Friday, August 08, 2008

The Means To Be (Less) Than Average

More Government Statistical Mumbo Jumbo...

I don't know exactly what set this rant off this morning.

The thought process went something like this:

A. Start thinking how stupid it is for the Imperial Federal Government of the By-God United States to pass laws so some local guy building a country club can't harvest some coal on his giant property by strip mining the ore and selling it rather than just mindlessly bulldozing the mineral into the low spots on his land.

B. Next start ranting in your head about all of the other things that the government has screwed up over the years in the name of looking out "for our own good" while soaking the people that are successful to pay for the ineptitude of what turns out to be a relatively small part of the population.

The break down in the process comes when the government, in their effort to prove that there is a "problem" or a "need" in the first place, has to massage the numbers--often outright lying and cheating--in order to prove that they are mandated to sign a new "entitlement program" into law because "the Majority of Americans" support the process.

That said, I'd like to get into to my initial topic this morning, the difference between the mathematical term "AVERAGE" and "MEDIAN." After all, when you think about it clearly, there is a significant difference between the two words.

An AVERAGE, simply put, is the sum of a group of numbers (grades, temperatures, or in the government's war on poverty...income) divided by the number of numbers you added together to get the total.

Is your head hurting yet?

Stay with me here...I'll try to be clear and relatively brief.

The MEDIAN, on the other hand, is the number in that same group of numbers that falls in the position where HALF the amounts are higher and Half are lower.

Let's look at a few practical examples:

Let's say that you start your own country and you have a total of fifteen citizens with income that looks like the following table (subsitute the word Median for the word Mean as I've been corrected in the comments):

Holy Toledo...notice that the Average income is over ten times the Median Income?

That's because if you look at the list carefully you'll see that SEVEN taxpayers make more than $66,000 and another SEVEN make less than $66,000.

Now suppose that being a Government, just for fun you start meddling with the tax roles, giving deductions to some people based on income because you know that you can still run the government by paying for the "deductions" and "earned income" credits with money from your taxpayers making greater than the "median" income. Something like this:

Notice what happened to the Average and Median numbers? The Median is exactly the same, while the average income only fell by about $10,500.

See, everything is fine when it comes to funding the government through taxes, while at the same time you've removed one third of your population from the burden of paying taxes. In fact, those same five people are not only still making their original average of about $27,000 per year--

BUT they're also getting the "earned income" credits (unearned tax refunds) so their earnings actually went UP by allowing the government to transfer money from the top two thirds into their pockets at government gunpoint.

OK, maybe the government isn't really all that bad you say, so now lets suppose that you come to your senses and mostly leave the income numbers alone for the lower income earners, but you still play games with the upper income brackets by doing your math in a screwy manner--saying that if you don't have "wages, salary, or tips" then you have no income.

This is actually how the government calculates the number of people "living in POVERTY."

Under that scenario, this is what your income numbers would look like with the exact same original population if the upper earners didn't work every day but instead earned their income through INVESTMENTS and SAVINGS and owned their Home(s) free and clear:

How about them apples?

The Median income fell by 93%, and the Average income is down by 80%.

All I'm saying here is that the next time you hear some Morning News "Anchor" lamenting the 40 plus million Americans (including illegals) living without health insurance (but not health CARE) or the number of Children living in poverty, remember this little math lesson I delivered this morning when you feel the government reaching into your wallet.

It's not that I don't care, it's just that I would like to decide who gets how much of my money instead of letting a bunch of mathematically inept liars do it for me.

The rest is up to you...

(embarrassed blogger note...I mixed the terms "Mean" and "Median" indiscriminately in the original version of this writing as reader T.K. pointed out in the comments. All I can blame it on is poor editing and the early morning hour in which I was writing, but the balance of my points remain the same regardless of the name change...)


T. K. said...

Not to annoy you, but this post is inaccurate. Mean and Average are the same thing. They are defined as your definition of average.

The definition of median is what you have posted for the definition of mean.

T. K. said...
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