The status quo among people living in the developed nations, around 2000 AD

(latest update of this section on or about 2-18-2002)

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Back to the MASTER Table of Contents of the Signposts Timeline

Back to the Signposts Timeline Prologue: 1990 AD-Present

A summary of the past century would include the following major trends in most developed nations: The gap between rich and poor continued to widen; the rich got richer and the poor got poorer. However, as the developed nations typically possessed fairer and generally more democratic political systems, plus more mature economies compared to other states, this has enabled a growing pool of middle-class citizens since 1900. Technological advances made around 1900 or before like AC electricity, the automobile, airplane, electric light, and telephone have all become accessible and/or significant to the average consumer in one way or another. Others made prior to 1950 have also become a part of daily life for most, such as antibiotics, radio, TV, and computers. More recent breakthroughs, such as the internet, have penetrated up to 50% of households in nations like USAmerica by 2000.

In 1999 USAmerican unemployment was below 5% and 81% of Americans viewed their personal lives in the 21st century with optimism

In 1999 81% of Americans viewed their personal lives in the 21st century with optimism, with 70% expecting their entire nation to fare well. 81% expected cancer to be cured within the next 100 years. Roughly 66% expected a significant terrorist attack against the US by 2050, while 50+% expected a disease worse than AIDS to strike. Other significant concerns included global warming, and painful energy shortages by 2050.

-- Slashdot | Features | Americans and the 21st Century Posted by JonKatz on December 01, 1999

In late 1999 USAmerican unemployment was below 5% and low paying jobs were often going unfilled. Those applicants which did show up were often largely unwilling, unskilled, or burdened with a criminal past.

On the flip side of the coin, consumers were beginning to notice inadequate or wholly absent services from some businesses as one consequence of the tight labor market, making for long waiting lines and lots of glitches in daily life.

A lack of basic computer skills marred the employability of many of the poor.

-- Plugged In: Low-Paying Jobs Go Unclaimed By Andrea Orr, Reuters/Yahoo! Tech Headlines, October 26, 1999

In 1997 95% of USAmericans claimed a belief in God; 46% labeled themselves as "born again"; 76% believed they would go to heaven after death

According to a 1997 survey, 76% of USAmericans believed they would go to heaven upon death; 4% to hell. 95% profess belief in God. 59% rate religion as a very important part of their lives; 29% fairly important. Atheists and agnostics appeared to make up only 4% of those polled. 46% identify themselves as "born again".

When asked why they believe in God, 29% of respondents to a 1998 survey said it was because of the universe's quality of design, 21% because of a perception of God accompanying them in their daily lives, 10% due to the psychological consolation or relief which such beliefs bring them, and 10% simply because the bible commands they do so.

-- Crisis of faith By Margaret Wertheim, Salon, Dec. 24, 1999, URL:

Over 50% of USAmerican adults were online by late 1999, but usually couldn't find what they were looking for on the net. Of the 50% still off-line, most insist they don't want net access. It appears that the net will not match TVs and telephones in penetration of households until around 2025 at the earliest.

-- Most Americans Are Online by Margret Johnston, IDG News Service December 22, 1999, PC World Online

People searching the internet for specific information couldn't find it around 64% of the time. When they did find it however, there's was about a 75% chance the information was correct (more often true and accurate than not).

More specifically, in tests performed with the Alta Vista search engine (, correct answers were delivered in 27% of cases, wrong answers in 9%, and no answer at all in 64% (due to dead links, or irrelevant results).

As a result of their findings the researchers advised users to not limit themselves merely to the internet in their search for information, but to use off-line sources to verify any information taken from the web, where possible. To scrutinize the sources of the information; are they well-established, known quantities, or obscure entities whose existence and veracity cannot be confirmed through readily available channels? Web sites which listed their own references for information, as well as the credentials for those and the person(s) editing the information which appears on-site, are more easily verifiable and so more likely to be trustworthy.

-- ScienceDaily Magazine -- Study: Information On The Web Is Likely Correct, But Hard To Find,, Source: Ohio State University (, 11/30/99

Other sources said net searchers in 1999 found the specific information they sought only 15% of the time.

