Still in the Third World

I grew up in a third world country that looks developed simply because it has an advanced military, and then lived in another third world country that looks developed simply because it has a clean, gentrified downtown. Apparently, I still live in the third world.

I’m talking about the latest e. coli outbreak, generally something that doesn’t happen in developed countries. I don’t know that anyone has a problem with eating uncooked meat in Europe; on the contrary, I know that in France, it’s a lot easier to find raw or rare meat than well-done meat.

Gordo links this outbreak to incessant deregulation of industry in the US over the last 25 years. I don’t know if there’s a direct causal connection, since in most respects it’s not that the US has been getting worse, but that it’s stagnated while the rest of the first world’s progressed. But what’s certain is that there are many aspects the US shares with the third world rather than the first:

– Infant mortality is 6.5/1,000; for black people, it’s 13. Generally, if it’s higher than 4, something is seriously wrong with the system.

– Americans may bitch about how Canada has long waits for various procedures, but in Canada nobody dies because of a wait for a heart attack.

– Floods kill many more people in Louisiana than in Holland. Fortunately, earthquakes in Los Angeles still kill about three order of magnitude fewer people than equally powerful earthquakes in Turkey, but a) California is more progressive, and b) protection from earthquakes requires less upkeep and maintenance than protection from hurricanes and floods.

– American energy consumption per unit of GDP is more on a par with third-world countries and subarctic first-world countries than with temperate first-world countries.

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