Funny title for an article. Numbers, statistics, stats....those boring people with their spreadsheets, graphs, always showing you up at a party in a game of Trivial pursuit.
Facts! Who needs 'em! Uh, we do. A very obscure thing is happening in Washington D.C. All of those dusty agencies with their legions of geeks and geekettes, cranking through numbers and collecting data are under attack.
Here are some of the statistical and science programs cut....so far the BEA has not been cut, but the Census was, by -$6.2 billion. This is before the infamous super Congress was created to cut much more out of the budget.
As a result the Statistical Abstract is about to go bye-bye. People are speaking out trying to save this treasure trove of data. According to this op-ed requesting America save the statistical abstract:
The agency’s 2012 budget would eliminate the Statistical Compendia Branch, which compiles the Stat Abstract and other publications (example: the “County and City Data Book”). The cut: $2.9 million and 24 jobs. Both the book and online versions of the Stat Abstract would vanish. This is a mighty big loss for a mighty small saving.
It can be argued that much of what’s in the Stat Abstract is online somewhere. True — but irrelevant. Many government and private databases are hard to access and search, even if you know what you want. Often, you don’t. The Stat Abstract has two great virtues. First, it conveniently presents in one place a huge amount of information from a vast array of government and private sources. For example, the National Fire Protection Association tells us that 30,170 fire departments fought 1.45 million fires in 2008. Second, the footnotes show where to get more information.
Paul Krugman, Economists, librarians are all starting a petition to save the abstract and if anyone cares about accurate statistics, you should click the link and sign it.
We need more statistics! Take this one for example, corporations hold close to their chest offshore outsourcing statistics. G.E. alone has reduced U.S. headcount from 54% to 46% over the last decade. IBM literally does not publish their U.S. headcount. Think you can discover easily the number of say engineers who were forced out of their careers now working at Home Depot? Not right now you can't.
While some of the BEA, BLS and Census budget requests are questionable, the reality is we need employment statistics based on citizenship status, we need offshore outsourcing data, more accuracy, better survey's and a much better understanding of productivity and globalization's contributions to it. Cutting these agencies is a brown out and will lead to more economic fiction and theoretical creationism than is already plaguing politics and policy.
Remember, multinational corporations like nothing better than lack of disclosure:
Some of the country’s best-known multinational corporations closely guard a number they don’t want anyone to know: the breakdown between their jobs here and abroad.
So secretive are these companies that they hand the figure over to government statisticians on the condition that officials will release only an aggregate number.
What Happened to the "Information Age"?
I agree with you 100% and I sure hope these proposals to reduce information gathering and compiling are defeated.
I'd sure love to know how many jobs here vs. overseas the big boys have. We need more statistics than ever today. In some cases, we also need to have more information requests become information demands backed up by law.
More info, less hiding.
Sounds like a good campaign slogan.
The average joe blow wouldn't
The average joe blow wouldn't know what to do with that stats. Its up to the agenda driven who use it to con the poor average public.
The average joe con
Hate to tell you this, while corporate lobbyist white papers spin statistics, without raw statistics and data your average joe cannot find out what the truth is.
Average Joes in the U.S., while clearly the majority of Americans cannot even understand ratios, fractions...
There are a whole lot, probably over a million, average Joes who not only understand ratios and fractions, but understand complex concepts like correlation and standard deviation!
Take away raw statistics we're in much worse trouble.
What it is about truth here that's such an issue for so many?
They think it's hell?
"What it is about truth here that's such an issue for so many?" -- Robert Oak
Campaigning for reelection in 1948, President Truman famously heard a shout-out from the crowd: "Give 'em hell, Harry!"
To which, Truman replied, "I don't give them hell. I just tell the truth about them and they think it's hell."
But the situation today is that corporatists of all stripes are proof against experiencing hell by way of truth, because they are certain that there is no such thing as truth other than (1) what is represented in the mass media, or, (2) what anyone wants the truth to be in pursuit of their own 'class' or 'power-relations' interests.
Do not take my meaning for 'class' here as Marxian -- it's just that there's no better way to explain postmodernist deconstructivism than as an aspect of cultural determinism that has arisen from the ashes of Marxian economic determinism. 'Class' these days refers to Identity Politics, although Identity Politics inevitably leads to economics, if only by way of jobs. Paradoxically, economic determinism tends to rise from the ashes of cultural determinism.
Rather than get into social analysis that I know from experience will be misunderstood here at EP, let me explain all this by referring to the life and work of Pat Buchanan, a media-master of applied postmodernist deconstructivism and cultural determinism. Simply put, Buchanan understands political behavior as determined by cultural identity.
I would never accuse Buchanan of being a Nazi or a Nazi sympathizer, but Mein Kampf is an outstanding product of the same understanding of political behavior as Buchanan's. It's evident that Obama's 'multi-culturalism' is functionally a kind of Identity Politics also based on cultural determinism.
The wrinkle in all of this concerns corporate media --"political arrangements are determined by the mass media images that people see, and ... these, by displacing other forms of culture, determine ... economic and political arrangements."