-- CNN - Search engine upgrades its relevance - August 3, 1999,

50% of USAmerican adults lack net access, and 57% of that 50% (or 28.5% of all adults) don't want it. 25% of the 57% (or 14.25% of the total) did not expect to go online anytime soon.

It appears that it may require as much as a full generation for net access to reach levels of penetration comparable to that of television or telephones [a human generation is usually considered to be around 25 years-- JR].

-- Survey: Most U.S. adults without Web access don't want it by Linda Rosencrance, September 25, 2000

Our memories and understanding of news events garnered from the internet are usually more accurate than the same items stemming from TV viewing. Although the passive nature of TV means viewers are more easily distracted compared to the net (thus lessening recall and comprehension accuracy that way), it appears that video footage in general makes a greater impact on viewers emotionally, and TV often further sensationalizes events via other methods too, leaving the viewer with an often warped and highly subjective impression as to what actually transpired. By comparison, most news on the net is accessed via less emotionally charged means, such as reading of text (note that video news will become more plentiful on the net over the next ten years due to the wider availability of broadband connections).

TV News Leaves Viewers Confused By E. J. Mundell, Yahoo!/Reuters Health, June 12 2000

In 1999, computer-related problems were costing $100 billion a year in lost productivity in USAmerica alone-- and the toll appeared to be rising

-- When computers fail By Gary Strauss, USA TODAY, 12/07/99,

Five percent of desktop PCs bought since 1995 were dead on arrival

-- Refurbished, Discounted PCs: Happy Returns? By Caroline E. Mayer, Washington Post, December 8, 2000, Page E01

22% of all computers fail each year; 25% of notebook computers used in corporations do so

Approximate annual breakdown rates of various consumer devices, circa 2000 AD:

25% of lawn tractors/riding lawn mowers
25% of corporate notebook computers
22 % of computers
9 % of VCRs
8 % of refrigerators
7 % of big-screen TVs
7 % of clothes dryers

-- High tech's missionaries of sloppiness By Cheryll AimZŁe Barron Dec. 6, 2000 [my Mac suffered some sort of text glitch in translating the author's name here; sorry] and PC Reliability & Service: Things Fall Apart by Mitt Jones From the July 2000 issue of PC World magazine, May 19, 2000

Over 21 million USAmerican professionals were working at home at least part-time in regards to their primary means of employment, in 1999 was created around 1999 to serve this group.

-- A Confederacy of Gurus by Lindsey Arent, 16.Aug.99, Wired Digital Inc

One estimate places the number of Americans working at home in 1999 at 30 million.

-- Predictions for the new millennium By LANCE GAY, October 25, 1999, Nando Media/Scripps Howard News Service,

The increasing physical inactivity of USAmericans is raising their risk of chronic disease and costing the nation $1 trillion a year in the healthcare field

Heart disease has increased 2900% since 1900. Since 1960 the incidence of diabetes has risen 600%.

As of 2000 regular physical exercise is virtually the only practical way for many USAmericans to reduce their risk of chronic disease.

-- As technology advances, physical activity declines, Reuters Health/Yahoo! Health Headlines, February 16 2000

20% of children in the USA live in poverty. At least five to ten percent of Americans feel insecure in regards to obtaining enough food for themselves and family

Roughly half of impoverished children live in extreme poverty (a family of three living on less than $6500 a year).

-- One in five US children live in poverty, Reuters/Yahoo! Health Headlines, March 24, 2000

Roughly 5% of Americans between 1996 and 1998 felt insecure about being able to provide enough food for themselves and/or family. Another study of the time brought results of food insecurity as high as 10%.

None of these results included people who were homeless, phoneless, or in temporary housing status around the country at the time.

-- 'Food insecurity' afflicts five percent, study says By the Associated Press, October 19, 2000,

Roughly four million children and teenagers are legally employed in USAmerica, with up to another two million illegally so. A significant number of these are exposed to toxic substances on the job.

