 The world rankings now cover economic situations and government control 'anonymous'. Third World nations have bad economies and are fascist led or dictatorships or oligarchies. The second world has better if not great economy, and is usually communist or something close. First world is generally agreed to have a healthy economy and is a republic or a democracy or some combination thereof.

Posted: Apr 30 2013, 1:14 PM

76103 "wild currency fluctuations " are you selling gold or bitcoins or what? i've been alive 62 years and i don't recall wild currency fluctuations. the dollar seems very stable and we have a low rate of inflation.
go and try to scare some children with your boogy man tales.

Posted: Jun 15 2013, 5:02 AM

9411 The writer of this article appears not to know what the term third world actually means
James Smith

Posted: Aug 03 2013, 8:11 PM

186214 This article originally appeared on Alternet.

AlterNet People uninterested in change and progress tend to cling to the jingoistic fantasy that America is an exceptional country. Often this implies that the U.S. is somehow superior to other nations. Some, like the neocons, have taken the idea of exceptionalism to mean that America should be above the law and that other countries should be remade in our image. Others, like conservative evangelicals, believe that Americas supposed exceptionalism is Gods will.

In recent decades, America has indeed pulled ahead of the global pack in a number of areas. But they arent necessarily things to go waving the flag over or thanking Jehovah.

1. Most expensive place to have a baby.In the U.S., having a baby is going to cost you, big-time, before you even get that bundle of joy home. The New York Times reports that on average, a hospital delivery costs $9,775 and make that $15,041 if youre having a Cesarean. No other first-world country on earth expects new parents to shell out that kind of money just for the privilege of procreating.

You might think insurance would help. Youd be wrong. A staggering 62 percent of private plans come with zilch in the way of maternity coverage. Mothers-to-be are dragged through what the Times calls an extended shopping trip though the American healthcare bazaar where they try to figure out the cost of things like ultrasounds and blood tests. Pricing is often opaque and widely variable, and its common for mothers to receive treatments they dont necessarily need. Even when insurance does cover maternity care, between the deductibles and co-insurance fees, women can expect to shell out thousands in out-of-pocket expenses: an average of $3,400.

Do American mothers get some kind of unusual care for all that dough? Nope. They receive the same services moms receive in other first-world countries; they just pay for them individually and at higher rates.

2. Obesity. The U.S. has been ranked as the most obese country in the world, though a recent report by the U.N. says that Mexico is pulling ahead of us. Not surprisingly, obesity is considered a national health crisis and contributes to an estimated 100,000 to 400,000 deaths in the U.S. per year. In 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 35.7 percent of American adults are obese, and 17 percent of American children. More than two-thirds of American adults are either overweight or obese.

Americans are ballooning for a number of reasons, including our fondness for fried food, sugary drinks, cheap, pre-packaged foods, processed meats, our sedentary lifestyle, particularly television-watching, too little sleep, and a lack of exercise. Obesity is associated with diabetes, heart disease, complications in pregnancy, strokes, liver disease the list goes on and on. The obesity epidemic is also responsible for increased healthcare use and expenditures. Kentucky is the most obese state, and Colorado is the least obese.

Researchers predict that the cost of obesity in the U.S. is likely to reach $344 billion by 2018.

3. Anxiety disorders.Americans are freaking out. Researchers have looked at the prevalence of various types of mental illness around the globe and found that the U.S. is the world champion in anxiety. According to the 2009 results of the World Health Organizations World Mental Health Survey, 19 percent of Americans were found to experience a clinical anxiety disorder over a given 12-month period. The National Institutes of Health puts the number at 18 percent of adults, which means that at least 40 million Americans are suffering.

Researchers have found that anxiety disorders, which include several varieties such as generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder,take a tremendous toll on the population. Often, anxiety disorders are associated with other ailments such as chronic pain and they tend to limit the sufferers participation in daily activities. The disorders are more prevalent in women, and only a third of sufferers receive treatment specifically addressed at anxiety.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America finds that people suffering from anxiety disorders are up to five times more likely to go to the doctor in general and six times more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric disorders than others.

4. Small arms ownership.The Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva ranks the U.S. number one in both the total number of civilian firearms and in per capita ownership of small firearms, beating out recent war zones like Yemen, Serbia and Iraq.

In fact, we may even have more guns in the U.S. than we have people: The rate of private gun ownership in the U.S. was tabulated at 101.05 firearms per 100 individuals in one study. According to a recent report on CNN, Americans own as many as one-third of the guns in the entire world. Research also shows that while the number of households with guns has declined, current gun owners are stockpiling more guns. Part of this concentration seems to stem from the fact that guns are primarily marketed to people who already own guns.

