The Measure of a Nation

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Howard Friedman, statistician and United Nations health economist, compares the United States competes with the thirteen countries around the globe most similar to ours and argues that the country is often close to the bottom in health, safety, democracy, education, and the environment. In The Measure of a Nation: How to Regain America's Competitive Edge and Boost Our Global Standing, he pinpoints specific policies and practices in other nations that the United States could benefit from. 


Howard Friedman

Comments [17]

Chris Garvey

Howard Friedman is correct about voting:
Proportional Representation and preference voting are better than our system.
Winner-take-all under-represents minority views.
Vote-only-for-one-candidate enables:
divide-and-conquer split the supporters strategy; and
lesser-of-two-evils candidate choices.

Jul. 19 2012 12:48 AM
Chris Garvey

Gun Control: Government Dates; Targets; Civilians Killed; "Gun Control" Laws ; Features of Over-all "Gun Control" scheme

Ottoman Turkey 1915-1917 Armenians; (mostly; Christians); 1-1.5 million; Art. 166, Pen.Code, 1866 & 1911 Proclamation, 1915; • Permits required •Government list of owners •Ban on possession

Soviet Union 1929-1945; Political; opponents;; farming; communities; 20 to 40 million; Resolutions, 1918; Decree, July 12, 1920; Art. 59 & 182, Pen.code, 1926; •Licensing of owners; •Ban on possession; •Severe penalties

Nazi Germany & Occupied Europe 1933-1945; Political opponents, Jews; Gypsies, critics; "examples" 20 million; Law on Firearms & Ammun., 1928; Weapon Law, March 18,1938; Regulations against Jews, 1938; •Registration & Licensing; •Stricter handgun laws; •Ban on possession

China Nationalist, 1927-1949; Political opponents; army conscripts; others; 10 million; Art. 205, Crim. Code, 1914; Art. 186-87, Crim. Code,1935; •Government permit system; Ban on private ownership

China, Red 1949-1952; 1957-1960; 1966-1976; Political opponents; Rural populations; Enemies of; the state; 20-35 million; Act of Feb. 20, 1951; Act of Oct. 22, 1957; •Prison or death to "counter-revolutionary criminals" and anyone resisting any government program; •Death penalty for supply guns to such "criminals"

Guatemala 1960-1981; Mayans &; other Indians; political enemies; 100,000- 200,000; Decree 36, Nov 25 •Act of 1932; Decree 386, 1947; Decree 283, 1964; •Register guns & owners •Licensing with high fees; •Prohibit carrying guns; •Bans on guns, sharp tools •Confiscation powers

Uganda 1971-1979; Christians; Political enemies; 300,000; Firearms Ordinance 1955; Firearms Act, 1970; •Register all guns & owners •Licenses for transactions; •Warrentless searches •Confiscation powers

Cambodia (Khmer Rouge) 1975-1979; Educated Persons; Political enemies; 2 million; Art. 322-328, Penal Code; Royal Ordinance 55, 1938; •Licenses for guns, owners, ammunition & transactions; •Photo ID with fingerprints •License inspected quarterly

Rwanda 1994; Tutsi people; 800,000; Decree-Law No. 12, 1979; •Register guns, owners, ammunition •Owners must justify need •Concealable guns illegal •Confiscating powers

n the 20th Century:
evil governments did wipe out 170,000,000 innocent non-military lives in the 20th Century alone.

Governments murdered four times as many civilians as were killed in all the international and domestic wars combined.

Governments murdered about ten times more people than the 18 million that were killed by common criminals.

Jul. 19 2012 12:37 AM
Chris Garvey from Amityville

Flawed numbers:
DOJ numbers show states with the most restrictive gun laws have the highest violent crime rates, which alter downward under new right-to-carry laws. Lott, "More Guns, Less Crime".
That doesn't count the 180,000,000 citizens killed by their own governments following gun bans, in Russia, China, Uganda, Cambodia, East Timore, etc.

There is no correlation between school cost-per-student and student performance.

Jul. 19 2012 12:28 AM

When comparing the health statistics of the Japanese people, who fare mainly at the top of the charts, and the Americans, who largely fare closer to the bottom (at least when it comes to industrialized nations), Mr. Friedman alluded to "lifestyle" differences as a factor. Diet certainly falls into this category. In my book "Just Because You're An American Doesn't Mean You Have To Eat Like One!," I point out that the Japanese certainly have much they can teach us, as exemplified by their stellar health statistics. However, the point I would like to make here is that their "lifestyle" habits are not necessarily all that stellar; statistically they also rank highest in stress, cigarette smoking and other trappings of the western world. The point I make in my book, and what I would like to reiterate here, is that the traditional diet they consume, high in the protective effects of fish oil, helps to provide them with the ranking on the health charts that Mr. Friedman speaks about.

