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Social problems of the United States

While the United States has created one of the most impressive economies, it has not created the same structures for the promotion of social justice as Western Europe. There are many social and political reasons for this including: a history of racism and racial separation, values of self-sufficience, a conservative electorate, effects of the spoils system and Federalism. Socioeconomic problems include: disproportionate educational system, poverty, very high crime and incarceration rate and lack of access to health care.

Disproportionate Educational System

The US educational system is compulsory; however, it is funded and controlled primarily by state and local governments. Control of education remains firmly protected by state sovereignity, which causes the makeup of the local electorate to determines the funding and condition of the school system. In communities with large numbers of affluent childbearing families, the educational system tends to be well-funded and more effective. Communities with less affluent or non-childbearing families have less well funded educational systems.

Poverty and the Inadequate Distribution of Wealth

Throughout much of the 20th Century, US politics revolved around fighting communism. Many progressive efforts to provide greater economic parity and social justice for the poor and working classes were often defeated via equations with communism and socialism. The efforts to break up large conglomerates which started near the turn of the century became less frequent after the Great Depression and the poltical climate of the 1980s and 1990s resulted in numerous mergers which would not have been possible in the past. This resulted in increased ownership of the nation's wealth by the upper class.

Crime and incarceration

The United States prison population is the highest of any world country, both in absolute and relative numbers. A substantial percentage of people behind bars are drug offenders[?], which is due to the so-called "war on drugs", a very rigid and controversial policy against selling and using drugs (some states have so-called "three strikes" laws, which lead to incarceration for life after three felonies have been committed, including drug crimes).

Access to health care

Numerous issues with the private health care system have left 41.2 million people without health insurance coverage in 2001, including 8.5 million children. Political issues as well as business interests have lead to a stalemate on the issue. There is no consensus in the United States that having health care paid for should be considered a right, nor that this service should be paid for by the state. [1] (http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/2002/cb02-127)

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