NEW YEAR'S Day offers an opportunity to take stock of how things stand and set some goals for the coming year.
Public opinion polls show that about 40 percent of Americans will make resolutions, committing to healthier lives -- often involving diets and exercise -- a perennial favorite. Financial goals, such as saving more money or sticking to a budget, are also popular.
Those decisions are best left to individuals who know what's happening in their own lives and know what's important to them.
What we can provide is a little perspective on how things in the United States stand as 2017 ends and 2018 is about to begin.
There are nearly 327 million people living in this country, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, which also listed the U.S. median household income as $47,589.
While that income level is not at the top of the worldwide list, it's far higher than the $400 annual income that the World Bank said is the average in Madagascar. U.S. income also compares favorably to an analysis that shows a worldwide median income of about $10,000 per year.
And the U.S. blows away the competition with 13.6 million adults whose net worth exceeds $1 million. Credit Suisse, which tracks personal wealth, said there are 33 million millionaires worldwide and 41 percent are U.S. citizens. Researchers also found that about 80 percent of this country's millionaires did not just inherit that wealth, but earned it.
Moreover, the United States ranks 14th internationally for overall educational quality, with South Korea topping that list. Yet the U.S. boasts more top universities than any other nation.
Meanwhile, life expectancy in the United States is 79.13 years according to the World Health Organization, which ranks 53rd out of 100 countries. Monaco tops the list with a life expectancy of 89.4 years, while war-torn Syria is 100th on the list at 76 years.
In addition, the World Health Organization also ranks the U.S. 37th out of 190 nations for health care -- with the highest per capita expenditures of $9,024.
Data are available on a dizzying array of topics. Some make the United States look idyllic and some make things look dire. The bottom line is we live in the richest nation on Earth, have access to the most advanced technologies, and enjoy freedoms and opportunities that are unimaginable in many other nations.
Those observations may not help determine suitable individual resolutions for 2018, but they might add an appropriate perspective in wishing you a happy new year.