EU Economies: Poor Reporting

It is always interesting to see our friends on the left hit the roof when data is presented. The beauty of data can be summed up quite easily, it is what it is. The number 7 is 7. There is no “yes, but”, there is no Lakoffian reframing of 7 as 6.2, there is no getting around the true fact that 7 is and will always be 7. It is this certainty in an oft-cited “world of grays” by the extreme Left that seems to be so repellent.

In visiting some of my favorite blogs I noticed one component was missing from my recent “dead and dying in America” series, the series should have been “dead, dying, and poor in America”. These anti-US themes are part and parcel of the mainstream media (MSM)’s core beliefs on both sides of the Atlantic, a template if you will. Dead, dying, and poor Americans fits the MSM template far better than “alive, vibrant, and prospering” Americans. But are the anti-US pronouncements by the MSM true? As it relates to the “dead and dying” portion of the anti-US template fostered and advanced by members of the MSM, obviously not (here and here).

The third pillar of the MSM template, poverty. What about the MSM generated perception that 99% of all Americans are living in a subjugated state of poverty many steps below serfdom? Fortunately for our friends on the extreme Left and the MSM, poverty and economic trends are quantifiable. Despite the attempts by many bloggers to provide actual facts and data (my own here), the MSM seems to be too busy in their world of grays to notice reality. Some time back a friend provided me with an excellent and factual report of poverty in the US and the EU courtesy of Timbro. What does the report find about economic comparisons between the two?

As you can see from the chart on your right (sources: Eurostat and the Bureau of Economic Analysis) on a strictly per capita GDP basis EU-15 countries generally rank near the bottom when compared to the individual US states and the District of Columbia in Purchasing Power Parity (PPP). Per capita GDP is of course no measure of poverty, but it is a clue.

So often the US is portrayed as a nation with a tiny sliver of 1% at the very top enjoying all the spoils of a free-market. The other 99% are left to fend for themselves in a Hobbesian jungle of death and despair. Why do MSM outlets continually perpetuate such stereotypes? Must fit the template.

What about so-called creature comforts? The poor in the US are often written about as though they have nothing in terms of material goods and will never even have the dream of possibly ever owning anything. Again, creature comforts are not a sign a wealth, not a sign of poverty, just yet another clue. Some of the creature comforts we all enjoy, some we do not (microwave ovens and automobiles in my case), but that is part of the joy of individuality. Take a look on page 16 of the Timbro report. Some of the number look a little dated, but a rough idea in most categories can be gleaned (I am doubtful of some of the numbers, others comport with data found elsewhere).

High ownership of vacuum cleaners is no great sign of wealth or poverty. But, how can vast majority of the US population own such things as television sets and vacuum cleaners? According to the MSM the vast majority of US citizens are busy foraging for food in landfills when not being exploited at their hamburger-flipping jobs.

What about defined rates of poverty? Per our friends at the BBC referenced above, the US defined rate of poverty is currently 12.7% of the population. Horrifying. According to Eurostat the EU-15 defined rate of poverty was 16% of the population in 2001. To be overlooked.

In quantifiable terms, a look at the officially poor in the US (feel free to make your own comparisons):

A look at just the US poor in micro. Again, creature comforts are not a sign of wealth or poverty, but home ownership? automobiles? satellite tv?!

Finally, a look at living space comparisons between our US and EU friends. A sign of wealth/poverty, no. Yet another clue, yes.


Proof of anything, nope. Will the MSM recognize any of the above as clues that the vast majority of people in the US are not “dead, dying, and poor”? Doubtful...

Please be sure not to read this post as a “US is better than the EU post”. The facts are what they are. 7 is still 7. This post is designed to wonder out loud why the MSM perpetuates the template they do when it comes to life in the US.

Just a few things to remember when you hear about those poor, pitiful Americans. It is not healthcare, wealth, or material things which make the US such a terrible place for it’s citizenry. Perhaps it is all a load of rubbish. Always check for yourself. However, any suggestions as to what makes the US so “poor” in the eyes of the MSM are welcome.

October 15, 2005 WASHINGTON

October 15, 2005

WASHINGTON -- More than 48 million Americans who receive Social Security benefits will get a 4.1% increase in their monthly checks next year, the largest increase in more than a decade, the Social Security Administration announced Friday.

The average Social Security benefit recipient will see his or her monthly check increase from $963 to $1,002 starting in January.

So, here comes the proud average German worker Social Security recipient with a whopping monthly 598 Euro (approx. $720) in 2004 (in the states of former West Germany). For former employees, the average monthly rent is 812 Euro (approx. $980). Depending on how you combine the two amounts, the average monthly Social Security benefit in Germany is somewhere between 700 and 750 Euro ($840 and $900) (Source).