The Measure of a Nation
How to Regain America's Competitive Edge and Boost Our Global Standing
By Howard Steven Friedman
(Prometheus Books, Paperback, 9781616145699, 269pp.)
Publication Date: June 26, 2012
If America were a corporation, how would an independent analyst judge its ability to compete against other corporate giants? According to the author, that hypothetical analyst would label America a corporate dinosaur and recommend that the nation either change or face extinction. This book focuses on how to improve America by first comparing its performance with thirteen competitive industrial nations, then identifying the best practices found throughout the world that can be adopted here in the United States. The author lays out some disturbing facts about America’s lack of competitiveness in five key areas: health, education, safety, equality, and even democracy. Taking the approach that "data doesn’t lie," the author notes alarming statistics, for example:
-Americans have the lowest life expectancy among all competitor nations.
-Americans are at least two times more likely to be murdered and four times more likely to be incarcerated than any other competitor country, including Japan, France, and the United Kingdom.
-America shows the sharpest disparity between rich and poor among all nations on its competitor list.
Using charts that clearly illustrate the unbiased, party-neutral data, the author uncovers the major problem areas that the nation must address to become a leader again. Homing in on best practices from other countries than can be adapted to the United States, the author plots a course to transform America from a corporate behemoth burdened by internal issues and poor performance to a thriving business with an exciting portfolio of solutions.
Howard Steven Friedman is a leading statistician and health economist for the United Nations. He has worked with major organizations including UNICEF, the World Bank, the World Health Organization, UNFPA, UNAIDS, UNDP, and UNESCO. He is also an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, and he formerly directed data analysis teams in the corporate world. He is the author of more than thirty-five scientific articles and book chapters in areas of applied statistics and health economics.
"Friedman presents a thorough, unbiased analysis of how America compares with the rest of the developed world in health, safety, education, democracy, and other quality-of-life indicators. It’s a must-read for anyone interested in seeing their country achieve greatness."
-Steven Hill, Author of Europe’s Promise: Why the European Way Is the Best Way in an Insecure Age
"An eye-opening and revealing analysis of what America needs to do to remain great. This fact-based examination is grounded in unbiased data."
-Rom Brafman, Coauthor of the New York Times bestseller Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior
"This book is a wake-up call to anyone who wishes our country to prosper."
-Paul Pierson, Professor of political science, University of California, Berkeley, and coauthor of Winner-Take-All Politics
"A thorough assessment of how the United States stacks up in comparison with other affluent democracies, Measure of a Nation provides a sober picture of today and a wealth of evidence and ideas to contribute to a brighter tomorrow. Studying the successes, as well as the failures, of America’s ‘peer nations’ can give us fresh ideas for the social and economic challenges of the twenty-first century."
-Sarah Burd-Sharps, Coauthor of the Measure of America series and codirector of the American Human Development Project
"A persuasive and pointed analysis that holds up a mirror to America’s entrenched interests and capacity for self-deception. It exposes directly how much error and plain falsehood is found in current political and media discourse on matters of fundamental importance."
-Ambassador Richard Butler, Distinguished Scholar of International Peace and Security, Pennsylvania State University
"Friedman has assembled a provocative set of data that will help policy makers, business leaders, and others interested in America’s future better understand America’s relative strengths and weaknesses. I hope Friedman’s analysis will spark a clear-eyed, less ideological conversation about the many policy choices that lay ahead."
-Peter Schnall, Chief risk officer, Capital One
"[T]his book is not just another one of hundreds of books making recommendations about what the U.S. should be doing. … Friedman explains clearly and convincingly, writes engagingly and laces his text with personal examples. … Friedman’s recommendations are specific and feasible. …it’s thought-provoking, and good reading.” --Jared Diamond, author of The World Until Yesterday; Guns, Germs, and Steel; and Collapse