Critique of the “Mindblowing Fact” video on income inequality

The video in question  is quite “mind-blowing” as promised, indeed, at over 13 million hits, it can even be called “viral”, but there are problems in how it presents and handles facts and references. While I don’t have a problem with the facts, and I am quite certain they are based on serious numbers, the presentation was too slick, with style clearly triumphing over detail.

The speaker begins by saying he was disturbed by a Harvard study that said that the actual distribution of wealth, what Americans think that distribution is, and the distribution of wealth idealized by Americans is totally out of whack. Americans are aware of existing inequalities, but have not the slightest idea of the extent of those inequalities. While he cites the Harvard study in his presentation, his only printed citation in his list of references at the end was the Mother Jones website, which, if you scroll down, you will find the “source”. In effect, the speaker, whom I didn’t catch the name of, is in effect citing Mother Jones citing the study by Professor Norton of Harvard Business School. I am aware of “Worstall’s Fallacy”, touted most of all by Forbes commentator Tim Worstall himself (Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute, and self-described as a “world expert on Scandium”, a transition metal), that “income” and “wealth” are different ideas that seem similar, and that the speaker in this video was committing “Worstall’s Fallacy” by confusing the two. I am never told quite where the speaker in the video does this. But then I thought that even if you corrected for that in the video, it would not change the overall message, just dull it a little bit.

But an even more worrisome statement in the video was at around 2:24 or so, where he derides socialism. Why does he feel he has to separate himself from socialists? Socialism should not be considered a dirty word. The distribution he labels “socialism” is actually Communism. You can only have absolutely equal wealth distributions (as in Communism) in a command economy where you have “no freedom to choose your major”, as Abbie Hoffman once said about Maoist China in the late ’60s (why else other than in an unfree society would you study medicine if you were only going to make as much as a janitor?). And the “ideal” American distribution cited as supportable by 9/10 Americans (where rich and poor coexist) would only be possible through wealth redistribution. I think the word for that second option begins with “S” and ends with “m” and rhymes with “populism”, and exists to some extent in most advanced capitalist democracies around the world. In fact, capitalist democracies are the only places I think that socialism is possible.

A choice joke I heard making the rounds is the one about a Union worker, a Tea Party supporter, and a millionaire Industrialist in the same room where there is a plate with a dozen cookies. The Industrialist takes 11 of them, and whispers to the Tea Party supporter: “That Union guy is trying to steal your cookie!”

[Video] The Politics of Dancing I: The Hambone

This video gallery started as a tribute to those talented enough with rhythm to do The Hambone properly. To see most of the performances on YouTube, it would have appeared to be a pasttime of redneck white Southerners, but this is so far from the case, that I have to conclude that everyone is into it.

In the American South, it’s called The Hambone; in the North, it’s called The Hand Jive; in West Africa where it originated, it’s called The Juba Dance, a relative of the tap dance. It is an art involving lots of clapping, body slapping, and other artfully noisy uses of the hands. The Juba Dance, a dance which involves both hand percussion on the body as well as toe tapping, was brought to The States during the antebellum period where slaves were not allowed to use drums or other instruments for fear it would be used as a method of communication.

But once blacks started doing it, it quickly caught on among whites, where it became known as “The Hambone”. NCAA basketball coach Bo Ryan explains how he learned The Hambone while attending grade school in Philadelphia:

Now throw in some vocal noise and hand farting, and you have a comic act by The Hambone Brothers on the popular ’70s TV show “Hee Haw”, seen here with Roy Clarke:

Steve Hickman throws in some mouth popping and seems to slap himself in the head several times, to the amusement of many giggling children and their parents:

I thought I would save the best for last. Samuel Hicks hails from North Carolina and was just doing the hambone in front of a relative’s video camera in the early 90s. He is so fast, one may be led to believe that those aren’t really hands and more like bionic prosthetic devices:

Next in this series: The Hand Jive