If you read through a few U.S. State Department reports on living conditions in various countries, and then peruse the charter of United Nations, you’ll see that there’s a hell of a lot of horrible things going on around the world that the UN is supposed to be doing something about. Inconceivable levels of poverty, an almost total absence of human-rights protections, armed forces and police departments and courts that operate without any respect whatsoever for due process and the rule of law, primitive sanitary conditions, deadly infectious diseases that have spread widely and that go almost entirely untreated, whole regions in which everyday life is marked by the most extreme kind of tribal or gang or police violence, outright slavery, slave camps, women whose families treat them as little better than slaves, children whose families sell them into prostitution, and so on: such conditions can be found in scores of undeveloped nations.
How does a responsible UN official begin to address all these crises? Where does he start?
Why, in the United States, of course.
Yes, in every unfree or semi-free country on earth, every place where poverty is the norm and human rights unheard of, the great dream is to emigrate to the U.S. Innumerable Cubans have drowned while trying to make their way on rafts across the Florida Straits from the Castros’ island prison to the land of the free. Citizens of Mexico and points south have died of dehydration in the desert while seeking to cross into Arizona or New Mexico. Almost 46 million of America’s current inhabitants originally came from abroad, putting the U.S. at the top of the list of immigrant destinations; the #2 country on the list is Germany, where around 12 million people are foreign-born. So much of the world’s population is desperate to make it to America that the current president won election largely on the basis of his promise to build a wall on our southern border.
Yet if you believe the UN, the U.S. is a cesspit of Third World-style poverty. On December 8, the Alabama news site al.com quoted Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, as saying that he’s seen sewage conditions in that state that are “very uncommon in the First World….I’d have to say that I haven’t seen this.” Alston’s visit, reported al.com, was “part of a 15-day tour of the U.S. that Alston and his team are conducting to gather information for a report on poverty and human rights abuses in America that they expect to release in spring.” This crew have already visited California; from Alabama, they were planning to move on to Atlanta, Puerto Rico, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia.
When you think of how many truly miserable sinkholes there are on the planet, this sounds less like a poverty-inspection tour than like a vacation itinerary, but never mind: the mainstream media were quick to pick up on Alston’s purportedly dire findings. Both in the U.S. and elsewhere in the Western world, the MSM love to prick the balloon of the American dream, and especially given that a big election was coming up in Alabama, this item was right up their alley. Newsweek ran with the story, although by the time I caught up with its account, the article had already acquired an editorial postscript: “This article removes an extraneous reference to President Donald Trump.”
In Britain, the left-wing Independent relished the report, too, as did dozens of its readers. “What an amazing failure of a country that hopes to be GREAT AGAIN. What a sick joke,” commented one reader. Another lamented that Bernie Sanders didn’t win the White House: if he had, “these poor people might have had some hope.” A third asserted that America “is second world not first world.” Several others agreed. One reader recalled that “the South’s economy was initially based on…the enslavement of fellow human beings” (the point apparently being that the supposed destitution of the American South is a result of slavery, which ended a century and a half ago), but another reader protested, contending that “a lot of the US has underdeveloped world poverty levels – not just Alabama.”
Poverty, of course, is relative. Alabama is one of the poorest U.S. states. Some parts of it are surely poorer than others, and some Alabamians are certainly far poorer than others. Everyone should have decent sewers. One reason why so many Americans in traditionally blue states voted for Donald Trump was that they felt their local economies had stalled and that nobody in Washington cared. To be sure, they weren’t comparing their lot to that of people in the Congo or Kazakhstan or Bolivia: they were looking at how they were faring now and remembering how they’d been doing a decade or more ago. They weren’t measuring the U.S., in short, against other countries, developed or otherwise; they were measuring it against its past, and against its promise.
How, indeed, to measure such things? A 2016 report by Mark J. Perry of the American Enterprise Institute proves to be helpful here. Perry compares what is called the “PPP GDP” per capita of every U.S. state with that of several of the world’s richest countries. The “PPP GDP” is essentially the gross domestic product adjusted for cost of living. By Perry’s measure, 38 of the 50 states have higher GDPs than any of the other countries in the study. (Perry doesn’t include outliers like Luxembourg and Norway, where banking activity and oil revenue, respectively, make the GDPs artificially high.) Alabama is the 44th most prosperous state, with a GDP per capita of just under $41,000; readers of the Independent might be interested to know that this puts it ahead of the U.K., where the corresponding figure is $39,762. France appears even further down the list, with Japan, Italy, Spain, and Greece trailing behind; at the bottom is China, supposedly the economic wonder of the world, which weighs in at $13,206.
Needless to say, money is not the only measure of quality of life. Not to pick on Britain, but I would submit that life in the land of the BBC-watching, Guardian- and Independent-reading lemmings of the left is, on the whole, considerably worse, relative to life in Alabama, than Perry’s numbers would suggest. For one thing, Alabama has a better climate. For another, there’s no place in Alabama as grim as some of those gray industrial cities in the north of England. But most important, Britain is undergoing a process of Islamization that has made its people increasingly unsafe, has eroded their civil liberties, and will, before too long, unless dramatic action is taken, crush their very civilization. I have sought in vain online for a UN report on the rape-grooming gangs in Rotherham and other British municipalities. Until I find one, I’ll take Alabama’s Crimson Tide over the “Rivers of Blood” that British MP Enoch Powell so prophetically forecast in his eponymous 1968 speech about the perils of mass immigration. Alston’s spin around the U.S. is simply one more proof that the UN is a joke – a joke that’s funded, disproportionately, by U.S. taxpayers who have much better things to spend their money on. Say, sewers in Alabama.