Tag Archives: Ignorance

How much does the average American corporation make in profit?

How much profit does the average American corporation make?
How much profit does the average American corporation make?

A while back, there was a story about how Americans vastly overestimate how many people in the USA are homosexual. According to Gallup polls in 2011, Americans estimated that 25% of the people in America were homosexual. In 2015, it was 23%. The actual number is about 3%. So it’s very clear that Americans can have wildly inaccurate perceptions about reality. Why are Americans so wrong? I think it’s because they see a lot of gay people in high profile areas, particularly in the entertainment industry.

I thought about this failure to perceive reality when I saw a story about how much profit Americans think that corporations make. My guess was that the average corporation makes about 5-10% profit margin. I know this because I used to buy and sell stocks regularly and that’s one of the numbers I would look at. Most Americans own stocks, so I thought they most Americans would know the number as well. But it turns out that American perceptions of corporate profits are wildly off the mark.

Check out this article from the prestigious American Enterprise Institute:

When a random sample of American adults were asked the question “Just a rough guess, what percent profit on each dollar of sales do you think the average company makes after taxes?” for the Reason-Rupe poll in May 2013, the average response was 36%! That response was very close to historical results from the polling organization ORC International polls for a slightly different, but related question: What percent profit on each dollar of sales do you think the average manufacturer makes after taxes? Responses to that question in 9 different polls between 1971 and 1987 ranged from 28% to 37% and averaged 31.6%.

How do the public’s estimates of corporate profit margins compare to reality? Not surprisingly they are off by a huge margin. According to this NYU Stern database for more than 7,000 US companies (updated in January 2018) in many different industries, the average profit margin is 7.9% for all companies and 6.9% for more than 6,000 companies excluding financials (see chart above).

[…]“Big Oil” companies make a lot of profits, right? Well, that industry (Integrated Oil/Gas) had a below-average profit margin of 5.6% in the most recent period analyzed, and separately, the Production and Exploration Oil/Gas industry is losing money, reflected in a -6.6% profit margin. For the general retail sector, the average profit margin is only 2.3% and for the grocery and food retail industry, it’s even lower at only 1.6%. And evil Walmart only made a 2.1% profit margin in 2017 (first three quarters) which is less than the industry average for general retail, possibly because grocery sales now make up more than half of Walmart’s revenue and profit margins are lower on food than general retail.

Sometimes, the government makes MORE from the sale of goods or services than the company that does ALL the work:

Interestingly, Walmart’s profit margin of 2.1% is actually less than one-third of the 6.5% the average state/local government takes of each dollar of Walmart’s retail sales for sales taxes. Think about it – for every $100 in sales for Walmart, the state/local governments get an average of $6.50 in sales taxes (and as much as $10.12 in Louisiana and $9.45 in Tennessee, see data here), while Walmart gets only $2.10 in after-tax profits!

I think that Americans are getting their false anti-corporation views from listening to the mainstream media. The mainstream media is overwhelmingly leftist according to recent studies of their political donations. I think that the anti-corporate views of the average American comes from their uncritical consumption of mainstream media propaganda. They think they are getting objective news reporting, but what they’re really getting is socialist propaganda.

Here is a short little video that explains more about profit margins, and what would happen if a socialist like Bernie Sanders were put in charge of a corporation:

If you’d like to help with this problem of anti-business economic illiteracy, please watch the video and share it, or share the AEI article, which contains the video. America will be a better country when Americans have accurate, informed beliefs about important issues.

Is the Big Bang cosmology a theistic or atheistic theory of cosmic origins?

Christianity and the progress of science
Christianity and the progress of science

Dr. Michael Strauss is a practicing particle physics employed as a professor at University of Oklahoma. He does research in particle physics at CERN, a large hadron collider. It’s safe to assume that he knows something about experimental physics.

