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Old 02-24-2004, 03:57 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Instead of Admitting Economic Truth, Bush Resorts to Statistical Manipulation

the following is from:
http://www.misleader.org


Quote:
<a href="archive.asp">Daily Mislead Archive</a>
<h3>Instead of Admitting Economic Truth, Bush Resorts to Statistical Manipulation</h3>

<br><br>President Bush, attempting to obscure his record as the worst economic steward since Herbert Hoover, has become so desperate that he is exploring ways to manipulate statistics.<sup>1</sup> Just days after Bush reneged on his pledge to create 2.6 million jobs<sup>2</sup> and said with a straight face that "5.6% unemployment is a good national number,"<sup>3</sup> the <em>New York Times</em> uncovered a White House report showing that the president is considering re-classifying low-paid fast food jobs as "manufacturing jobs"<sup>4</sup> as a way to hide the massive manufacturing job losses that have occurred during his term.

<br><br>As CBS News reports, "Since the month President Bush was inaugurated, the economy has lost about 2.7 million manufacturing jobs."<sup>5</sup> But if the president enacts the statistical change he is considering, this number would be purposely obscured because lower-paying fast food jobs would be added to make the real manufacturing losses look smaller. Of course, fast food jobs typically pay much less and have fewer benefits than real manufacturing jobs, meaning the statistical change would also obscure the fact that, under Bush, "in 48 of the 50 states, jobs in higher-paying industries have given way to jobs in lower-paying industries."<sup>6</sup> All told, jobs in growing industries like lower-paid service sector/fast food jobs are paying 21% less than contracting industries like real manufacturing.

<br><br>The president's efforts to manipulate statistics and mislead Americans are also getting a boost from his allies on Capitol Hill. Earlier this month, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Don Nickles (R-OK) pointed to an optimistic "household" jobs survey as proof that "we're at an all-time high in employment" and that "the employment situation has improved rather substantially."<sup>7</sup> The problem is that Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said definitively that "payroll data" - not the household survey - "is the series which you have to follow" in order to be accurate. The payroll data shows "a loss of more than two million jobs since 2001."






<br><br>Sources:
<ol>
<li> "<a href="http://slate.msn.com/id/2082321/" target="_blank">George Walker Hoover?</a>", <em>Slate</em>, 04/30/2003.</li>
<li> "<a href="http://abcnews.go.com/wire/Politics/ap20040218_1948.html" target="_blank">Bush Backs Off Forecast of 2.6M New Jobs</a>", <em>ABC News</em>, 02/18/2004.</li>
<li> <a href="http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2004/02/20040223-3.html" target="_blank">Remarks by the President to the National Governors Association</a>, 02/23/2004.</li>
<li> "<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2004/02/20/business/20jobs.html?pagewanted=print&position=" target="_blank">In the New Economics: Fast-Food Factories?</a>", <em>New York Times</em>, 02/20/2004.</li>
<li> "<a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/02/20/politics/main601336.shtml" target="_blank">Building Blue-Collar…Burgers?</a>", <em>CBS News</em>, 02/20/2004.</li>
<li> <a href="http://www.epinet.org/content.cfm/webfeatures_snapshots_archive_01212004" target="_blank">Economic Snapshots</a>, 01/21/2004.</li>
<li> "<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2004/02/22/business/yourmoney/22view.html" target="_blank">Two Tales of American Jobs</a>", <em>New York Times</em>, 02/22/2004.</li>
</ol>
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Old 02-24-2004, 03:59 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Mrbuck you might try adding your own thoughts instead of just posting links to anti-bush websites. We can find links on our own, and in of themselves they do not lead to discussion.
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Old 02-24-2004, 04:01 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I just like to keep people informed...sorry if i am boring you with this stuff.

mr b
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Old 02-24-2004, 05:20 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Obfuscate should be the middle name of this Administration, I mean come on...
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Old 02-24-2004, 05:24 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Obfuscate...good word. I have to admit, that i had to look that one up.

mr b
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Old 02-24-2004, 07:49 PM   #6 (permalink)
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not to mention economic truth on the foreign front...I'm going back for yet another stint in London this spring and I just realized how weak to dollar is because of the at home economic nightmare...sucks
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Old 02-24-2004, 08:01 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Ustwo
Mrbuck you might try adding your own thoughts instead of just posting links to anti-bush websites. We can find links on our own, and in of themselves they do not lead to discussion.
Mr.B, I'm afraid this is one time me and UsTwo are going to agree.
Your 2 arcticals have been interesting but were interested in your personal opinion and views to accompany it.
Thank you for the artical.
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Old 02-25-2004, 05:47 AM   #8 (permalink)
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It's an interesting argument. There has always been a lot of discussion around the classification of industries, google on SIC or NAICS and take a look at where various industries are classified, I'm sure you will be surprised by quite a few of them.

