“Figures don’t Lie, but Liars Figure”

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 5th, 2014

Week in Review

There’s an old saying by Mark Twain that goes like this.  “Figures don’t Lie, but Liars Figure.”  Which basically means you can make statistical figures say anything you want them to say.  For example, here are two statistics that make it sound like black fathers are better parents than white fathers (see Harper’s Index posted April of 2014 pm Harpers Magazine).

Percentage of white live-in fathers who help their children with their homework daily : 28

Of black live-in fathers who do : 41

Almost half of all live-in black fathers help their children with their homework.  While only 28% of white live-in fathers do.  So black fathers are better parents than white fathers.  At least, these statistics would seem to say so.  But it’s what these statistics don’t say that will change the conclusion these two statistics appear to make.

First of all, children who receive more help with their homework will do better in school.  For their children will be doing their homework if their dad is there helping them.  So the homework is getting done.  And if children have trouble understanding something their dad is their clarifying and explaining things.  So these children are going to do better in school.  And a larger percentage of them will graduate from high school.  As students who work hard and do their homework are more likely to graduate than those who don’t.  So, do the statistics for high school graduation rates show that black live-in fathers are doing a better job helping their kids with their homework?  No.  According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics (see National public high school graduation rate at a four-decade high by Lyndsey Layton posted 1/22/2013 on The Washington Post), high school graduation rates were 83% for whites and 66.1% for blacks.

Learning abilities are the same for both blacks and whites.  So you can’t say that whites are smarter than blacks.  So is there something else that can explain the difference in graduation rates?  Yes.  The inability to make kids do their homework.  For if they’re not doing their homework they’re not progressing through high school.  And many just drop out.  But according to the statistics more black live-in fathers are helping their kids with their homework than white live-in fathers.  So how is it that blacks have a lower high school graduation rate?  Because of something the statistics don’t show.

According to Census data (see Social and Economic Characteristics of Currently Unmarried Women With a Recent Birth: 2011 posted on census.gov), the percent of out-of-wedlock births was 29.2% for whites and 67.8% for blacks.  Less than a third of white children are born out-of-wedlock.  While just over two-thirds of black children are born out-of-wedlock.  To single mothers who struggle to both work and raise their children.  Leaving them little time to help them with their homework. And because these mothers are single and working their children may be home alone.  And more likely to get into trouble.  Not do their homework.  And drop out of school.

So the higher rate of children born out-of-wedlock would explain the lower high school graduation rates for black children.  While the percentage of black live-in fathers helping their children is skewed.  For it’s only 41% of the 32.2% (100% – 67.8%) of black fathers who stayed in the home to help raise their children.  While it’s 28% of the larger 70.8% (100% – 29.2%) of white fathers who stayed home to help raise their children.  (Assuming born in-wedlock means the same as live-in father.  Of course a child could be born in-wedlock only to see his parents divorce later making his or her mother a single mother.  However, with child support and alimony payments a percentage of these single mothers would not have to work and thus be able to spend more time with their child.  So a divorced mother probably would not have to struggle as much a single mother who was never married.  Especially if the divorced parents are older when they start their families and the husband has an established career providing the financial resources that allows the divorced mother to stay at home with the children).

Crunching these numbers for 1,000 fathers you get about 131 black fathers and 779 white fathers (blacks are approximately 13.1% of the population and whites are approximately 77.9%).  Of these 131 black fathers about 42 (32.2%) are live-in.  And of these 779 white fathers about 552 (70.8%) are live-in.  Bringing us to approximately 17 (41%) black live-in fathers who help their children with their homework.  And approximately 154 (28%) white fathers who help their children with their homework.

So, if you look at the total number of live-in fathers helping their children with their homework (17 and 154) the number of white live-in fathers doing so is approximately 793% greater than black live-in fathers.  Or for every black live-in father helping his child with his or her homework there are about 9 white live-in fathers helping their children.  Which sounds like white fathers are spending more time helping their children with their homework.  Which they are because there are more white fathers than black fathers.  In a random sample of 1000 fathers there would be approximately 6 white fathers for every black father.  Based on the demographics of the population.

