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Statistical Nonsense from Thomas Friedman

What is he on about...?

WE GET a good chuckle out of New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. Maybe he would be good as a brick mason. Or maybe a baker. Shame he got caught up in journalism. He has no talent for it, writes Bill Bonner in the Daily Reckoning.

In a recent column he tells us that "Average is over." Typically, it makes no sense. What Friedman seems to mean is that an average person can't expect to do very well in today's America. He says average guys are being replaced by robots and Chinese people.

There's even a new device that will make waiters obsolete. You go into a restaurant. You find a computer at your table. You use it to order your food.

Okay, so what?

Friedman strings together words into things that look like sentences that sound as though they have meaning. But if you stop to think about them, even for a second, you realize that there is no meaning there.

Perhaps he might be replaced by a computer. It could be programmed to create things that resembled real thoughts.

"Everyone needs to find their [sic] extra — their unique value contribution that makes them stand out in whatever is their field of employment.

"Average is over."

So, let's imagine that people take this advice, whatever it is. They find their extra. They all stand out. Then, what have you got? You have a different average, don't you? The average fellow has an extra. So, if the average guy has an extra…he has no extra at all, does he? He can't stand out in a field of outstanding guys.

Average isn't over. Extra is over.

But Freidman persists. He notices statistics that purport to show that the average college graduate suffers less unemployment than the average high school graduate. This leads him to propose that the feds spend billions more to send more people to college.

But wait a minute. Does the job pool expand just because you've fluffed up the average resume? Or do you merely have more people with college degrees competing with computer programs to wait on tables?

We don't know. But we're damned sure Friedman has no clue either.

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Bill Bonner has co-authored a number of New York Times Bestsellers including Financial Reckoning Day, Empire of Debt and Mobs, Markets and Messiahs. In his own opinion, Bill's most recent title, A Modest Theory of Civilization: Win-Win or Lose, is his best work yet. Bill also founded The Agora, a worldwide community for private researchers and publishers, in 1979. Financial analysts within the group have exposed and predicted some of the world's biggest shifts since that time, starting with the fall of the Soviet Union back in the late 1980s, to the collapse of the Dot Com (2000) and then mortgage finance (2008) bubbles, and more recently the election of President Trump.

See full archive of Bill Bonner articles

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