Thursday, January 9, 2020

Mafz Iz Hard Department

"If you can't set up the equation properly, you'll never get the right answer." - every math teacher I ever had, in the days long before Common Core

For example:
" Never before has there been as much “official force” in America as there is today. It comes in many forms:
  • active-duty military;
  • military reserves (i.e., National Guard);
  • federal law enforcement agencies;
  • state police;
  • local police;
  • lots of federal, state, and local government employees who go about their daily business armed. "
 Following which is an otherwise well-formed essay on a host of ills that have befallen America, and some that may. But another part of a decent classical education is knowing that opening arguments matter, and even more so when they are factually so far wrong as to be risible.

My rebuff to that error:

"Never" before?
You're much, much better than that.

Use the categories you listed, and google the active duty military strength of the US in 1945. Then as a percentage of the US population in 1945.

We are at a fraction of that level of official strength today.

In light of that, you want to restate that premise a tad, I suspect.
 Gentle Reader, I have no more access to the www realities than yourselves, so let's cut to the chase:
Had the addressee taken the few mouseclicks to do that, they would have determined that US population in 1945 was about 140M, and the number of US troops in uniform was some 16M, or  about 11.5% of the entire country. Essentially 1 in 6 men of military age was in uniform in this country from 1942-1945. These are still actual facts, even for those who didn't know them beforehand, because History is Still A Thing.

But they did not do that minimal homework.
Instead, just doubled down.
No, Aesop, I stand by it. Read the sentence again, carefully this time. You'll get it on your second pass.

Riiiiiiiiight. The facts, aren't, and it must have been my mistake to misunderstand that sentence. So, let's do the math.

So, look kids, 11.5% of the US population now would be (330M x 0.115=) 38M people.
(Almost like I knew whereof I spoke, and left bread crumbs the size of baguettes to that reality in my first reply.) So you'd have to have more government force enforcers than that to be at a level we have "never" reached before.

Then, let's bear in mind that the 16M number is only the military component of that equation. It doesn't add in every cop or other enforcer, from local, state, and federal agencies, in 1945. Which only makes this worse, if someone's sole intention was to pile on.

Unfortunately, right now, we're at a fraction of that level of governmental "force" enforcers.
There are about 2.1M US military active/reserve/NG, total, and roughly 3M LEOs at all levels, best guess, without taking a week to gather all available source material. Even if we add in park rangers, dog catchers, and the SWAT team for the Department of Agriculture.

That's about 5.1M. Not 38M. Whoops.

But to sweeten the pot, I'll even round that up to an even 6M.
And then double it, to 12M, just to be sporting. And even with that rhetorical largesse, you'd still be yuuuuuugely short of that 16M troops number of actual bodies from 1945, not counting civilian "force" then, and not even 1/3 the 38M, if we wanted to look at this in equally proportional percentage of the population terms, for comparison between 1945 and 2020.

3/8. 1/3. These would be called "fractions". Justifying my earlier use of the word, with mathematical precision. Just to keep things honest here. 


I posted all that information, and more, in an unpublished (as of yet, and probably ever) second response.

Are there far too many civilian agencies with guns, badges, and a wannabe SWAT/Delta Force mentality with a Paul Blart Mall Cop level of actual capability?

O Hell Yes there are.

Are there so many laws, at all levels - local, state, and federal - that the weight of them alone could be expressed as double-digit multiples of the body weight of the late Andre The Giant, to the point of nuclear megatonnage overkill in a supposedly free republic?

O Hell Yes there are.

(Hint: Those two things are the actual problem.)

But have we "never" reached the level of "official force" as we have about us today?
Mathematical logic inarguably says O Hell No. As the equation was laid out, things were much worse 70 years ago. Except they weren't.

Topic sentence shot to hell.
And the reason why, in an essay, "never use 'never' " is a pretty good rule in most cases.

The way to fix that metric to make that point would be to
1) drop military forces from that equation (because, unlike in banana republics, they aren't pertinent to the topic)
2) focus on civilian badged orcs, and the tonnage of jurisprudential effluvia that enables them
at which point you'd hit a rhetorical home run, with no Brobdingnagian factual errors to hamstring your effort.

I didn't point out the obvious error to belittle anyone, but to suggest that by eliminating the error, they might sharpen their rhetorical hatchet.

So maybe, when someone points out such a glaring factual error, and suggests a minor course correction that you might better make your point, particularly one with which we tend to otherwise agree, maybe the snippy initial response was uncalled for, and it isn't aided by what sounds to these ears like ladling on a steaming case of butthurt. (But, yet again, maybe I'll get it on the second time through, right?) This is about the factual, not the personal. Anyone who can't separate the two more readily probably needs some time on a sunny beach, AFK. Ditto anyone who thinks erasers on pencils are for other people.

Errare humanum est.

Just saying.


Beans said...

To further your argument, many of the jobs currently occupied in our military by servicemembers were, in 1945, occupied by civilian employees.

Like in the Pentagon, sure, lots of uniformed personnel but used to be chock-ful of civilians.

Same with things like pilot training and air-ferry pilots and all the huge numbers of shipyard workers involved in just resupply and repair, not including those actually making ships.

Also, a greater portion of the armed forces stateside in WWII had direct access to weapons than the uniformed personnel today.

