Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Practical Problems of Innumeracy

If you don't think this is a problem, then you are part of the problem:
Sanders has built his popularity almost exclusively on promises to spend more money not just on the poor but not on everybody, without even a hint that he understands why that would only exacerbate the "wealth inequality" he rails so often against.

Sanders hasn't been specific about where the money would come from, mentioning only one transaction tax on Wall Street. Such a tax, by itself, wouldn't come close to funding Sanders' promises—his plans require massive tax hikes not just on the rich but on the middle class, meaning his efforts at offering everyone an education could not only increase inequality (since richer people are, in general, more likely to take advantage of entitlements like a "free education") but also actually redistribute wealth upward.

Sanders' success despite this is due to America's mathematical illiteracy and today on social media, among all the tributes and pictures and videos of David Bowie, one meme went so viral as to merit a response from Snopes.com just an hour ago.

Here's the meme:
When people believe this and don't even catch the simplest of math errors, it's no wonder our national debt isn't creating howls or protests with pitchforks.

If you can't do that in your head, or don't have a calculator nearby, the per capita receipt would be $4.33--enough, as the counter-meme goes, to buy everyone in the US a cheap calculator.   It's no wonder that socialism always devolves to running out of other people's money, if this is any indication....


Pseudotsuga said...

Well, that $4.33 shouldn't be divided evenly--the top 1% and 10% don't need it (or deserve it, say the Occomunists.) So, we need to divide it out between the rest of the deserving "poor" (or 267,000,000). That ought to be enough to buy 1 and 1/2 hamburgers instead of just one!

Ellen K said...

A student asked to borrow my yardstick to measure her artwork for competition because she said she only had a twelve inch ruler at home. Really, it happened.