Here's some somber facts to think about as the G8 gather in Edinburgh, Scotland. Taken from Altercation:
[The US contributes]... just 0.16 percent of GDP to global development—that’s one-sixth of one cent for every dollar we earn. What hope can a country have when its ruling ideologists tell the world to shut up about development because we are spending so much on guns and killing people?
America’s relatively niggardly welfare system, even its most generous incarnation—since significantly reduced--raised poor incomes only moderately, reduced the proportion of adults in poverty from 26.7 to 19.1 percent. In Germany, France, and Italy, meanwhile, employing the same benchmark, the number hovers around just seven percent.
As for the elderly, where the U.S. social security system is its most generous, it manages to reduce the level of elderly people living in poverty from nearly sixty percent before transfer payments to just below twenty percent afterward. Yet the Europeans improve on this performance as well. Germany, France, and Italy all spend roughly twice as much of their national income as does the United States. What’s more, with our inferior system of public health, and family-friendly employment laws, the U.S. and South Africa are the only two developed countries in the world that do not provide health care for all of their citizens.
Source for all of the above:: OECD, Health Data 1999: A Comparative Analysis of 29 Countries (OECD, 2001).