WILL THE REAL NUMBERS WIZARD STAND UP - Stirring The Discontented

(12/10/2001)

By Bob Weaver 2001

I think I've always known better, but on most days I forsake fact and reason to the spinning of statistics.

Those unemployment numbers in West Virginia that gratify the souls of politicians are chocked full of bunk - "a hurried escape from reality."

The Charleston Gazette recently sorted through the spin.

West Virginia's low rate of 5.2% is really not great news, friends.

God only knows how we could improve upon the statistical analysis of Sunny Cal.

Discouraged workers, those who have been jobless and are no longer eligible for unemployment benefits, are no longer counted in the computer analysis.

For example, there was 1,180 unemployed workers in Logan County in April, 2000.

This April, 2001 there was 740, a difference of 440.

In actuality there were 570 fewer jobs - so the 440 people did not likely find jobs. Some moved, others are just hunkering.

Governor Cecil Underwood constantly proclaimed record job creation, and probably the new governor will too.

The Gazette reports the telling slant on statistics. In April 2000, West Virginia had 778,600 people employed in the work force; by April 2001 the number had dropped to 765,300.

A whopping decline of 13,300 dropped jobs (workers), never mind those glorious unemployment numbers printed each month by the Bureau of Employment Programs excluding drop-outs or moved workers.

Another statistical snafu is linked to the state's census. The Gazette says in 1950 the state had 2,005,552 people and in 2000 the total was 1,808,344, meaning that about 200,000 moved away during the past fifty years. Right?

Actually, the State of West Virginia had 600,000 more births than deaths in the past 50 years, meaning there was an actual exodus of 800,000, not 200,000, according to the Health Statistics Center.

Then consider the current figures of the George Bush tax cut, something we would really like to embrace. There are enough figures to put Einstein's brain in a frenzy about who will benefit. I lean toward believing the tax cut helps the upper class.

The Center for Budget and Policy says the cuts, when fully in force, will give $50,000 more to the top 1 percent, which has already gained $414,200 since 1979.

But the cuts will give $600 to middle-fifth households and $70 to the bottom fifth.

Maybe you would prefer another spin.

We have often maintained the biggest story in the USA is the widening gap between the rich and the poor - two decades of widening disparity.

It is a gap that could eventually lead to civil disobedience between the haves and the have nots, with the dissolution of the great American middle class dream.

But then, I'm being a numbers wizard too, and this could all be misinformation to stir the souls of the discontented.

We haven't even got into the unbalanced budget, the costs of war, the national debt, stagnant wages, fewer benefits, being a debtor nation, the trade deficit, and what have you.

Maybe things really are great.


Hur Herald ®from Sunny Cal
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