March 25, 2008

Yeah! We're No. 24!

JANE'S INFORMATION GROUP, the British intelligence firm, has released a study ranking the world's nations in order of their relative stability and prosperity. This will come as a shock to many readers, but the United States of America is ranked ... 24th. Yes, 24th, out of 235. Although many of the top 50 nations aren't far apart -- the top nations earn a score of 99, compared to America's 93 -- this is a troubling state of affairs.

I mean, depending on how once looks at it, one can argue America's rank should be far different. Some might argue America should be ranked No. 1, because we rule. Others -- like me -- would put America at No. 6 or No. 7, behind super-stable and super-tiny states like Luxembourg. Still others would look at the No. 24 ranking and say, we should be down in the forties or fifties. No matter what one's view, everyone can stand up and say, "Hey! We're America, goddammit! We're a hell of a lot more prosperous / stable / mercenary / dangerous than 24th! What the hell's up with that?!"

I myself wonder how the ranking came about. Did the guy from Jane's get stuck on I-94 near Detroit, or the Cross-Bronx Expressway? Did he get heartburn in Phoenix? Did he get lost in East St. Louis? Did he turn into the wrong alley in New York, and find himself accosted by the criminal element?

MUGGER: Gimme your wallet!
JANE'S MAN: What!
MUGGER: You deaf or something? Gimme your wallet!
JANE'S MAN: No!
MUGGER: That's it!
(a struggle ensues)
JANE'S MAN: Of all the antisocial things I've ever --
MUGGER: What the hell's this? Don't you have any euros in here?
SECOND MUGGER: No, man, those are pounds! They're better than euros!
MUGGER: Yeah, but there's like ₤45 in here.
JANE'S MAN: Ah, but those are worth $900 in American dollars.
MUGGER: Who asked you?
SECOND MUGGER: Dude, you're right. Let's see if he has any euros on him.

In any event, let's look at the nations Jane's ranked, most of which inexplicably ranked higher than the United States. This might be alarming for some of us Yankees, so remember -- if you come across something you think is crap, start chanting U-S-A! U-S-A! loudly. It freaks out the foreigners.

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1. VATICAN CITY
As a Roman Catholic, I can only take pride and joy in this ranking. I mean, of course the Vatican is No. 1. Apostolic succession, baby! Besides, just because only 800 people actually live there is beside the point: this is a country with 1.1 billion people around the world obeying (well, kinda sorta) its commands. Also, the Papacy has its legions -- well, legion -- well, battalion -- OK, company -- of Swiss Guards, who have swords and fancy uniforms. Of course, as every Catholic knows, the Vatican has plans in place to seize Naval Base San Diego for its own -- but only if push comes to shove.

2. SWEDEN
One fails to understand how a nation with an expensive social-welfare scheme -- to say nothing of the fact it produced ABBA -- ranks second on a list ranking stable and prosperous nations.

3. LUXEMBOURG
Ah, Luxembourg! It's like Liechtenstein's older brother. Actually, this one makes sense.

4. MONACO
Yay Monaco! Would love to visit this charming place. No income tax! The Grand Prix! Wonderful!

5. GIBRALTAR
Eh? Gibraltar? But don't the Spanish want it back? Isn't that a bit problematic?

6. SAN MARINO
Yeah, that would make sense too -- after all, everybody from Rome on down pretty much ignored the place until now, and you know, it doesn't seem like that will change.

7. LICHTENSTEIN
This was 3rd prior to the LGT scandal!

8. GREAT BRITAIN
Dear God! What an idea! Britain? Eighth? They must be mad; or, if not mad, have forgotten the old Biblical admonition that one ought not point out the mote in someone else's eye whilst ignoring the beam in one's own. I mean, my God. It's Britain. The Government is taxing everyone to death, the politicians have crippled the military, the criminals run rampant throughout the streets causing strife and mischief, and the middle classes are oppressed. Britain! Eighth! What an idea!

9. THE NETHERLANDS
Give it time. Something will happen here. After all, it was pretty prosperous and stable before the panzers zoomed through back in 1940.

10. IRELAND
If the Jane's folks had stayed a week longer, they might have given it a better ranking!

11. NEW ZEALAND
Gained 30 places once Jane's realized New Zealand would be the only place left standing in the event of a thermonuclear war, and simply because the bad guys forgot about it.