So we have looked at statistics in numerous ways.  Proving once again that “figures don’t lie, but liars figure.”  Or that you can make statistics say anything you want them to say.  So you should always be suspect when people use statistics to support their argument.  Because there is a lot of interpretation the number crunchers make with the data.  A lot of assumptions.  And are often a selective and subjective in their use of the data.  Especially when it’s the government uses those statistics to justify new spending, new taxes, new regulations, etc.  Because these are the people who truly figure with the numbers.  They did it in the days of Mark Twain.  And they still do it today.

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Figures don’t Lie but Liars Figure when it comes to the Economy and the Patriot Act

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 6th, 2013

Politics 101

Politicians Lie because they don’t want you to see how Wrong their Economic Policies Are

If you’re objective you look at the facts to form an informed opinion.  If you’re subjective you form the facts to support your opinion.  If you’re objective the facts mean the same thing to you as the next guy.  If you’re subjective they don’t.  Water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit.  That’s an objective fact.  The post-impressionists (such as Vincent van Gogh) are better than the impressionists.  That’s a subjective opinion.  For not everyone will agree with that statement.  As a lot of people are wrong about art.

Politics is subjective.  Because politicians selectively take facts and ‘spin’ them.  Which means they take what supports their political views and hype them.  While downplaying or ignoring those things that do not.  For example, take the monthly reports on the economy.  They hype the new jobs the economy created.  And the fall in the unemployment rate.  But continually downplay the shrinking labor force.  Which is the only reason why the unemployment rate fell.  The government quits counting the unemployed once they quit looking for a job.

Do politicians lie?  Of course they do.  All of the time.  Because they want to deceive you.  When they are talking about the economic numbers they may not be technically lying.  But they are deceiving you.  Because they don’t want you to see how wrong their economic policies are.  So they spin the facts.  Like that expression many attribute to Mark Twain.  “Figures don’t lie but liars figure.”

Objectively Harding’s, Coolidge’s, JFK’s and Reagan’s Economic Policies were Very Successful

When it comes to economic policies Democrats and Republicans have very different beliefs.  Democrats believe in an activist government intervening in the private sector.  Like FDR did when he turned a recession into the Great Depression.  Like Jimmy Carter did when he gave us terms like economic malaise and the misery index.  And like President Obama did when he turned a recession into the Great Recession.  Whereas Republicans believe in a limited government that stays out of the private sector economy.  Like Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge did when they gave us the Roaring Twenties.  Like JFK did when his policies gave LBJ a robust economy.  (Until his Great Society gave Jimmy Carter economic malaise and misery.)  And Ronald Reagan did when he gave us one of the longest and strongest economic expansions of all time.

Objectively Harding’s, Coolidge’s, JFK’s and Reagan’s economic policies were very successful.  Conservatives in the Republican Party want to implement similar policies today.  While Democrats want to continue the failed economic policies of FDR, Carter and Obama.  Because they prefer them for subjective reasons.  As they require an activist government intervening in the private sector.  And they don’t care that these policies have a long record of failure.  For they are more interested in growing the size of government than they are in the economy.

So the Democrats spin the economic news to deceive the American people.  And they spun their deception well.  For President Obama won reelection despite his policies giving us the worse economic recovery since that following the Great Depression.  Despite 4 years of failure the American people believe that he cares more than anyone else.  And continues to work harder than anyone else to fix the economy.   Despite his policies proving otherwise.

It was Wrong when George W. Bush used the Patriot Act but it is Perfectly Acceptable if President Obama uses It

So Democrats will ‘figure’ with the economic data to deceive the people so they can advance their agenda.  Making the federal government larger and more powerful.  Hyping the fall in the unemployment rate even though the labor force participation rate has fallen to Jimmy Carter lows.  They may deceive and they may destroy when it comes to the economy but one thing they are is consistent.  Which is more than you can say when it comes to national defense.  Or spying on Americans.

Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks the Bush administration passed the Patriot Act.  This law allowed warrantless wiretaps on international calls to people having suspected ties to terrorist activities.  The Democrats railed against the Patriot Act.  For it was turning the United States into a police state.  Where Big Brother was spying on our every movement.  If those movements were an international call to a person having a suspected tie to terrorist activities.  Even President Obama himself railed against the Patriot Act.  Saying in the 2008 presidential campaign that he would repeal this and every other Bush law that violated our Constitutional protections.  Of course, when he became president it was a different story.

Not only did the Obama administration keep the Patriot Act law they used it for far more than the Bush administration ever used it for.  The UK’s Guardian recently reported that the Obama administration was collecting and storing information on every Verizon phone call.  Not just people making international calls to people with suspected ties to terrorist activities.  But every man, woman and child that has a Verizon phone.  And probably every man, woman and child using every other cellular carrier.  You see, President Obama said it was wrong when George W. Bush used the Patriot Act.  But it is perfectly acceptable if he uses the Patriot Act.  As being able to spy on every American can go a long way in furthering the Democrat agenda.  Making the federal government larger and more powerful.  Showing how the Patriot Act is not an objective violation of our Constitutional rights.  But a subjective instrument of good.  As long as Democrats are wielding this awesome power over their political enemies.  And anyone who may become their political enemy.

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The Real Unemployment Rate is Closer to 11%, or 20% if you Include the Underemployed

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 18th, 2011

Week in Review

If at first you fail, lie, lie and lie again (see Wonkbook: The real unemployment rate is 11 percent by Ezra Klein posted 12/12/2011 on The Washington Post).

Typically, I try to tie the beginning of Wonkbook to the news. But today, the most important sentence isn’t a report on something that just happened, but a fresh look at something that’s been happening for the last three years. In particular, it’s this sentence by the Financial Times’ Ed Luce, who writes, “According to government statistics, if the same number of people were seeking work today as in 2007, the jobless rate would be 11 percent…”

Since 2007, the percent of the population that either has a job or is actively looking for one has fallen from 62.7 percent to 58.5 percent. That’s millions of workers leaving the workforce, and it’s not because they’ve become sick or old or infirm. It’s because they can’t find a job, and so they’ve stopped trying. That’s where Luce’s calculation comes from. If 62.7 percent of the country was still counted as in the workforce, unemployment would be 11 percent. In that sense, the real unemployment rate — the apples-to-apples unemployment rate — is probably 11 percent. And the real un- and underemployed rate — the so-called “U6” — is near 20 percent.

There were some celebrations when the unemployment rate dropped last month. But much of that drop was people leaving the labor force. The surprising truth is that when the labor market really recovers, the unemployment rate will actually rise, albeit only temporarily, as discouraged workers start searching for jobs again.

Mark Twain said that figures don’t lie but liars figure.  And the Obama administration has been lying with the unemployment numbers.  Because their Keynesian economic policies have been an abject failure.  And no president ever won reelection with an unemployment rate above 8%.  So when your true unemployment rate is near 11% you play with the numbers.  And magically report that 11% is only 8%.  Giving you at least a snowball’s chance in hell of reelection.  As long as no one understands the unemployment picture is best described with the U6 number.  Which is currently near 20%.

Figures don’t lie but liars figure.  And it is apparent that the Obama administration must be full of liars.  Because they’ve been figuring the hell out of these unemployment numbers.

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They Sold us Obamacare with Lies. Now the Truth Demands that we Repeal Obamacare.

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 21st, 2011

CBO Scores Obamacare under $1 Trillion.  Just as the Democrats Hoped/Needed.

Healthcare reform ain’t cheap.  And that’s always been the greatest obstacle to getting it.  Medicare and Medicaid are going bust.  Costs are going up faster than we can raise taxes to pay for them.  And healthcare reform was just going to be more of the same.  More costs.  More taxes.  And more budget problems.

The debate of Obamacare proceeded during the greatest recession since the Great Depression.  Not the best environment for debating the creation of the greatest entitlement program we’ve ever considered making into law.  But they did.  It wasn’t going to be an easy sell.  It all depended on cost.  If the first 10 years cost less than $1 trillion, there would be hope.  And, guess what?  They did (see CBO: Health-care reform bill cuts deficit by $1.3 trillion over 20 years, covers 95% by Ezra Klein posted 3/18/2010 on The Washington Post).

