Thursday, July 31, 2008

Can We Belive the Stats?

Statistics were just as much a fantasy in their original version as in their rectified version. A great deal of the time you were expected to make them up out of your head. ~ George Orwell, 1984
The statistics say the economy is growing, the experiences of people in their everyday lives say different. Which is true - what people see with their own eyes or what the Bush Administration claims?
  • Averaging up: Put Bill Gates in a room with a thousand homeless people and, according to statisticians, you have a room filled with millionaires, on average. As the disparity between the ultra-rich and everyone else grows wider and wider it is possible that the whole of the nation is in a recession except for a few thousand oil barons and their ilk. So on average the nation is doing fine.
  • Inflation: On reason bad governments love inflation is that it gives the appearance of growth. The numbers of, say, the GNP look like they are going up when it is only an illusion caused by debasing the currency. Of course, it is important for the government to lie about the real rate of inflation.
  • Statistical Fantasies: Which brings us back to the Orwell quote. Life for an unscrupulous government is easier if you just lie about such things as the GNP and CPI. I mean, who has the resources to prove those lies? Of course, George Bush and his crew wouldn't lie, would they? They are all such honorable men.

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