Here’s what he writes about Christians and the Big Bang at his new blog:

When my children were young, I would often drive to the home of the person babysitting my kids, usually a young teenage girl, pick her up, then drive her back to my house.  In the car I would ask questions about her interests or her school.  In addition, I would sometimes ask a question that intrigued me since I am a scientist and a Christian, “Do you think the Big Bang is a theistic theory or an atheistic theory?”  Now that question is not on most people’s list of babysitter interview questions, but I was interested to know their answer even though it would not affect their monetary tip. Every time I asked this question I always got the same answer, that the Big Bang is an atheistic theory.  This is just one example of the fact that many kids growing up in an evangelical church environment have the perception that the Big Bang is an idea which removes God as the creator.  It seems that many Christians may disdain the Big Bang.

Subsequent conversations with people of all ages have shown me that many individuals (1) don’t really understand what the Big Bang is, (2) don’t know the scientific evidence for the Big Bang, and (3) don’t comprehend the theistic significance of the Big Bang.   So let’s explore these ideas a little bit.

Here is his overview of the scientific evidence for the Big Bang:

There are three primary observations that are best explained by the Big Bang.  First, the universe is expanding so that it must have had a beginning of expansion in the past.  Second, because the universe was once very hot, we can still see the remnants of that heat in the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) radiation.  The latest measurements of the CMB spectrum made by the Planck satellite (shown above) agrees almost perfectly with theoretical calculations using the standard Big Bang cosmological model (see the plot at the end of this post).  Third, the theory predicts the amount of primordial light elements that should have been created in the first few minutes of the Big Bang, like hydrogen and helium.  Again the observations and the theoretical calculations align almost exactly.   A few other observations are supported by Big Bang predictions, like the distribution of galaxies and primordial gas.  The agreement between what we measure and what is expected from a Big Bang is so remarkable that just about all scientists accept the Big Bang as the origin of our universe, despite its implication that the universe had a beginning.

Does this scientific evidence support theism, or atheism?

Because we don’t have any observations that tell us exactly what happened “in the beginning” of our universe, we can only speculate.  But let me point out the obvious.  All of the observations we do have, and all the theoretical calculations, and even some projective calculations like the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem… give credence to the conclusion that all of the space, time, matter, and energy of this universe had a beginning.  The Big Bang is a misnomer for it is not some kind of explosion since there was nothing that existed to explode.  It is the origin of the universe.  So if this universe had a beginning, then the cause of the universe can not be a part of the universe.  The cause must be transcendent, like the Christian idea of God.  Is the fact that all the evidence points to our universe having a transcendent cause proof for God?  No, but it is extremely powerful evidence.  If one hundred years ago you had predicted that scientists would obtain unambiguous evidence about the history of the universe for 13.8 billion years, all of its lifetime except the first fraction of a second, and that all of the evidence would point to an actual beginning consistent with a transcendent cause, I don’t think anyone would have taken you seriously.  But that is exactly what has happened.  Theists could not have outlined a better scenario to support theism.  The scientific facts are completely consistent with the statement, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

I know how I account for this scientific discovery in my worldview: a non-physical mind that existed eternally created the physical universe at time t=0. But how do atheists, who can only explain the world by appealing to matter, explain the origin of matter itself?

Here’s Oxford University professor of physical chemistry (and atheist) Peter Atkins explaining how he grounds the Big Bang cosmology:

Easy! Nothing actually exists, according to Peter Atkins.

What about a theoretical physicist, like Lawrence Krauss? Well, he just redefines the nothing that causally preceded the origin of the universe so that it is actually something. Pure speculation, and it goes against the experimental scientific evidence we have. Exactly what you’d expect from a man who wrote a book about “the physics of Star Trek”.

Each of us has to come to terms with this scientific evidence. What could have caused the beginning of the universe? It can’t be matter, because this was the beginning of all the matter in the universe. It has to be a mind.

Although most theists have no problem with this scientific evidence, atheists really hate it. When I tell them about this evidence, they tell me that in a few years or decades, all the evidence for a beginning we have now will have gone away. “How do you know that?” I ask. We have faith” they reply. I don’t think anyone should deny the objective reality we all share just because it’s what they want to believe.

Is the Big Bang cosmology a theistic or atheistic theory of cosmic origins?

