Who Gets Paid the Most by the Pentagon, and Other Interesting Facts about the U.S.

You’d think it was some very important contractor that provides service on some super-secret defense project, right? You’d be wrong: the individuals who are paid the most by the Pentagon are the football coaches at the Army, Navy, and Air Force academies. Here’s some other interesting facts about the United States, compiled by Allen R. Sanderson for our 237th Independence Day.

We have the largest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the world, about triple our nearest rival—China (on an exchange-rate basis, though only 50 percent larger on a purchasing-power-parity standard). On a per-capita measure there is even more distance between us and Beijing, though not in comparison with several Scandinavian countries.

We have the highest spending—as a percentage of GDP—on health care of any nation, though that may be understandable—we’re rich!  And while we are not #1 in life expectancy, once one adjusts for the heterogeneity of our population, income inequality, infant-mortality, obesity, a high murder rate and automobile fatalities, we look more respectable.

With just 4.5 percent of the earth’s population, the U.S. produces 20-25 percent of all output, has a per-capita income 4-5 times the world average, and holds a third of the world’s wealth.

Japan and Greece lead the world in government debt (as a percentage of GDP); we’re “only” #7, and 27th on per-capita basis.

In terms of industrial and manufacturing output, the United States, China, Japan and Germany are the top four world economies. We lead everyone by a wide margin in the production and export of services. Three of the four largest non-bank businesses (by market capitalization) in the world are U.S. firms, and they reflect our diversity: Exxon Mobil, Microsoft, and Walmart. By the same metric we have four of the largest ten banks in the world, and the largest stock market.

We are the fourth largest country in land area (behind Russia, Canada, and China) and with 315 million people we are a distant third – behind China and India – in population. We don’t make the Top 100 when it comes to population density, a statistic that proponents of high-speed rail systems should ponder. We have only three—New York, Los Angeles and Chicago—of the world’s largest 50 metropolitan areas.

Read other interesting facts at: Chicago Life.


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