Paralympic medal count an indictment on USA social/disability services?

As a keen Australian viewer of the Paralympic games, I have been struck by the poor performance of the USA team. As of today, the medal count for the Paralympic games is as follows:

London Paralympics (Day nine) 2012
Rank country Gold Silver Bronze total
1 China 83 65 58 206
2 Great Britain 32 40 41 113
3 Russia 32 35 25 92
4 Ukraine 30 19 25 74
5 Australia 29 20 26 75
6 United States 27 25 33 85
7 Germany 18 23 19 60
8 Brazil 15 12 6 33
9 Poland 12 11 7 30
10 Netherlands 9 9 17 35

Compare this to the 2012 Olympics (able-bodied):

London (able bodied) Olympics 2012
Rank Nation Gold Silver Bronze Total
1 United States 46 29 29 104
2 China 38 27 22 87
3 Great Britain 29 17 19 65
4 Russia 24 25 33 82
5 South Korea 13 8 7 28
6 Germany 11 19 14 44
7 France 11 11 12 34
8 Italy 8 9 11 28
9 Hungary 8 4 5 17
10 Australia 7 16 12 35

The issue is not only the move from first to sixth place. There are around 23 million Aussies, compared to approximately 312,000,000 Americans. In this light, the fact that Australians are beating (or anywhere near) the Americans in the Paralympic medal count raises important questions that have to be asked by American people. Did you know, for example, that the Australian wheelchair basketball teams, both men and women, beat the American wheelchair basketballers – a sport in which (stupidly high paid able-bodied) Americans are unbeatable?

Now, to be honest, I could care less about sporting medals. The issue is not “gold”, but what the relative success/failure of the Paralympic teams says about the disability support services that ground the performance of each country.

The truth is that I know very little about American social/disability support services. From the outside, however, it seems to be the case that the USA does not provide the same level of support for disabled people as is provided in other Western nations (it is also worth noting the Chinese Paralympic success). Now it may be that my analysis is in some way incorrect or incomplete. But if a community (or country) is judged by the way it treats its most vulnerable citizens, then this is it least suggestive of an issue that needs serious reflection.

Okay – bring on the hate mail!