-- US teens exposed to toxins on the job, Reuters/Yahoo! Health Headlines, March 16 2000

Perhaps as much as half of modern humanity is suffering a decline in intelligence due to environmental pollution, malnutrition, social pressures, and other problems. Half of all cancer cases also seem to stem from toxins in the environment. Some 40% of people in the developed nations look likely to be struck by cancer sometime during their lives

Man-made poisons in the environment, as well as the loss of certain critical micro-nutrients in the soils producing the world's food, may be reducing the intelligence of millions (or even billions) around the globe. Worse still, our lack of an integrated research effort into these areas leaves us with almost no means to accurately gauge the damage.

-- Pollution 'makes you stupid' By Alex Kirby, 22 April, 2000, BBC News Sci/Tech

Teen dieting in Britain seems to be lowering iron in young girls and thereby reducing their intelligence quotients on tests.

People aged over 65 seem to sometimes suffer inadequate iron levels (as well as insufficient B12, zinc, and folic acid), and therefore show mental declines too.

-- Dieting May Harm Girls' Iqs By Georgina Kenyon, August 1, Reuters Health/Yahoo! Health Headlines

The major causes of cancer (well over 50%) stem from exposure to harmful elements of the environment-- not from genetic causes.

-- Nurture Not Nature Main Cause of Cancer - Report By Gene Emery, Reuters/Yahoo! Top Stories, July 13, 2000

Both sexes of the population of England and Wales face a 40% risk of developing some type of cancer during their lifespans.

-- Cancer to strike 40 percent of English and Welsh , Reuters/Yahoo! Health Headlines, August 24 2000

A third of USAmericans are getting insufficient sleep. This is making them more prone to illness, injury, and causing accidents which hurt others as well as themselves. It's lowering their effective daily intelligence and learning capacities (and thereby perhaps even making them more prone to crime, or at least lowering their legal income potential), and shortening their lives. It's costing the nation at least $150 billion a year in lost productivity.

Near 33% of USAmericans are getting six hours or less sleep per night. A 1997 survey indicated some possible causes for this: 81% of the employed voiced a desire to spend more time on family and the home; 38% cut back on cleaning to gain more time, 37% on sleep.

-- The Millennial Mind-Set by Annetta Miller, American Demographics, January 1999

By 2000 USAmerica will be losing $150 billion per year in employment productivity due to sleep deprivation. Those who sleep less than six hours a night suffer reduced lifespans compared to those who get at least seven hours. Regular and sustained sleep deprivation affects the body in ways similar to accelerated aging.

-- Losing Sleep Over Fatigue By ROBERT LEE HOTZ, March 16, 2000

The average adult USAmerican is sleeping 7 hours a night in 2000-- 2 hours less than in 1910. 33% of USAmerican employees say they would nap on the job if the boss allowed-- only 16% of bosses do. At least 51% of USAmerican adults are sometimes sleepy while driving (and at least 12% actually drive faster when sleepy)-- helping to cause around 200,000 accidents every year.

-- DATA POINTS: The Need for Zzz's, Scientific American: Science and The Citizen: IN BRIEF: August 2000

Getting six to eight hours of sleep per night improves learning and memory capacities, compared to getting less. In areas involving particularly challenging material, as much as a 20%-50% difference in learning and memory can occur on a daily basis between one person getting at minimum six hours sleep a night, and the other getting less.

-- Sleep longer, learn better by: Cynthia Reynolds, March 7, 2000, Discovery Channel Canada 2000

Airline pilots suffer as much as 25 times more skin cancers than others, perhaps due somewhat to disrupted sleep patterns.

-- Pilots Have Higher Rates of Skin Cancer - Study By Patricia Reaney, Reuters/Yahoo! Science Headlines February 16, 2000

Economic and technological forces have been pushing humanity towards a 24 hour a day, seven day a week schedule of activity since 1900, but the pace of transition to that format seems to be accelerating in recent years, due to the net and increasing globalization.

The practical effects of the process are spurring companies to offer more flexible work hours, and pay for results rather than straight time. They also must offer more on-site amenities and options, or else extra services and benefits in other areas of the employer-employee relationship. Some companies are banding together into large complexes in order to better support their employees for such schedules.

