50 Amazing Numbers About the Economy

Here's some easy reading for your Friday afternoon. Did you know that...

50. From 1948 until 2007, the average duration of unemployment was 13.5 weeks. Today, it's 40.5 weeks.

49. In 1982, a 30-year mortgage carried an interest rate of 17.6%. Today, it's 4.1%. On a $250,000 loan, that's the difference between a monthly payment of $3,686 versus $1,210.

48. In 2000, 69% of businesses offered workers health insurance. By 2009, just 60% did, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

47. In 1952, corporate taxes were 6.1% of GDP, and employment taxes were 1.8% of GDP. In 2009, corporate taxes were 1% of GDP, and employment taxes were 6.3% of GDP.

46. The day after Standard & Poor's downgraded U.S. Treasuries was the second best day for Treasuries in modern history.

45. "Just 1 in 7 U.S. workers is of normal weight without a chronic health problem," according to The Wall Street Journal, citing Gallup data.

44. Adjusted for inflation, nationwide home prices have dropped 8.5% since 1979. Unrelated: 60% of homeowners say a major reason they bought a home is because they think it will make a good retirement investment.

43. The markup AT&T (NYSE: T  ) charges for a single text message ($0.20) compared with a standard mobile data package ($25 for 2 gigs) is roughly 10 million percent.

42. Tax evasion has added an estimated $3 trillion to the national debt over the past decade, according to David Callahan of Demos, citing Internal Revenue Service data.

41. According to The Wall Street Journal, "every year 17,000 American-trained masters and doctoral students leave the U.S. to find work elsewhere."

40. Over the past 25 years, college tuition has increased at nearly four times the rate of broader inflation.

39. Health care for an average family now runs $19,393 a year, according to the Milliman Medical Index. It was about half that much in 2002.

38. Power to the people! According to The Los Angeles Times: "Some 75% of respondents said they were following the [California] budget debate, yet only 16% were aware that state spending has shrunk by billions of dollars over the last three years."

37. California will spend $5.7 billion on its main public universities this year, and $9.6 billion on prisons, according to The Bay Citizen.

36. The labor force participation rate for men has dropped from 87% in 1948 to 71% today.         

35. The personal savings rate in August was 4.5%. Since 1959, it has averaged 7%. Returning to that level would divert more than $200 billion a year from consumer spending into saving.

34. 5.5 million Americans are unemployed and not receiving unemployment benefits. Last year, that number was 1.4 million.

33. The U.S. government provides health care for a minority of its population (elderly and poor) at a greater cost per citizen than many European countries spend on universal coverage.

32. As a percentage of GDP, federal taxes in 2010 were the lowest since 1950.

31. Between 2007 and 2009, those with a bachelor's degree saw the employment-to-population ratio fall by just 0.5%. For those without a bachelor's degree, it fell by more than 2%.

30. Household debt payments as a percentage of income are now at the lowest level since 1994.

29. Despite record federal deficits, total debt throughout the economy -- public plus private -- as a percentage of GDP has been dropping since 2008. Households are shedding debt faster than the government can go into it.

28. Just not student debt: Total student loans outstanding are expected to reach $1 trillion this year. The average student now leaves college with nearly $23,000 of debt. As Time pointed out, "Students today are borrowing double the amount they did ten years ago -- after adjusting for inflation.

27. Total state and local pension shortfalls now equal $4.4 trillion, according to State Budget Solutions.

26. In 2000, interest payments on the national debt totaled $222 billion. By 2009, the debt had more than doubled, but interest payments were $186 billion. Lower interest rates have saved taxpayers trillions of dollars.

25. According to The New York Times, only 23% of Americans benefit from the mortgage interest tax deduction, yet 93% support it.

24. For every $1,000 decline in home values, Americans reduce spending by $20 to $70 a year, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

23. Without mortgage equity withdrawal -- people using their homes as ATMs -- the U.S. economy would have been in recession for most of the 2001-2006 period.

22. The percentage of Americans covered by health insurance fell from 86.9% in 2000 to 83.7% in 2010. It has declined in eight of the past 10 years.

