Thursday, February 9, 2017

Bureau of Specious Statistics, Trump Division

The Bureau of Specious Statistics is Now a Cabinet-Level Position!

Donald Trump made headlines last year when he claimed the unemployment rate is 42% in this country, instead of the 4.9% reported by the labor bureau.   Actually, what is sad is that this didn't make headlines but rather people just rolled their eyes and said, "Oh, there goes Donald again with his alternative facts!"

His gambit is an interesting one.   He doesn't exactly make this shit up out of whole cloth, but can point to some source for his weird claims, even if it is some internet rumor half the time.  But the sad thing is, usually there is some nugget of truth involved, even if he misrepresents it.   And I think he misrepresents these things because he really isn't a very bright guy or has the onset of dementia or something.

In this case, he is parsing the data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which I should point out is in no way related to the bureau of specious statistics.   The Labor Bureau puts out a number of stats about unemployment, only one of which is commonly cited - the unemployment rate among those actively seeking work, which is at a near all-time low today of about 4.9%.

Trump uses a different number from the Labor Bureau - the employment rate - which measured how many people actually work.  And this is around 60% so if you subtract that from 100, you come close to his vaunted 42% unemployment rate.  So he's not really telling a lie from whole cloth so much as he is taking raw data and throwing it around carelessly.

This 40% numbers includes people who are in college, retirees, people under the age of 17, people in a coma, folks in the nursing home, and so forth.   Not only is it people who can't find work, but people who don't want to find work, couldn't work if they wanted to, or don't even know what the word means, because they are only weeks old or weeks from death.

Putting babies to work.   That should be Trump's re-election slogan.   And those comatose people, they certainly need to pick up the slack as well!

But again, there is a nugget of truth in this, although not as grandiose as Trump implies it is.   A lot of people out there are simply not looking for work for various reasons, but are capable of working.  Early retirees, like myself, just found it cheaper to not work, when the cost of health care is subsidized by the government and the cost of malpractice insurance dominates overhead.  It is just simpler to consume less and goof off (and a helluva lot more fun).

Others might not look for work because they want to stay home with the kids and their spouse makes enough to support them both.  This is a good thing, a sign of progress.   Others just choose not to work but "get by" on savings or whatever government programs they can latch onto, or live with their parents and hang out or whatever.  If you can get by on your parent's insurance until age 26, why leave the comfortable confines of their basement?

There is a core group of choose not to work people, although it is nowhere near 40% of the population.   Some of us might choose to work and choose to be more productive if working were more profitable, less risk, and less of a hassle.   And it goes without saying that more of us would choose to work if we were forced to by economic circumstance.

For example, I am retiring early in part because I can thanks to Obamacare, which will pay for my medical care provided I don't make too much or too little money.   An unintended consequence of the Obamacare "cutoffs" at 100% and 400% of the poverty rate is that it pays to live within those two limits.   Work a dollar more than 400% (about $63,000 for a married couple) and you owe the government $15,000 to $20,000 in tax credits you no longer qualify for.

That's a helluva stick, right there.

So, yes, it is possible Trump might put more people "back to work" by making our lives more difficult, thus creating the economic necessity to work.  Gee, thanks!

But for the most part, Donald Trump's fleeting relationship with the truth is not a very good thing, particularly since he is making policies based on his distorted ideas of what truth is.   Sadly, this sort of "truthiness" is infectious, as I illustrated in my previous posting.   Fake News isn't just for the far right-wing anymore (if it was every limited to them).   The mantle is being picked up by the left and the press these days, who choose to slant things to fit a narrative instead of reporting basic facts.

And than is just sad.  Very sad.

They say in any war, the first casualty is the truth, and maybe today we are at war - a war over realities.

This probably won't end well.

Anyway, if the Bureau of Specious Statistics is now a cabinet-level position, and since I need a job what with Obamacare being cancelled and all, maybe Trump can hire me to handle this tricky and delicate job.   After all, I have tons of experience!

Just look at my resume:

Bureau of Specious Statistics

Bureau of Specious Statistics. Vol. II

Bureau of Specious Statistics, Vol. III

Bureau of Specious Statistics. Chapter IV

Bureau of Specious Statistics, Part 6

Bureau of Specious Statistics, Islam Division

Bureau of Specious Statistics, Restaurant Division

Bureau of Specious Statistics, New York Times Division

Bureau of Specious Statistics., Automotive Division

Bureau of Specious Statistics, Old Folks Edition

Bureau of Specious Statistics, Student Edition

Give me a call, Donald.  I already even own a condo in the DC area.   Moving ain't a problem!