Friday, January 18, 2013

New Zealand : Comparison insanity starts

Nonny Mouse  blogs ( I have serious doubts about the sanity of anyone who goes by the name of Nonny anything ).

The Greatest Nation On Earth Isn't Us

                                                                   Picture Fairfax. Homeless in New Zealand

We Americans like to think, and in fact have been indoctrinated for decades to believe, that we are the greatest country in the world, the best at just about everything. Sadly, that hasn’t been true for quite some time. Words patriots once gave their lives for, like ‘freedom’... and ‘patriots’... have become almost meaningless.

Most Americans I know have no such illusions.

So if you’re curious about who’s taken our crown, you might be surprised. The latest international index of 123 countries released by the Fraser Institute, Canada's leading public policy think-tank, and Germany's Liberales Institut, ranked New Zealand number one for offering the highest level of freedom worldwide, followed by the Netherlands then Hong Kong. Australia, Canada and Ireland tied for fourth spot. The survey measured the degree to which people are free to enjoy classic civil liberties - freedom of speech, religion, individual economic choice, and association and assembly - in each country surveyed, as well as indicators of crime and violence, freedom of movement, legal discrimination against homosexuals, and women's freedoms. Pretty extensive stuff.

It is actually fairly meaningless. If you are going to rank countries then perhaps a better way is to look at the treatment that is given to their most vulnerable citizens. You certainly have the freedom to starve to death in New Zealand. Our prison figures make interesting reading.

" In New Zealand, ethnicity is an important component of any analysis of the prison population. Māori inmates made up an estimated 45% of the male sentenced population in the 1995 prison census.  (footnote 41) In comparison, Māori make up 10% of the male population of New Zealand aged 15 or over, or 14% of the male population in the key 15-39 age group. The proportion of male inmates accounted for by Māori offenders does not appear to have changed greatly since the first prison census in 1987, when 48% of the prison population were Māori."

The United States tied Denmark for seventh. We didn’t even get bronze.

As for the idea that the United States is the envy of the world when it comes to free markets and business? Wrong again. The U.S. continues to lose ground against other nations in Forbes’ annual look at the Best Countries for Business. The U.S. placed second in 2009, but in 2012 it ranks 12th, trailing fellow G-8 countries Canada (5th), the United Kingdom (10th) and Australia (11th) The world’s biggest economy at $15.1 trillion scores abysmally when it comes to trade freedom and monetary freedom.

America has never understood free trade. To suggest this is a recent development in the US is just laughable. Of course the price of free trade can be high New Zealand no longer has a manufacturing sector, that is a consequence of having to trade with protectionist regimes such as the US but also pretty much the rest of the world as well.

So, who did top the list for the Best Countries for Business?

New Zealand. New Zealand can boast a transparent and stable business climate that encourages entrepreneurship. New Zealand is the smallest economy in the top 10 at $162 billion, but it ranks first in personal freedom and investor protection, as well as a lack of red tape and corruption.
Okay, so at least MIT is still the best university in the entire world, we’re still first at something...Well, according to the Association of American Colleges and Universities, there are two thousand six hundred eighteen accredited four-year colleges and universities in the United States, most of which operate privately or as part of state governments. Only fifty-four of these are in the top 200, very slightly over 2% . So who does top the educational rankings?

That would be New Zealand again, first in the world on the basis of performance in three areas: access to education, quality of education and human capital.

Investor protection ?  Well yes now, but that is a very recent development and many would term it corporate welfare. Our Universities are fairly good but other parts of our tertiary education sector are a fucking joke.

The annual QS World University survey ranks institutions based on scores for academic reputation, employer reputation and how many international students it has, among other things. Up to 20,000 universities from around the world were surveyed to find the top 700 academic institutions from 72 countries, the best universities in the world.

New Zealand has eight universities nationwide, with slightly less than around a half million students. According to the QS World University Rankings, two of New Zealand’s universities – Auckland and Otago – rank in the top 200 of the 700 best universities in the world, and Auckland in the top 100 (83rd and 133rd respectively). That's 25% compared to the United State's 2.06%. All eight universities rank in the top 500, with Auckland University of Technology appearing on the list for the first time this year. That’s a 100% rating.

Even when New Zealand isn’t top of the list, they’re outranking and out-performing the United States on just about any index you want to consider. How about the environment? According to the Yale University and Columbia University 2012 Environmental Performance Index at the World Economic Forum, ranking 132 countries, New Zealand placed 14th in the top 30. The United States trailed at 49th. 

Actually we are starting to do better here on the environmental front. There will always be a tension between economic development and environmental protection. The balance is critical. 

We rank top of the list for the most expensive health care system in the world, but dead last overall compared to six other industrialized countries - Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom – when it comes to quality, efficiency, access to care, equity and the ability to lead long, healthy, productive lives.

There are a few other things the United States tops the charts at: We’re fifth out of the top 25 countries in the world in terms of crime rate. New Zealand is 24th.

I don't think 24th is anything to be blowing our trumpet about.

Auckland is ranked the third best city out of the top five for quality of living, after Vienna and Zurich, nothing in the United States making the list at all. Even when it’s just the Americas being ranked for quality of living overall (taking New Zealand out of the equation altogether), the top four cities are all in Canada, with Honolulu coming 28th.

Don’t even get me started on the All Blacks.

Maybe the Black Caps ?

One of the smallest countries in the world is kicking our ass when it comes to actually living up to the standards we Americans pretend we still have. Isn’t it about time we stopped kidding ourselves, stopped living on past glories that mostly never were, and started actually trying to be at least as good as one of the smallest nations on earth?

We are not one of the smallest nations on earth in terms of  land mass / economic zone we are one of the largest. By that measure we should be doing a hell of a lot better than we are.

Oh and why is the NZ diaspora one of the largest in the world per capita ?


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