For instance, did you know that retail bakeries (e.g., doughnut shops) are included in the NAICS classification for bakery and tortilla manufacturers?

I don't buy into the argument fully but it's interesting.
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Old 02-25-2004, 09:15 PM   #9 (permalink)
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id like to know something, apparantly US economic growth has had a record year. but with record job losses etc, how can this be.

One thing i though might be the soloution, is military spending included in calculating growth, if so, then any president that declares war will look like an economic hero, which bush clearly is not
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Old 02-25-2004, 09:33 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Hanabal
id like to know something, apparantly US economic growth has had a record year. but with record job losses etc, how can this be.
We did not have record job losses, employment is up and is considered full employment by all previous standards (below 6% unemployment).
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Old 02-26-2004, 05:15 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Hanabal
id like to know something, apparantly US economic growth has had a record year. but with record job losses etc, how can this be.

One thing i though might be the soloution, is military spending included in calculating growth, if so, then any president that declares war will look like an economic hero, which bush clearly is not
Jobs are always the LAST indicator to recover from a downturn. Rising productivity is complicating this recovery. The more productive a worker is, the fewer workers required to produce a given output.

Typically, in a recovery, you'll see employed workers up their hours. In some cases this means overtime while in others it means salaried workers are expected to put in more "unpaid" time. Eventually companies are convinced that they need to hire more workers and employees are hired. A major trend in recent years has been to hire temps or part time workers to avoid paying medical benefits. At some point, when the growth appears real and sustainable, companies begin to hire full time workers with benefits.
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Old 02-26-2004, 05:46 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Ustwo
We did not have record job losses, employment is up and is considered full employment by all previous standards (below 6% unemployment).
Exactly. There will always be unemployment due to natural job destruction (ie. old industries being replaced by new ones). The natural rate of rate of unemployment has been estimated at around 6% and anything lower than that is an indication of overemployment which causes its own problems.

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Old 02-26-2004, 06:04 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by onetime2
It's an interesting argument. There has always been a lot of discussion around the classification of industries, google on SIC or NAICS and take a look at where various industries are classified, I'm sure you will be surprised by quite a few of them.

For instance, did you know that retail bakeries (e.g., doughnut shops) are included in the NAICS classification for bakery and tortilla manufacturers?

I don't buy into the argument fully but it's interesting.
You'll also notice that the NAICS classification goes to SIX digits, whereby allowing the researcher to drill-down to find more specific data. It's a way of organizing, and yes, it changes frequently (once every ten years or so). So, why shouldn't donuts be classified under bakeries in the broader sense? I would bet that when you get to 4, 5, and 6 digits, it all settles out.

Sorry..didn't mean to belabour the point, but you can't discount statistics without looking into the theory behind them. They're an anthropogenic tool used to track and provide desired information. If you don't like it, you can change it, or you can use different metrics.

That said, if the Bush administration (or any other for that matter) should choose to "misreport" or "mislead" using statistics (and it happens all the time, all over the world), it's the job of the watchdog agencies to keep the public informed; and good on them for doing so.

It's the skeptic's, or the critic's job to "ask the next question" in cases like this. It seems it's being done.

Last edited by kulrblind; 02-26-2004 at 06:07 AM..
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Old 02-26-2004, 06:25 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by kulrblind
You'll also notice that the NAICS classification goes to SIX digits, whereby allowing the researcher to drill-down to find more specific data. It's a way of organizing, and yes, it changes frequently (once every ten years or so). So, why shouldn't donuts be classified under bakeries in the broader sense? I would bet that when you get to 4, 5, and 6 digits, it all settles out.

Sorry..didn't mean to belabour the point, but you can't discount statistics without looking into the theory behind them. They're an anthropogenic tool used to track and provide desired information. If you don't like it, you can change it, or you can use different metrics.

