Assorted links

by on June 30, 2011 at 6:25 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

1 Ape Man June 30, 2011 at 6:45 am

Anyone who would compare the US to Germany just reveals their lack of understanding. Its like comparing Germany to New York City. The lack of equivalent scale renders the comparison invalid. It would be more valid to compare New England or Texas to Germany. Or any particular region in the US that is roughly comparable in size.

I just don’t think it is valid to say that people living in Montana suffer from a much greater class divided then people in Germany because people in New York City make so much more money then people in Montana do.

The bottom line is that I would rather live in some places in Germany than some places in the US. But I would rather live in my particular part of the US than Germany as whole.

2 Curt F June 30, 2011 at 7:16 am

#7. Why do articles like that always assume the reader is perfectly average? Would *I* really have a 13% higher chance of being unemployed in Germany? I doubt it. I suspect my electricity use is significantly different than the US average, too. Would my within-country percentile rank of electricity use stay the same if I moved to Germany? Doubt it. This is an article that has no respect for its readers.

3 k June 30, 2011 at 8:06 am

It is meant to be an average response

It will be impossible to calculate your exact place in the distribution

An average of course will be problematic if the distribution is skewed widely

4 ad*m June 30, 2011 at 9:51 pm

Yes. I lived in both. If you want to live, there is no comparison.

5 BenC June 30, 2011 at 7:46 am

#2 is quite vague on the motivation behind the boycott, which is primarily a protest against price-fixing by the major dairy firms.

This is very clear from this morning’s news that the prices have been lowered:

6 Right Wing-nut June 30, 2011 at 12:08 pm

I’ve noticed this story in the Israeli press. The piece Tyler referenced is trash. The issue is state-sanctioned price fixing. (Think: New England Milk Compact) The response is a boycott.

7 TallDave June 30, 2011 at 8:46 am

A thought puzzle for today: in a nuclear war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, how many of the missiles would land in Israel?

8 J Thomas June 30, 2011 at 9:38 am

All of them?

Seriously, a nuclear war between SA and Iran is stupid. Nuclear war between anybody and anybody else is stupid. It just does not make sense.

Israel has gone to great lengths to make people believe they have nuclear weapons. Like, they have this guy Vanunu who is supposed to have worked on the Israeli nuclear weapons program. He occasionally publishes information about the Israeli nuclear program and then drops out of sight into solitary confinement or something. He makes it seem like Israel really does have a nuclear weapons program. But would they really be that stupid? Spending billions of dollars to make nukes that can never make them the least bit safe? Far easier and cheaper to not do it and pretend they did.

9 albert magnus June 30, 2011 at 12:35 pm

There are many Israeli fingerprints on the South African nuclear program. Most experts believe it’s a certainty they have weapons.

10 J Thomas June 30, 2011 at 1:53 pm

Albert, sure, Israel was involved with the South African nuclear program. But consider — Israel was thought to already have dozens to hundreds of nukes in 1973, before the SA program was really started. SA eventually produced six or so uranium bombs, and Israelis would not have made dozens of gun-type bombs — for what that cost, they could make a reactor that would crank out thousands of plutonium bombs. Israel did not share (much of) their expertise with south africa, which had to recreate the technology from scratch. So this is not firm evidence that Israel actually had nuclear technology before the south africans shared primitive techniques with them.

All the physical evidence — what there is of it — points to Israel having nukes early. Opposed to that, there is my belief that they would not be so stupid. Would Israel waste so much of the aid the USA gave them to build an expensive nuclear program, to make nukes which they have not used yet and will never use?

Well, maybe.

11 ernie July 1, 2011 at 1:23 am

The Allies only used X bullets in WW2, but they produced Y (and Y is much greater than X). You seem to be arguing that if they had known the number X before the war started, they should have only produced X bullets and used the rest of the resources to produce more useful goods.

Yet that is clearly wrong – if they had done that the Axis would have known they were nearly out of bullets and would have just had to keep on fighting one more day.