Byproducts of the transition are various portions of civilization's infrastructure also going 24/7 to support the increasing needs and wants of workers so affected.

-- 'New Economy' prompts a shift toward a 24/7 culture By SHIRA J. BOSS, Nando Media/The Christian Science Monitor, September 25, 2000,

Working late night/early morning shifts (also commonly known as the third shift, or the graveyard shift) seems to stress the heart and perhaps other bodily systems-- especially for people who must often switch shifts, or cycle through different work schedules. Such work schedules appear to increase the risk of illness and accidents for such workers.

-- Graveyard Shift May Cause Heart Disease -- Study By Maggie Fox, Reuters/Yahoo! Top Stories Headlines, October 16, 2000

Perhaps more than half of all children and teenagers circa 2000 (especially in the developed nations) are being shaped intellectually and psychologically by a lifelong saturation in a media environment which often gives the same weight to pure opinion as it does to scientific or historic fact, and encourages self-gratification, obsession, addiction, violence, exclusivity, division, greed, paranoia, and acting on impulse.

In developed nations like the USA, many corporations are exploiting the way TV, radio, videos, games, and the internet have become defacto babysitters of many children due to the frequent absence or inattention of parents stemming from both often working and being otherwise time-pressed, to use the latest child psychology information available in state-of-the-art multimedia to seduce children via violence, addictive mental hooks, and gaudy sensuality into shrill harassment of parents for the purchase of various products/services the corporations are pushing. This is leading to more than 50% of parents admittedly buying items for their children which they themselves disapprove of, but feel compelled to buy to avoid disappointing their children.

This ongoing virtual child abuse appears to be desensitizing children to violence and its results in general, perhaps leading to some of them later on inflicting great tragedies upon themselves and others as teens or adults. In short, this corporate abuse of children today may be leading, at worst, to a new 'lost' generation of violent criminals tomorrow. Or, at best, to a future generation of adults who themselves may become poor excuses for individual human beings-- and even worse parents.

The Center for a New American Dream is one group formed to combat this phenomena.

-- The nanny by Ralph Nader, Oct. 27, 1999, Ralph Nader/In the Public Interest, San Francisco Bay Guardian,

Over a matter of decades USAmerican audiences have become more and more entranced by violence in entertainment media, resulting in the production of ever more violent TV shows, films, and other media, in an ever-reinforcing spiral. This desensitization to violence has also affected children.

-- Original purpose of escalating violence in movies backfired, Virginia Tech film critic says, EurekAlert!, 25 OCTOBER 1999, Contact: Stephen R. Prince 540-231-5044 Virginia Tech

-- Halloween horror movies may sabotage your social life, EurekAlert!, 25 OCTOBER 1999, Contact: James Weaver 540-231-7166 Virginia Tech

Rural 8th-graders in USAmerica are more likely than their urban counterparts to use the drugs listed below (the accompanying percentages show the difference in likelihood for each drug, respectively):

* drugs like amphetamines, 104% more likely

* cocaine, 50% more likely

* crack cocaine, 83% more likely

* marijuana, 34% more likely

* alcohol, 29% more likely

* become drunk via alcohol, 70% more likely

* cigarrettes, 200% more likely

* smokeless tobacco, 500% more likely

-- Drug use most prevalent among rural teens By GENARO C. ARMAS, Nando Media/Associated Press, January 26, 2000,

Children of mothers who required high dosages of drugs for pain during labor are up to five times more likely to abuse drugs as young adults, than others. This may point to a long term vulnerability of a sizeable portion of the young adults in the developed nations across-the-board in regards to drug abuse risk.

-- Pain Meds During Labor Boost Child's Drug Abuse Risk, Reuters Health/Yahoo! News, October 17 2000

In 1996 the pregnancy rate in USAmerica was the lowest in 20 years. Pregnancy among teenagers had declined 15% since 1991.

-- U.S. pregnancy rate lowest in more than 20 years, December 15, 1999, Nando Media/Associated Press,

Still, the teen pregnancy rate in USAmerica is several times higher than most other developed nations, and more like that of Russia and eastern europe.