That said, if the Bush administration (or any other for that matter) should choose to "misreport" or "mislead" using statistics (and it happens all the time, all over the world), it's the job of the watchdog agencies to keep the public informed; and good on them for doing so.


It's the skeptic's, or the critic's job to "ask the next question" in cases like this. It seems it's being done.
If you're going to suggest digging into the facts, please follow your own advice. Your bet on it "settling out" would cost you money.

Going to six digits does not change the fact that it falls under the category of "manufacturing" while fast food jobs are classified as a "service".
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Old 03-04-2004, 04:54 AM   #15 (permalink)
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If you check the fine print on the NAICS coding, you'll find this (following the "donut" example"):
Quote:
445291 Baked Goods Stores

This U.S. industry comprises establishments primarily engaged in retailing baked goods not for immediate consumption and not made on the premises.

Cross-References. Establishments primarily engaged in--

* Retailing baked goods via electronic home shopping, mail-order, or direct sale--are classified in Subsector 454, Nonstore Retailers;
* Selling snack foods (e.g., doughnuts, bagels, ice cream, popcorn) for immediate consumption--are classified in U.S. Industry 722213, Snack and Nonalcoholic Beverage Bars; and
* Retailing baked goods made on the premises but not for immediate consumption--are classified in Industry 311811, Retail Bakeries.
This leads me to believe that donuts (however you wish to spell them) would not be classified under "bakeries" but under Snack and Nonalcoholic Beverage Bars. I'll open that up to alternative interpretation.

So, onetime2, you were right in asking me to consider it again. I'm glad I did. I do maintain, however, that there are many reporting mechanisms, and perhaps in this situation, NAICS isnt' the best way to go. In Canada, we also have National Occupation Codes (I didn't google that for the USA), which can also shed light on occupational breakdown, and possibly not run into the same manufacturing/service issues.
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Old 03-04-2004, 06:02 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by kulrblind
I do maintain, however, that there are many reporting mechanisms, and perhaps in this situation, NAICS isnt' the best way to go. In Canada, we also have National Occupation Codes (I didn't google that for the USA), which can also shed light on occupational breakdown, and possibly not run into the same manufacturing/service issues. [/B]
My point from the beginning has been that looking at and possibly reorganizing the current classification system isn't an outrageous idea.

Is there a considerable economic difference between someone who solders two electronic components together and someone who heats a burger patty and throws lettuce on it? Why does the "immediate consumption" of the burger make it a service when, if that same burger was then frozen and packed off to the 7/11 for resale, it would be a manufactured good?
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Old 03-04-2004, 06:31 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by onetime2
My point from the beginning has been that looking at and possibly reorganizing the current classification system isn't an outrageous idea.
Quite right: it's not an outrageous idea. I think this is the main reason why NAICS took over where SIC left off (SIC was brought into use in the 1930s and phased out in the 80s), and why there are frequent changes to NAICS. Lying (for lack of a better word) through statistics isn't a new phenomenon, and while the prospect of constructing a new system which classifies goods and services in an 'irrefutable' manner seems attractive, there's always the risk that even those stats will be used in ways that are less than scrupulous.

edit: this just in: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...62525?v=glance
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Old 03-04-2004, 07:43 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by kulrblind
Quite right: it's not an outrageous idea. I think this is the main reason why NAICS took over where SIC left off (SIC was brought into use in the 1930s and phased out in the 80s), and why there are frequent changes to NAICS. Lying (for lack of a better word) through statistics isn't a new phenomenon, and while the prospect of constructing a new system which classifies goods and services in an 'irrefutable' manner seems attractive, there's always the risk that even those stats will be used in ways that are less than scrupulous.

edit: this just in: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...62525?v=glance
My goal isn't to minimize the lying as it will, unfortunately, always occur. My point is purely from an economic perspective. The fast food industry, for example, is pointed to with such disdain when in fact it really is an interesting business that can be likened to the early days of other "factory" work.

I remember the transition from SIC to NAICS quite well as I was working as an economist at the time of transition. Of course, electronic media was just coming into play so we were inundated with massive volumes of SIC to NAICS conversion tables, definitions, and methodologies. While there will never be a perfect solution to the classification of industries questions need to be asked constantly about the logic being followed and the impacts of different classifications. Where your business is classified can have a huge effect on subsidies, tax rates, and employment prospects.
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