Friday, December 28, 2007

What "Lies" Ahead (Part II)

Please forgive this unpardonable pun, but what lies ahead is, well, "lies" ahead.

The sophistry and chicanery behind "official" statistics is truly a wonder to behold. The obfuscation and manipulation has reached such epic proportions that even a financial media that is utterly in thrall to the manufactured illusion of "prosperity" is now timidly questioning some of the more blatant lies. That once-mighty dinosaur, the mainstream media, has even raised itself from its blissful (or shall we say slothful?) torpor to wonder how food and energy can rise by double-digit leaps and bounds while official inflation hums along at a near-zero 2-3%.

Thus we may soon have shantytowns (see photo above) in which the residents will wonder what alternative universe their nation's media inhabits as it continues to spout the officially-massaged "data" that everything is really really fine.

Others with more expertise than myself have picked apart each statistical legerdemain in great detail, but let's just grant the obvious by noting that assuming jobs are being created because more people have been born than have died is a wee bit suspicious.

With this logic, why don't we also just assume that since people are living longer, they are also working longer? Since we can "model" this statistically, why bother actually surveying the populace?

Granted, this is a nation of 300 million people, and accuracy is always statistically ambiguous at the edges of any poll or survey. But why should people who have been unemployed longer than six months be dropped from the ledger? (Let's just call them "discouraged" and no longer count them. It might muss the glowing picture we're painting here to have to include the "discouraged" job seekers.)

Yes, there are reasons for all the adjustments and models, and no doubt those employed to prepare the stats can argue quite passionately for the inadequacies of a simple count. But the point is: who benefits from a rosier-than-reality snapshot? Who has a deep and abiding interest in maintaining the illusion that all is well in an economy staggering down a rocky slope to recession?

Somehow the statisticians never seem to address that question, or the agenda behind the models.

A note on my photo. When I started this little blog I decided to display my physical being via a recent photo of some sort, as I always wonder what the writer of a blog actually looks like. While I understand the need for privacy, I reckoned it some sort of "truth in advertising."

The photo of me in sunglasses elicited comments that I was "hiding" (or worse, smirking) and I needed a haircut. The photo of me in the collarless shirt elicited both a word of praise and a word of tongue-in-cheek critique, to wit, "This looks like banker-bob trying to interest me in a short sale."

Clearly, this is a tough audience. My solution is to swap photos around, i.e. displease everyone equally.

To make sense of the above note, please go to my my blog page at

Thank you, Jeff B. ($20), for your generous contribution to this humble site. I am greatly honored by your gift and your readership. All contributors are listed below in acknowledgement of my gratitude.

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