If you want to see your country for real, take a look at The Measure of America, a website and book about how we're doing. The project tracks what it calls the Human Development Index, factoring in health and education and standard living. The findings make sense, intuitively -- we all know that some of us live better than others, and that we can sometimes predict that. What I find startling is the size of the gap:
The typical Asian American in New Jersey lives one quarter century longer, is eleven times more likely to have a graduate degree, and earns $33,149 more per year than the typical Native American in South Dakota, whose earnings are below the median American earnings of 1960.
You could say that sure, of course the person in New Jersey makes more money than the one in South Dakota -- the states operate on very different economic scales. But I find it very hard to think away the outcome of that, with one person reasonably expecting to live 25 years longer than another. We're supposed to be the United States of America, aren't we?
Bonus love: The Measure of America compiles data by state and by congressional district. Data hounds, tell us what you see about where you live. This is a goldmine.
(Click the chart to enlarge it.)