Letters to the Editor

Americans’ big challenge

Dan McIntyre had a quiz about socialism in the letters section of the CDT on April 21.

The questions appeared to be saying this: capitalism as practiced in the U.S. leads to the best situation for people, specifically with respect to freedom, economic growth, desirability to immigrants and technological innovation.

Isn’t quality of life the issue? Further, we should be living within our means like any responsible person does. I pose this question: What countries have good qualities of life, and do so without exceeding their planetary means?

This very question has been studied by the United Nations Development Program. They utilize the Human Development Index to indicate quality of life, a measure that combines life expectancy, education and income per capita. For planetary means, they use Ecological Footprint, a measure of how much of Earth it takes to provide our resources and to assimilate our wastes.

In 2011, there was only one country that had a decent quality of life and a footprint of less than one Earth — Cuba. Since then, four more have moved into this sustainable state: Sri Lanka, Dominican Republic, Georgia and Algeria. Unfortunately, though we Americans enjoy a decent quality of life, we consume 4-5 times our share of Earth.

These five countries include communist and democratic. One is primarily Muslim, three Christian (two Catholic) and one Buddhist. No conclusion is obvious about politics or religion when it comes to living well on Earth. For we Americans, our big challenge is reducing consumption.

Andy Lau, State College