Media Needs to Help America 'Get Real'

This week’s TIME Magazine covers reinforce a belief I’ve had for years.

On the American TIME, we have Mad Men: Is Glenn Beck Bad for America? For the rest of the world — Europe, Asia and South Pacific, we have China’s Moment.


Hey, Give Me Some Dark Shades

I’m chuckling here, because inspite of the instructions, there’s no blowup cover for China’s Moment (hence the blurriness). All digital large cover roads lead to Glenn Beck. Wrong instructions; wrong technology. Who cares. My time is hardly valuable.

Only the online editors of TIME can explain my confusion this moment. The China issue carries the Mad Men story, but the American TIME online, doesn’t have the China’s Moment story. Apparently TIME’s American readers aren’t interested in knowing about China.  I assume this is an editorial decision.

Realistically, I suppose the TIME doesn’t want mad men burning the magazine in effigy in another “tea party” celebration like last week’s. 

It’s only a minor matter that the Chinese economy grew 14.9 percent in second quarter 2009 and America’s declined. What we don’t know won’t hurt us.

I argue that the inability of Americans to face what’s in what’s going on in the world is a huge part of our problem. Our myopic vision began years ago.

Entrepreneurial and hard-working as we Americans are, we also revel in the global top spot. Taking any truth serum medication on this subject seems to produce a level of national indigestion no politician or newscaster wants to stir up.

Best Health Care: By What Measure?

And so night after night, we hear Republicans (and some Democrats) say that we have the best health care system in the world, and no one asks “By what measure?”

In all the global measures of health care, we are far down on the list — except for traumatic, life-threatening illnesses. If you’re fighting aggressive cancer and have good insurance or a lot of money, you want to be in America.

I would love to believe that America has the best health care system in the world, but I read the facts very differently. Why does no one challenge these nightly “isms” that are false? At least ask “By what measure?” Mortality rates? Infant mortality rates? How does one define “Best health care in the world?”

Looking at infant mortality rates, I assume we can all agree that the CIA is on our side, in the international health care debate? Right? These statistics don’t belong to some left-winger, socialist-commie website.

Using estimated 2009 data, the United States ranked 180 with an infant mortality rate of 6.26 per thousand births. The following countries had lower rates than America: Cuba, European Union, Italy, Isle of Man, Taiwan, San Marino, Greece, Ireland, Canada, Wallis and Futuna, Monaco, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Gibraltar, Portugal, Australia, Jersey, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Guernsey, Belgium, Austria, Denmark, South Korea, Liechtenstein, Slovenia, Israel, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Czech Republic, Andorra, Malta, Norway, Anguila, Finland, France, Iceland, Macau, Hong Kong, Japan, Sweden, Bermuda and Singapore.

For perspective, Sweden’s infant mortality rate is 2.75 and Singapore’s 2.31 per thousand.

House Republican Leader John Boehner (Ohio)Last evening House Republican Leader John Boehner (Ohio) sat on PBS and said that America has the best health care system in the world.  I ask you, Mr. Boehner. By what measure?

If I were Rep. Jim Wilson, I would say: “You’re lying.” Not being my communication mode, I ask: “By what measure, sir?”

I hear that America has the best workers; we have the best economic system; everything about us is the best.

In truth, this refusal for America to call “a spade a spade” is a huge part of our problem.

Simply stated, America is not the best there is at everything ever invented in life.

Saying so does not make me unpatriotic. Quite frankly, I’m trying to help America strategize ourselves out of this mess, and I don’t find going at it blindfolded to be very helpful.

The New Center of the Universe

In 1993 or so, I had a memorable night, landing in Hong Kong at the old Kai Tak airport. It was a balmy evening, and I assume that I arrived on United from San Francisco. As the head of design and product development for Victoria’s Secret I was always on the road, dividing my time between Europe and Asia.

As a first class passenger, we weren’t crowded getting out of the cabin. But because the old Hong Kong airport didn’t have enough gates, we always parked out on the tarmac and took the shuttle buses to the main building and immigration.

It was a gorgeous evening in Hong Kong as I said “goodbye” and exited the doorway. A balmy breeze hit me. Perhaps being a sensualist, I topped for a moment to enjoy the sensation. Most people were bounding down the stairs to grab the bus, but for some reason, I moved to the side, letting people pass.

There were airplanes parked everywhere.

In the same way that I once walked around the Target parking lot, writing down the car makes to understand who was shopping there, I began counting 747’s . My rule was nothing smaller and then any 747, including the new 747-400 belonged in my count.

I began counting 747s from every corner of the globe, parked out on the tarmac of Hong Kong airport in almost haphazard fashion. This impromptu survey didn’t include the 747s at the gates in HK. My count ended at 98, give or take a few mistakes.

Looking down, I saw Americans from every state dashing for the yellow buses, thinking that we were the kingpins, for the most part. On my end, my view of the world changed that night, with a future that was very clear to me.

The old-arrival path into Hong Kong’s Kai Tak airport.Returning home, I began talking about the rise and fall of civilizations and reading Tom Friedman. My colleagues said “Oh Anne” (Linda then).

I can’t remember if these raised eyebrows came before or after I reported the results of two surveys of the Target parking lot in Columbus, Ohio.

“You don’t understand,” I pressed my group at VS. “One third of the Target customers are driving new SUVs; one-third are driving foreign luxury cars; and only one-third are driving the cars we think Target customers drive.”

Truth Serum, Please

Sometimes facing facts is that best way out of misery. This is why I regret that at 1:28 pm on Friday, Sept. 18th, TIME online, American edition, has taken the position that Americans shouldn’t be reading the story China’s Moment.

Unfortunately, even in these critical economic times, we’d still rather be mad than get smart about what’s required to keep our place in the world.

Because I’m not running for political office, I guess I can bring up the indelicate facts. For some bizarre reasons, Anne of Carversville readers — American and global — know that the U.S. needs more than another pat on the back. Anne