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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Surprising Statistics

Sen. (R) Rand Paul on C-SPAN yesterday stated 70 percent of Americans lack a college degree.  In Capital in the Twenty-first Century, T. Piketty writes: "Over a long period of time, the main force in favor of greater [economic] equality has been the diffusion of knowledge and skills."  A large poster on the bus shelter near the corner of Green and Magazine proclaims that every school day in the U.S., 7,000 students drop out of high school. Picketty's work, aimed at elucidating the drawbacks to efficiency of radical income inequality, is monumental in scale, posing a time management-problem for a light-minded sentimentalist like the present writer, particularly since one has just (nearly) finished J. Stiglitz's outstanding The Price of Inequality with its heavy load of statistics.  A quote from the latter: 

"America has been hot in pursuit of the wrong goals.  We've lost our way.  We thought that simply by increasing GDP all would benefit but that has not been the case.  Even if the American economy produces more goods and services, if, year after year, most Americans have lower and lower incomes, our economy is not performing well."  

Writing in the current Atlantic on the concept of reparations to be paid by the U.S. government to the descendants of former slaves in the U.S., staffer Ta-Nehisi Coates quotes Yale historian David W. Blight: "In 1860, slaves as an asset were worth more than all of America's manufacturing, all of the railroads, all of the productive capacity of the United States put together.  Slaves were the single largest, by far, financial asset of property in the entire American economy."  And I remember Skip Gates, in his PBS documentary of a few months ago on U.S. slavery, saying that some 400,000 slaves were transported to this country from Africa, and eventually increased their numbers to 4 million.  And the Economist reported some months ago, if I remember correctly, that in 2013 there were some 389,000 millionaires in New York City, and some 80 billionaires.  Income inequality is alive and well in the Apple.  And Richard Lyon posted on Daily Kos yesterday: 

"A survey released today by the Commonwealth Fund ranks the United States dead last in the quality of its healthcare system compared to ten other developed nations.  At the same time, it's also the most expensive in the world.  Frustratingly, the new report (pdf) shows that the U.S. is not improving; it ranks last, just like it did in the 2010, 2007, 2006, and 2004 editions of the survey. Call it a ten-year losing streak.  Other nations evaluated in the survey included Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.  The U.K., which spends just $3,405 per person on health care, ranked first overall among the 11 nations. Compare that to the United States' $8,508 per person."