21. Nationwide real estate values have declined by about $7 trillion since 2006.

20. CEOs of S&P 500 companies are entitled to receive an average of $22 million upon being fired, according to GMI. "In total, it would cost shareholders $10.8 billion to fire the CEOs of all of the companies in the S&P 500," it writes.

19. One percent of households captured 52% of all income gains from 1993-2008.

18. Just 400 people earned 10% of all capital gains in 2007. Between 2000 and 2007, the top 400 taxpayers captured about 2% of all economic growth.

17. People spend their money on different sets of goods and services. The richest 10% of Americans had an inflation rate that was about 6% higher than the bottom 10% between 1994 and 2005.

16. According to former White House budget advisor Peter Orszag: "In 1990, about 63 percent of business income in the U.S. took the form of wages and other types of labor compensation. ... By 2005, that figure had dropped to 61 percent. And by the middle of this year, it had fallen to 58 percent. ... The difference from 1990 to today -- about 5 percentage points or so of private-sector income -- amounts to more than $500 billion a year."

15. Private jobs growth over the past two years has been faster than it was from 2001-2003. Public job losses have been a major factor in our current jobs crisis.

14. If federal, state, and local governments hadn't been slashing jobs since 2009, today's unemployment rate would be nearly a full percentage point lower.

13. The White House -- famously optimistic throughout all administrations -- forecasts that the unemployment rate won't return to pre-recession levels until 2016.

12. According to the National Review, "[General Motors (NYSE: GM  ) ] has 96,000 employees but provides health benefits to a million people."

11. While gold hit record highs this summer, the yield on Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities, or TIPS, implied a forecast of near record low inflation.

10. According to author Matt Ridley, it took an average person 4,700 hours of work to afford a Ford (NYSE: F  ) Model T in 1908. Today, it takes an average person 1,000 hours of work to afford an ordinary car.

9. Adjusted for inflation, the first Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) Macintosh cost $5,440. Today's iPad costs $500, and is outrageously more advanced.

8. About half of all Tweets are derived from 20,000 people -- or just 0.05% of Twitter members.

7. UBS estimates that illegal lending in China amounts to $630 billion a year, or about 10% of the country's gross domestic product.

6. Only 2.7% of what Americans spend their money on are goods and services from China. 88.5% is on American-made goods and services.

5. Cash flow among S&P 500 companies set a new all-time record last year, at $1.2 trillion.

4. Between dividends and buybacks, S&P 500 companies returned $4.3 trillion to shareholders from 2003 to 2010.

3. According to the Hedge Fund Research index, hedge funds as a group returned 19.6% between March 2009 and May 2011. Broad stock market indexes in the developed world returned 114% during that period.

2. Food prices invariably come up when people talk about inflation. But average disposable income has risen twice as fast as food prices over the past 50 years. There's been fairly steady food deflation over time.

1. America is still by far the largest economy in the world, nearly three times the size of China's or Japan's economy, and nearly five times the size of Germany's. We have the best schools, the deepest financial system, the most advanced innovation, and the brightest entrepreneurs.

Fool contributor Morgan Housel doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article. Follow him on Twitter @TMFHousel. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Ford Motor. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Ford Motor, General Motors, AT&T, and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


Read/Post Comments (52) | Recommend This Article (144)

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  • Report this Comment On October 21, 2011, at 3:29 PM, portefeuille2 wrote:

    We have the best schools, the deepest financial system, the most advanced innovation, and the brightest entrepreneurs.

    -----------------

    ?

  • Report this Comment On October 21, 2011, at 3:31 PM, TheDumbMoney wrote:

    Love this.

  • Report this Comment On October 21, 2011, at 4:31 PM, aggiewes wrote:

    great artical

  • Report this Comment On October 21, 2011, at 4:33 PM, seattle1115 wrote:

    I'm reminded of the old saying - it's not what you don't know that gets you in trouble, it's what you know that just isn't true. I wonder how different our national debate would be if these facts were widely known?

