How Typically American

So White House has published a pamphlet about the evils of socialism. I have not read it in full and I probably won’t since I have better things to do with my life than to read drivel from Trump administration, but on casual glance it seems to insinuate that the disastrous attempt at socialism in former Soviet bloc invalidates everything with the word root “social” in it. Therefore since badly implemented socialism in Ukraine has led to famine in 1921, “socialism” in EU in 2018 is just as bad.

That is of course complete non-sequitur.

The whole document also seems to be rather American-centric and comparing apples with pineapples, or perhaps even bananas. Like this infographic:

Whitehouse infographic about Costs of Owning a truck

Now I admit I have zero personal experience with any of the countries on that infographic except with USA.

But my experience with USA is that people there own pickup trucks in about 80% of the cases just to own them, not because they actually, really need them. I mean, I have seen them used for grocery shopping in big cities, with the deck empty and the groceries being put in a bag on the passenger seat. People commuted daily to work in them. Most owners of pickup trucks in USA could do just as well with only ordinary cars and for those rare occasions where they really, really might need something bigger (like buying building materials for house repairs etc.) the options available in for example Germany (i.e. renting a truck or goods trailer at the shop for a few days) would suffice ample. Further populations in EU are much more tightly knit than they are in USA, there are not many far-off farms and isolated homesteads that really need pickup trucks. I am not sure how this is in Nordic countries, but I still suspect that a real need for big pickup truck there is smaller than in US just due to the USA’s sheer size and wast empty places.

Thus this infographic is used either ignorantly or dishonestly to scaremonger. Or both.

As far as the economic side of the pamphlet goes, I will leave the critique to an expert who says everything better than I ever can:
Are the Danes Melancholy? Are the Swedes Sad?

On the whole I get the feeling that this pamphlet starts with the assumption that everything USA=good and everything socialism=bad and tries to spin evidence to appear to validate those assumptions.

How typically American of them, to ignore all context an only seek ways to put USA at the center of the universe. Again.


  1. robert79 says

    Norway, Sweden and Finland have quite empty areas, especially in the north. But I do suspect that a larger percentage of the people lives in cities than in the US.

    If you include the weekly cost of owning a pickup trick in New York City, including parking costs, on that graph you’ll get a more fair comparison.

  2. Ice Swimmer says

    Vans are much more common than pick-ups here. Maybe they are more practical in a rainy climate. And for hauling things, light trailers (brand name Muuli, which would be mule in English) are often used.

    The high cost of ownership is probably due to high fuel taxes, diesel vehicle tax and other vehicle taxes.

  3. voyager says

    What? Canada isn’t on the list? Pick ups are a bit of a status symbol around here and the bigger the better. Young people especially seem to want them. Now, I live in farming country, but even farmers use pickups for everyday stuff when a small car would do. I don’t think our costs are that far off the US, and we are as socialist as most of Europe.
    The current US administration is just full of shit. They lie. About everything and so many Americans just don’t question things. They live in an echo chamber and don’t think past all the propaganda. I have no hope that this will change.

  4. voyager says

    Good links Charly. I’d like to see a comparison of healthcare costs. Or wage comparisons. Something more important than owning a truck.

  5. says

    1. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems to me that owning a vehicle in a country where they are very uncommon is necessarily more expensive than owning one where they are common, like you have lower prices, higher competition, more easily available spare parts…

    2. I’m flat out not going to believe that on average a Fin would spend around 1/3 of their income on a truck


    I’d like to see a comparison of healthcare costs. Or wage comparisons. Something more important than owning a truck.

    Or college…
    Rough estimates say I work less hours a week to cover my healthcare than ‘Muricans work for their lovely trucks. I also don’t own a truck, but you can keep them if I can keep my healthcare.

  6. kestrel says

    OK. I call bullshit on this graph. I actually live on a farm and own a truck. I’m saying to myself, a THOUSAND MILES A MONTH?! WHAT!!?? No way do I dive the truck anywhere NEAR that far, and I do live in the middle of No Freaking Where and have to drive 30 miles one way to buy groceries. I am also questioning their idea of the initial cost of the truck which, frankly, is REALLY high. Much higher than they seem to think. The model they are talking about costs roughly $28,000.00 US brand new. My truck (which I would think of as a “real” truck, and the model in question as a truck for a Barbie doll) cost more than that… used… On the other hand it has a full-sized bed, and a lot of the trucks that wannabes buy have short beds. (Stupid. Why would you buy a short bed truck? You will get the same crappy gas mileage as any truck but not be able to haul anything. Yeah. I know. Status symbol.)

    Now I am a person who actually uses a truck. I haul feed in it, I tow a stock trailer with it when I need to move livestock, we haul cement with it etc. and most people who have trucks don’t use them, they just drive around in them. (I have even used ours to pull the tractor out, when it got stuck in the mud up the rear axles. That was an interesting day.) When people have a truck for realsies, they don’t drive it every day. They tend to only drive it when they need to. You make plans: if you have to drive in to town for groceries, you also buy feed, lumber, fencing materials etc. to make sure you don’t waste the trip. Because it costs a lot of money to drive a truck.

    That’s IF you own a truck for realsies, and are not some wannabe.