According to a Democratic source, CBO has finished its work and will release the official preliminary score later today. But here are the basic numbers: The bill will cost $940 billion over the first 10 years and reduce the deficit by $130 billion during that period. In the second 10 years — so, 2020 to 2029 — it will reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion. The legislation will cover 32 million Americans, or 95 percent of the legal population.

How about that?  Less than $1 trillion.  With $60 billion to spare.  And it cut the deficit, too.  Who could ask for anything more?

How they got these numbers, and whether there are important qualifiers, will be easier to say once CBO releases its analysis. But the bottom line is that this is the exact sort of score that Democrats wanted, and is in fact considerably better than some had come to expect they would receive. Coverage is better than the Senate bill, which will reassure liberals, and deficit reduction is better than either bill, which will reassure conservatives.

When the nonpartisan CBO released its analysis, these were indeed the numbers.  Things were looking up for Obamacare.  But exactly how did they get those numbers?

Obamacare by the Numbers:  Lies, Deceit and Flimflammery.

Well, it would be awhile before anyone could answer that question.  At some 2,000 pages, the bill was complex to say the least.  So complex that those voting for it didn’t even take the time to read it.  Besides, there was no time to read it with the vote schedule to happen before the ink even had a chance to dry.  So they didn’t.  And voted.  Because as Nancy Pelosi said, they would have to pass it before learning what was in it.  And that’s exactly what they did.

Well, we now know why they rushed Obamacare into law.  Because anyone reading and understanding the details would have been furious.  To say the data the Democrats gave to the CBO were suspect would be a gross understatement.  When the CBO scored H.R. 2 (the repeal of Obamacare) it becomes clear how they got those rosy numbers (see Everything starts with repeal by Charles Krauthammer posted 1/21/2011 in The Washington Post).

“CBO anticipates that enacting H.R. 2 would probably yield, for the 2012-2021 period, a reduction in revenues in the neighborhood of $770 billion and a reduction in outlays in the vicinity of $540 billion.”

As National Affairs editor Yuval Levin pointed out when mining this remarkable nugget, this is a hell of a way to do deficit reduction: a radical increase in spending, topped by an even more radical increase in taxes.

The repeal of Obamacare will increase the deficit.  Because Obamacare included $770 billion in new taxes (i.e., revenue).  To pay for $540 billion in new spending.  High spending.  And even higher taxes.  Of course, at the time all we heard was deficit reduction.  Pretty sneaky of them.

Of course, the very numbers that yield this $230 billion “deficit reduction” are phony to begin with. The CBO is required to accept every assumption, promise (of future spending cuts, for example) and chronological gimmick that Congress gives it. All the CBO then does is perform the calculation and spit out the result.

Future spending cuts.  Like the gutting of Medicare.

In fact, the whole Obamacare bill was gamed to produce a favorable CBO number. Most glaringly, the entitlement it creates – government-subsidized health insurance for 32 million Americans – doesn’t kick in until 2014. That was deliberately designed so any projection for this decade would cover only six years of expenditures – while that same 10-year projection would capture 10 years of revenue. With 10 years of money inflow vs. six years of outflow, the result is a positive – i.e., deficit-reducing – number. Surprise.

Interesting accounting practices.  The kind that sends people to prison in the private sector.  Overstating profits by not matching costs to revenue.  If they did the accounting along GAAP, there would be no deficit reduction.  Because Obamacare actually will increase the deficit.  They’re cooking the books.  To mislead CBO.  And the American people.

If you think that’s audacious, consider this: Obamacare does not create just one new entitlement (health insurance for everyone); it actually creates a second – long-term care insurance. With an aging population, and with long-term care becoming extraordinarily expensive, this promises to be the biggest budget buster in the history of the welfare state.

When you lie, lie big.  No one risks going to prison in the private sector for stealing pennies.  If you’re going to bilk the taxpayers, make it worth the price of getting caught.  There is even the theory that if the lie is big enough most people will believe it.  Because they just can’t imagine anyone making up such a big lie.