  • Report this Comment On October 21, 2011, at 4:47 PM, matunos wrote:

    Re: #50, you mean to tell me that the average length of unemployment has been longer in the several years after the greatest prolonged economic downturn since the Great Depression (following the greatest international financial calamity since Black Tuesday) than it was in the greatest economic expansion of modern times (post WWII)?

    You cherry picked those dates to be right after WWII until right before the financial crash!

    Re: #41 - you don't list how many foreign professionals (or soon-to-be professionals) come to the US to work.

    Re: #36 - is that because men are now more likely to drop out of (or avoid entirely) the workforce, or because women are more likely to join it? You can't tell from that statistic!

    Re: #18 - you're comparing capital gains to economic growth. Apples to orchards!

    Some of these points are somewhat interesting. Many are misleading without context. Overall, I would say this list of "amazing" numbers is less than useful to anyone who doesn't already know the information.

  • Report this Comment On October 21, 2011, at 4:58 PM, Gloomfrost wrote:

    Morgan can you post sources as much as you can, I'd love to have a look at some related data as some of the above points you mentioned.

    Thanks for the interesting read, almost as good as the 50 Fascinating Things I've Read Lately ;)

    A

  • Report this Comment On October 21, 2011, at 5:05 PM, NovaB wrote:

    That point #1 disagrees with most professional, governmental and United Nations reports and estimates. Comparing the US education system and quality of 2009 public school graduates, according to the UN, only one nation in Europe had a worse education system than we do.

    Plus, according to WHO, we have the most expensive health care system with some of the worst care available when compared to other industrialized nations.

  • Report this Comment On October 21, 2011, at 5:14 PM, daveandrae wrote:

    Amen

  • Report this Comment On October 21, 2011, at 5:53 PM, DukeTG wrote:

    Charging separately for text messaging and data is the biggest scam on the face of the planet.

    I seriously can't let myself think about it for too long because I just get so angry. It's all just bits!!

  • Report this Comment On October 21, 2011, at 6:01 PM, smartmuffin wrote:

    So, on 39, are you talking about how much the "cost" is, or how much people "actually spend."

    These days, it's damn near impossible to know how the two relate.

  • Report this Comment On October 21, 2011, at 6:08 PM, xetn wrote:

    You can blame the Fed for massive monetary inflation beginning with the dot com bubble bursting in 2000 with the effect of directing a large portion to the real estate sector, resulting in the real estate bubble. Add to that, the directives of the government that every American should be able to own their own home, pushing down lending standards for mortgages to the point that the banks were only using the real estate itself for the basis of making the loan. This is spite of the fact many of the borrowers could not make the payments based on earnings/debt ratios.

    Any activity that is based on taxes always results in higher prices and lower quality. Regulations on health care, drug companies, and many other industries have resulted in large increases in prices. Education is basically a monopoly dictating what gets taught and backstopping student loans guaranteeing large increases in the cost of education.

    The graduation rate of high school students has fallen in recent times to roughly 75% of students and as many as 1 million high school students walk away from school each year.

    It seems obvious to me that the reason for the bulk of our financial problems over the last several years is due to the interference of government at every level.

  • Report this Comment On October 21, 2011, at 7:05 PM, KCinAustria wrote:

    When people start feeding me statistics, I try to keep them (the statistics) in perspective:

    51) Over 99% of Americans have more than the average number of legs.

    (The average has to be 1.9999 something.) The moral of the story is statistics CAN be incredibly misleading.

    Nevertheless, some interesting points. Any source on #6 (Only 2.7% of American spending is on Chinese stuff)? That one surprised me. Sadly, the California spending on prisons vs. education didn't.

  • Report this Comment On October 21, 2011, at 7:08 PM, TMFHousel wrote:
  • Report this Comment On October 22, 2011, at 1:03 AM, ershler wrote:

    xetn,

    I would like to know what role you think the CFMA and Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act played in the financial crisis?

  • Report this Comment On October 22, 2011, at 4:20 AM, webmind wrote:

    Statistics and numbers are useless without context and interpretation.

