I don’t celebrate Christmas, and I don’t believe in Santa Claus, so Christmas presents are usually out of the question for me. But this year I am making an exception. I still won’t celebrate Christmas and I still can’t bring myself to believe in Saint Nick, but I’m hoping for a Christmas present all the same.
What I want for Christmas is a big foam #1 Finger. You know, the big yellow foam glove people wear and wave at sporting events to say their team is number one even if it isn’t.
My team is the good ol’ US of A. And we are number uno. We have the best education system on the planet, and the best health care in the world. These affirmations have nothing to do with the facts, of course, but that is why I want the big finger. The lower we fall in the rankings, the louder we should chant “We’re number one,” and the bigger the finger we should wave while doing so.
According to the most recent OECD Programme for International Student Assessment which measures the knowledge base and reading skills of 15-year-olds around the world, the United States ranks 14th out of 34. “We’re number 1(4)! We’re number 1(4)!” Now I have to wonder why we are even paying attention to a study that can’t even spell the word “program” properly, but still the number is the number, and we need to celebrate our mediocrity with flair. So how about that finger, Santa?
Similarly, in a study of health care systems conducted by the World Health Organization [by the way if you are a doctor working for the World Health Organization, can you call yourself Dr. Who? How cool is that!], the United States ranks #37 out of 190, just behind Dominica and Costa Rica, and just ahead of Slovenia and Cuba, but way ahead of Burundi (take THAT, Burundi!). If you add the digits of 37 together you get 3+7 which equals 10, and if you add those digits together you get 1+0 which equals 1, so, you guessed it! “We’re #1!”
You can see where this is going. On all matters except military spending the USA is falling behind. The only thing we are really number one at is our capacity to kill people. Now don’t sneer. We can move from #37 to #35 in health care just by bombing the hell out of Costa Rica and Dominica, so all our bombs might come in handy. But I am not ready to go to war with Cyprus (#24), and I don’t even know where Andorra (#4) is, so I can’t even pretend to bomb them (though I think we killed their life-giving Tree of Souls in the Avatar movie, which may have been the government’s way of preparing us for a real attack in the not so distant future).
Anyway, I’m not ready to go to war with Andorra or Costa Rica, so let’s not consider that. And I’m not ready to raise taxes on anyone, let alone the rich, to improve our educational system. And I don’t want the federal government to run expensive death panels when Arizona is running their own death panels at a fraction of the cost, so let’s not consider true single-payer health care reform. Nope, I want to leave things pretty much the way they are this Christmas, which is why I need the big finger.
If we are going to settle for being Mediocristan the least we can do is pretend we aren’t. We are number one in that. So, Santa, how about giving me the finger this year?