Christianity and the progress of science
Christianity and the progress of science

Dr. Michael Strauss is a practicing particle physics employed as a professor at University of Oklahoma. He does research in particle physics at CERN, a large hadron collider. It’s safe to assume that he knows something about experimental physics.

Here’s what he writes about Christians and the Big Bang at his new blog:

When my children were young, I would often drive to the home of the person babysitting my kids, usually a young teenage girl, pick her up, then drive her back to my house.  In the car I would ask questions about her interests or her school.  In addition, I would sometimes ask a question that intrigued me since I am a scientist and a Christian, “Do you think the Big Bang is a theistic theory or an atheistic theory?”  Now that question is not on most people’s list of babysitter interview questions, but I was interested to know their answer even though it would not affect their monetary tip. Every time I asked this question I always got the same answer, that the Big Bang is an atheistic theory.  This is just one example of the fact that many kids growing up in an evangelical church environment have the perception that the Big Bang is an idea which removes God as the creator.  It seems that many Christians may disdain the Big Bang.

Subsequent conversations with people of all ages have shown me that many individuals (1) don’t really understand what the Big Bang is, (2) don’t know the scientific evidence for the Big Bang, and (3) don’t comprehend the theistic significance of the Big Bang.   So let’s explore these ideas a little bit.

Here is his overview of the scientific evidence for the Big Bang:

There are three primary observations that are best explained by the Big Bang.  First, the universe is expanding so that it must have had a beginning of expansion in the past.  Second, because the universe was once very hot, we can still see the remnants of that heat in the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) radiation.  The latest measurements of the CMB spectrum made by the Planck satellite (shown above) agrees almost perfectly with theoretical calculations using the standard Big Bang cosmological model (see the plot at the end of this post).  Third, the theory predicts the amount of primordial light elements that should have been created in the first few minutes of the Big Bang, like hydrogen and helium.  Again the observations and the theoretical calculations align almost exactly.   A few other observations are supported by Big Bang predictions, like the distribution of galaxies and primordial gas.  The agreement between what we measure and what is expected from a Big Bang is so remarkable that just about all scientists accept the Big Bang as the origin of our universe, despite its implication that the universe had a beginning.

Does this scientific evidence support theism, or atheism?

Because we don’t have any observations that tell us exactly what happened “in the beginning” of our universe, we can only speculate.  But let me point out the obvious.  All of the observations we do have, and all the theoretical calculations, and even some projective calculations like the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem (which I should probably blog about at some time) give credence to the conclusion that all of the space, time, matter, and energy of this universe had a beginning.  The Big Bang is a misnomer for it is not some kind of explosion since there was nothing that existed to explode.  It is the origin of the universe.  So if this universe had a beginning, then the cause of the universe can not be a part of the universe.  The cause must be transcendent, like the Christian idea of God.  Is the fact that all the evidence points to our universe having a transcendent cause proof for God?  No, but it is extremely powerful evidence.  If one hundred years ago you had predicted that scientists would obtain unambiguous evidence about the history of the universe for 13.8 billion years, all of its lifetime except the first fraction of a second, and that all of the evidence would point to an actual beginning consistent with a transcendent cause, I don’t think anyone would have taken you seriously.  But that is exactly what has happened.  Theists could not have outlined a better scenario to support theism.  The scientific facts are completely consistent with the statement, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

Now I’ve had conversations with atheists about this scientific evidence during my lifetime. And the conversations always go like this: I lay out the experimental evidence and theoretical evidence for a cosmic beginning, and they start to talk about science fiction: Star Wars and Star Trek. But there are also famous atheists who have tried to account for the Big Bang cosmology in their atheistic worldview.

Here’s Oxford University professor of physical chemistry (and atheist) Peter Atkins explaining how he grounds the Big Bang cosmology:

Easy! Nothing actually exists, according to Peter Atkins.