-- US teen pregnancy rate higher than most nations, Reuters/Yahoo! Health Headlines, February 24 2000

Between mentally ill stalkers with no past relationship with their victim, and those who are not mentally ill, but did have intimate (sexual) relationships with victims in the past, those with the past sexual relationship were likely to be the most violent.

The study was taken in Britain.

A previous stalking study in USAmerica concluded that 2% of men and 8% of women had suffered a stalker at some point in their lives.

-- Ex-partners are the most violent stalkers, Reuters Health/Yahoo! Health Headlines, January 14, 2000

One estimate is that one million people (including men, women, and children) a year (circa 2000 AD) suffer some form of forced sexual intercourse (or attempts for same)...the article doesn't give the geographical scope of the estimate, but I assume it pertains to the USA alone.

-- The Male Animal By Megan Rosenfeld, The Washington Post, January 28, 2000; Page C01

On the other hand, the same children being perhaps so largely shaped by modern media in the developed nations and elsewhere are also often enjoying rising intelligence quotients in certain fields of endeavor. An average rise in IQ of roughly three points every 10 years has taken place in Americans and citizens of other developed nations since the 1920s

It seems that much of the IQ gains in these countries between 1900 and 1950 might be explained via across-the-board improvements in health, nutrition, and education. However, IQ gains after 1950 would seem to come mostly from other factors-- such as television, films, and video games. Supporting evidence for this is that recent IQ gains come mostly in visual challenges and creativity, rather than the math, facts, and vocabulary type subjects covered in schools.

One of the largest recent increases in IQ occured in the early 1970s among children aged 3-5-- about the same time Sesame Street and similar programming first began airing.

Not all scientists agree that the populace as a whole in these nations is getting smarter. Instead, they may only be increasing in general test-preparedness rather than real intelligence. For example, puzzles of various sorts abound in modern society, in places from newspapers to coloring books to place mats at fast food eateries.

Whatever the truth of the matter, it appears that contemporary folk can often cope with more complexity than their peers of decades past-- and more often get the opportunity to exercise that ability than their predecessors did, as well.

-- Why kids are smarter than you by CAROLYN ABRAHAM, January 6, 2001, The Globe and Mail, Globe Interactive

10-12% of all grocery items bought by Americans are unneeded, and never used

16% of these items are bought due to test purchases, advertising, discount sales, and impulse buying. 70% of buyers of unneeded items say they bought them for specific anticipated future circumstances, which never seem to come about. 20% of buyers say the lack of use of such items stems from inconvenience in doing so (too much time required is usually the more specific complaint). And, of course, in some cases buyers simply forget they have the item.

-- One of every 10 grocery items people buy goes unused, EurekAlert!, 1 DECEMBER 1999, Contact: Mark Reutter, Business & Law Editor 217-333-0568 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The death rate in USAmerica hit a record low in 1998, though infant mortality remained about twice as high as that of countries like Sweden and Japan

The death rate in USAmerica hit a record low in 1998 (about 471 per 100,000), as life expectancy reached a record high of its own (around 77).

However, USAmerican infant mortality still ranks almost twice as high as other developed nations like Sweden and Japan.

-- U.S. Death Rate Reaches Record Low; Births Up Reuters/Yahoo! Science Headlines, December 7, 1999

USAmerican life expectancy is now almost 77 years. Deaths from suicide, murder, cancer, heart disease, stroke, and several other leading causes are all on the decline from previous years. Deaths per thousand are about 9, compared to roughly 11 in Germany and England, and 8 in Japan.

-- American life expectancy reaches record high, annual report says By DAVID PITT, Associated Press, July 24, 2000,

In 1997 USAmerica suffered about 19,000 murders and 30,000 suicides. Roughly 500,000 attempt suicide annually but fail. White males 65 or older make up 20% of the suicide attempts overall, while twice as many children 10-14 years old are making the attempt annually, compared to 1980.

-- Surgeon general calls suicide a public health threat By LAURA MECKLER, Nando Media/Associated Press, July 28, 1999,

Workers among USAmerican electric utilities suffer a 50%-100% increased suicide rate compared to other utility employees, possibly due to prolonged exposure to electro-magnetic fields causing hormonal imbalances.

