“Average American Debt” blames Gilligan for Thurston’s charges


Today I had another economist in the back of my limo lecturing me on the reason for our national financial mess:  greedy people spent beyond their means.  In other words folks were living like Thurston Howell III on Gilligan’s salary. Economists practically parade around in sackcloth, lamenting the enormous debt of the average American. Problem is their math creates an “average” not found in reality. Virginia Postrel‘s recent article in the Atlantic exposes the nudity and lunacy of this imperial vodoo math.  Money quote:

If the rich are getting richer, it makes sense that they’re also running up more debt. They can reasonably expect to pay it. These affluent families also account for half of the outstanding consumer debt. So the $10,000 average that Obama cited isn’t in fact owed by the “typical” family with an average income. That figure is calculated by spreading the much larger debts of the rich over the population as a whole.

I perform comedy in bars, so let us put this in drinking terms. Consider three members of my audience at a table. Gilligan, the Professor and Mary Ann each charge a $5 drink and Thurston charges drinks totaling $85. If the “average” price of drinks is $25 a person, Gilligan might ask “Professor, where are my other four drinks?.”

Furthermore, would we blame Gilligan, the Professor and Mary Ann for the “debt” of Thurston Howell?  And if Thurston pays the “debt” off when he gets his statement from his frequent boater credit card, what are his charges doing in our “debt” equation in the first place?

Screw politics.  Stop voting and start laughing.  Yeah, I know Gilligan and his crew won’t show up at one of my comedy gigs anytime soon.  But what’s your excuse?  It’s not like you’re stranded on a deserted island.  Apparently you have internet access (you’re reading this blog post, right?).  Go to your local comedy club and stimulate the economy by supporting local live comedy.  And don’t forget to tip your server!!!