12 J Thomas July 1, 2011 at 4:44 am

Ernie, I have the impression that you intended what you said to have some sort of relationship to what I said. But I have completely missed the connection.

13 Ryan Kee June 30, 2011 at 9:18 am

In reference to No. 4, I was actually not surprised that the majority of same-sex families tended to be in the more ‘red’ states and ‘conservative’ areas. It is in these communities were such families and individuals are more likely to group together due to the general beliefs and cultural expectations of those areas.

In other areas, such families do not to rely as much upon being surrounded by similar families in order to experience community and feel more safe.

Although, my theory goes out the window if the mentioned study takes into account population numbers and such things perhaps…

14 IVV June 30, 2011 at 9:21 am

7. This is a question I ask myself regularly. I’m an American citizen and my wife is a German citizen, so we’ve regularly wondered if we should move to Germany or stay in America. Sometimes, I’ll admit, it’s close. Germany is more relaxed and walkable. Health care feels very different. But ultimately, we stuck to the USA. It’s easier for an educated person to switch jobs if desired in America (although we continue to watch this–I could imagine it flipping). Markets are more vibrant, and if there’s one thing America does well, it’s giving you services and making it easy to pay for them.

Of course, there’s also the question of where you want to live–we could buy ourselves a lovely Jugendstil villa in a picturesque village… but we wouldn’t have better access to culture. Land and property is cheap in, say, rural Saxony–but that’s because the population is leaving for the cities in droves. Valuations will continue to plummet, and there aren’t any jobs to be had in those areas. Go to Dresden, and you’ve got it all, but you’ll pay through the nose for it, too. Really, that’s no different from the way things are in America–it’s just on the whole warmer here.

We’ve settled in Northern NJ, about a half-hour away from NYC by train. It’s the best balance we’ve been able to find for ourselves–although we might still try to find a way to retire to Scotland.

Germany’s a wonderful place. If you’ve got the chance to live anywhere in the world, Germany is a great choice. But we’ve been able to get just a bit more in America, and we’re happy. It’s not worth the cost of moving to us, now.

15 Andrew' June 30, 2011 at 9:47 am

Knowing “I” use more oil or electricity is not nearly as helpful as knowing how “I” use it.

As for working more, there is ‘having’ to work more versus ‘getting’ to work more. We have both in the US. Which is it for you?

16 IVV June 30, 2011 at 3:22 pm

Not sure what you mean. We still rely on wages for our income, so you could say it’s more “having” to work. In neither Germany nor the USA could we rely on the safety net to give us the minimum we are looking for ourselves (or that our employment can supply), so we focus on what work we can find, wherever we are.

17 dearieme June 30, 2011 at 2:12 pm

“we might still try to find a way to retire to Scotland”: then let me recommend North Berwick. It’s got a dry climate, you can buy a house on the beach that’s a short stroll from the railway station, and the train gets you into central Edinburgh in about half an hour. When an aunt of mine was young she would swim out to the small island of Craigleith, which was awash with puffins. From the top of Berwick Law, the town’s hill, on a clear day you can make out Ben Lomond far to the west – that is to say, you can see right across the narrow waist of Scotland. What more could you possibly want?

18 Chris June 30, 2011 at 9:25 am

Regarding #4, undiscussed is mobility. Young gays (and others) go to places like NYC and SF when they are single, looking for fun, urban times and don’t care very much that they live in tiny, expensive shared apartments. Once they mature, find partners and want to raise families, they move to places more conducive to having children – lower cost per sq ft, easier car travel, better public schools – as well as closer to their extended families.

19 ChE June 30, 2011 at 10:28 am

I agree, although this is true of many people, not just gays. It was certainly true for me.

20 Jay June 30, 2011 at 11:01 am

Agreed. I would wager a bet that if you ran a probit regression with % of same sex couples raising kids as the dependent variable, and a Repub/Dem binary variable and cost of living as independent variables the Repub/Dem variable will have a coefficient indistinguishable from 0.