What about a theoretical physicist, like Lawrence Krauss? Well, he just redefines the nothing that causally preceded the origin of the universe so that it is actually something. Pure speculation, and it goes against the experimental scientific evidence we have. Exactly what you’d expect from a man who wrote a book about the physics of “Star Trek”.

You don’t get to start with the laws of physics in the Big Bang cosmology. You don’t get to start with an electron. You don’t get to start with a quantum vacuum, nor even quantum foam. You start with nothing: no matter, no energy, no space, and no time. From that state, the universe begins to exist. Atheists hate the Big Bang cosmology. And they also hate the fine-tuning of the initial conditions of the Big Bang that allows the universe to support complex, embodied intelligent life. (Another miraculous evidence for God that is opposed by the anti-science fundamentalists).

I see resistance against the use of scientific evidence to support the existence of God from many pious pastors like Al Mohler, Russell Moore, etc. Some pastors think that you can just read the Bible out loud to someone and it will convert them to Christianity, as if the words of the Bible, in and of themselves, were some sort of incantation. It’s sort of like the “burning of the bosom” that Mormons are supposed to have when reading the Mormon Bible, which Mormons use in place of evidence, since they don’t have any. Many fideist pastors adopt this Mormon approach to trusting in God. Never mind that Jesus offered his resurrection as evidence of his claims to divinity to skeptics. Apparently, These pious pastors know better than Jesus how to evangelize non-Christians, and they’ve decided that the magic words fideist approach is better than use of scientific and historical evidence. It’s really annoying that the pious pastors have so much more influence in churches than the witness of experimental science, which is just God speaking to us through nature. I’d trust scientific evidence over an uneducated fundamentalist pastor any day of the week.

How well are Democrat Party policies working out in socialist Europe?

Brain vs Heart, from: theawkwardyeti.com
Brain vs Heart, from: theawkwardyeti.com

Last night, I watched the Democrat debate, and I saw a bunch of people “solve” all of the worlds problems with their hand-waving and happy-talk. Almost no evidence for the effectiveness of any policy was offered, and rarely did anyone pointed to numbers showing that their past actions had succeeded.

At one point, the King of the Clowns Bernie Sanders pointed to Denmark as proof that his socialist ideas would all work.

So I thought we might take a quick look at see how socialism is doing in Denmark, and in Europe more generally.

This is from the government-run news media in Canada, the CBC.

They write:

More than a quarter of Japan’s citizens are at least 65, making it the world’s fastest aging country. In Canada, about 16.1 per cent of us are seniors.

Right now in Japan, there’s a higher demand for adult diapers than children’s diapers, economist Michael Moffatt says, a “stunning statistic” that illustrates one of the main reasons why the country’s economy has been treading water for the better part of two decades.

“They haven’t been able to find a way to get their economy to grow in a significant way while still being able to support an older population,” the Richard Ivey School of Business professor said.

Japan’s GDP has grown at an average rate of 1.3 per cent for the past 25 years, according to the World Bank, dropping from averages of more than five per cent annual growth in earlier decades.

Yes, that’s because Japan’s solution to economic growth has been the Democrat solution: stimulus spending, massive borrowing, low (and decreasing) interest rates. It’s Obamanomics, and guess what? It doesn’t work there, either.

More:

Sweden and Denmark are the “places we need to turn to,” Foot said, in crafting economic and health policy to manage the shift in demographics. While the countries take different approaches, they all focus on health care, offering programs akin to pharmacare or following up with seniors in their homes after a visit to the hospital.

And while Sweden’s residents are not collectively older than Japan’s, about a quarter of the country’s 9.5 million residents are at least 60, according to Global Age Watch.

The public purse covers most home-care and long-term care in both Sweden and Denmark.

Unsurprisingly, they are among the highest taxed countries in the European Union, according to Eurostat. In 2013, Sweden topped the list, while in 2014 it was Denmark.

Policy-makers in Canada will have to make similar choices when it comes to taxes, Foot said, arguing more tax revenue will be needed, although there may be alternative ways of collecting it.

Foot said Ottawa and the provinces could look at taxing different sources, like foreign exchange or stock market transactions.

