Look: I am eager to learn stuff I don't know--which requires actively courting and posting smart disagreement.

But as you will understand, I don't like to post things that mischaracterize and are aimed to mislead.

-- Brad Delong

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Everything that appears on this blog is the copyrighted property of somebody. Often, but not always, that somebody is me. For things that are not mine, I either have obtained permission, or claim fair use. Feel free to quote me, but attribute, please. My photos and poetry are dear to my heart, and may not be used without permission. Ditto, my other intellectual property, such as charts and graphs. I'm probably willing to share. Let's talk. Violators will be damned for all eternity to the circle of hell populated by Rosanne Barr, Mrs Miller [look her up], and trombonists who are unable play in tune. You cannot possibly imagine the agony. If you have a question, email me: jazzbumpa@gmail.com. I'll answer when I feel like it. Cheers!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Quote of the Day

I think the First Amendment is probably the most important thing that you have in this country. And I'm always horrified at the cavalier way that you (Americans) treat it.

-   Neil Gaiman


Bukko Canukko said...

Heya Jazz, I wanted to respond to your rebuttal of my snark at the BLS on Tux's blog, but I didn't want to junk up his comment thread too much.

You study the nuts and bolts of the numbers more in-depth than I do. Except for basic math, like how many milligrams of this medication do I dispense to a patient, I don't delve into exact numbers all that much. I'm more of a generalist.

I'm also a dyed-in-the-wool skeptic, and more cynical than almost anybody I know in the real world -- even my wife. (I find a huge community of the uber-cynical in cyberspace, though, including the "The Moon Landing was a fake!" crowd. I don't go that far.) When anyone, especially someone with power like a boss or a government official, says something, I immediately assume the truth is 180 degrees opposite to what's been uttered. Everyone spins things. If someone has a track record of honesty, I'll accept what they say, but otherwise I'm always looking for the holes in the story.

While I agree with you that the low-level stat-compiling geeks at the BLS are not deliberate liars, I contend that the politicians who design the "terms of reference" for their formulas are. I've learned from ShadowStats how, since LBJ's time and probably before, the government numbers have been massaged to make things look better than they are. I had hoped the Obama administration would be more honest than the skeeving Cheney Crime Family, but noooooooooo.

I can't cite specific evidence of how the BLS under Obama is cooking the calculations. It's just my gut feeling. I've trusted my gut-level cynicism since 2004, and it's done me well. Cynicism has allowed me to jump between countries twice, gotten me to sell an expensive house at the peak of the bubble, gotten my wife to pull her money out of the California university pension system while that was still legal (which it won't be when the laws are changed to allow government pension funds to declare bankruptcy.) We're doing pretty well, thanks to deep, dark cynicism.

It's my cynical nature that tells me the BLS figures are lies. The people at the top of any agency want to put a positive light on what THEY are doing, so I contend they cook numbers. When they come in fresh and want to blacken their predecessor's rep, they allow a little honesty. But Obama's people are beyond that point, so I surmise they tell lies. Can't prove it, can't fine-point the methodology like you can, but I just feel like it stinks. Just sayin'...

Bukko Canukko said...

Here's another guy who skepticizes about government stats with more statistical analysis. If you're curious, click on his main blog and go back a few posts from this one, because he also does a piss-take on the latest unemployment stats.

In a world where everyone's a liar, each one of us has to decide on our own version of the truth, eh?

Jazzbumpa said...

Hey, Bukko -

Thanks for stopping by. I always appreciate your take on things, even when we disagree. Which, in this place, is welcome and invited, come to think of it.

I'm skeptical, too, as you may have noticed. I do try to keep from sliding into cynicism, but - damn - that gets harder and harder.

For a totally different reason to be skeptical, check this out.


Bukko Canukko said...

Not opening. Link comes up with this: https://www.blogger.com/check%20this%20out

Jazzbumpa said...

Bah.. Link Fail.

I think I had this in mind.

Leaving nothing to chance, here it is naked.


But yesterday was a long tome ago, so I'm not really sure.


Bukko Canukko said...

Well that link worked. I wouldn't call it the most depressing graph I've seen, just another example of why it's not completely illogical to choose what "reality" we want, based on our biases. Because even experts who have statistical backgrounds and get paid to devise exacting forumulas will be 24% at odds with each other when it comes to delineating something as simple as "inflation" since 1975. I put "inflation" in quotes because econobloggers don't even agree what the WORD means. The average Joe thinks of it as "price inflation" for what he buys, while pedants like Mish and other less annoying bloggers who I read say the word refers to expansion of the money supply. If we can't get together on a word that everybody thinks they understand, what chance is there to agree on the "truth"?