USA's 2014 Report Card: Good work, could do better
The United States leads the world in production of websites, prisoners, sunflower seeds and pricy health care.
Chicago, I was surprised to learn, is the third largest urban area in the world, with a population of 6.8 million, right behind New York and Tokyo. Not a conventional way of viewing the city, but well, we’ll get to that.
All of this learned from pawing through a fascinating thin volume, “Pocket World in Figures: 2015 Edition” which The Economist magazine sent as Christmas thanks for ponying up the big bucks and subscribing (worse, I bought two subscriptions, one for me, one for my son at college in California. He insisted).
New Year’s Eve being upon us, rather than rehash stories that weren’t that interesting to begin with, but did occur during the past 12 months, I thought we could join hands and graze through this little book. So let’s take a moment to see our city and nation as they appear, not close up to our jaundiced eyes but from afar, to those taking in the whole big blue marble at one glance.
The news, statistically, is surprisingly good. The United States is the biggest economy in the world by far: $16 trillion, almost exactly twice that of second-place China. We export 20 percent more than China, second only to the European Union. But we do have to borrow a lot to keep going: $440 billion deficit, more than the next six nations: the United Kingdom, India, Australia, Canada, France and Brazil — combined. Though it could be worse: Our government debt is equal to our nation’s gross domestic product for 2013; in Japan, it’s more than twice the GDP...