William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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WHAT HAPPENED TO THE USA? – AT 11:41 A.M. ET:   This should give some idea of some of the challenges to be faced by whoever wins Tuesday's election.  From London's Daily Mail:

Norway has been crowned the most prosperous country in the world for the fifth year running.
But the U.S. has dropped out of the Legatum Prosperity Index's top ten for the first time to 12th position.
According to the annual survey, which benchmarks 142 countries worldwide, the UK has continued to lag, retaining its place 13th in the list.

Scandinavian countries have continued to dominate the top of the global index, which takes measurements from across eight categories: economy, education, entrepreneurship & opportunity, governance, health, personal freedom, safety & security and social capital.

THE PROSPERITY INDEX

TOP 25
1 - Norway
2 - Denmark
3 - Sweden
4 - Australia
5 - New Zealand
6 - Canada
7 - Finland
8 - Netherlands
9 - Switzerland
10 - Ireland
11 - Luxembourg
12 - U.S.
13 - UK
14 - Germany
15 - Iceland
16 - Austria
17 - Belgium
18 - Hong Kong
19 - Singapore
20 - Taiwan
21 - France
22 - Japan
23 - Spain
24 - Slovenia
25 - Malta

Norway, Denmark and Sweden are ranked first, second and third place respectively.
In Europe, overall prosperity has risen, with the Netherlands, Ireland and Germany climbing the rankings into eighth, tenth and 14th position.

I'd rather we be up higher.  However, let me point out that the index isn't entirely a "prosperity" index.  There are other judgments made.  Consider:

Jeffrey Gedmin, president and chief executive of the Legatum Institute, said: 'The Legatum Prosperity Index allows us to paint a comprehensive picture of what makes a country truly successful.

'It encompassing traditional measures of material wealth, as well as capturing citizens’ sense of wellbeing – from how safe they feel, to their perceived personal freedom. GDP alone can never offer a complete view of prosperity.

'We believe that by measuring the quality of education, healthcare, social capital and opportunity, our Prosperity Index gives the clearest view of how countries are prospering today and how they are likely to prosper in the future.'

COMMENT:  Fair enough, but some of us don't want to live in dull, gray, homogeneous societies with a "sense of wellbeing."  Americans tend to be more adventurous, more willing to take risks, and may reach higher, and sometimes fall lower, than other societies.

So, while I would feel a bit warned by that survey, I wouldn't whine about it.

November 4, 2012