    This is basically useless information.

  • Report this Comment On October 22, 2011, at 5:15 AM, InvestWhatWorks wrote:

    "37. California will spend $5.7 billion on its main public universities this year, and $9.6 billion on prisons, according to The Bay Citizen."

    'Main' public universities? What does that mean? Why isn't that dollar figure for all of their public universities? Why only 'main'? What percentage of California public universities are 'main'? What's a non-'main' public university? Like a lot of these, what a useless statistic.

  • Report this Comment On October 22, 2011, at 10:32 AM, TMFHousel wrote:

    It excludes 2/yr colleges (separate budget category, and actually not universities). If you're familiar with California's school system, it's the UC and CSU schools.

  • Report this Comment On October 22, 2011, at 11:47 AM, plange01 wrote:

    its time to occupy washington and put a end to obama's disgrace of a presidency that has left millions homeless and foreclosed on.14,000,000 unemployed and while obama entertained every celebrity on the planet with lavish parties at the white house and went on one vacation after another a incredible 46,000,000 AMERICANS are collecting food stamps...

  • Report this Comment On October 22, 2011, at 12:32 PM, seattle1115 wrote:

    Re: #36 - I suspect that part of the reason for this is that considerably more men are surviving past retirement age than did in 1948.

  • Report this Comment On October 22, 2011, at 12:45 PM, Cubbob wrote:

    Point 15 must have been calculated by Harry Reid. Since 2007, the private sector has lost over 6 million jobs while the public sector has lost less than a tenth of that. Statistics are often slanted and rarely objective. The country should be far more concerned about the loss of private sector jobs that create something in order to pay for the public service jobs. Other statistics, public sector jobs pay, including benefits about 40 percent more on average than equivalent private sector jobs. Wonderful, huh?

  • Report this Comment On October 22, 2011, at 2:59 PM, HyperionCR wrote:

    That was great. As for the controversy over fact #1, I think it's referring to higher education. Our top universities are the best in the world, bar none. Everyone wants to get their degrees in America's top schools. Sure, this is open to debate but jeez, try to be patriotic for once!

  • Report this Comment On October 22, 2011, at 4:25 PM, narj wrote:

    Some of these just dont add up for me. Number 6 has the US buying 2.7% of goods and services from China. How do we have the huge trade deficit with China if that is the case, what am I missing.

  • Report this Comment On October 22, 2011, at 5:17 PM, TMFHousel wrote:

    ^ Reposting, here's the source:

    http://www.frbsf.org/publications/economics/letter/2011/el20...

    The numbers actually match perfect to the trade deficit. Our trade deficit with China is $270 billion a year, which is generated by $360b in imports and $90b in exports. Of the $360b in imports, $250b goes toward consumer spending. Total consumer spending is $10 trillion. 2.5% of $10 trillion is $250 billion.

  • Report this Comment On October 22, 2011, at 11:43 PM, baldheadeddork wrote:

    @matunos - Re employment statistics that began in 1947, that's because unemployment wasn't tracked by the federal government until the beginning of WWII. War production distorted employment, so those figures are not usually included in any long-term graphs. 1947 is considered the beginning of the post-war economy because it was the first year with no WWII spending and the workforce was returned to peacetime demographics and employment levels vs. government spending.

    About comparing the 1947-2007 period against the last three years, that's statistically useful because you're measuring the performance of the economy over an extended period against this recession. If you want, you can break down the numbers against other recessionary periods, but the depth and breadth of this downturn look even worse.

  • Report this Comment On October 23, 2011, at 7:54 AM, grantrobertb wrote:

    We are still in a dire situation -- an unsustainable situation. Incredible how highly educated people are now leaving the U.S. to land employment rather than staying here. Wall Street is not broken. Washington is broken.

  • Report this Comment On October 23, 2011, at 9:18 AM, catoismymotor wrote:

    A majority of the 25,000 highly educated people are returning home to the likes of China and India.

  • Report this Comment On October 24, 2011, at 3:04 PM, joelmusicman wrote:

    "There are lies, damn lies and statistics."

