Saturday, April 25, 2015

“Opposite of America” is full of lies | Rare

“Opposite of America” is full of lies 

If you waste much time on Facebook, you’ve probably stumbled upon at least one of the memes I address in this article. The style of the meme is to take individuals, have them explain how their country is able to accomplish some national goal, then state that it’s the “opposite of what America does.”

None of the quotes are real, and indeed the Facebook page that creates them acknowledged this: “the Opposite of America memes were created by US Uncut and have reached 30 million people. The reason you know the quotes are fake is because the series is so popular—it’s not too different than the Onion. We aren’t trying to fool anyone and we don’t use fake quotes on anything else.”


This is what I like to call “chicken and egg” economics. What came first, the record profits or the well paid workers? It isn’t much of a hard riddle to solve – how do you pay workers well unless you’re first profitable?

The business model of Walmart and Sam’s Club focusses on serving low income individuals, while Costco is located in wealthier areas. Finance blog “The Motley Fool” refers to Costco as the “Walmart of the Wealthy.” And it should come to no surprise that Costco brings in more revenue per employee than Walmart does when their business model is catering to the upper class. Costco brings in $620,000 per employee, compared to $211,000 for Walmart.

Does anyone really think that Walmart’s cashiers would develop the ability to bring in an additional $400k for the business every year had only they been paid more? There is evidence that well paid workers do perform better, but not to such an inflated extent.


John Derbyshire was certainly onto something when he said, “wherever there is a jackboot stomping on a human face there will be a well-heeled Western liberal to explain that the face does, after all, enjoy free health care and 100 percent literacy.

Even I was surprised by the support of Fidel Castro, but US Uncut has posted in support of Ahmadinejad as well so maybe this isn’t such a stretch.

America actually does spend more on education than on the military. Liberals will often try to prove otherwise by isolating the Federal budget. And indeed when you look at the federal budget, we see a miniscule $71.9 billion spent on education, compared to $672.9 for the military (in 2012).

This neglects that basic fact however that most education spending is done on the state and local level. When you look at the cost of government at all levels – federal, state, and local – 15.2% of money goes towards education, compared to 13.8% on defense. Now, we surely don’t spend five times as much on education than the military as Cuba does, but Cuba isn’t the world’s biggest military spender – America is. For our education spending to be five times the size of military spending, we would have to devote over 20% of GDP towards education. Anyone who thinks this is a good idea should familiarize themselves with the concept of diminishing returns.

So how does Cuba’s spending compare? To Cuba’s credit, they do spend an enormous chunk of their budget towards education – 10%. But as we’ve seen, 15.2% of all government spending in the U.S. goes towards education. Education spending per pupil in the U.S. is $11,184 (2009-10), which is higher than the average Cuban’s yearly income.

The student to teacher ratio in Cuba is a small 9:1, compared to roughly 16:1 in the U.S.. Flaws of the U.S. education system stem from much more than its student teacher ratio however. Test scores have remained virtually unchanged since the 1970s (when the student teacher ratio was 22.3:1), even while real education spending per student has tripled.

If only it were so easy to fix our education system! We can know for sure that this isn’t the solution – because American teachers earn more than Finnish teachers. A teacher in Finland with 15 years experience earns $37,500 a year, compared to $45,225 for an American teacher with the same level of experience. And that doesn’t even take into account that the cost of living is 30% higher in Finland.

Doctors in Finland only earn $70,000 a year, so perhaps “In Finland we pay doctors like teachers” is a more appropriate claim.

The only true part of the meme is regarding mandatory testing and recess. There is no mandatory testing in Finish schools, with the exception of a National Matriculation Examination taken at the end of high school. How additional time to play kickball plays a role in the success of Finish education remains a mystery however.

Read the whole thing.

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