There's a lotta friggin people in this world - about 7 billion, an inconceivable number. So where the hell are they all? In hellholes, mostly.
I made a graph of population by country to try to illustrate this. You can see that about half the world consists of 6 countries, only one of which is a modern nation. Granted China may not quite qualify as a "hellhole", but several hundred million of its citizens can be said to work in sweatshops and live in cramped quarters. Though Tom Friedman seems to think India is a role model
, it's a depressingly poor country where human feces and urine decorate its public spaces. Indonesia is the world's fourth largest nation, but no one seems to give a rat's ass about what goes on there. Brazil, still the Country of the Future, is, for the vast majority of its population, a crime-ridden slum. And of course Pakistan - sound like a fun place to live?
Then when you turn the corner, our 7th largest country is Nigeria - yes, heaven on earth. Nigeria - an absolutely god-forsaken place - mired in the deepest poverty, terrorized by oil-driven banditry - is larger than Russia! And Russia certainly has its own problems. And look who's 13th on the list - li'l ole Mexico, dwarfing any European nation (not counting Russia). As you can see you have to go past Vietnam - and Ethiopia - We Are the World Ethiopia! - to get to Germany (and civilization).
Note in the upper right I have identifies a tiny little strip of color representing the 9.5 million people in Sweden - the country that is supposed to be our model for how the U.S. can become a modern social welfare nation. And further up, amidst an indistinguishable mash of pixels, lies Finland, the country whose high PISA scores Tom Friedman uses
to frighten naughty American children to sleep at night.
But I guess what is most remarkable is that the U.S. sits among these countries third in population, but yet is the wealthiest of all nations and still arguably the most free. It seems to good to be true, doesn't it?
I've put the data and an interactive
graph on Google Docs.