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Sunday, February 14, 2010


More Ideologically Motivated Fatuities at Economist's View On . . .

the topic set out above, more or less a continuation in a new thread there of the earlier one about which populations, Americans or West Europeans, were happier over a long period of time before the current world-wide economic and financial meltdown.

Follow a few threads there on income inequality, GDP growth, per capita income growth, educational opportunities and performance at all levels of schooling, and social problems like violent crime, underground economy tax-evasion, and even longevity (hardly below Sweden's, with its 9 million population of unusually homogeneous people except for Swedish citizens from Finland and a small but rapidly growing and alienated Muslim population . . . follow those threads where the chronic and compulsive posters seem to think the American working classes are living in condition similar to those Dickens described in his evocative and vivid novels of the early- and mid-19th century, and you'd think it's not only a disaster here, but also that West Europeans living in more advanced welfare-states are happier, more prosperous, and less prone to suffering major social problems,.

Both These Assumptions: About the US Population and The Equivalents in West Europe Are . . .

. . . wrong, as prof bug has shown in numerous earlier threads with hard evidence, and as he shows in the latest thread where he posted a few times. Click here  for all the luminous stuff, plus lots of manic, half-crazed screwball hilarity . . . all unintended, of course, by the vexed ideological furiosos.   

None of This Means That West Europeans on the Continent or Canadians Don't

do some things better than us.  To claim that the USA or any country does everything better is to state something absurd.  We would be better off if we had the regulated insurance healthcare systems --- no government involvement whatsoever, except regulating basic prices and subsidizing the poor so they can also buy insurance --- of Holland, Germany, and Switzerland.  They generally have better public transportation systems; German and Japanese cars have been the pace-setters traditionally in improving the quality of vehicles; Japanese electronic firms, now joined by South Korea's (and in cars), have also been the pace-setters in productivity, quality, and lowering prices; land management is, at any rate, better in some European countries than here.   There are other things we'd be better off if we could import and adapt them to our society and institutional structures.

As for Education,

Remember . . .    even in grammar and high schools, US Europeans outperform all West European countries in PISA exams, given every four years, to 15 year-old students in science, math, and literacy, except for tiny Finland (4 million) and small Holland (18 million, but only a tad higher in rankings: Finland first, then Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and Holland (with the US European-Americans slightly above South Korea; and way above most EU countries.   Here are the results that might surprise you.  Note that even if you include all American 15 year-old students, we still ranked higher than 7 other EU countries.

Finland 563
Canada 534
Japan 531
New Zealand 530
Australia 527
Netherlands 525
(USA European-Americans) 523
Korea 522
Germany 515
United Kingdom 515
Czech Rep 513
Switzerland 512
Austria 511
Belgium 510
Ireland 508
Hungary 504
Sweden 503


OECD Average: 500


Asian-Americans 499

Poland 498   
Denmark 496
France 495
Iceland 491

United States (all students)  489

Slovak Republic 488
Spain 488
Norway 487
Luxembourg 486
Italy 475
Portugal 474
Greece 473

Hispanic-American students 439
Turkey 424

African-American students 409
Mexico 410

Can the Gaps in the USA Be Narrowed?

Though I'm not outrightly pessimistic, I'm no longer optimistic.  More specifically, I have no clear and convincing suggestions for doing differently what we have done in the last 50 years since segregated schooling was outlawed in the  South. 

Integration was a moral imperative, period.  Then came busing for two decades before it ended, with no gap closed.   We tried then self-esteem building; then tried teaching students in groups, to combat so-called excessive individualism;  then administered general state-level and federal-mandated exams; spent continued increases in education --- the percentage of combined public and private educational expenditures of USA GDP  adding up to 7.5%, roughly fifty percent higher than the West European average. 

Others, of course, may come up with new policy ideas that might work better.  Who knows?