12. DENMARK
Placed 12th, at least until they publish some more cartoons.

13. AUSTRIA
Still hasn't fully recovered from the 30 places it lost when Falco gained international fame in 1985.

14. ANDORRA
This makes sense too. I mean, this is a country that declared war on Germany in World War I -- and didn't settle things officially until 1957, primarily because Wilson forgot to invite them to Versailles.

15. GERMANY
Fünfzehntes! Ach du lieben! Ach, Warten Sie eine Minute! Ihre Papiere, bitte! Ihre Papiere!

16. ICELAND
This was published before the Icelandic krona fell through the floor and landed on its head in the basement.

17. SWITZERLAND
Damn the European Union and its money-laundering laws!

18. PORTUGAL
A nice country that is known for its enjoyable and pleasant beaches, scenery, and so on. This may explain its 18th ranking.

19. AUSTRALIA
Tentative ranking. Permanent ranking 42nd, after Jane's men subjected to hours-long rendition of "Waltzing Matilda."

20. NORWAY
20th place obtained after accounting for oil money (+37), herring (-18).

21. MALTA
Originally ranked 53rd, but score improved after offering second passports to Jane's men.

22. FRANCE
Feh! We spit on your Jane's Information Group and your filthy rating scheme! Why, everyone knows Jean's Information Group has ranked France first, no? Qu'est-ce que c'est? Les banlieues? Les no-go areas? Minor irritations, we can assure you! Vive le France!

23. CANADA
Oh, for crying out loud, we're never going to hear the end of this from the Canadians, are we?

24. THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!
All right! 24th! Yeah! ... uh ... wait a minute. We're 24th?! WTF? Who came up with this stupid list anyway? Who? Never heard of them ... well, there's got to be some mistake. I mean, 24th ... there's no mistake? Uh ... U-S-A! U-S-A! Sorry, I can't hear you. U-S-A! U-S-A!

25. BELGIUM
Whoa, whoa, whoa! Hold the phone a minute. Belgium's 25th? Their whole stupid country's coming apart at the seams and they're 25th, and we're 24th? What the hell?

26. SPAIN
Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead!

27. ITALY
Italy would care about this, except it is too busy enjoying a nice lunch with some great wine. Also, it won the World Cup, so it does not have to care what the English think.

28. JAPAN
Japan got screwed. Second largest economy, no crime whatsoever, pretty country -- and it's 28th.

29. FINLAND
The Finns are reserving judgment.

30. CZECH REPUBLIC
This sounds about right, actually. Not that I have any basis for saying that, it just feels right.

....

42. ST. PIERRE and MIQUELOT
An idyllic French overseas territory that oddly exists just a few miles from North America. This unfortunate geographic happenstance accounts for most of its low ranking, as either the Canadians or Americans will get fed up with this someday and invade it.

....

229. ZIMBABWE
Do you think a dollar should be worth a dollar? Well, thanks to 100,000 pc inflation -- that is not a typo -- one dollar is worth Z$70 million (or, alternatively, Z$70 billion if one discounts the revaluation of Aug. 1, 2006). A quarter-century ago, the ZWD and USD were at parity. Of course, these figures were relevant as of Mar. 19. It is now Mar. 25, meaning six days have passed ... and God only knows how far the ZWD has fallen since.

You know, for once, even I'd agree that it would be a good idea to buy gold.

....

234. SOMALIA
Well, yes, the whole "no functioning Government" bit might cloud things.

235. GAZA/WEST BANK
Just for the record, it's really bad when your country -- or territory, I guess -- ends up being ranked below a place with no functioning Government. Of course, I suppose the problem here is that Gaza and the West Bank have two functioning Governments -- both of which hate each other, and one of which has apparently no problem with angering its much larger neighbor by lobbing missiles at it. This is not exactly what one would call a recipe for success.

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BASED ON THE ABOVE, I'm starting to think America's 24th place ranking might not be so bad, after all -- even if it is a little annoying. I mean, come on -- did we have to get ranked lower than the Canadians? It's bad enough their dollar is worth as much as ours is -- now we have yet another indignity with which to deal. As for Britain, I remain convinced that its 8th-place ranking (technically, tied for seventh) is a bit rich. But then, beauty is in the eye of the beholder ...

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at March 25, 2008 10:47 PM | TrackBack
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