During the American Civil War of Northern Aggression between the States, uniformed personnel were around 10% of the population. Curiously meaning we have less people in uniform today in a population of 340+ million than the around 3 million in a population of 34ish million in 1861-1865.

Love it when some person's assumptions can be smacked down by less than 1 minute of searching on the interwebs.

Good job on the smackdown, Aesop.

Aesop said...

It wasn't intended as a smackdown, just a gentle chide against sloppy rhetoric and lazy research.

Porretto is a good guy and I like a lot of what he writes, but this was just intellectual laziness. If you're going to make the point, do the homework.

Cetera said...

Typo early on:
Had the addressee taken the few mouseclicks to do that, they would have determined that US population in 1945 was about 140M, and the number of US troops in uniform was some 16M, or about 11.5% of the entire country. Essentially 1 in 6 men of military age was in uniform in this country from 1942-1945.

Should be 1 in 9, not 1 in 6. I want to make sure your typo doesn't get in the way of a good math smackdown!

Anonymous said...

Cetera, read the sentence again, carefully this time. You'll get it on your second pass.

Cetera said...

Cetera, read the sentence again, carefully this time. You'll get it on your second pass.

16M/140M = 0.11428M, rounded up to 11.5%
1/.115 = 8.69, rounds up to 9, not 6. Keys are right next to each other on the numpad.
1/6 = 16.6%, not 11.5%

Anonymous said...

I knew you wouldn't get the joke...

Peter B said...

OK, but the WWII "official force" numbers included a heckuva lot of combat troops in training and spending most of their time on base, and then (along with their logistical tail) overseas doing more training or actually in combat zones.

So "1 in 6 men of military age was in uniform in this country from 1942-1945" doesn't actually mean that they were all on the loose in this country and available to theoretically exercise force against civilians. Wouldn't that have violated the Posse Comitatus Act anyway?

Of the nearly 18 million Americans under arms in that period 73% of them served overseas and were out of the US for an average of 16 months. So of the 17.8 million under arms, almost 13 million were gone for on average nearly a year and a half.

(My father was in the minority; his entire service was Stateside and for the last part of the war he and my mother lived in married housing off base. He was at the Vigo Ordnance Plant when they were working on weaponizing anthrax and testing protective equipment and procedures.)

None of that contradicts your overall argument, it just pedantically changes your fractions a bit.

Aesop said...

*I* didn't lay out the initial equation.

Of the 2.1M now, how many are unavailable now, because they're only on duty a couple of days per month, at sea, deployed overseas, etc.?

That sword cuts both ways. I did 16 months out of 48 overseas/deployed, and that was in Cold War/peacetime. Deployments are worse now, in fact, with some guys doing half their time overseas, and unavailable as "force".

Exactly as I noted, drop the military from the equation, and the case to be made becomes orders of magnitude easier, and more correct in reality.

Leaving them in just makes it worse for the original error.

Aesop said...

@ Cetera

The factoid is 1 man in 6 of military age, not 1/6 of the country.
In the 1940s, +/- 1/2 the country is men, and less than that are aged 17-45 or so.
1 in 6 of them was in uniform during WWII.
Once again, you've proven why math kicks people's asses when they don't pay attention to the equation.

Slap your forehead, say "Doh!", and sit back down. Do better next time.
And thanks for illustrating the point.

FredLewers said...

In college I solved algebra and trigonometry equations in my head. BUT I ALWAYS USE A CALCULATOR TO BALANCE THE CHECKBOOK. Not because 'Mafz is hard' but because I'm a fallible human. Never underestimate your ability to screw up basic math equations.

Jim Scrummy said...

I did a very quick search of the FBI UCR data, and according to 2018 numbers there almost 700K (rounded up) sworn officers (Local and State). The Fed number of sworn LEOs is in the 100K-120K range (data was all over the place). These are the full-time numbers, I could find. Just food for thought.

The Gray Man said...




The population included women and old people and children, the term “men of military age” does not.

People, come on.

Aesop said...

Common Core and poor reading comprehension are to blame.

People can't do word problems.

Remember when the smartass kid in junior high school asked the teacher when you'd ever use any of the stuff they taught you?

Here. Now. For basic thinking.
That's what education is for.

No one knows everything. Certainly I don't.
But what I know, I know pretty damned well.
And what I don't know, I know how to ferret out, and work out, for myself.
A proper education teaches you to teach yourself.

Which always pisses off TPTB.
Look what they did to Socrates.
Sic transit mundi.

Anonymous said...

Sheesh! Poor reading comprehension indeed! Worse still is the insistent clinging to an error after it has been pointed out. Likely a goodly number of people have been given to "understand" that they are " entitled to their own facts" as part of being " special".
"A proper education teaches you to teach yourself" and experience teaches you to understand when you need to do so.I

As an aside, I'd be bummed not to be able to comment but am old enough to understand how that could happen.

Boat Guy

Bear Claw Chris Lapp said...

This has been some thought provoking discussion. Remember Aesop said it was not a smackdown. Age, experience and adversity are the greatest teachers. I have a friend whose wife packs heat as a state agency LE for our states gaming industry. Why they need heat I do not know but remember all the ammo that was purchased by the governments at all levels during Obombers reign.