Depressing Statistics

Posted by Thomas Sun, 07 Jun 2009 19:16:42 +0000

I’ve been playing around with the thought of a website solely devoted to educating people via statistics, specifically simple stat-bites that people can remember. I wouldn’t want it to be an activism site, as I wouldn’t want this to be agenda based, but rather try to shed some light on specific problems in the world.

While watching C-SPAN this afternoon, in a subcommittee meeting a congressman said that we (the US) spend “more than 2.5 times more in health care compared to any other country in the world”1. I thought to myself, self, that’s depressing, so I went digging to find out if this was accurate or not. A cursory inspection of 1 and 2 leads me to believe he misspoke and that what he meant to say was that we spend 2.5 times the median. This would have been a prime example of pop up news where a little bubble pops up and says “what he meant to say was…”.

In other news, I was wondering the other night if there is a point at which the economy can no longer sustain the expansion of spending. I was thinking specifically of health care at the time. If you gave everyone in the US all of the health care they required, paid for by the rich, would the rich be able cover it all? I mean it basically what you want to do is have the least number of people have to pay taxes, and simultaneously you want them to all to have full health care, there has to be an equilibrium point at which you’ve increased the non-payers such that the money they require equals the amount of revenue generated by the rich.

Equally you have to expect that as this happens you reduce incentives to become rich. See exhibits A and B. I think we’ve already seen this with industry moving from California to Texas2. Just like Ireland, the companies will gravitate to the states with the least tax burden. Despite companies acting in direct fiduciary interest (as required by US law), some are seeking to close existing loopholes.

I want to see our companies remain the most competitive in the world. But the way to make sure that happens is not to reward our companies for moving jobs off our shores or transferring profits to overseas tax havens. — Obama3

Wait, isn’t that self-contradictory? How can disallowing actions companies perceive to be in their own best interest keep companies competitive? Restricting US companies participating in the global economy makes them less competitive, not more. As much as I dislike Ballmer, he agrees. There’s got to be some serious game theory on this subject around here somewhere.

Posted in Depressing Statistics, Politics | Comments Off


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