But what's this? More communication problems? Those in the US pronounce this tricky last letter as z.e.e. and Aussies say z.e.d.! However, right now, who cares - this is the last letter, there are zero to go!
Nearly 17 million children are living in 'food insecure' households and 2.8 million are living in extreme poverty. These unsettling figures aren't what's expected in what is arguably the most powerful nation on earth.
The perception in many other parts of the world is that the US is not only a powerful country, but that the people are generally wealthy. I suspect that in part this is perpetuated by film and TV. Although we may know intellectually that those media are prone to fantasy, it's hard to break free of their influence.
I know first hand how easy it is to fall into the trap of expecting to walk into a movie set! When we travel, we choose what we want to see, often through the tint of rose coloured glasses - naturally enough, after all we've spent a lot of hard earned money to travel overseas. We avoid the distressing and uncomfortable, the down and out or sleazy areas. We choose places to visit that will entertain, amuse, delight or soothe depending on our needs.
Having travelled to the US to attend a series of training sessions in RFT and ACT, I became aware of the less touristy reality. There are huge numbers of young service men and women (Veterans) who are suffering dreadful physical and emotional injuries as a result of the various conflicts the US is, and has been, involved in.
Many of these youngsters are unlikely to recover adequately to live a "normal life" - and so the price of being powerful on the world stage has had huge costs, not only to the Veterans themselves, but to their families and friends and also to those who work with them to assist and support. Nothing happens in isolation, and the ripples spread ... the cost of war means there's less money for new infrastructure, or to repair old or damaged items like roads.
It's been reported that the US has spent $2 trillion in direct costs associated with the wars, but that
this spending was "only a fraction" of total war costs. The "greatest expenses," which the report said were medical care and disability benefits, have yet to be paid to soldiers. In the future, an estimated 2.5 million veterans will receive state benefits. (http://rt.com/usa/us-wars-most-expensive-109/)When you factor in the indirect costs the figure is apparently closer to $6 trillion, a number so large that few of us can comprehend its enormity ... So, alongside the warm, welcoming and generous locals, there's also an air of despair, despondency and decay far from the superficial glitz and glamour of the attractive and zany tourist havens.
There's a video in this link to footage of veterans and discussion on the hidden costs of the wars.