March 21, 2006

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

When Gordon Brown gives his budget tomorrow, he'll probably begin by reeling off a number of economic indicators, which to be fair normally sound impressive. Things like "we've got the fastest growing economy in the G8" and "we've got the lowest unemployment in 30 years". And well done to him.

But then you hear George Bush try and do the same thing and he sounds like a gimp. At a briefing in Washington, he just came out with lines like this:

"We've got lower 'average' unemployment than in the 70s, 80s and 90s"
"We've got higher levels of investment than the whole of the EU combined"

And there were others…

Firstly, what does 'lower average unemployment' mean? Nothing to those on the dole, but nothing statistically either.

And secondly, whoop-de-doo! Higher levels of anything than the whole of the EU shouldn't be a big achievement for the US considering its size and the fact that newer members of the EU25 have relatively unadvanced economies.

Nothing he said suggested that the American economy was in a healthy state at all, but you can bet that the Americans will lap up his positive rhetoric, despite the completely hollow foundations that lie underneath Bush's statistics.

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