The Perfect Candidate

This is the first time I’ve done this here… but I’m going to take a poke at a specific meme that’s been kicking around the web for a while.

Smart smartness from the smartest smarties of smart

That infographic seriously leaves a lot to be desired. In fact, it leaves out quite a bit of pertinent data.

For instance: the combined population of the four named Nordic Countries is 25 million. The total combined annual GNP of those four countries equals 1.2 trillion dollars. Therefore, the average combined annual GNP per capita of those four countries equals $65,340.

The total population of the USA is 314 million. The total annual GNP of the USA is roughly 15.89 trillion dollars. That makes our per capita GNP around $52,340.

Result? The larger population of the U.S.A. lowers our per capita GNP to the point that it’s actually LOWER than that of the much smaller Nordic countries (for comparison, there are more Americans living in TEXAS— 26 million— than there are citizens living in ALL four Nordic countries combined).

Meanwhile, let’s look at Defense: the United States spends more on Defense than any other country in the world, more than the other top 14 spenders combined.

The Nordic countries don’t spend nearly that much. But, then… two of those Nordic countries are NATO members, and the other two are NATO partners.

Even in the leanest years, the United States contributes almost one-quarter of NATO’s budget, all by itself. Technically it’s around $800 million dollars… but that factors in only DIRECT payments, not deployments of American personnel in NATO countries or overseas American military bases that defend those countries, but which aren’t strictly NATO funded. That whole shebang gets real expensive, real quick.

Over the past several years, defense spending by NATO’s European member nations has shrunk by around 45 BILLION dollars. Meanwhile by slashing their own internal defense budgets European countries (including the four mentioned Nordic countries) are forcing NATO (and by extension, the U.S.) to pick up the extra slack, to the tune of billions of dollars a year.

So, the solution appears!

The USA should just stop funding NATO and spend that money on domestic health care and education. Let those other countries (including the four Nordic countries above) fend for themselves. Problem solved!

But, of course, those Nordic countries wouldn’t want that. They rely on the U.S.A. to defend them, so they can keep their own defense budgets at a minimal level and spend that money internally on their own citizens (as depicted in the infographic above).

Admittedly, the way the U.S. government spends American tax money is ALL jacked up and the priorities of the U.S. Congress are completely nuts. Education in America HAS become a big money-making scam: the monetization of our educational system (especially higher education) squanders tax money while squeezing the price of over-inflated tuition costs from students in exchange for dubious diplomas, crushing them under federally-sponsored debt via a special loan industry specifically created to continually bilk them out of massive interest payments over the longest period imaginable. It’s nightmarishly greedy and stupid.

But the infographic above is farcically simplistic. It doesn’t take into account all the factors, and differences, between the countries being compared.

Like when American tech-heads whine that other countries have faster and better internet grids than the U.S.A., without bothering to take into account that the United States comprises an area hundreds of times greater, in most cases, than the tiniest countries— those which are fastest and most up-to-date (including all four of the “Nordic Countries” mentioned above).

It takes a shitload of fiber optic cable to get states like Wyoming and Montana hooked up, and billions of dollars to keep a network that large up and running. Of course, if all that was required was for us to wire up a country one quarter the size of Kansas (which area is, coincidentally, the size of Switzerland), AND if we had a 600 billion dollar annual GNP from which we could pay for it without huge defense costs (like Switzerland does), internet speeds in that area might be a teensy bit faster.

It’s all apples and oranges. It gives an inaccurate impression of the situation by sacrificing relevant context and factual information in an effort to stretch for an inaccurate correlation. That makes it a CRAPPY meme.

In my opinion, the best way to get people talking about how their government can wisely invest their tax money MIGHT NOT BE by posting pithy pictograms that draw false causation while ignoring the rest of the facts. But then, I personally try to be an “examine-all-the-relevant-facts-before-rendering-judgement” kind of guy.