    -Mark Twain

    60% of these statistics smacked of market timing or apples/orangutans comparisons!

    I totally agree regarding the text message point (#43) though. You can text in the Skype app and not get charged a text message, but it works just the same!

  • Report this Comment On October 24, 2011, at 3:16 PM, TMFHousel wrote:

    <<60% of these statistics smacked of market timing or apples/orangutans comparisons!>>

    That's a statistic!

  • Report this Comment On October 24, 2011, at 5:50 PM, DJDynamicNC wrote:

    "Any activity that is based on taxes always results in higher prices and lower quality."

    ANY statement that makes sweeping blanket claims with no nuance is ALWAYS false. Including this one.

    Just sayin'

  • Report this Comment On October 24, 2011, at 6:20 PM, mmichaelbrown wrote:

    Morgan, how do you figure the US economy is nearly three times the size of China or Japan.

    GDP numbers don't show that, can you tell me your source?

  • Report this Comment On October 24, 2011, at 11:54 PM, FoolSolo wrote:

    Interesting and fun read, thanks for sharing. I would like to see more of these explained or backed by factual data points, but over all it was entertaining.

    @mmichaelbrown

    GDP is the value of goods/services produced within the country, which coincidentally includes all exports minus imports. Most talking heads on CNBC/CNN equate GDP to the productivity metric of the country, but that could be misleading.

    I'm not sure how accurate GDP is the measurement of the total economy, but if you go by the 2010 numbers, the US GDP was $14.5T, China was $5.8T and Japan was $5.4T, so the GDP numbers do actually support Morgan's case that the US Economy is nearly three times the size of China or Japan. However, the EU combined was $16.2T, of which Germany amounts to $3.2T.

  • Report this Comment On October 25, 2011, at 1:29 AM, duane1x wrote:

    Thinking about the China 2.7% statistic, #6.

    I suspect - so I will throw it out for comment/thought - that the issue is PCE is determined at retail pricing level. Goods bought at Walmart, etc, at the cash register.

    Whereas the import/export number is calculated at the port so to speak. See here: https://www.uschina.org/statistics/tradetable.html and in the footnote under Table 1 an explanation of imports figured on a customs value basis. In other words what the importer is paying for the goods.

    This makes sense. You wouldn't calculate imports - say of a spatula to be sold at Walmart - based on what it would sell at the register.

    But the effect is that when you import a spatula from China for 17 cents, that is reflected in the total imports, though that spatula may sell for $1. So, #1, the way this stat is worded, that US citizens only spend 2.7% (273B/10T) on Chinese goods and services, well, we don't really know. What people actually spend would have to be calculated from the retail price, not from the total imports - exports. What that number gives you is dollar flow through to China, but that's not what the number tells you.

    Secondly, the idea in the linked document that 55% goes to US middlemen, and only 45% goes to China. So.... "Of the 2.7% of U.S. consumer purchases going to goods labeled “Made in China,” only 1.2% actually represents China-produced content."

    Incorrect. The full 2.7% or imports-exports or 273B is going to China. The amount going to US middlemen is that much again, or slightly more based on the article. But I suspect the comments about the "low-ness" of the 2.7% could be somewhat due to these factors.

  • Report this Comment On October 25, 2011, at 10:22 AM, devoish wrote:

    Great food for thought. Some of those statistics do not match my beliefs and some do. I suppose I need to do some work and dig deeper to further my understanding of the ones that are interesting to me.

    Best wishes,

    Steven

  • Report this Comment On October 25, 2011, at 10:49 AM, ETFsRule wrote:

    Saying that we have the "best schools" is quite a stretch. The best universities, maybe.

    But our public school system is a disgrace. 40% of American high school seniors can't find Canada on a map.

  • Report this Comment On October 25, 2011, at 10:57 AM, DJDynamicNC wrote:

    On the school subject, it's probably worth noting that we have an active opposition to education and science in this nation which certainly can't be helping our odds. The home schooling movement is an outright reflection of this - people don't like the facts being taught in schools, so they go create their own "facts" and then teach their kids these "facts" at home.

