March 6th, 2009

flock

Defining your way into success

So, the Obamessiah claiims his plan will "create or save 3.5 million jobs". That "or save" is a bit of weasel wording analogous to the weight loss products that say you'll lose "up to 20 pounds". "Up to 20 pounds" means some value not exceeding 20 pounds, so losing zero pounds counts. (Or for that matter, so does gaining weight. "I lost -20 pounds on the So-and-So Weight Loss Plan!")

How could The One fail to do what he promised? The only way would be if, after his plan is adopted, there comes to be fewer than 3.5 million jobs in the whole country, which I think unlikely. As of 2007, there were 138 million taxpayers in the US; if that's the working population, that would mean that unemployment would have to rise to 100 * (1 - 3.5/38), about 91 percent. At the height of the Great Depression, unemployment was at 24.9 percent. So, unless unemployment becomes nearly total, expect the Democrats to boast of the Obamessiah's triumph.

Actually, perhaps the better example is one that I recall from a book on lying with statistics. Stalin would cite some goal for the Five Year Plan, say that corn production would increase by 10%. If corn production increased not at all, that would be called a huge success--after all, corn production was at 91% of the goal!
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