See, brief Wikipedia article, Cultural_determinism.
This is the best I can do to answer Robert Oak's question -- "What it is about truth here that's such an issue for so many?"
It's like this:
Truth is passé. Anyway, "everybody knows."
How do we distinguish truth from propaganda? And, beyond that, why should we distinguish truth from propaganda? That involves a lot of work, and what's in it for me? Besides, even if I figure something out, nobody else is going to listen to me unless we happen to already agree. So what's the point?
What is the point of statistics when there is no common ground of experiential reality other than what "everybody knows" anyway?
Rev'd 28 Aug. 2011, Economics 101 - Reform Party
THIS POST REVISED 28 AUGUST 2011 (All links, except one as specifically noted, have been tested and are functional as of 28 August 2011.)
A friend has been after me for talking up the need for a "new reform party" when there actually is a new Reform Party today, 2011. All it needs right now is voters to register as Reform!
Perot presenting his famous "giant sucking sound" analysis
of NAFTA proposal (1992 three-way presidential debate)
Perot in 2008 announcing PerotCharts.com, now a link
determined to be "dead 11 August 2011" per Wikipedia
Example from PerotCharts.com per the YouTube
presentation by Ross Perot
In introducing PerotCharts.com in 2008, Perot specifically requested anyone who found fault with the underlying numbers to contact PerotCharts.com and provide their sources. In that respect, PerotCharts perhaps was like EconomicPopulist today, but with a political agenda. (In 2008, Perot opposed John McCain, endorsed Mitt Romney).
Problem is that the Reform Party has been deviled by in-fighting since the year 2000, when it was taken over by Pat Buchanan in the service of Buchanan's concept of 'cultural war'. Buchanan, claiming to have parted ways with the GOP, returned to the Republican fold in 2002 -- having completed an apparent mission to infiltrate and destroy the Reform Party in the 2000 elections. But that's now history.
By the time Buchanan was done with his 'work', the Reform Party had lost any claim to public funding for presidential elections. By 2008, the party appeared to be dissolved for all intents and purposes, having dabbled in support of Ralph Nader for president. However, the national Reform Party met in Dallas in 2008 and agreed on a statement of principles (UPDATE by 2OLD -- links to reformparty.org are probably no longer functional, as the site has been recreated at www.rpusa.info with updated platform ... I like that ".info" !).
Ross Perot has always been big on 'family values' (a family man himself), but he founded the Reform Party without reliance on divisive "social issues." The 2008 Reform Party statement of principles makes no mention of divisive "social issues" -- focusing on economic problems and structural reform of the political system.
Notably, the Reform Party Principles as amended by the National Convention in 2008, specifically called for a jobs creation program consisting of two points:
The new website at www.rpusa.info (official website of the national Reform Party) provides a detailed statement of the current Reform Party platform, with this item under "Trade Policy" --
The Reform Party after 2008 went through a series of legal entanglements, ending in a court battle that started in a Texas state court and ended in a U. S. District Court in the state of New York. End result was confirmation of David Collison (a Texan) as current national chairman, pursuant to Collison's election by the National Convention in 2008.
In 2010, the Reform Party began to rebuild on the basis of the 2008 National Convention. In 2011, under the leadership of David Collison (a Texan), the Reform Party presents itself at an excellent website and appears to be well organized to stage a comeback in 2012, IF enough voters decide to register in state parties affiliated with the Reform Party.
There's a good, IMO, Wikipedia article on the history of the Reform Party.
Also, a good Wikipedia article on Ross Perot -- an impressive bio, causing the reader to wonder at how Perot could have lost to anyone either in 1992 or in 1996.
I hereby reform my statement of alternatives to the two major parties. The list is as follows: Reform Party, Libertarian, Green, Socialist. But the only way you can have the choice of Reform is to register Reform in your state!
(In some states, you may need to get together with friends to file some paperwork to create or recreate the party so that people can register in it. Of course, that doesn't automatically get any candidates on the ballot or achieve party standing in your state ... but that's where Mr. Perot started too. If you want reform, you have to start somewhere.)
BTW: Discussion at Colorado4X4.org on "What happened to PerotCharts.com?"
Economics 101 -- Don't waste your vote!
Statistical Abstract - thank you
Thank you for publicizing the potential demise of the Statistical Abstract and the petition. There is also a FB group if you would like to stay up-to-date on this issue https://www.facebook.com/groups/193019537404038/. And contact your legislators! (via letter, email, phone or Twitter)
For everyone else who complains and claims the BLS is the bureau of lies and secrets...
you should sign this petition but also raise hell about something else.
I put the fact that multinational corporations are forcing government statistical agencies to not disclose the number of jobs they offshore or create offshore instead of the United States.
I do not know who to raise hell about this with, the SEC, the administration, your congress rep. but the bottom line is government should trump corporations and they should be required not only to disclose all of their business dealings in quarterly statements, absolutely they should not be able to force government to keep secret their investments, headcount activities per state.