    Couple that with the fact that every year is a budget struggle at most public schools because of our aversion to taxes (though there does always seem to be enough to pay for more freedom bombs) and you get a recipe for precisely the crisis we're seeing.

  • Report this Comment On October 25, 2011, at 10:59 AM, DJDynamicNC wrote:

    To be fair, it's impossible to paint such a broad picture of our schools as to say that they are the "best" or "worst." There is a huge degree of disparity between individual school systems, and that gap is only increasing as society stratifies still further.

    It's probably not a great system, though I suppose wealthy people would disagree.

  • Report this Comment On October 25, 2011, at 12:58 PM, muddlinthrough wrote:

    @Mr. Housel,

    "38. Power to the people! According to The Los Angeles Times: "Some 75% of respondents said they were following the [California] budget debate, yet only 16% were aware that state spending has shrunk by billions of dollars over the last three years."

    "

    http://www.mercurynews.com/breakingnews/ci_12579720

    When it comes to the state budget, the only thing that seems to change is the number of billions by which it's out of balance. A year ago, state officials had to plug an unthinkable $15 billion. A few months later, as the economy worsened, they were faced with an insurmountable $40 billion.

    ...so, the economy worsens and the budget gap gets to $40B. That's not the amount of the budget. That's the amount of the gap between the budget and the revenue coming in.

    Look at the chart in (2), since you love charts. Now, please, please tell me that there's no 'spending problem' and the politicians haven't figured out how to buy the votes of the ill-educated ("What??? We can't print money??? And we're spending beyond whatever we take in and lots more??? Quick! A bond issue! Wait! No one wants our paper trash!") and the 'unwashed masses' of people. Unwashed, untamed, illiterate, unemployable. Almost makes you want to pity them. Or not.

  • Report this Comment On October 25, 2011, at 3:25 PM, DJDynamicNC wrote:

    @Muddlin - I'm not sure where Morgan made the claim that "there's no spending problem," and I'm not certain how relevant your aristocratic moralizing over the "unwashed" and "illiterate" masses really is. A strawman and an ad hominem in one post rarely bodes well.

    Let's directly address your claims. You linked to an article on California's incredible growing budget deficit. Unfortunately, the article in question is from June.

    Of 2009.

    In the interest of being factually informed, I decided to look up some more up to date numbers. I'll admit, I was also interested in seeing how the state had fared now that a Democrat is in charge again.

    Using a very handy search website called www.Google.com, I was able to find that the California deficit not only improved, but improved better than expected, leaving a gap of 10 billion instead of 25 billion dollars, thanks largely to a better than expected increase in tax revenues.

    http://sfist.com/2011/05/18/california_budget_deficit_slips_...

    Apparently the strategy known as "close a budget deficit by bringing in more money" which is so out of favour these days might be worth a shot.

    Since you also elected to claim that "nobody wants" California bond issues, I elected to do some research on that claim and found that an offering of California General Obligation municipal bonds sold briskly this past week at a yield of 3.70% for ten year bonds. Since "nobody" is a fairly bold claim, I'll assume you were simply making more moral judgments rather than genuine policy statements, but correct me if I'm wrong and you genuinely wish to make that claim.

    But don't take my word for it - I'm just a member of those "unwashed" and "illiterate" masses (or "working class," if you will). I certainly encourage you to do your own research.

    Next time, perhaps, you might even consider doing so BEFORE you post.

    Best luck!

  • Report this Comment On October 25, 2011, at 11:21 PM, philround wrote:

    Very interesting. I got a lot out of reading most all those points. Comments:

    41. According to The Wall Street Journal, "every year 17,000 American-trained masters and doctoral students leave the U.S. to find work elsewhere."

    This could be the result of these students not being Americans to BEGIN with...

    38. Power to the people! According to The Los Angeles Times: "Some 75% of respondents said they were following the [California] budget debate, yet only 16% were aware that state spending has shrunk by billions of dollars over the last three years."