Michele Jacobson

Jul. 18 2012 04:15 PM
SALLY MORROW from Ottawa Canada

The interview with Mr. Friedman (Measure of a Nation) was so clear, so informative - he is certainly in a position to offer good advice to the U.S. which (just from the health care viewpoint) I hope will be taken and acted on.

Jul. 18 2012 01:33 PM
janeox from New York

I have been struggling to grasp various aspects of American society while visiting from Britain, and the discussion with Howard Friedman cast immediate crisp, clear light on many of these. Magnificent, factual, analysis.

Thank you America for bearing drug development costs for the rest of the world - a far better gift than seeking to rescue it from Communism etc with the misplaced instrument of ridiculous amounts of armed conflict.

To the question, why do bright students round the world want to study in the US? - I would add, because American universities often offer generous funding to the brightest and brawniest.

Overall, this radio station has kept us sane while here - thank you!

Jul. 18 2012 12:50 PM

You ask if smokers deserve the same health care that non-smokers do.

Please consider the thousands and thousands of dollars a pack a day smoker has payed into the economy in tobacco taxes. What is the most logical application of those taxes?

Jul. 18 2012 12:44 PM
amalgam from NYC by day, NJ by night

The United States is such a disconnected, segmented and unequal society, and yet many people still believe that we are _innately_ superior; you know, the "Shining City on the Hill." Clearly the U.S. is a great nation with so much going for it, but it seems that in much of the population there is a desire not simply to enhance some of our great fundamental strengths - diversity, innovation, some level of fairness/rule of law - but to return to a nostalgic fantasy of what never was.

In the end, many would rather use this unquestioned faith in America and its reflexive belief in Neoliberal capitalism (and there are many types of capitalism) to regress, and not evolve based on facts on-the-ground.

Jul. 18 2012 12:39 PM
fuva from harlemworld

Individual responsibility is crucial. But individuals must be adequately prepared and informed so that this can happen.

Jul. 18 2012 12:37 PM
fuva from harlemworld

If we have talked about safe sex, and yet infection rates are rising because folks think the crisis is over, then we're not talkig about safe sex EFFECTIVELY.

Jul. 18 2012 12:34 PM
rachel loonin from Merion Station, PA

you might want to share with your guest another very possible reason for high infant mortality rate in the US: High C-section rate. The more interventions, the greater the risk of c sections. The US is a highly litigous society and ob/gyns are now trained towards keeping those skyrocketing malpractice rates down. Who wants a dead baby? Look to the Netherlands and Japan where their infant mortality rates are low, as are their c-sections. The greater use of midwives in prenatal care as well as labor and delivery speaks to that.

Jul. 18 2012 12:33 PM
Leo from Queens

MEDICAL care IS RATIONED here as well - EVEN IF YOU HAVE THE MONEY OR INSURANCE. We don't have the needed number of physicians or capacity for procedures when needed. Plus Insurance companies ration the medication that you can take and will not pay for most new medications.

There is CURRENTLY rationing of medical care here. for those that can pay for it; for those that have insurance and there is definitely 'SELF-RATIONING' for those that are poor.

Jul. 18 2012 12:32 PM
The Truth from Becky

LEONARD,you cant have it both ways, you cant say the Black Community has the highest number of births and the highest number of infant mortality by abortion too. Choose and stereotype and go with it OR take a listen to Howard how he speaks of us as a COUNTRY!!

Jul. 18 2012 12:32 PM

The issue of an "internal brain drain" was studied by NIH.

You can view the verbal presentation of the study's findings at and read them at

You may also find some familiar names in the Biomedical Workforce Modeling Subcommittee Roster, at

(Note: In the video, the presentation itself doesn't start until minute

Major point #1--the NIH admits that H-1B visas - guaranteeing jobs to foreign students and attracting the "best and the brightest" - is a large part of the problem:

Unlike the situation in the computer industry, in which the employers of
H-1Bs insist they're using the foreign workers to remedy a labor
shortage, the NIH committee states explicitly, several times, that not
only is there a labor surplus but also that the H-1Bs are a major cause
of the problem.

Jul. 18 2012 12:23 PM

It might be worth noting that Mr. Friedman is confining his discussion to fairly basic facts (e.g., statistical and economic comparisons of the US and other countries), all of which, so far, torpedo right-wing (and a good deal of Clintonist) dogma on education, health care, the cult of imprisonment, and on and on.

Jul. 18 2012 12:20 PM
fuva from harlemworld

Wow, Howard. Tell it!
This guest states -- plainly -- simple undisputable facts that the vast majority of us are completely clueless to. (Moving socioeconomic discourse forward, so that we can move forward...)
Thanks Leonard!

Jul. 18 2012 12:19 PM
meredith from nyc

Could Mr. Friedman get on the main media TV news shows so his book could be widely discussed across the U.S? How many Americans know how low we rank vs other countries--any polls on that?

Jul. 18 2012 12:01 PM

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