Monday, August 31, 2009

Breaking: US has less freedom than Socialist countries

I have heard the argument that providing a public option for health care will somehow reduce "our freedoms." I confess confusion. However, I've tried to wrap my head around what people might be talking about, and decided to figure out what might be meant by "freedom." This is what I've come up with. Part of American Exceptionalism is the Horatio Alger myth; that is, a poor boy, through the judicious use of his own bootstraps and a medium-to-heavy application of cliche, can become rich. This freedom is the freedom of self-creation. But it's not true. Almost half of an adult's wealth is dependent upon his parents' money. Half. In Denmark (socialist, scary), in contrast, only 15% is. What does this mean? There's way more social mobility in pretty much every other Western European country other than Great Britian, the one with the hereditary ruling class.

Here's the numbers from 2006, (found here.) 1 means the children's monetary worth is 100% dependent on their family's monetary worth; 0 means that how well the children do is completely independent of the family of origin. Denmark's .15 indicates that only 15% of a child's success is dependent upon the family of origin. In Denmark, people are self-made. Contrast that with the .47 in the US; a full half of a person's success has to do with the family they were born into. As an example, what, exactly, did Jenna Bush do to get that sweet, sweet gig on the Today show. Oh, wait, I think I know.

Denmark 0.15
Norway 0.17
Finland 0.18
Canada 0.19
Sweden 0.27
Germany 0.32
France 0.41
United States 0.47
United Kingdom 0.50

Things weren't always this bad in the US, as can be seen here. The '70's were more equitable than the 80's, which in turn were more equitable than the 90's. I'm guessing the '00's are even worse.

There's this myth afoot in the land that somehow if you're poor you're by definition undeserving, and shouldn't be helped. But there's actual evidence that what help does is lift people from poverty. This chart shows that people stay poor for shorter periods of time in Scandinavian countries where they're given help, and poor for longer times when they're not, like here. So, being mean just increases the misery of the poor, being nice lifts people out of poverty. Remind me again of what the problem is with peace, love, and understaning, please.


kerfuffler said...

Interesting data. I wonder what the data from the the thirties , forties and fifties would indicate. Perhaps older people who grew up when personal initiative had a better chance of paying off don't realize how skewed the game has become.

Amy said...

This doesn't surprise me at all. What does surprise me is how hard people clap their hands to their ears and scream "LA LA LA LA LA" as loud as possible to keep from HEARING anything that slightly resembles information that is backed up by facts and figures. I love how you phrase things. Thank you so much for saying what you do, the way you do and having the information to back it up. **HUG**