-- When your job makes you sick - literally By SABRINA JONES, The News & Observer of Raleigh Nando Media/Nando Times, March 26, 2000,

In 1999 5-year survival rates for all cancers among USAmericans hovered around 60%, compared to 51% in the early 80s.

-- Record number of Americans survive cancer, Reuters Health/Yahoo! News Health Headlines, August 11 1999

Physically demanding jobs lead to a death rate from all causes twice as high as other employment, among men. The most frequent cause of death here appears to be traffic accidents, or other violent means. It's believed physical fatigue is the cause of the higher accidental death rate.

By contrast, recreational physical exertions reduce the risk of death.

-- Physical activity at work linked to higher risk of death Reuters/Yahoo! Health Headlines, February 10 2000

Something under 100,000 elderly in USAmerica die each year simply from breathing too many tiny particles of air pollution. The particles are hazardous to younger and stronger people too.

-- CNN - Tiny particles in air deadly, engineer says - August 17, 1999,, Environmental News Network

Only somewhere between 1% and 3% of people in medical distress who receive CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) ever recover sufficiently to walk or perform many other normal activities again. By far the majority die

This is in direct contrast to the high expectations many citizens have of the technique due to its portrayal in entertainment media.

-- CPR Seen As Way To Make Death More Dignified, 23-Sep-1999,, Contact: Steve Bradt

5% of USAmerican adults are dependent on alcohol and/or abuse it. Another 20% are prone to at least occasional abuse of alcohol, and thus pose various risks to themselves and others by way of accidents

The overall cost to society from the phenomenon is about $250 billion per year.

[The article cited below did not clearly state the regional scope involved in some of their statistics; however, based on various indirect clues I am assuming the information given above does indeed relate specifically to the American population.]

Other studies cited indicate that developed countries which allowed the broadcast of media ads for alcohol between 1970 and 1983 also saw a 16% rise in consumption of alcohol, and 10% rise in automotive fatalities.

-- Alcohol abuse exacts $250 billion health care toll, 20 DECEMBER 1999, EurekAlert!, Contact: Thomas Babor, PhD, MPH 860-679-2555 Center for the Advancement of Health,, and The American Journal of Health Promotion,

In 1995 throughout most of America it was not illegal to divulge someone else's medical records at will. In 1999 Americans couldn't sue their HMOs or other health insurance company over injuries the organizations might have inflicted upon them. In 2000 the medical records of Americans were being routinely accessed and used without their permission to deny them insurance and employment.

-- A really bad year for health care by BRUCE HILTON, December 14, 1999 Nando Media/Scripps Howard News Service,

A 1993 survey revealed millions of Americans felt their own medical records had been improperly accessed or exposed by others in the past, and such acts had injured or humiliated them.

15 percent said insurance companies had been responsible for the violations.

-- [beta] Chapter 6 To Know Your Future -- Database Nation; The Death of Privacy in the 21st Century By Simson Garfinkel 1st edition January 2000 (est.) 1-56592-653-6, Order Number: 6536 336 pages (est.), $24.95 (est.),

In 2000 the medical records of USA citizens are being routinely accessed and used without their permission to deny them insurance and employment when such records contain information such institutions don't like.

Medical records are also being used to target consumers for telemarketing and junk mail of many sorts, and against witnesses in court cases. Records of psychological treatments are especially in demand from many quarters. Doctor-patient confidentiality largely does not exist in this state of affairs-- but the fault mostly lies in the lack of proper legislation and regulation regarding the use of databases by insurance companies and others, rather than with hospital staff themselves.

Current insurance claim forms include the requirement that the insuree agree to give up any and all rights of personal privacy wherever such rights might interfere with the insuror learning whatever they wish about the insuree and their entire family. The agreement also extends to include any other person or organization the insuror might wish to give the information to. The agreement is also forever in scope-- lasting into perpetuity. Patients have little choice but to agree to these onerous conditions under current US law, if they wish to have functional health insurance.

