Is the UK or the US more of a disaster at the moment? It’s a fair and serious question | Arwa Mahdawi

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Theresa May is an automaton and Donald Trump could start the third world war with a 3am tweet. But which country is more xenophobic and who hates the poor most?

For the past year or so the US and the UK appear to have been engaged in a race to the bottom: each trying to underperform the other with their electile dysfunction issues. The Brits are Brexiting? Well, were electing a toupee with a Twitter account as president. The US is still hung up about possible Russian involvement in its election? Quick, lets hold an expensive and unnecessary general election in Britain and hang our parliament!

This week both sides of the Atlantic are, to use technical geopolitical jargon, even more of a hot mess than usual. In the low-budget reality show that is UK politics, Theresa May stands accused of basically bribing the DUP with 1bn, sourced from the mythical magic money tree, to prevent herself from being evicted from the Big Brexit House. Meanwhile, in the blockbuster dystopian drama that is the contemporary US, God-loving Republicans, flush with family values, are trying to take away health insurance from as many vulnerable people as possible by passing a new wealthcare bill.

All of this raises the question: which country is more of a disaster at the moment? Does the UK still get to feel a smidgen of superiority or moral authority over the US? Or have we proved ourselves to be even more shambolic? You may think petty point-scoring is not a priority right now but, as any politician will tell you, petty point-scoring is always a priority. To that effect, I have put together a strong and stable methodology to help decide the matter of the relative dysfunctionality levels of the UK versus the US, as one May say, in a fair and serious way.

Whose national leader is more of an international embarrassment?

David Brooks memorably described Trump as a guy whose thoughts are often just six fireflies beeping randomly in a jar. Mays thoughts, on the other hand, seem to consist of the same six buzzwords repeated, ever more frantically, again and again. The British prime minister is basically a walking, talking powerpoint presentation just slightly less charismatic. But lets not complain about Mays lack of charisma. For her many faults, its better to have an inept automaton leading the country than a man who may well start the third world war with a 3am tweet. In terms of embarrassing leaders then, the US comfortably wins this round.

Which country hates its poor more?

This is a tough one. After all, vulnerable British people were allowed to burn to death in an unsafe tower block, only for Kensington Sloanes to complain bitterly about how rehousing the survivors near them would lower the value of their homes. Still, if the Grenfell tower tragedy had happened in the US, the survivors would likely have been charged hundreds of thousands of dollars in hospital: the US leads the world when it comes to killing off its poorest people by denying them access to affordable healthcare. And the US seems intent on making its healthcare system even more inequitable. This week, the Republicans are attempting to pass a Senate bill that would repeal Obamacare and take health insurance away from 22 million Americans. Its hard to overstate the brutality of this bill. As Bruce Siegel, the president of the USs Essential Hospitals, a coalition of US hospitals, told the Washington Post: This bill will close hospitals It will lead to disabled children not getting services People will die. On the plus side, however, the richest people in the US will get tax breaks from the bill. And you know how philanthropic the rich are; the wealth is very likely to trickle down and do a lot more good than government-mandated universal healthcare ever would. Nevertheless, despite the magic of free-market economics, Ive got to hand this round of dysfunctionality to the US again.

Who is more zealously xenophobic?

On Monday, the US supreme court allowed part of Trumps controversial travel ban to take effect. The ruling means a ban on visitors from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen can now be enforced as long as such people lack a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States. So, yes, the US basically now has a Muslim ban in place. Meanwhile, in the UK, we have charitably told EU nationals that we probably wont kick them out as long as they have enough money and do enough paperwork. And while some people may take umbrage with the vagueness of this new policy, Britain can comfortably say to its ungrateful foreigners, hey, at least were not as bad as the US.

Who has committed more completely to catastrophe?

Trump has been disastrous for the United States international image. According to new polling by the Pew Research Center, more than three-quarters of the world has little or no confidence in Trump and just 49% of people around the world expressed a positive view of the US compared with 64% last year. However, unless he does actually start a nuclear war with a 3am tweet then theres a time-limit on the damage that Trump can do. In just over three years, the US gets a do-over and will have the opportunity to elect a non-psychotic president to office. Brexit, on the other hand, is far more binding. We have very little idea what the long-term consequences of Britain leaving the EU will be but its clear that we will be living with them for decades to come. So while the US may currently score more highly than Britain in the league table of beleaguered nations, the UK certainly gets bonus points for committing so completely to chaos.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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