I think a secondary area to complain about this are State governments. Think about it, since when should it be allowed that a publicly traded company is can insist the federal government shut up about statistics or even worse, refuse to disclose them and get away with it. (such as headcount, investments, cash on hand, suppliers and so on).
Without transparency, abstract of WHAT ?
"I do not know who to raise hell about this with, the SEC, the administration, your congress rep. ... " -- Robert Oak
Sign the petition to the President to support the principle of transparency!
What does it mean that big money is buying up media and making their plays in campaign and related funds? It means that your vote and therefore your voice is worth money! Maybe you can't exactly invest that vote and expect returns ... but all the same ... if you must gamble, gamble wisely.
You may think this a political comment, but it's about the fundamentally economic topic of allocation of scarce resources. This truth applies not only to those who promote transparency but also to those who oppose it.
Congress and the White House
Off the top of my head, my 2¢ would be that those who are opposed to transparency generally are not likely to listen to any of us complaining about terminating the Statistical Abstract, but maybe that isn't the case. Maybe the real deal is that the Statistical Abstract is a bargaining chip.
We have to watch these tricky politicians, they may just be preparing another big bait-and-switch for the benefit of corporate media --
"me? oh yeah, I didn't want to end Freedom of Speech the way Obama did, but I did vote for the Statistical Abstract!" (Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you, oh congressional hero!)
"me? oh yeah, they wouldn't let me support transparency, which was what I really wanted, but I did the best I could, I protected the Statistical Abstract!" (Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you, oh presidential hero!)
I have to ask the inconvenient question here
Without transparency, abstract of WHAT ???
The horrible truth is that not just legislation but the whole of electoral politics, at least at the national level, is sausage making. Every issue is ground up with every other issue.
It all goes into the same huge meat-grinder -- whatever Obama's jobs thing is, whatever 'prinicples' require the GOP House to oppose whatever the Obama jobs thing is, blustering about the treason of the Fed Board, the tease about the Statistical Abstract, the semi-signed EO to require some minimally sane disclosure regarding corrupt military contract practices, and of course, the three FTAs along with Trade Adjustment Assistance.
1. The Congress
In 2010, John Boehner (now Speaker of the House) was one of six Republican congressmen to vehemently oppose the DISCLOSE Act, which was enacted by a vote along party lines, 219-206. The intent and effect of the Act was to require corporations to disclose their political contributions and prevent foreign corporations from spending in US elections.
See, Congressional Digest (September 2010)
So, another inconvenient question is this: Do Republicans in Congress really give a rat's petunia about the Statistical Abstract? ... or is it a bargaining chip to be endangered and then "rescued" as transparency goes down the memory-hole of corporate media?
2. The White House
As distinguished from the political issue of the Statistical Abstract, the general issue of transparency has much more to do with the White House here in 2011 than with the Congress, even though it's all thrown into the same huge meat-grinder of 'politics as usual' within 'the beltway'.
See, 'Corporate Donations and the 2012 Presidential Elections' (10 May 2011) at GlobalResearch.ca, website of the Montreal-based Centre for Research on Globalisation (CRG), an independent research and media organization.
And see, good old Mother Jones, 8 July 2011
And see, GovernmentExecutive.com, 11 August 2011, 'White House still reviewing plan for disclosing contractor campaign gifts'
For those not yet up to speed, here's from the GlobalResearch article --
There are undoubtedly a few (very few) congressional Republicans who truly understand and support the principle of disclosure ... but more than two dozen Republican senators plus House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy and the chairmen of 19 House committees have signed letters to the president arguing that the proposed order would inject political favoritism into the contracting process! Congressional Republicans oppose disclosure as a matter of 'principle'! But what is the White House doing since last spring? What is happening to what was until recently the principle of transparency?
I am NOT saying don't even bother to press your congress critturs to retain the Statistical Abstract. I am NOT saying don't even bother to sign PublicCitizen's petition to the White House, 'President Obama, Stand Up to the U.S. Chamber and Fight for Disclosure!'
Sign the petition supporting the principle of transparency! Call your congress critturs tomorrow! Call the White House!
Freedom -- use it of lose it!
BTW: Yeah, I know, Obama has mortgaged his future to the bankers and other big sources of political donation and media influence ... AND the President seems incapable of grasping the undeniable import of demographic facts as they play into grim and unyielding econometric reality ... AT LEAST IN PART BECAUSE the President is irrationally pursuing a mirage-like vision of a big happy 'multicultural' world. I know!
BUT, as every business man has long understood, the only way to play a two-party system is to work both sides of the street against the middle. Those are the rules as things now stand. Hopefully, we can change the Money Party rules, but meanwhile, the rules are the rules. So, remember the golden rule, 'Do unto the sonsabeeatches before they do unto you!'
Save the Statistical Abstract, preserve the United States Census AND sign the petition and call the White House to go ahead and do it to the corporate a$$holes.
[All links tested as of time of posting.]