    My take on the graph: trucks cost WAY more than they think they do for Americans. I bet those numbers really ought to be close to inverted, with the American having to work more to own a truck than anyone else in the world. It’s hard to say though because everything on that graph is from Fairy Land, where reality does not reign. And to whoever wrote the stupid thing: you need to find a hobby.

  7. says

    OK. I call bullshit on this graph. I actually live on a farm and own a truck. I’m saying to myself, a THOUSAND MILES A MONTH?! WHAT!!?? No way do I dive the truck anywhere NEAR that far, and I do live in the middle of No Freaking Where and have to drive 30 miles one way to buy groceries.

    That’s actually about my commute. And it’s already shorter than it used to be…

  8. says

    I drive about 800 km a month, circa 500 miles, on my daily commute to work. I have met Americans who drove twice that distance to and from work in a pickup truck, so I had no trouble believing that number.
    However, those were exactly those people who did not actually need said truck. They could do all their actual driving in Fiat Punto at a fraction of the cost and no discomfort or hindrance to their lives whatsoever. But the need to show off with big shiny truck overrode common sense.

  9. says

    Vaguely reminds me of the 1900s “Things you should know about communism” [stderr] propaganda leaflets.

    If you’ve got to lie in order to promote your position you are admitting that you know it’s not as good as you say.

  10. says

    Sometimes a 4x4 is necessary, if you’ve got a long unfinished driveway, or you’ve got steep mountain roads. I have a 4x4 I use in the winter and for local hauling (it’s better at hauling sheets of plywood than my little Honda) and a highway car that I use in good weather or for distances more than 10 miles.

    There are always stereotypical Americans in F-350s that have highway tires and no mud on them, and they may even be the majority, but it’s not always a desire for shiny bling bling.

  11. Aniko says

    I am stuck at the subtitle: Hours of work needed to earn the *after-tax* income to cover the cost. I would guess that the biggest driver of the differences between the countries is the tax rates. The second might be the cost of gasoline?

  12. kestrel says

    @#13, Aniko: I wonder, too -- are they including the 1% in this? Because how much do they think an American makes? I will concede that there are a few of the 1% who actually work. Most of them do not. Is their income being calculated into this? If so then yeah, the whole chart is wildly off.

    Point is: when you really do need a truck, that is not what you normally drive. But, if you are a person who does not need a truck and drives one anyway, how much do they think this person makes a year? What do they think that person’s hourly wage is?

    My trip to the grocery store: That is to a tiny town that most would not consider a “real” city. In order to get to one of those, I need to drive about 100 miles. Like, if I want to buy shoes. Or clothes. Or things besides basic lumber: maybe windows, or doors. Also, yes, have to have 4WD because these roads are not considered very important and in a big snow storm it can take a very long time… sometimes several days… before they would be plowed.

    I really don’t think the pamphlet writer has much connection with reality. Where I live, you pretty much have to have a truck. Nearly everyone here raises cattle and they not only have a truck but a 30′ stock trailer as well as a couple horses for working the cattle. That group *should* be included in their figures, and we don’t have anywhere near the driving habits they outline with a truck. Back on the East coast, where there are people who drive trucks for their ego’s sake, again, how much do they think those people make? And how much do they think farmers make? That all would have needed to be factored in. Somehow I don’t think it was.

  13. says

    @Marcus #12, I do acknowledge that there are people in USA who legitimately need a truck and use it sensibly. Just as there are such people here.

  14. lorn says

    The term ‘truck’ covers a multitude of sizes and configurations. A neighbor has a 1-T diesel F-350 with duallies in back, It might be 4WD. As I understand it seats five. It’s big, and tall. A real beast. On the other hand I drive a quarter ton 1995 2WD gas Ford Ranger with the smallest engine, a 2.3L, made for it. It seats three if you are all on a first name basis. I can only guess at his mileage but mine gets about the same as a mid-size car of its day. Listed as 22/27.

    Mine has a cross-bed tool box that means I have something to work with and it still has capacity for a half-dozen sheets of plywood and some framing lumber. Officially it will carry 500 pounds but I’ve carried almost twice that for short hauls without the tires hitting the wheel wells.

    That F-350 could haul most of a ton, or drag around a small house. mostly what I see is him lifting out a few bags of groceries. I doubt he uses the 4WD much. IMHO most 4WDs only hit the dirt when they back over the flower bed. He had enough lights on the front to give you radiation burns at twenty yards. Why? I don’t think he knows. I asked him and said he got them cheap. He does construction but mostly he is a supervisor and he seldom uses his truck for the job. Sometimes he tows a 20′ boat. Like most southern boys the truck is IMHO an expression of his manhood. Which isn’t to say mine is not.

    Most of what I haul is groceries, trash, lawn debris, the occasional A/C units or refrigerator, some building supplies, and my tools. I used to work out of a little Chevette. The back was so stuffed with tools they called it my job-box. A compact truck works for me. I like my Ranger but they stopped producing them. Supposed to be coming back in 2019 but from what I read it isn’t a real compact truck being as that it’s 2′ longer, 18″ wider with a much bigger engine. I don’t need or want a full-sized truck. Toyota still sells small trucks I hear. I’d like to buy American but if they won’t play …

  15. Pierce R. Butler says

    The White House published an official document using the (non)word “taked”???

    Did they put Eric T in charge of propaganda this week?

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