    The news (that we get predominantly from corporations) isn't designed to inform; it's designed to distract.

    34. 5.5 million Americans are unemployed and not receiving unemployment benefits. Last year, that number was 1.4 million.

    This is a real scary one. Seems like a social upheaval time-bomb waiting to go off. I wonder how many of those are armed to the gills...

    33. The U.S. government provides health care for a minority of its population (elderly and poor) at a greater cost per citizen than many European countries spend on universal coverage.

    The American public should know this (but if you told them they wouldn't believe it!).

    2. Food prices invariably come up when people talk about inflation. But averagedisposable income has risen twice as fast as food prices over the past 50 years. There's been fairly steady food deflation over time.

    And a commensurate "deflation" of food's nutritional value over that time as the whole food economy has become more corporatized. I think if you were to try and keep pace with food's nutritional value over the years, the food inflation rate might be quite a bit more. Eat the crap that most stores sell and you end up with diabetes! Even your kids!!

    1. America is still by far the largest economy in the world, nearly three times the size of China's or Japan's economy, and nearly five times the size of Germany's. We have the best schools, the deepest financial system, the most advanced innovation, and the brightest entrepreneurs.

    The second statement I have trouble with. Whenever these jingoistic comments are put out saying "we're the best in..." I figure it's someone's attempt to put across a point of view that won't stand on it's merits. By what yardstick are "we the best"? Scrutiny won't bear out most of those "best" proclamations.

  • Report this Comment On October 26, 2011, at 12:44 AM, largesse wrote:

    xetn and EFTSrule: Why do you think it's OK to make blatant assertions about the education system when a simple Google search shows you're wrong? The National Center for Educational Statistics December 2010 report on Trends in High School Dropout Rates show that the dropout rate has not been rising, but in fact falling fairly steadily since 1972. And this internet meme that high school students can't find Canada on a map (with your "precise" figure of 40%) lacks support of any actual study. So where did you get that number from? If your investments are as bad as your scholarship, I fear for your futures.

  • Report this Comment On October 26, 2011, at 9:11 AM, ETFsRule wrote:

    largesse: wrong on all accounts.

    1. I never said anything about the dropout rate, and regardless, that is a poor measure of the quality of our education system. We consistantly underperform other developed nations across the board.

    2. The 40% figure is not a "meme", but rather it is the result of an international study conducted by America's National Geographic Society. Link: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/2496427.stm

    For the record, I'm not trying to put any of the blame for this on teachers. The problem is that our government simply doesn't care about education. The education budget is always the first thing they are willing to cut, when it should be among the last.

  • Report this Comment On October 26, 2011, at 7:39 PM, armycommando wrote:

    The distribution of pay inequality has widened and the average U.S. born student scores below the top 10 ranking internationally in math and science while attending.....the best schools in the world?

  • Report this Comment On October 27, 2011, at 8:08 AM, jeffreybl wrote:

    One point one: does size matter? Germany´s economy may be smaller but it is more resilient, less poor, better services, better infrastructure and I am afraid when it come to hard subjects a better educational system. So we are BIGGER but they are ...

    I find it a bit disturbing that while we have real problems we pat ourselves on the back and say "but we are the best". We aren´t but if we could take a real look at things and fix the problems we could be. US education is becoming lousy - I have been trying to hire people in the US and abroad and the caliber of thinking in the US just doesn´t compare. (and I am only talking about college graduates from top schools.)

  • Report this Comment On October 28, 2011, at 2:59 PM, klk5439 wrote:

    As Eisenhower said, plans end up being useless but planning is essential, a real pres. debate would be to walk through each item and ask for comments, since the reaction to any stat would drive policy (or make you ignore the stat if it didn't align with your ideology). Here is a reaction:

    #45 sounds exaggerated. What connstitiutes a healthy person and at what age?

    #39 $20k/year/family. That’s mainly premiums paid by a company for a family. The BCBS premiums for equivalent coverage would be $1-2k/month. But a more sensible plan, if I had to pay for myself would be a high deductible plan that pays everything after $10k. That would be $350/month. What happened to the health-care account plan?

