Unexamined Assumption: Poverty and voting

This is a double whammy, a left meme and a right meme that are mirror images of each other and are equally misleading:

The unexamined assumption, from both sides, is that voting fixed poverty. Last time I checked, it was illegal to pay people to vote a particular way (subsection c in this link). There could be an indirect connection between voting and poverty alleviation, but as the twin memes show, it doesn’t work. Deep blue and deep red areas can both be very poor.

Maybe government isn’t the solution to poverty?


Bad Statistics: Median Wealth and Inequality

Several issues:

  1. Median measurements aren’t very sensitive to inequality. Whether Warren Buffet has a billion dollars or ten doesn’t affect the median. He still balances exactly one person lower than the median.
  2. The figure here is wealth, not income. When it comes to income, the US is actually #6. The reason Americans don’t accumulate as much wealth is that our houses are considerably cheaper, probably because many states have looser zoning rules than a lot of the rest of the world. My six bedroom, two stories house in Texas is much cheaper than my mother’s three bedroom apartment in Israel. Does it mean I have less wealth, or does it mean I spend more of my income because I don’t need to spend nearly as much on housing?

h/t Diana Povero

Unexamined Assumptions: Blacks in the Confederate Army

There are two assumptions in this meme:

  1. The black confederates were a representative sample, rather than a tiny minority.
  2. The black confederates wanted to serve under confederate colors. Legally speaking, the confederacy drafted whites. However, given the prevailing attitudes towards black people at the time, forcing blacks to do any kind of work necessary for the war effort, fighting included, would have been natural for the confederacy. If you can draft whites, a-fortiori you can draft people who don’t have full rights.

h/t Marchele

Unexamined Assumption: Knives are for Fighting

In fact, 7 out of 10 young people who end up in A&E with a knife injury have been stabbed with their own knife. Carrying a blade actually puts you at risk.”

The statistic seems to be from here. The suspicious part is that it doesn’t seem to break down A&E (that’s British for Emergency Room) between accidents and fights. Of course, most people how have accidents while cooking are going to have them with their own knives, especially if they are teenagers and are likely to cook at home, but not to work in a restaurant.

Unexamined Assumption: Wars are Manufactured

Technically speaking, I fully agree with this meme. I also don’t want my tax money to go for manufactured wars, which presumably means wars in which the US is only involved because of domestic(1) financial and political reasons.

However, this assumes that the wars in which the US is involved are manufactured.  That there wasn’t a reason to go into Afghanistan after 9/11, that there was no valid reason to invade Iraq, etc. This may be true, but it is not inarguably true. And if the underlying assumption falls, then maybe there is a valid reason to maintain the military, despite the cost.

(1) If “manufactured war” means a war that is initiated by humans, then by definition all wars are manufactured. Therefore, I do not think that is what the meme author meant.

Unexamined Assumption: Did You Know What They’ll Do With It?

I’m pretty sure the answer is “it depends”. Specifically, it depends on whether the vendor knows the intended use of the item. If you know or have reason to suspect that a person is going to commit a murder, then selling them a gun makes you an accessory before the fact to the murder.

Similarly, if Chester Christen Baker bakes a heterosexual wedding cake, and then somebody switches the bride figurine to a groom figurine, he hasn’t violated his conscience. But if he is asked to decorate a cake and put two groom figurines on it then it is possible that it would violate his conscience.

Unexamined Assumption: Do Motives Matter?

So Israeli Jews, who do not accept the New Testament as scripture(1), should be concerned about what Revelation says. Because allies who help people in the real world, here and now, for their own reasons, aren’t really allies? Or because they think that while Jews don’t accept the New Testament God does?

(1) If they did they’d be Christians