An ongoing series at the FM website describes how we’re ignorant because we read the newspapers. Today’s example comes from USA Today: “Americans’ tax burden is lightest in developed world“, 25 November 2009 — Excerpt:
You’d never know it from all the cable news chatter, but Americans bear the lightest tax burden in the developed world.
Total U.S. tax revenues in 2008 equaled 26.9% of gross domestic product, according to provisional figures released Tuesday by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. That figure – which includes local, state and federal taxes, including Social Security – was lower than the 1990 ratio and far below levels across Europe. In Denmark, the total tax take exceeds 48% of the economy. In France, it tops 43%; Germany, 36%.
This is moronic, making sense only if one ignores what services those governments provide. An accurate accounting would compare national costs for a similar basket of services. Otherwise we get slovenly propaganda. Here is a little more information, telling the rest of the story.
In Denmark the government pays for aprox 80% of all health care expenditures, with the rest mostly “out of pocket” payments. In France, Germany, and the USA government payments are aprox 80%, 75%, and 45% respectively (source OECD).
Many of America’s college graduates begin their careers carrying astonishingly high debt burdens. Even more so for professionals, like doctors and attorneys. No so in France, and Germany, where the government pays most higher education costs. From Wikipedia:
Since higher education is funded by the state, the fees are very low; the tuition varies from 150€ to 700€ depending on the university and the different levels of education. (licence, master, doctorate). One can therefore get a Master’s degree (in 5 years) for about 750-3,500€. Additionally, students from low-income families can apply for scholarships, paying nominal sums for tuition or textbooks, can a monthly stipend of up to 450€/month.
The tuition in public engineering schools is comparable to universities, albeit a little higher (around 700€). However it can reach 7000€ a year for private engineering schools, and some business schools, which are all private or partially private, charge up to 8000€ a year.
“Universities in Germany are part of the free state education system, which means that there are very few private universities and colleges.”
Meanwhile America moves in the other direction, back to a 19th century system that limits social mobility and makes poor use of our greatest national resource.
- “Regents Raise College Tuition in California by 32%“, New York Times, 19 November 2009 — Esp brutal, since limitations on class size force many students to attend 5 years to get a degree.
- “Graduates drowning in debt pool“, ABC, 26 November 2009
For more information from the FM site
To read other articles about these things, see the following:
Reference pages about other topics appear on the right side menu bar, including About the FM website page. Here are some posts about the news media:
- A time-saving tip when reading the daily news, 2 January 2008
- The media discover info ops, with outrage!, 22 April 2008
- Only our amnesia makes reading the newspapers bearable, 30 April 2008
- The myth of media pessimism about the economy, 13 June 2008
- “Elegy for a rubber stamp”, by Lewis Lapham, 26 August 2008
- “The Death of Deep Throat and the Crisis of Journalism”, 23 December 2008
- The media doing what it does best these days, feeding us disinformation, 18 February 2009
- The media rolls over and plays dead for Obama, as it does for all new Presidents, 19 February 2009
- The magic of the mainstream media changes even the plainest words into face powder, 24 April 2009
- The media – a broken component of America’s machinery to observe and understand the world, 2 June 2009
- We’re ignorant about the world because we rely on our media for information, 3 June 2009
- The perfidy of ABC News (tentative conclusion on a breaking story), 18 June 2009
- Are we blind, or just incurious about important news?, 6 July 2009
- We know nothing because we read newspapers, 12 October 2009
- Clay Shirky is brilliant and American – hence often delusionally flattering, 24 November 2009
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