COVID-19 turning USA into 3rd World Country

Will COVID-19 turn United States of America into a third World Country?

You’ll have to better describe your question. “Third world countries” are more accurately called “lesser developed countries” now, because that’s what they are. We’re headed in for a big recession (which we were overdue anyway), and we will see a few rough years. Like all recessions, though, the survivors will fare better on the other end of it. There’s always an economic boom and rebuilding after the recession.

(Honestly, since our economy is based on credit and fictionalized money, not the gold standard anymore, I believe a bigger economic disaster is looming… Consider this a practice run.)

Money matters aside, though. You can’t erase developmental milestones in a matter of months. We’ll still have a strong government, as I don’t think anyone is poised to overthrow it. We still have the same infrastructure. We’ll still have clean water, fresh air, and fertile land. We’ll still be rich in natural resources We’ll still have advanced means of communication. We’ll still have freedom of speech and innovation…

Struggle doesn’t equate to the ruin of all we know now. The strong always persevere, and lives will be rebuilt.


Many in America have terrible air and horrible water.


Not really. Honestly We have circumstances that are far from ideal, but even our worst atrocities are nothing compared to the air and water pollution you’ll find in India, China, and many other places.


I’ve done numerous cross-country statistical analyses - it was an interest of mine to publish academically while working on an MBA - not primarily focused on the US, looking at cultural factors and human welfare indicators. My goal was not to criticize the US, looking across equivalent countries, advanced democracies, but to compare social factors as components of economic outcomes. One can’t help but notice certain things.

The US is in many ways already a “3rd world country” with some of the worst human welfare numbers in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The crisis is showing that, with the rich safe and many unemployed or risking their lives to work, plus with a miserable health care system, incredibly expensive but providing worse care than most other OECD countries, we suffer for our culture. The US has mediocre outcomes. In fact, the US’s inequality is as high as dictatorships a the bottom of human welfare tables, and some of its outcomes, for example, maternal death rate, imprisonment percentages, and longevity, are horrible.

This crisis exposes, to some degree, how miserable the US is compared to others, what a “3rd world” country it already is. The countries with the highest degree of human welfare are taking a different tack, supporting workers directly, and covering medical costs, something that many Americans will suffer with after this is over, even if some insurers cover the expenses.


Another lens that we can use to examine how society and culture in the US is set to cope with the universal crisis that this pandemic represents. I see it as where along the spectrum we are a civilized culture.

This is not a binary condition but exist along a continuum. I find this Forbes article that considers a Margaret Mead quote regarding what provides evidence of civilization.

Years ago, the anthropologist Margaret Mead was asked by a student what she considered to be the first sign of civilization in a culture. The student expected Mead to talk about clay pots, tools for hunting, grinding-stones, or religious artifacts.

But no. Mead said that the first evidence of civilization was a 15,000 years old fractured femur found in an archaeological site. A femur is the longest bone in the body, linking hip to knee. In societies without the benefits of modern medicine, it takes about six weeks of rest for a fractured femur to heal. This particular bone had been broken and had healed.

Mead explained that in the animal kingdom, if you break your leg, you die. You cannot run from danger, you cannot drink or hunt for food. Wounded in this way, you are meat for your predators. No creature survives a broken leg long enough for the bone to heal. You are eaten first.

A broken femur that has healed is evidence that another person has taken time to stay with the fallen, has bound up the wound, has carried the person to safety and has tended them through recovery. A healed femur indicates that someone has helped a fellow human, rather than abandoning them to save their own life.

The US has varied in its performance in how well it takes care of the “least of these,” the poorest and least able to to take care of their basic human needs. We have done better than we are doing now and we have done much worse. But I know that we do not lead the world in this metric. We have achieved many great things but this social metric is not one of them.

I have no argument with Darwin’s theory of evolution and the survival of the fittest. At this point in our social evolution, however, I think we can widen this measure to include compassion for our fellow human as one way to measure how “fit” we are.

I know examination of this topic can easily devolve into political acrimony and I don’t wish to trigger or participate in that. I hope that this cultural crisis, after all the pain and suffering it’s likely to bring, can provide the social perspective to enable us to grow into a better society.


Depends how long it lasts. Probably not. But, this could go many different ways.

I do think that we should probably drop this discussion, as it is very off-topic. As to civilization, I’m enjoying the following:

I respectfully disagree. Looking at the single broad-based question posed by the original poster, I don’t see any of the comments made in this thread so far as off-topic. If anyone disagrees and makes a persuasive case, I will start another thread.

I’ll click through and read your link now.

Edited to add: Yes, I read this book and found it fascinating.


I only meant that it was not diabetes, but…


Perhaps we should consider the meaning of the term Third World. The term Third World was born of cold war politics. It was a term to describe us, them, or the others.

By definition we cannot be anything but a first world country, The term First World (us) describes the US, NATO and nations aligned with them, Second World (them) described the USSR, the Eastern Block and nations aligned with them. Third World, the others, were the non-aligned nations.

Many people confuse the term Third World with Underdeveloped Nation or the more politically correct Developing Nation because Third World, non-aligned, countries tended to fit into that category.

Perhaps the question should be is Covid-19 turning USA into a un-developed nation. My answer is no, we are unlikely to go backwards, we may stall temporarily but we will continue as a highly developed nation.


It is already is a 3rd WC -

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I’ve always been liberal in my perception of staying on topic. In fact some of the more interesting things I’ve learned here over the years have been tangential remarks that some could have been criticized as being off-topic.

Yet I do see cases of people posting comments that are clearly off topic. For example, if someone posts a topic about glucose control tactics when infected with a virus and a response is made lamenting the loss of sports television entertainment during this pandemic, then I would say that is off-topic. Even this meta side-discussion can be construed as off topic but we all need to be somewhat tolerant for the sake of developing community standards.

I’m enjoying your informed take on things in this and other threads, James.

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Please explain what you mean by this

The topic posed by the original poster raises the question as to whether Covid-19 is turning the US into a 3rd world country. My above comment is examining the whole idea of whether something is on or off topic, not actually germane to the original post. But doing so, I believe, helps the community to calibrate their responses to remain in the mainstream of the original question.

Here’s the definition of meta.

My comment to James was about the ground rules of how we communicate, not about the actual topic. This comment itself is meta and technically off-topic.


I don’t question your intentions but felt there was a real possibility that it could have been misunderstood as advocating for a community standard of ideology on subjects such as this one.

We should be careful that we don’t turn TuDiabetes into a liberal bastion or a conservative one for that matter. Our community serves everyone best when it is welcoming to people of all political ideologies.

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Six Ways America is Like a Third-World Country <-> Rolling Stone March 2015


Not intended at all. What I was referring to was a common understanding of “staying on topic.” Communication is tricky business!


I seem to apply a narrow, stricter idea of what is considered off-topic, but it is easy for one topic to morph into another and the conversations rolls around and people pick up on various aspects of others’ posts. One mention of something controversial or debatable can easily overtake the original thread…

As for meta and ideology, I understood, and actually thought your post was the opposite of advocacy, more trying to be open/fair, and yes, discussing how we discuss.

We do in Texas. Poor air quality.there are so many chemical plants that allow people to move in nearby.

Our water is community well that poisoned a lot of people because the state doesn’t want to be responsible for checking on “ all PUBLIC water systems. By the time anyone connected the illnesses to their water tank,too late when they finally replace the tank.
We found out after purchasing that they also used old used pipes for the water and we have no idea where they came from!

I know I and my family will have a shorter lifespan because of it. This lockdown will help in some ways even the spread of other disease,virus. Hope to cut down on some of the pollution.

There is also the dioxin in the San jacinto river.