21 Maximilian June 30, 2011 at 9:37 am

#7 TGS: Tyler’s Germany Superobsession. Salute from Berlin.

22 tom June 30, 2011 at 9:50 am

Ha, Sachs picked his own book!

Is he the only one ever to do that?

When I am famous and they ask me who has had the greatest influence on me, I am now planning to say I have have the greatest influence on myself. Now that Sachs has opened the door, why should any of us great ones pretend?

23 Linda Seebach June 30, 2011 at 9:59 am

“Recommended reading” and it has “five* books by Howard Zinn? Do you need to know anything else about these people and their worldview?

24 SeanLM June 30, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Uh, did you follow the same link I did? He recommends exactly zero books by Howard Zinn.

25 Cliff June 30, 2011 at 10:08 am

#7: No

26 FYI June 30, 2011 at 11:40 am

Are you currently living in Germany? If not, why?

27 Cliff June 30, 2011 at 3:31 pm

Huh? You realize the link favorably compared Germany to the U.S. and I am saying it is B.S.?

28 Cliff June 30, 2011 at 3:33 pm

Oops, okay so the “Yes” was supposed to answer the question at the bottom of the page? I thought it was affirming the message of the website. My bad!

29 Jens Fiederer June 30, 2011 at 10:44 am

I think you gain a bit of perspective on the comparison by comparing the USA to North Korea.

The comparison makes it look like a pretty even choice – three greens, three reds, and one blue. Oh, on the downside you’d be 8 times more likely to die in infancy, make 96% less money, and die 14 years sooner…but LOOK! You’d consume 99% less oil, 94% less electricity, and spend essentially NOTHING on health care! Are they taking applications for a North Korean version of a green card?

They are essentially mixing markers for standard of living with markers for eco-friendliness that correlate inversely with standard of living. Low spending on health care is not really a good thing.

30 JasonL June 30, 2011 at 11:19 am

Oops. Missed this comment. This is the point I was trying to make with Algeria, but better.

31 Ostap June 30, 2011 at 11:52 am

Put me down as a heartless creep, but in my mind consuming more electricity is a feature and not a bug.

32 Justin Bassett June 30, 2011 at 12:23 pm

If anything it’s indicitive of low electricity prices relative to income

33 IVV June 30, 2011 at 3:48 pm

For me, part of the question is energy -> utility/”usefulness” efficiency. If I can get the same life value per kWh in both places, then consuming more energy is a net benefit. It’s only if I’m consuming more because I’m wasting more that it ever really matters.

I suppose there’s a diminishing-returns nature to energy consumption which would mean that there’s a point where negative externalities > personal utility at some level of energy consumption, and that reducing to that point would be of value. But politically, nobody wants anybody to know that number.

34 JasonL June 30, 2011 at 10:49 am

7: Worth noting – run the comparison for somewhere like US vs Algeria. Look at all the ways Algeria is better!

35 John June 30, 2011 at 11:00 am

The gay family stats are probably just a proxy for family period stats.

36 Goodstats badstats June 30, 2011 at 8:26 pm

Exactly. Families of any orientation find it very difficult to afford to live in San Francisco.

37 dirk June 30, 2011 at 11:17 am

4. Doesn’t surprise me how many gay families are in Texas. Despite its reputation, it’s probably the most socially tolerant state in the country these days.

38 thehova June 30, 2011 at 11:28 am

I love Germany. But from my visits, I’d imagine it would be difficult for someone like me to fully assimilate into society.

I think that’s part of the genius of the US. Yes, there is sort of an anti-immigrant sentiment sweeping the country. Regardless, the country is still incredibly open to outsiders. If your willing to work hard, most people in the US are willing to fully accept you and even celebrate you. Europe has more difficulties living up to that ideal.