    #37 thanks to the so-called war on drugs

    #33 of course health care *per person* is more expensive for the elderly than for the broad population—that’s why the government has that responsibility!!! Insurers won’t touch them. Their premiums aren’t pure profits.

    #25 only the real estate industry benefits from the mortgage tax deduction. It’s a subsidy in disguise. Everybody else makes up for the “savings” in other more expensive ways.

    #23 the housing bubble was spurred by government policies to make it look like tax-cuts and trickle-down economics works.

    #21 real estate values are not declining-they’re correcting

    #18 wow!!! If true that means Bush’s tax cuts which caused the deficit (combined with war spending) was a money pipeline to only 400 people!!!

    #16 how does that make sense??? wages and compensation are expenses not income!

    #14 I know states and local governments have been slashing jobs, but I haven’t heard of anybody getting laid off from the federal government. My impression is the opposite. And they get paid more for the same qualifications!

    #12 According to Yahoo!Finance, GM employs 208,000, not 96,000

  • Report this Comment On October 29, 2011, at 12:03 PM, Citellus wrote:

    I rarely comment, but I must respond to the several comments that federal government employees "get paid more for the same qualifications" or work. I was in a technical/scientific position with the feds. As a federal retiree, I now work for the private sector. I get three times the rate of pay working in the private sector than when I finished with feds. As a part-timer, I get no benefits, but my full-time colleagues do get good benefits. Maybe some feds get paid more than the private sector, but not in my field. Pay in academia was in between (but quite variable).

  • Report this Comment On November 01, 2011, at 1:09 PM, pmagnier wrote:

    Fascinating. Yes, these statistics are "in a box" but give ideas for mulling over.

    However, regarding the USA having the best education system: I lived in the USA and England for 8 years each, and in my native Ireland for years more than that. In addition, I travelled and worked in Europe extensively and spent a year in Africa.

    My view is anecdotal and personal, but you are DEAD WRONG on that one. Some education in the USA is great, but the standard is terribly patchy. Overall, in my opinion, it's behind many, many places I have lived and been.

  • Report this Comment On November 01, 2011, at 4:26 PM, lazytype wrote:

    Bragging Betrays Insecurity

  • Report this Comment On November 06, 2011, at 4:58 PM, thidmark wrote:

    "ANY statement that makes sweeping blanket claims with no nuance is ALWAYS false."

    "The home schooling movement is an outright reflection of this - people don't like the facts being taught in schools, so they go create their own "facts" and then teach their kids these "facts" at home."

    Amazingly, these two statements came from the same person.

  • Report this Comment On November 06, 2011, at 6:02 PM, PoppaFred wrote:

    Quoting "average" without giving at least the median and range can be misleading.

    Mortgage at 17.6% in 1982 and 4.1% now ignores that in 1972 it was about 5.5%.

    Home ownership is still better than renting. I cannot deduction mortgage interest and property tax when I rent. I cannot sell rent receipts to recoup some of my shelter cost. A fixed monthly mortgage protects against rent increases. As long as I make payments, the bank cannot force me to move.

    IF GDP measures value of good produced and China's wage rate is 1/3 of America's would not China's GDP be closer to ours using the same wage rate?

    Perhaps the fairest measure is "How long does one have to work to buy the standard whatever?" A loaf of bread, quart of milk, a flight of 1,000 miles. etc.

  • Report this Comment On November 06, 2011, at 6:08 PM, PoppaFred wrote:

    #39: Average family medical over $19,000. But on 10/25 Morgan tells us average is 7% of income. Do the math. The two measures - 4 days apart - do not seem to be in sinc.

  • Report this Comment On January 18, 2012, at 1:07 AM, DigitalJoe wrote:

    From #1, "We have the best schools..."

    You're an idiot.

    Joe

  • Report this Comment On February 01, 2012, at 12:45 PM, ac131 wrote:

    PoppaFred - Health CARE costs $19,000 / family (mostly subsidized by employers). Health INSURANCE costs 7% of your income.

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