Lying With Numbers

Lying with Numbers, Lying with Words; the poor get pasted again 120711

News, Analysis and Opinion from the Fringe Editor


The News: 120,000 new jobs created, and unemployment drops to 8.6%; the children of the shiftless are also shiftless.


Analysis and opinion:

You’ve no doubt heard the good news: the jobs are returning like rain clouds after a drought, and soon we’ll all be in clover.  Except that the news isn’t particularly good, it’s just more jiggering numbers to make them say what the government wants to hear.

About 140,000 mostly low paying, mostly retail, mostly temporary jobs were created, and in the meantime 20,000 government jobs, many of which paid rather well, were lost.  At the same time, 315,000 people “fell off” unemployment, meaning they are no longer looking for work through the unemployment office.  Most likely don’t have jobs.

Among those who have jobs are at least 10 million who are working part time but would work full time, and those who are working well below their pre-recession earnings.  Add five million new jobs to account for growth in the population of work aged people, and we would need at least 15 million new jobs before we could pronounce the nation “at full job recovery”.  “Full job recovery” is the current turn meaning “the recession is over for everybody”. 


The recently created jobs might not last long.  The recession continues in nations which import American goods and their reduced demand will increase job loss here.

This is at a time when the American worker is at her or his most productive; some estimates place current worker productivity at 29% above pre-recession levels.  There are qualified people begging for work in most fields, employers can pick and choose, and demand more for less from employees.  We speak of “job recovery” now, and not the recession, because for the wealthiest Americans, the recession is over. 

No one is certain how many people remain jobless, least of all the federal government.  As with any bureaucracy, there are internal conflicts between the divisions of the administration.  There is a long chain of desks in the process of determining what the unemployment rate is; the technologists do their best to arrive at meaningful data, but once the data is created, it’s spun and fluffed until it finally hits the news.  What seems clear is that part of the solution to high unemployment is going to be “attrition”, which means mostly older, mostly poor people will literally die of want, reducing the number of people who need jobs and lowering poverty levels.  What happens to people who are hungry and can’t find a job for years?  Is society content that they get ill and die?  Do they owe it to society to obey the law, in that case?


Against this stark reality we’ll measure the lies our power elite enjoy and spread, and there is no better example than Newt Gingrich.


Gingrich; if you like his brand of crap, contribute to him HERE

The mainstream press paid five minutes of attention to Gringrich’s most recent slurs on the poor, but many missed the real news: this is the ugly face of the 1%.

Gingrich is quoted by several sources as saying of the poor:  “They have no habit of ‘I do this and you give me cash’-unless it’s illegal.”

Gingrich’s ignorance is the ignorance of one person; the shame of America is that Gingrich’s fictionalization of what it is to be poor is accepted by millions of people.  For the wealthy, it is a kind of justification for their unreasonable wealth.  For the conservative middle class, it’s a kind of assurance: that sort of poverty can’t happen to us, we’re willing to work.  For the entire country it’s a justification for the way things are, a rationalization for the dramatic disparity between the rich and the poor which places the blame on the poor.

The reality is, that fat 68 year old Newt would die in a matter of days if he were stripped of his wealth and the influence his power has brought him.  A just society would releve Gingrich of his credit cards, give him a pair of chinos, a flannel shirt and a cheap pair of shoes and stick him on a street corner in New York or Detroit.  He would literally die before he gained the skills to live on nothing; if he did not, it would almost certainly be because of the kindness of the very people he disparages in his speech.

But, we are not a just society, and so we’ll continue to believe that we’re all doing better because a handful of us are doing better, and we’ll continue to allow ignorance to spew from the mouths of our nation’s policy makers. 

Society is a complex product, a matrix within which the individual has relatively few choices.  Individuals in modern nations like the U.S. do have a greater mobility than during some times in history, or in some nations today, and the sons of migrant workers really do grow up to be legislators and professors.  That is true, but it is also true that there are only so many social locations marked “professor” or “legislator” and most of them will not be filled by the sons of laborers, but by the sons and daughters of those who are already connected, already well heeled. 

That we tolerate policy makers who are so ignorant of the processes of the social world speaks very poorly of us. 


A hundred and twenty thousand wage-slave jobs aren’t enough. 

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