Not so long ago, some people on social media were calling America a “failed state”. Why? Too many Americans were contracting and dying from COVID-19, at least compared to other wealthy countries. And the most recent figures show that the disparity persists. The United States has the highest death rate in the OECD at 3,038 per million compared to 2,469 in Europe and 245 in Japan.
Why is the US rate so high? “While the reasons for the US rate are not well understood, widespread obesity, less mask-wearing, disparities in access to health care, and a lower vaccination rate than some other countries in the OECD probably played a role,” said the the wall street journal
But these unfortunate statistics hardly mean that the United States is a failed state, except for those who want the United States to fail or think that it never really succeeded. For example: Washington’s Operation Warp Speed has been so successful in accelerating vaccine development and manufacturing that it has become the go-to benchmark for effective public-private partnership. One could also point to the pandemic-era success of the Paycheck Protection Program in keeping many small businesses afloat during the economic turmoil of 2020. Over the past few years, we have also seen America return to the space through the combined efforts of SpaceX. and NASA. None of this is a sign that the United States is a failed state.
Oh, almost forgot: there’s that 10,000 pound telescope now parked a million miles from Earth, allowing humanity to see deeper into space and further back in time than ever before. As one NASA scientist put it, “The James Webb Space Telescope can see back in time to just after the Big Bang by looking for galaxies that are so far away that light has taken billions of years to get there. from these galaxies to our telescopes.”
Did I mention it’s a million miles from Earth? The Hubble Space Telescope, by comparison, is 340 miles above the Earth’s surface. History may judge President Joe Biden’s introduction of the first JWST image as his most significant announcement. If so, it’s not a bad legacy – as well as a pretty good achievement for the Indispensable Nation.
This article originally appeared in the AEIideas blog and is reproduced with the kind permission of the American Enterprise Institute.