And yet, in the CBO calculation, this new entitlement to long-term care reduces the deficit over the next 10 years. By $70 billion, no less. How is this possible? By collecting premiums now, and paying out no benefits for the first 10 years. Presto: a (temporary) surplus. As former CBO director Douglas Holtz-Eakin and scholars Joseph Antos and James Capretta note, “Only in Washington could the creation of a reckless entitlement program be used as ‘offset’ to grease the way for another entitlement.” I would note additionally that only in Washington could such a neat little swindle be titled the “CLASS Act” (for the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act).

Fool me once shame on you.  Fool me twice shame on me.  At this point, it would be safe to assume that all their financial projections are dishonest.  Why?  Because liars lie.  If we catch you making one mistake you can claim an accounting oversight.  But we’re well past that now, aren’t we?  I think the term ‘habitual’ is more appropriate.

That a health-care reform law of such enormous size and consequence, revolutionizing one-sixth of the U.S. economy, could be sold on such flimflammery is astonishing, even by Washington standards. What should Republicans do?

Make the case. Explain the phony numbers, boring as the exercise may be. Better still, hold hearings and let the CBO director, whose integrity is beyond reproach, explain the numbers himself.

Yes.  It’ll be easy.  Just do what the Democrats wouldn’t do back in March of 2010.  Show the math.  Even the people who don’t like math will understand it.  I mean, it’s only arithmetic.  Numbers in columns.  Plussing them.  And minusing them.  Simple math.  Just show the people.  They’ll get it.

To be sure, the effect on the deficit is not the only criterion by which to judge Obamacare. But the tossing around of such clearly misleading bumper-sticker numbers calls into question the trustworthiness of other happy claims about Obamacare. Such as the repeated promise that everyone who likes his current health insurance will be able to keep it. Sure, but only if your employer continues to offer it. In fact, millions of workers will find themselves adrift because their employers will have every incentive to dump them onto the public rolls.

And let’s not forget about those death panels.  They were in Obamacare.  Then out.  Then they were in Medicare.  Then out.  Where they are nobody knows.  But you know they’re there.  Because the numbers are far worse than they let us believe.  And the only way you can cut costs when you’re in the business of providing health care is to not provide as much health care.  Especially the expensive kind.  The kind that Granny needs.

This does not absolve the Republicans from producing a health-care replacement. They will and should be judged by how well their alternative addresses the needs of the uninsured and the anxieties of the currently insured. But amending an insanely complicated, contradictory, incoherent and arbitrary 2,000-page bill that will generate tens of thousands of pages of regulations is a complete non-starter. Everything begins with repeal.

Yes.  Repeal Obamacare.  Do it like removing a Band-Aid.  Quickly.  And in one stroke.

Figures don’t Lie.  But Liars Figure. 

Most legitimate polling shows the majority of people want to repeal Obamacare.  And for good reason.  They lied through their teeth to get this thing into law.  But they were even opposed to it before the vote.  There was fierce opposition at the town hall meetings.  And it took the bribing of Democrats to get the thing passed.  Most of who are out of a job now.  Because they acted against the will of their constituents.

Yet they still persist.  They keep lying.  They say that if we repeal Obamacare the economy will crash into recession.  And kill kids.  But the numbers don’t agree with this.  Neither does history.  For no one ever stimulated an economy with a massive tax increase.  And a lot of kids have survived without a national health care entitlement.  We haven’t had one all these years.  And we’ve had a lot of kids that grew into adults.  In fact, those lying to us now were all once kids.  They made it into adulthood without a national entitlement.  And others will, too.

Figures don’t lie.  But liars figure.  And they’re figuring like there is no tomorrow to keep this most unpopular law from being repealed.  Why?  Simple.  Because it’s one-sixth of the U.S. economy.  It’s not about health care.  It’s about expanding government.  And the liberal agenda.  To explode the size of the public sector.  Flood Washington in other people’s money.  So these liberals will never have to work a real job in their lifetime.

If you can think of a better idea, let me know.  But I’m sticking with this.  Because it’s always about the money.

