Reply Wed 27 Nov, 2002 11:55 am
Perhaps the closest category to post this and it does seem to bear a lot of relationship to politics. Is tooting the horn of "the greatest country in the world" by certain factions of the political spectrum really mean "the greatest military power in the world?" Or "the greatest money grubbers in the world?" Or "the greatest political machine." Hint: we're not number one on the list.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 4 • Views: 29,520 • Replies: 525
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fbaezer
 
  1  
Reply Wed 27 Nov, 2002 12:29 pm
Usually the term "most livable country" is referred to the UN Human Development Index.

According to that, in 2002, the top ten list is:

1. Norway
2. Sweden
3. Canada
4. Belgium
5. Australia
6. United States
7. Iceland
8. Netherlands
9. Japan
10. Finland

This is a product of sociodemographic statistics, it can give you a hint, but infant mortality, number of doctors per person, life expentancy, school enrollment levels and Gross Domestic Product are only a part of what makes a country livable.

In the UN list, Israel is ranked number 22, Ireland is 23, the Czech Republic is number 33, Mexico is 51, Brazil is 69, Jamaica 78 and South Africa is 94.
Well, for all the lower infant mortality, free elections, and high GDP, I think any of the other 6 countries is more livable than living always in the edge of war, as in Israel.

Years ago, in 1987, I read about a worldwide "happiness" poll. People wewre asked about their frustrations and their hopes; if they'd change their lives, if they thought they had enough time, enough friends, enough money to do the things they wanted. The top three were Denmark, Italy and Spain. Japan ranked 20th, The US ranked 22nd, Mexico ranked 36th, the last places were South Africa, Hungary and Ecuador. South African blacks were the least "happy".
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Lightwizard
 
  1  
Reply Wed 27 Nov, 2002 12:58 pm
Thanks, fbaezer -- I was on my first cup of coffee and forgot to post the UN list!
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Lightwizard
 
  1  
Reply Wed 27 Nov, 2002 01:01 pm
Also, here's the infoplease.com page which also shows the least livable countries:

http://www.infoplease.com/toptens/mostlivablecountries.html
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Lightwizard
 
  1  
Reply Wed 27 Nov, 2002 01:04 pm
The politicians and pundits use this "greatest country" soundbite to death as a panacea with no explanation as to what they really mean. If sitting over a $50.00 steak dinner to discuss how bad times are is an example, there's something rotten in Norway.
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Wed 27 Nov, 2002 03:39 pm
I doubt any politician would use the term and only mean it in reference to the HDI. The HDI isn't the ""be all/end all" measure of any nations total "greatness" and states as much.

The HDI's entire focus is limited to 3 core areas, longevity of life, average citizen knowledge, and the percentage of the population maintaining a "decent" standard of living. In theory at least, a nation could be comprised entirely of slaves who are beaten and raped daily but as long as the average life expectancy was 90 years, they were 100% literate and each person made enough to live comfortably, that nation would top the list.

No where in the measurement for example, is the individuals freedom to determine their own destiny measured. Most people would consider that freedom a pretty significant measure of a nations "greatness".

While I agree that the term is probably over-used (it's really used as more of a political rallying cry..), relying entirely on the HDI as any type of proof that it's false would be a mistake.
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Wed 27 Nov, 2002 03:50 pm
HDI is not a perfect measuring stick (this much has already been stated) but what do you recommend?

To me the best country depends on your personal criteria.

For me this means:

Friendly people.
Not monocultural.
Decent economy.
Decent weather.

And of course, the opportunities that the country can give me to pursue my happiness.

Based on my criteria the countries I'd like to live in are:

Canada
Australia
New Zealand
England

If I can't live in my chosen countries I'd settle for the U.S.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 27 Nov, 2002 04:00 pm
Well, Boss, Canadia qualifies until you get to "Decent weather" . . . very hot in summer; long, long, long winter. That doesn't bother me since cold weather isn't a problem from my point of view. Many people, however, wouldn't put Canadia at the top of their list for just that reason. As far as friendly people go, i'd have to say i'd put Canadia up there on top for that reason.
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Wed 27 Nov, 2002 04:01 pm
I don't know what I'd recommend as any single measure. They all seem to have significant weaknesses so I don't know that any really exists.

After posting and then looking at the HDI a little further I'd have concerns using it for anything really. Something just looks wrong. Of the Top 25 countries listed 17 are European nations, 5 are direct offshoots of European nations (Canada, US, Australia, New Zealand and Israel) and the remaining 3 are the most "Western" of the Asian countries (Japan, Hong Kong, Sinagapore). The bottom 25 are probably the "least European" nations in the world.

It just seems like the methodology for the report has a very Euro-centric value system for it's basis.
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Wed 27 Nov, 2002 04:18 pm
Setanta wrote:
long, long, long winter.


That is my ideal in weather. My ideal weather is a bit odd, I'd not mind rainy London for e.g. The people are great too (along with Aussies and Brazilians they are the nicest int the world).

fishin'
I think the study is just as Euro-centric as wealth distribution is.
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Lightwizard
 
  1  
Reply Wed 27 Nov, 2002 06:42 pm
Then the US is more European than we care to admit?

Nobody has answered just what the "Greatest" nation means when uttered by politicians as a polemic for every utterance criticizing the U.S. I gather that means that it is really meaningless.
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Wed 27 Nov, 2002 06:51 pm
It's just jingoism, nobody says "We're number 2"
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 27 Nov, 2002 06:53 pm
I don't know, Craven, keeping your head down could become very popular in the "new world order" . . .
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Wed 27 Nov, 2002 06:55 pm
It might become wise but I doubt it will become popular.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 27 Nov, 2002 06:56 pm
good point . . .
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Lightwizard
 
  1  
Reply Wed 27 Nov, 2002 07:05 pm
You're more popular than you might believe, C. Let's see someone come up with a list of criteria and point out where the U.S. is number one for each one. Let's start out with deaths by firearms.
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perception
 
  1  
Reply Wed 27 Nov, 2002 10:10 pm
I have a suggestion------why don't you ask all those millions of people who want to come here to the USA?
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Lightwizard
 
  1  
Reply Wed 27 Nov, 2002 10:29 pm
First off, millions of people haven't applied to enter the US and become citizens. That's another exageration. Second, why do they think they want to come here? Climate? Lots of jobs?

Climate: in what part of the U.S. would everyone like to come for this reason. California -- virtually the only state with what is classified as a Mediterranean climate. We don't have an ideal climate through the entire nation -- but along the Mediterranean...

Lots of jobs? Our own citizens are out of work.

Shall we keep going on? When do you plan to start polling these millions of people who want to come here. Another myth.
0 Replies
 
perception
 
  1  
Reply Wed 27 Nov, 2002 10:41 pm
We could start by asking the 13 million illegal aliens already here(these are figures thrown around by the media ) and that we can't get rid of.
This may have something to do with some of our citizens out of work.
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Wed 27 Nov, 2002 10:42 pm
perception wrote:
I have a suggestion------why don't you ask all those millions of people who want to come here to the USA?


Why are you so defensive about our country? Just curious, but it at times looks like it's your religion. No country is perfect you know.

edit: fixed a typo
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