39 Miguel Madeira June 30, 2011 at 11:35 am

4 – I don’t understand what is supposed to be the denominator in these percentages. The 33,9% in San Antonio means what? That, in 1000 gay couples in San antonio, 339 are raising children? That, in 1000 couples rainsing children, 339 are gay? Than, in 1000 couples, 339 are gay and raising children? What? I suspect that is the first case, but it is not much clear.

40 FYI June 30, 2011 at 11:50 am

#7 is the kind of thing that means very little to me. Oil and electricity consumption has to be related to industry – I doubt our houses and cars and that much more inneficient 9funny how they don’t list the size of your house as a parameter for comparison). In that case, how much oif this extra use of energy translates into better products and lower prices? That is the real trade off. Class divide? The percente of people living in poverty on both countries is very similar to I have no idea what this is supposed to mean.

I visited Germany and loved it. I would have no problem living there. But I suspect that the real reasons people choose to live in one place or another are not the ones listed. it is more about quality of life which is pretty hard to define. There is also the language barrier which might sound secondary but it is pretty hiuge – people learn English all over the world.

41 mjw149 July 1, 2011 at 8:54 am

Oh, sure but the comparison highlights the difference in real outcomes for different government styles. US makes 36% more money, but works 33% more hours, and spends nearly twice as much on health care. And that’s kind of cultural, too, right? Americans want to make more money regardless of the costs.

42 Jim June 30, 2011 at 11:51 am

It would be hilarious if you clicked on “No” and it said:

“Well, tough shit. You have no chance of legally emigrating to Germany, much less learning that useless language, assimilating and finding a job that pays what the average German makes. Just walk into the USA like everyone else.”

43 Yergit_Abrav June 30, 2011 at 12:21 pm

Is it just me or is there a striking parallel between North Korea’s move to shut universities and putting students to work in manufacturing / construction, and leftisms obsession with raw job count in manufacturing and building infrastructure rather than productivity enhancement?

44 CBBB June 30, 2011 at 5:02 pm

I don’t think anyone is OBSESSED with raw job count in manufacturing, people are concerned of a lack of options in terms of good jobs for a huge swath of the population. It just so happens that manufacturing provided those jobs in past and nothing has replaced it. Hell there aren’t even enough good jobs to go around for university graduates in the US.

45 Nick June 30, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Is Kim Jong Il trying to signal that North Korea is experiencing a shortage of unskilled labor? And if there’s a shortage of what he’s trying to perceive as the “more productive workers”, why have this untapped resource wasting time in those useless schools?

Doubt many would click “yes” if they compared North Korea to…anywhere.

46 Cahal June 30, 2011 at 1:32 pm


33% more hours
36% more income
67% more inequality

So really, the average (median) U.S. household earns a lot less per hour than Germany. I think Ha-Joon Chang calculated that the U.S. is 8th in the world if you adjust for hours and much lower if for inequality.

Although taxes are much lower to be fair.

47 TheUnrepentantGunner June 30, 2011 at 2:16 pm

the greece comparison is funny. it makes it seem comparable to the US, but their massive riots from impending default are coming much sooner than ours!!!*

*note: i dont know if we’ll actually have riots and defaults, but i thought i’d attempt humor.

48 David Mershon June 30, 2011 at 2:43 pm

7. Based on the statistics provided, I would choose the United States over Germany on the fertility rate alone. Demographic change is a serious threat to societies with intergenerational financial obligations like pension systems and state funded health care. The site seems to view this as a neutral quality but it is not.

49 Taimyoboi June 30, 2011 at 4:17 pm

Does it concern anyone that almost all of the “additional reading” materials about the United States in #7 are authored by Howard Zinn?

50 TallDave June 30, 2011 at 6:36 pm

Thanks for another interesting list.

51 Borealis July 1, 2011 at 10:23 pm

I don’t see why the gay child rearing couple statistics are surprising. Almost no one with kids lives in SF, gay or straight.

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