“If the state or government doesn’t step in, we’ll see poverty rise amongst our senior population,” he said. “We’ll go back to the days when poverty rates in that population were upwards of 30 per cent.”

So, massive government intervention in the free market in the areas of health care has not actually helped them, it has hurt them. And what happens to marriage rates and birth rates when you take 50-70% of a man’s salary? Does it make him start a business and hire other people? Does it make him want to marry? Does it make him want to have children? Are men happy when their wives are forced to work, and when their children are taught by public school teachers and monitored by government social workers? Do men like it when they pay taxes to other people to decide what their family will amount to and what their children will believe? Big government has a corrupting influence on character, turning people away from marriage, family and work.

The Democrat candidates in the debate want to turn us into Greece. They assume (somewhat naively) that all other behaviors will remain constant as they ramp up government spending and then borrow and tax to pay for it. But anyone who thinks about the problem for more than 5 seconds can see that businesses and individuals do not keep on doing what they were doing when spending and taxes increase. To be a Democrat is to not understand basic economics. It is to persist in childhood, having tantrums, ignoring how incentives change for everyone who is affected by childish policies.

Maybe the CBC is too conservative… let’s go to the BBC, they are hard leftists. What does the BBC say?

They say this:

As German Chancellor Angela Merkel is fond of repeating, the EU accounts for just 7% of the world’s population and a quarter of its gross domestic product (GDP) but as much as half of its welfare spending.

[…]Social expenditure per person in the EU in 2012 (the most recent year available, using a harmonised definition) was €7,600 (£5,540), but with a range from €18,900 (£13,800) in Luxembourg to just €927 (£675) in Bulgaria. The UK figure was €8,700 (£6,340).

Interestingly, average EU spending per citizen is almost the same as in the United States and well below that in Switzerland, after adjusting for price differences. Typically, poverty relief, health and pensions are much the biggest components of welfare spending, whereas unemployment benefits cost relatively less.

Sounds like a Democrat paradise, right? This is the Holy Grail to socialists like Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.

More:

Over the past 15 years, the average fertility rate (children per woman) in the EU has been 1.54, ranging from barely over 1.3 in Hungary and Spain, and 1.36 in Germany, to 1.8 in the UK and just under two in Ireland, France and Sweden.

According to the “main scenario” of the latest Eurostat population projections, Germany’s population has already started to shrink and is expected to fall from 82 million in 2013 to 74 million by 2050.

Well, wait now. Democrats told me that if we just nationalize everything that the private sector does, and raise tax rates on job creators and investors, and make all the women get out of their homes and work like men, and criminalize homeschooling, and marginalize Christianity, and abort the next generation of workers, and pay single mothers welfare to raise future criminals, and enact no-fault divorce to get men out of the homes, and teach children to have premarital sex at age 12 so that men get sex without having to marry first, then men and women would just be as interested in starting businesses, working hard, getting married and parenting as they were before? Are you telling me that letting the government control everything, and taking most of what people earn to pay for it, actually discourages people from starting businesses, working, marrying and having kids? Who is going to pay for all these expensive social programs, then?

And this is what Democrats hold up as perfection – heaven on Earth. Instead of closing their eyes to reality and wishing we were Europe, why don’t they actually look at Europe first? And maybe take a first-year course in economics.

Health premiums up $4,865 since Obama promised to lower them $2,500

Should we pick a candidate based on our emotional response to his confidence?
Should we pick a candidate based on our emotional response to his confidence?

Barack Obama had a lot of confident words and personal charisma during his campaign speeches in 2008. Many young people want to believe that their positive emotional reaction to confident words will somehow make plans “work out”. But can you really compel the universe to give you goodies just by having positive feelings? Does your emotional response to handsome looks and confident words mean that somehow the universe will give you what you desire?

I want to use this article from Investors Business Daily to illustrate the importance of not picking a President based on confident words and personal charisma.

It says:

Employer-based health insurance premiums climbed 4.2% this year for family plans, according to an annual Kaiser Family Foundation report. That’s up from 3% the year before.

