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Douglas Moran

Douglas Moran
Austin, Texas,
June 25
Low-level Technical Weenie
TechnoGypsy, family dude, technical writer, frisbee golfer, movie buff, political junkie, gadget fiend, computer nerd.


AUGUST 18, 2011 2:35PM

Republicans Still Can't Do Math: "Redistribution of Wealth"

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Image courtesy of Math Help web site 

It has always driven me a bit whacky how few people can do pretty simple math, but Republicans are amazing at taking their ignorance and lack to a whole new level and then exporting the stupid conclusions based thereon to the world at large.  (A significant portion of which believes them, because they don't do math, either.

Today's example is on "the redistribution of wealth", from (naturally) Fox News.  Oliver Darcy, a "California college student", took "a poll" of his fellow students to find out who, if anyone, would be willing to "redistribute" their good grades to other students who got poorer grades.  Naturally, to the vast glee of the Fox News anchors, no one wanted to do that.  Equally naturally, the Fox News anchors didn't bother to question this "student's" methodology.  Or his math.

(I would ask Mr. Darcy, in passing, what's more impressive:  a student whose parents pay for everything and maintains a B average, or a student who works full time and lives in a crap shared apartment because he's having to put himself through school, and maintains a B average?  What if the second student is a single mom with two kids, desparately trying to better her situation?  Don't you think maybe her B average should count for more?  What's that, Mr. Darcy?  I'm sorry, don't you have anything to say?) 

You want to make this more like the job market, Mr. Darcy?  First of all, you need to make sure that some students--particularly white students, especially white male students born in particular parts of the country--get more grades per class than, say, a hispanic kid whose parents are from the Central Valley and who is going to school on a scholarship.  When Pariz Hillton takes bonehead English, she gets 200 Bs; when Juan Guzman does, he only gets one A for his efforts.  Don't you think it might be more fair if Ms. Hillton's grades were more fairly distributed?

Even worse, Ms. Hillton, because her daddy and grand-daddy when to the University of California, inherited a large number of A's.  In fact, she actually started school with more than enough A's to graduate--she has enough A's to graduate thousands of times over, in fact.  It's just that the University has this tiresome residency and attendance requirement, so she actually has to attend classes.  Isn't that unfair for poor Ms. Hillton?  She has all those A's already; why can't they just award her a degree for that?  How unfair!

Mr. Guzman, on the other hand, will almost certainly not earn enough grades even after 4 years to graduate with as many as Ms. Hillton was given simply by the fact she was born to someone with a lot of them in the grade bank.  Tough luck, Guzman; you have to "earn" it like Ms. Hillton did! 

Darcy also forgot to allow for things like race, and gender.  If it were more like the real world, women and minorities would get lower grades . . . simply because they are women, and minorities.  Is that fair, Mr. Darcy?  Do you think a woman should get a lower grade simply because she's a woman?  Do you  think Mr. Guzman should have to work two classes to earn a single grade, simply because he's the child of an illegal immigrant?  You don't?  But that's what happens in "the real world" all the time, Mr. Darcy; didn't you know that? 

Finally, the math.  You have probably heard by now that 400 individuals in this control have more wealth than the "bottom 50%".  What does that mean, really?  It means that the number of folks that can fit in a middling-sized lecture hall have more money than 160,000,000 of our fellow citizens, total.  How would that translate into grades at a University?

Well, 400 out of 310,000,000 is .000129% of the population.  The University of California undergraduate program contains 159,000 students.  Let's say that they pull, I dunno, 10 grades a year (2 semesters of 5 classes per semester), giving you a total of 1,590,000 grades to "distribute" among those 159,000 students.  If the UC system worked like America as a whole does now, what would happen?

Well,   2 students  would get as many grades between them as the "bottom" 79,500 students.  Those "top" two students would, between them, get tens of thousands of A's, B's, and C's, to do with whatever they wanted.  They "bottom" 79,500 students would actually receive less than the 10 grades they deserved, maybe as few as one or two, and the folks in the middle would get maybe 8 or 9.

So to turn it around, Mr. Darcy: let's say you took 10 classes last year, but they only awarded you grades for, I dunno, five of them, and the rest of those class grades went to someone else.  How would you feel about that?  Would that please you?  Would you feel that it was "punishing success" to want those two students to share some of those thousands of grades that they technically "earned", but have no possible need for?  Or how about the students that "inherited" grades from their parents and grandparents without taking any classes whatsoever; do you think they need to "spread the wealth" of all those grades that they never earned by their own work, or would you say that distributing those students' grades to the other students was "unwarranted interference in the free market" and "punishing success"?

What's that?  Speak up, Mr. Darcy; you seem to be mumbling. 

And finally, how do you feel about those two people at "the top" actually paying less tuition than you?  Does that please you?  Do you think they should pay the same tuition as anyone else, or would that be unfair because they are the "grade producers", and your argument is that, eventually, their grades will "trickle down" to everyone else?  

So anyway, I don't know what Mr. Darcy got his degree in, but I'm betting it wasn't math. 

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Lately Republicans and their followers--like this idiot college student with his bone-headed "survey"--remind me of something Heinlein wrote:Most people can't think, most of the remainder won't think, the small fraction who do think mostly can't do it very well. To me, this describes the Republican party today; most of them can't think, most of the remainder won't think, and the small fraction of them that do think mostly can't do it very well, seemingly.

I wish I didn't believe it, but given the level of discourse you see on the right these days, it's awfully hard not to.
Well at least Juan Guzman made a few mill when he pitched for the Blue Jays.

But that non-news phony survey is pretty typical of Fox news.
I'm bad at math too...thanks for writing this in such a clear way...unfortunately, your typical Fox viewer won't be reading it, they get all of their opinions from sound bites.
I give you....an A!!! Thanks for doing the math!! Excellent post!