The Medical Information Bureau is a clearinghouse for medical information nationwide which helps insurors closely track everything a patient has ever submitted on an insurance application or (apparently) claim form anywhere. MIB's stated purpose is essentially to be a 'total recall' of everything known about a patient, so as to prevent some patients from trying to get lower insurance rates by omitting some of their past history in a new policy application. MIB records also contain life-style codes relating to the relative risk involved with how a particular individual lives their life. Some privacy advocates claim MIB codes also include judgements of sexual preference and appearance, though these cannot be verified.

Basically the MIB helps guarantee that if one insurance company refuses to cover someone, they all will.

Citizens of only 23 states enjoy the legal right to see their own medical records. But even in these they must often use subterfuge to do so.

The vast majority of citizens is unaware of these facts.

-- [beta] Chapter 6 To Know Your Future -- Database Nation; The Death of Privacy in the 21st Century By Simson Garfinkel 1st edition January 2000 (est.) 1-56592-653-6, Order Number: 6536 336 pages (est.), $24.95 (est.),

Apparently the drinking water of most developed nations has been laced with excreted drugs for decades; the net health effect on the populations remains unknown, but as in most other similar circumstances potentially affecting health, the elderly and children may be the most at risk

Scientists have discovered excreted drugs in water all over Europe. The concentrations seemed related to local population densities. The presence of the drugs was typically barely detectable to instruments.

Human wastes seem to be the most plausible source of the drugs in the environment. Often somewhere between 50 and 90% of a drug will still be biologically active when it leaves the body. And of the 10 to 50% that's not, chemical reactions with the environment itself may re-activate some.

Virtually all types of drugs in common usage are now present in public drinking water in Europe, in varying concentrations. Water treatment plants are not designed to remove such chemicals, and present government policies do not yet deal with such matters directly. In tests in Europe scientists detected up to six times the concentrations that the USAmerican FDA has said would warrant concern, investigation, and analysis in similar American cases.

As of early 1998, no one had tested American water for these contaminants-- though the acting director of the FDA said he wouldn't be surprised to find similar levels of the drugs in American water.

As this is such a new development, even the infrastructure required to begin testing water for excreted drugs is not yet in place. For instance, scientists cannot easily obtain comparative samples of the drugs such as is done in regards to testing for pesticides.

It would seem the diluted drugs in the water supplies pose some risks for at least some portions of the human population (such as children and the elderly), as well as contribute to the development of widescale resistance to current anti-biotics. However, no specific studies regarding the subject have been performed anywhere in the world as of early 1998.

-- Drugged Waters By JANET RALOFF, Science News Online,, March 21, 1998

No other nation on Earth is known to have more people in prison in 1999 than the USA; USAmerica is spending $39 billion a year to maintain its prison population

50% of the prison population is black, although blacks make up only about 13% of the total American population.

In 1999 the USA is jailing its population at a rate only matched or exceeded by states which used to be a part of the Soviet Union (Russia is jailing faster than the US, while Belarus and Ukraine trail the US). Singapore is the next fastest after the Ukraine (however, the number of prisoners and rate of incarceration in places like China is unknown).

-- Soaring U.S. Inmate Population Sparks Debate By Will Dunham, Reuters/Yahoo! Politics Headlines, December 29 1999

30-40% of the USAmerican prison population suffered from Hepatitis C as of early 2001, largely due to neglect on the part of authorities. Hepatitis C is mostly spread through contact with infected human blood rather than sexual activity. It seems prison officials attempt to minimize their knowledge of the problem purposely in order to avoid the substantial expense in treating the afflicted.

This strategy may actually shift the cost burden to other private and public institutions down the road, as it can take some years for the virus to cause its greatest damage-- at which time the prisoners may have been released back into society.

-- Hepatitis C Spreads Mostly Unchecked in Prisons By Alan Elsner, Yahoo! Reuters, April 5, 2001

As of early 2001 there was apparently no law or regulation which held prison authorities accountable for sexual abuse inside their walls incurred by prisoners against one another. This, despite items like the 8th amendment to the US Constitution forbidding cruel and unusual punishment.

