This television tirade would be of no matter had it stayed in the dystopic universe that is Hollywood, but alas, the [I]nternet has pushed the statement across borders and time. The temptation to go line by line and deconstruct this outburst will be resisted, and would do little but add credence to the inanity. It is, naturally, what is not said that is more important, more enlightening, and more reasonable. (U.S. News & World Report)
A thorough slap down and rebuttal to Jeff Daniels’ viral anti-America Newsroom scene, in which he claims that America is not the greatest country in the world. Here are a few examples of the “bait-n-switch” associated with the Newsroom rant:
TWO QUICK EXAMPLES
“Seventh in literacy”
The CIA’s World Factbook has literacy estimates for the nations of the world. Wikipedia presents those statistics in a form that allows for easy interpretation. The literacy estimates actually put the U.S. back in the pack numerically, but taking ties into account allows for putting the U.S. at No. 7. The nations in the top 40 are all pretty close, well above 95 percent literate. Andorra, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg all report 100 percent literacy.
In other words, we are statistically tied for the front spot. Here is another great example:
We are, as a country, leading the way in science for the world. Now, I agree that public schools are part of the problem, as the stat used for the Newsroom rant suggests. And just as a note, many “independent” schools that are in the top percentile are not “religious” strictly, but are the fruition of religious people in the community following a classical educational (Trivium) philosophy from the Middle-Ages via the Catholic Church. So, for instance, Trinity Classical Academy in our valley is following a Trivium model founded by religious people… but the school would not be considered “religious” like a baptist school.
But when these independent or even “Baptist” students take their SATs, they do well abover the public school child, often times with less money spent per pupil. In fact, a direct correlation can be made since the founding of the Dept of Education… and it is as more money is spent on education in the public arena, the worse the outcome. Again, to be clear, money is not the issue. ANother myth is that we spend more on the military than education… also not true. It is philosophy.
The right approach
Statistically judging the greatest nation ought to involve looking for a nation that ranks consistently high in favorable categories and consistently low in unfavorable categories, with each category weighted as to relative importance. Important categories might include the size of the economy, worker productivity, quality of the education system, contributions to scientific research, charitable contributions, economic freedom and median income.
The U.S. ranks highly in each of those categories, even ones mentioned by McAvoy. And the U.S. ranks No. 1 in another category that speaks to the U.S. standing among the nations: net migration. More people come to the U.S. than to any other country.
We won’t seek to make the case that the U.S. is the greatest nation in the world. But McAvoy said, among other things, that no evidence supports the claim that the U.S. is the greatest nation in the world. To the contrary, the U.S. consistently ranks high in desirable national statistics and consistently low in undesirable ones. One can easily make a reasonable case for ranking the United States No. 1.
Assertion #2: “We lead the world in only three categories. Number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of adults to believe angels are real, and defense spending.”
False. The U.S. leads the world in a number of categories. Here are a few:
GDP. The U.S. has the largest economy in the world.
Military capability. As McAvoy points out, the U.S. spends a lot of money on its military. What he fails to mention is that those dollars haven’t been completed wasted, and that the country does possess considerable military might. One can easily argue that this isn’t a measure of a nation’s greatness (it’s obviously not on Zack’s list of criteria) but this isn’t what McAvoy is claiming. He’s asserting that the U.S. is only number one in those categories he lists. Now, if Sorkin wanted us to look upon McAvoy as a moron, it would be fine for the character to make a claim that’s so obviously false, but this doesn’t seem to be the intent.
Nobel laureates. The U.S. has the greatest number of Nobel laureates by far (350). Only a few countries mage to break the 100 mark.
Number of patents. At nearly 160,000, the U.S. leads the pack. It has almost as many patents as the #2 and #3 countries (Japan and Germany) put together.
Number of immigrants. At 46 million, the U.S. has almost four times as many foreign-born citizens as the next country on the list (Russia).
Number of Olympic medals. The U.S. has twice as many (about 2700) as the runner-up (Russia).
Foreign aid donations. The U.S. gives $24 billion, almost twice as much as the runner-up (the UK).