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Stupid Republicans Help Smart Democrats Lose Elections

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 22nd, 2010

Figures don’t Lie, but Liars Figure

Is a 70 degree Fahrenheit a warm day?  Or a cold day?  It depends on your perspective.  If you’re from Norilsk, Russia, you’d probably say it’s warm.  If you’re from Al’Azizyah, Libya, you’d probably say it’s cold.  70 degree Fahrenheit is a fact.  But it means different things to different people.  And neither the Russian nor the Libyan is wrong.  Weather is relative.

The Republicans won control of the House of Representatives, a majority of the state governorships and a majority of the state legislatures in the 2010 midterm elections (see Election 2010 posted on The New York Times for election results).  Some say this is a rejection of the Obama/Pelosi/Reid agenda.  Some say the Democrats lost so much because the Obama/Pelosi/Reid agenda did not go far enough.

Interesting, huh?  The same data reviewed by different people who then reach such different conclusions.  Are the election results as relative as the weather?  Or is Mark Twain closer to the truth?  “Figures don’t lie, but liars figure.” 

Old, Stupid White Men Vote Republican?

There is a political divide across the country.  You can see it when you look at the election map.  The nation is mostly red.  With some blue on the coasts.  And around the big cities in between.  I look at that and I have an idea why it looks like that.  The Washington Post, on the other hand, has a different interpretation (see Political divide between coasts and Midwest deepening, midterm election analysis shows by T.W. Farnam, Washington Post Staff Writer, posted 11/21/2010 on The Washington Post).

The Republican Party’s big gains in the House came largely from districts that were older, less diverse and less educated than the nation as a whole. Democrats kept their big majorities in the cities.

Translation?  Old, stupid white men vote Republican.  I see it differently.  What are big cities full of?  Poor people.  And welfare.  Big city governments.  With big union pay and benefits.  Big bureaucracies that employ the unemployable and increase the costs of doing business.  Big universities.  University professors.  University students.  Art museums.  Theatres.  A liberal and libertine party atmosphere (which draws the young).  Teen pregnancy.  Abortions.  STDs.  Drug addicts.  Prostitutes.  Etc.

The Obama coalition remained intact. Democrats remained strong in areas with the party’s core of minorities and higher-educated whites. But movement of white working-class voters away from the party is a concern for Democrats, especially because of President Obama’s traditional weakness with those voters.

Higher-educated whites?  Yeah, right.  A lot of those degrees are from the big universities in the big cities.  Women’s studies.  Art History.  Philosophy.  American Studies.  English Lit.  Communications.  Poetry.  And, of course, Law.  Very popular with the anti-business crowd.  And, as it turns out, very unpopular with actual businesses. 

Higher educated, perhaps.  But an education that has little market value.  So they end up working for a nonprofit dependent on government funding.  Or work as another piece of deadwood in a bloated government bureaucracy.  Or file frivolous lawsuits and are dependent on government NOT to reform tort law.

“There’s definitely been a hardening of Democratic support along the coasts since 1994,” said James Gimpel, a political scientist at the University of Maryland.

New York City, Boston, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles.  Coastal cities.  Homes of the uber liberal.  Here they sip their lattes and look down their noses at flyover country. They’re only 20% of the population.  But when you concentrate 20% of the population in these small geographical areas, those areas will have liberal majorities.  While at the same time if you pull that 20% out of the rest of the country, that big geographical area they call flyover country is left conservative.

The Poor, Unemployable and Irresponsible Vote Democrat

It’s not that Republicans are old, stupid white men.  Democrats have lost so much of the country because they and their agenda don’t appeal to people who have jobs.  So who do they appeal to?  The poor, unemployable and irresponsible.  And lawyers.  Who all tend to be anti-business.  Like the Democrat Party.

Saying the reason why you lose elections is because the electorate is stupid is figuring with facts.  The facts say otherwise.  Besides, when the young is a strong demographic for you, you kind of lose that argument.  Young people are uneducated and inexperienced.  Young people fill our Colleges.  And they’re going there not because they’re smart.  They’re there going to get ‘smart’.

Meanwhile, the higher educated liberals often have those useless degrees.  Because they care about people, not profits.  So they don’t do anything so coarse as to get a degree that might help a business earn a profit.  Instead, they’ll subsist off of government funding.  Or by suing businesses for unearned wealth.

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