-- Scourge of Rape in U.S. Prisons Sparks Action By Grant McCool, Yahoo!/Reuters, April 18, 2001

USAmerica spent about $40 billion on its "war on drugs" in 2000. The 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act brought about minimum sentencing laws for drug offenses which has propelled a historic boom in the construction and maintenance of private and public prisons to house all those snared in the new environment. Today about 25% of inmates are imprisoned on drug-related charges. At current rates of incarceration, it appears some 5% of the current American population will be imprisoned sometime during their lifetime.

Among other problems, statistics indicate a racial bias in the enforcement of drug laws. With white drug users outnumbering African-American users 5 to 1, never-the-less, 62.7% of those in state prisons convicted of drug charges are African-American (African-Americans are only 13% of the American population at this time).

The Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation of New York has established a web site at decrying the excesses and non-cost-effectiveness of fighting the "war on drugs" over past decades. They propose that a new course be pursued in the struggle.

-- Drug War Outrage Fuels New Website By Silja J.A. Talvi, Special to Utne Reader Online, Apr 16, 2001;; Lens Publishing Company, Inc.; Utne Reader; Big Mind Media

One man in New York on work release after conviction for shooting another escaped authorities in 1993. About a month later, a mentally disturbed man of the same last name and birthday sleeping on a hospital bench in Los Angeles was arrested for trespassing. He was then sent to the New York prison, having been mistaken for the fugitive. Authorities didn't bother to verify the innocent man's records or fingerprints for identification, despite his protestations of mistaken identity.

Two years later the true criminal was found and arrested, and the innocent man finally released.

-- Man served two years' jail for fugitive with same name, 20th February 2001, Ananova Ltd

The world's healthiest people are the Japanese, while France appears to possess the best health care system overall. The United States spends more per person on health care every year than any of the other 190 countries in the study, yet ranks only 37th in terms of health care quality, and 24th in the World Health Organization's Disability Adjusted Life Expectancy.

The World Health Organization studied health care quality and cost in 191 countries worldwide, announcing their conclusions around mid-2000 AD. Among them were these items of note:

WHO's study focused primarily upon the cost-effectiveness of each nation's health care, compared to all others. Important factors included the health of a country's native population relative to others, the treatment of the nation's minorities and poor, and how well a country's public health system does at preventing sickness in the first place.

The people of Japan were judged to be the most healthy population overall, living on average 4.5 years more in good health during their lifespan than Americans. Japan spends an average of $1,759 per person in health care.

France was judged to possess the best health care system overall, with Italy coming in second. The French live on average three more years in good health than Americans. France spends an annual average of $2,125 per person on health care.

Japan, Singapore, and Spain ranked among the top ten best health care systems in the world.

Britain and Canada, which offer a free national health service and a widely acclaimed system respectively, came in 18th and 30th on the scorecard.

The United States came in 37th in ranking, despite spending more per person on health care every year than any of the other 190 countries in the study ($3,724).

Professionals commenting on the study pointed out that Italy probably benefits from the advantages of the so-called Mediterranean diet, which includes substantial amounts of olive oil, known to help maintain good health. They also said the USA was good in the area of expensive, high end health care-- it's in the realm of low cost prevention that it does poorly, compared to some of those countries scoring higher on the list. Other observations were that government-run health insurance isn't necessary to have a good system, according to the study. Some nations perform well with combinations of public and private programs.

-- Controversial study finds France has world's best health-care system By LAURAN NEERGAARD, Associated Press, June 20, 2000,

Of 191 nations considered, Japan appears to boast the most healthy and long lived population overall.

By the World Health Organization's own Disability Adjusted Life Expectancy (DALE) years of bad health are subtracted from average life expectancy to better measure the length of healthy lifespans per country. By this measure the USA ranked only 24th on the list-- trailing states like Switzerland, Monaco, and Greece.

The lowest life expectancy (under 26) exists in Sierra Leone.

-- Japan Has Longest Healthy Life Expectancy - WHO By Patricia Reaney, Reuters/Yahoo! Top Stories Headlines, June 4, 2000

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