Since 2008, average family premiums have climbed a total of $4,865.

The White House cheered the news, saying it was a sign of continued slow growth in premium costs.

[…]”We will start,” Obama said back in 2008, “by reducing premiums by as much as $2,500 per family.”

That $2,500 figure was Obama’s mantra on health care. You can watch the video if you don’t believe it.

And Obama wasn’t talking about government subsidized insurance or expanding Medicaid or anything like that. He specifically focused on employer provided health care.

For “people who already have insurance, and the employers who are providing it,” he said at one campaign event, “we will work to lower your premiums by up to $2,500 per family.”

Let’s watch the video. I want everyone to see how confident a clown can sound when he lies about being able to solve problems that he knows nothing about.

He had no record of achievement in this area. None, Zero, Zip. And the same goes for his claims about keeping your doctor, keeping your health care plan, and so on.

But America voted to elect him. There were a lot of voters who did not want to think too hard about economics in 2008, and again in 2012. They did not want to have to put in any work to study the achievements of the candidate in the area of health care policy, to see if he had actually done anything to reduce health care premiums. They had a problem: health care costs are too high. A charismatic clown stepped forward and made their fears go away with confident talk. They made a decision to believe him. They wanted to believe that serious problems could be solved by the words of a charismatic clown, so that they would then be saved from having to evaluate the records of the candidates, to see which of them had put in place policies that had solved similar problems in their past. That’s too much work for the American voter. Better to just pick the one who seems to be able to solve the problem based on surface qualities, like confident words that produce emotional reactions. The universe will adjust because we have a positive attitude.

This is an attitude that no practical engineer like me could take. It’s a recipe for disaster. Nothing important in life – from designing e-commerce web sites, to developing cures to sickness, to constructing jet fighters – is conducted in such a stupid, emotional way.

Now, I’m pretty angry that two of my candidates, Rick Perry and Scott Walker, are out of the 2016 election. And why? Because an unqualified leftist clown is ruining the process with brash, insulting confident talk. Again, we are dealing with a clown who has no record of actual problem-solving in the areas where the American people need problems solved.

This article from Investors Business Daily explains:

Which of these two sounds like someone on an ego trip, someone content to let the Middle East go up in flames and, like Barack Obama, someone overconfident in his own abilities to persuade others? And which sounds like he would practice the sober, principled foreign policy of Ronald Reagan as president?

Yet it is the latter, Scott Walker, who was just forced to drop out of the race, the reality TV star front-runner having sucked so much air out of the room that it was becoming impossible to survive. He laudably called it his patriotic duty to depart, thus consolidating the opposition to Trump.

Walker is one of the most successful governors in the country, having brought unemployment down from over 8% to about 4.5%, and turning Big Labor’s targeting him for destruction into three successive electoral victories in a blue state.

A week ago a governor with a longer record of accomplishment, in a state Americans are flocking to for its vibrant jobs-rich economy, was also forced to drop out. In doing so, Rick Perry of Texas made a statement affirming his rock-ribbed commitment to free-market principles, traditional values and a strong America on the world stage.

Perry and Walker are both leaders of substance. Eight years of the inexperienced, self-obsessed Obama had many Republicans concerned about 2016 looking to the governors’ mansions for someone with a proven track record of actually solving crises and reversing misguided big-government policies. These two may have been the most accomplished figures in the nation in that regard. How is it that they are early dropouts?

Political journalists are having a ball dissecting the ins and outs of fundraising and styles of campaign managing to explain Walker and Perry’s exit. But there is no ignoring the 800-pound loudmouth in the room.

In Donald Trump, the left’s caricature of conservatism — the bombast, the misogyny, the hype-above-substance — is defeating the real thing.

I do hiring interviews in my company. I always make sure to ask questions to test the claims on the candidate’s resume. It’s not hard to find out whether a person knows how to do what they claim to know how to do. Many of the people who show up for interviews try to finesse their way through engineering questions with confident talk, and emotional appeals. We don’t hire them. Why is it so hard for the American people to understand what is at stake here?