Global Ethics Corner: Is my Country Doing Right by Me?

January 9, 2009

How do we know if nations are succeeding? Is a country doing right by its people?

One way to decide is illustrated by the UN Development Programme Report which ranks countries of the world, and provides a comprehensive view using indices of health, education, and income.

Importantly, this index provides an approach to social progress that is not solely reliant upon wealth.

How is America doing? In 2007-2008 the U.S. ranked only 12th overall and as low as 31st on life expectancy.

More recently, a report, The Measure of America, applies the UN approach, peeling the onion by looking at state and congressional district data, as well as by gender, racial, and ethnic factors. There is a dramatic gap. The best index is in New York City, the lowest in Fresno California.

Extending the report, ethical behavior might be further refined by including items like: human rights indices, entrepreneurial ability, the degree of regulation, freedom from fear, et cetera.

What criteria do you emphasize when deciding "How is my country doing?" Are you proud of how your country compares with the world?

By William Vocke

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