Comparison based on the Labor Theory of Value

If the employer is really not providing value, why does John Smith not work for himself and get the $10,000? If he can’t, then maybe the employer is providing something, such as raw materials, intellectual property, capital, or trust (customers, suppliers, and investors trusting the employer more than John Smith, and therefore being more willing to do business).

The analogy to government is there, somewhat. If you don’t like the government taking some of your stuff and providing services you don’t want, why don’t you go and start your own country? Usually, the problem is that you need some government services, such as armed forces, that are very expensive to provide on your own. You can buy a ship, you can build an artificial island, but can you defend them from a truly hostile takeover?

The place where it all breaks down is that in most advanced countries opening a business is relatively easy, so if one stays an employee there are probably valid reasons. Startup countries, OTOH, are extremely difficult.

h/t @David Burkhead


Evil Wal-Mart and Good Target

This produces the impression of an evil plot by Wal-Mart to turn an employee benefit into a profit center. But when Target and Trader Joe made a similar decision, it was considered a boon to workers ( ), because they can only get government subsidies if they don’t get employer-provided insurance.

h/t Lloyd A Behm II

Misleading Comparison

The comparison is invalid for several reasons:

  1. The pictures were probably selected to show the worst of Detroit vs. the best of Israel. The area of Israel shown, North Tel Aviv, is probably the richest. It is a primarily residential and commercial area, as opposed to the industrial area shown in Detroit.
  2. US Aid to Israel is overwhelmingly (> 99%) military aid – . This aid is in the form of coupons to be spent on US military equipment. So partially this is a way to funnel money to US defense contractors and prevent a potential competitor from arising. The true market cost of these goods is probably lower than 3 billion if Israel wasn’t limited to specific providers.
  3. The US government did provide money to companies based in Detroit ( It just didn’t help the city for some reason.

h/t Joseph Capdepon II.

Note: You can make a good case that Israel is a grownup country and should pay for its own defense (which is mostly does by a 6:1 margin, ). But that is a different matter than comparing it to Detroit.

Is this a Misleading Comparison?

Melissa McDowell thinks it is, because the meme implies that there’s nothing you can do about life expectancy.

I think there isn’t, that the meme just means a unpolluted water and air aren’t as good at creating longevity as a modern economy with modern technology, even though that means modern pollution levels.

What do you think?


1. I misrepresented Melissa McDowell’s position in the first version of this post, I apologize.

2. Dawn Geisler brought up the point that the life expectancy was 35, but a lot of it was due to infant mortality.

Invalid comparison and Conclusion that does not follow

I see two issues with this meme: 1. Is the comparison valid? Several reasons why it may not be:

A. Is this comparing averages, or best available vs. average? If the meme had used

For China and

for the US, the comparison would have gone the other way.

B. Are trains of equal importance? If the US has more of other forms of transportation, such as airplanes, trains might be less important in the US and therefore should receive less investment.

2. “Lets spend more money on wars” assumes that the war spending is discretionary. The money we spend on the military is supposed to be to avoid potential disasters. This is a hidden assumption, which makes sense in a meme – but it isn’t a foregone conclusion.

h/t Ruth Johnston