A related statistic: In the U.S., the gun-related murder rate is the second highest in the developed world. Only Mexico, where the ongoing drug war expands the number, has us beat.

5. Most people behind bars.Incarceration rates in the U.S. blow right past the likes of Russia, Cuba, Iran or China. According to the International Center for Prison Studies, the U.S. locks up 716 out of every 100,000 people. Norway, in contrast, only puts 71 out of 100,000 in the clink. Japan jails 54 and Iceland locks up only 47 out of 100,000.

The latest stats show that the total prison population of the U.S., including pre-trial detainees and remand prisoners, is 2,239,751. These people are behind bars at 4,575 different facilities. The estimated capacity of our prisons, by the way, is only 2,134,000. In 2010, there were an estimated 70,792 juveniles locked away.

Racism is rife in the prison system, with blacks and Hispanics disproportionately represented. Inhumane conditions abound, from poor care for those suffering from serious diseases like HIV/AIDS to the torture of solitary confinement to rape to abuse of the mentally ill. Debtors prisons are thought to be a relic of the 19th century, but starting in 2011, in the U.S. you can find yourself imprisoned for debt in several states, including Florida. High rates of imprisonment seem to derive from a number of factors, including long sentences, the incarceration of non-violent offenders (20 percent of the prison population is made up of drug offenders) and the privatization trend, in which private corporations rely on growth models to increase their profits.

6. Energy use per person.The U.S. is the global leader in the amount of energy use per person. We get top billing in electricity consumption, were miles ahead of everybody in oil consumption, and when it comes to coal consumption, were number two, right behind China.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that Americans account for nearly 19 percent of Planet Earths total primary energy consumption, which comes from petroleum, natural gas, coal, nuclear, and renewable energy. Aboutone-quarter of primary energy consumed in the U.S. in 2011 was supplied came from natural gas, made cheap through fracking.

Factors contributing to high use include the cost of heating and cooling increasingly large homes, electricity requirements for home electronics, the high amount of energy required to produce consumer goods in the industrial sector, and transportation usage.

U.S. energy consumption almost tripled from 1950 to 2007, driven by population growth and increased standards of living, and then dipped in 2009 due to the Great Recession. The U.S. is predicted to experience a slight decline in energy use in the coming years, but world energy demand is on pace to double by 2050.

7. Health expenditures. The U.S. devotes more of its economy to health than any other country, 17.6 percent of GDP in 2010, and the trend is slanted upward. We spend more in every category of healthcare, especially in administration costs, due to the existence of thousands of different insurance companies.

Yet the Commonwealth Fund ranked the U.S. dead last in healthcare quality among similar countries, while noting that U.S. care is the most expensive. A coronary bypass in the U.S., for example, costs 50 percent more than it would cost you in Canada, Australia and France, and twice as much as youd pay in Germany.

Despite all the money sloshing around, the U.S. has fewer physicians per person than most other OECD countries, fewer hospital beds, and a lower life expectancy at birth, according to a recent PBS report. The same report stated that the U.S. spent $8,233 on health per person in 2010. The next highest spenders, Norway, the Netherlands and Switzerland spent at least $3,000 less per person.

8. Cocaine use.When it comes to cocaine use, weve got a tie with Spain. In both countries, according to the 2008 World Drug Report released by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, three percent of adults and teens say theyve given it a try.

Between 2006 and 2010, cocaine use is reported to have declined significantly in the U.S., but demand has by no means disappeared: about 2 million Americans are regular users (crack users account for about 700,000 of these). Colombia was once the major supplier of cocaine to Americans, but it has now fallen behind Bolivia and Peru, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Cocaine is the second most popular drug behind pot, but unlike marijuana, it is associated with high rates of death, particularly due to cardiac arrest.

Interesting factoid: Cocaine has a nasty link to industrial capitalism. It first became popular with laborers as a way of increasing productivity, and employers often supplied the drug.
James Smith

Posted: Aug 03 2013, 8:16 PM

186214 FWIW, "Third World Country" has nothing to do with the economy. The term originated during the cold war. First world countries were those allied with the USA and the UK. Second World countries were those aligned with the USSR and Communist China. Third world countries were aligned with neither but were neutral of opposed to both.

Also, there has not been a truly communist government after the first few months following the Russian Revolution of 1917. The terms, "communist" and "socialist" were used by totalitarian regimes to try to conceal what they were really doing.
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