Assertion #4: We No Longer Explore the Universe
This part of McAvoy’s rant is perhaps the most nonsensical. The character seems to hearkening to the day when millions of Americans spent the evening glued to their TV sets, watching U.S. astronauts set foot on terrain never before traversed by humankind. While it’s true that those days are gone—for the time being, anyway—the country continues to explore the universe as aggressively as ever. A few examples:
Mars. Of the nine successful Mars missions this century, seven were launched by the U.S. Several are ongoing.
The Solar System. The NEAR spacecraft explored the asteroid Eros. The Cassini-Huygens mission has performed over one hundred flybys of Saturn and Titan, returning specular photos and massive amounts of data.
The Universe. The James Webb Space Telescope, Hubble’s successor, will be able to observe the formation of the first galaxies.
The fact that the general public knows little of these accomplishments makes them no less remarkable, and the notion of McAvoy being ignorant of them—given the manner in which the character is otherwise portrayed—simply makes no sense.
I partly agree with this one in the sense that our current administration has changed the philosophy of NASA:
…One of the more notorious of the administration’s outreach attempts was the failed NASA-Muslim outreach initiative. In July of 2010, NASA chief Charles Bolden said in an interview with Al-Jazeera,
“When I became the NASA administrator, (President Obama) charged me with three things. One, he wanted me to help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math; he wanted me to expand our international relationships; and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math and engineering.”
Former NASA chief Michael Griffin, who headed the space agency during George W. Bush’s second term, called the Muslim outreach initiative a “perversion” of the mission of NASA:
“NASA was chartered by the 1958 Space Act to develop the arts and sciences of flight in the atmosphere and in space and to go where those technologies will allow us to go,” Griffin said. “That’s what NASA does for the country. It is a perversion of NASA’s purpose to conduct activities in order to make the Muslim world feel good about its contributions to science and mathematics.”…
And really this circles back around to public education as well. Since the teachers unions and the Dept. of Education are increasingly worried about aspects of education that have more to do with art and social engineering rather than reading, writing, math, science, of course they will fall from scholastic grace.
STATS IN MOVIE SICKO
This is nothing new mind you… this “bait-n-switch.” For instance in Michael Moore’s Sicko he talked up Cuba’s infant mortality rate as better than most countries in the world and attributed that [laughably] to their great health care. But here we notice some number fudging:
…Although Cuba claims to have low infant mortality rates, doctors have said the data is misleading because when there might be indications of problems with the fetus, there is a widespread practice of forced abortions.
Julio Alfonso said, “We personally used to do 70 to 80 abortions a day.” Yanet Sanchez, a Cuban exile, said she was simply told to submit to an abortion. “They told me I should end the pregnancy,” said Sanchez. “It was my very first pregnancy. I wanted to have the child.”
Other doctors have said that if a child dies a few hours after birth, they don’t count it as ever having lived, which ultimately makes infant mortality in Cuba look better than that of the United States…
This small statement by Restoring Liberty on the poverty example from the Newsroom rant is another example of how the “War-on-Poverty” is a sort of “War-on-the-Poor,” like the minimum wage is:
…“War on Poor People,” that’s what we have? If so, blame the class warfare and welfare state created by those that Sorkin supports and adores as heroes on the left. You want to start a “War on Poverty,” then deregulate, and reduce the tax burden on those doing the work and those starting the businesses that employ people. Make a competitive environment for business, instead of casting them as the enemy, and you will have jobs and prosperity, and sense of self worth instilled in your citizenry.
You don’t “fight” poverty anyway, you increase prosperity…
Yep, that is a distinction leftist Democrats do not get:
(Above video) Larry Elder gets the Lo-Down of where we stand after we spent 22-trilion on fighting poverty from Robert Rector, a leading authority on poverty, welfare programs and immigration in America for three decades, is The Heritage Foundation’s senior research fellow in domestic policy. See his article on this.
I will end with another example of how gender equality at the World Economic Forum is misused to make a political point rather than a factual point:
The “Global Index of Peace” works in similar fashion to the Global Gender Gap Study sponsored by the World Economic Forum. Professor, scholar, and feminist, Christina Hoff Sommers explains where such endeavors go wrong:
We can see that the idea that women are payed less than men (.76-cents for every man’s dollar) is a false stat misused by the like of Hollywood AND Democrats.