Jim Clifton, the CEO of Gallup, the polling folks, took a huge risk a few months back. He told the truth about the unemployment numbers that are published by the federal government.
Clifton is absolutely right. We have a long standing rule that comes from an old saying we learned in engineering school. “There are liars, damned liars, and statisticians.” The rule? Never let a statistician balance your checkbook.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics could well employ more statisticians than any organization in the world. They are the people who produce the unemployment reports. We want to be clear, “statistics” is not math or science. It’s art. The outcome can be “managed” by managing the questions asked – in the case of polling – or the way the data is treated, as in the unemployment numbers.
Clifton had second thoughts even before he told the truth.
“I think that the number that comes out of BLS [Bureau of Labor Statistics] and the Department of Labor is very, very accurate. I need to make that very, very clear so that I don’t suddenly disappear. I need to make it home tonight.”
We think he has every reason to be concerned.
The problem isn’t that the government in general, or the BLS in particular, is lying to us. The problem is that a segment of the population known as Democrats want the lie perpetuated, most of the population – thank you public schools – is woefully ignorant about both basic math and basic logic, and the media – for at least another couple of years – is unwilling to investigate or tell the truth.
But never fear, if a Republican is elected next year, the press will be crowing from the rooftops about the “job and unemployment” numbers.