"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Monday, February 6, 2012

The White House Thinks You're Stupid

Here's Jay Carney, the White House Press Secretary, responding today to a question about the shrinking of the U.S. labor force and its impact on the unemployment rate:

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney explained that the number of people dropping out of the work force, which artificially depresses the unemployment rate, can be regarded as an "economic positive."

"A large percentage of that is due to younger people getting more education, which in the end is an economic positive," Carney said. "This increase in the number of people leaving the work force has been a trend and a fact since 2000, because of an aging population, which is not to say this is wholly -- that's not to say that I would wholly disregard as an issue." Carney had been asked about the 19 million underemployed or unemployed Americans, and about people who had left the work force.

"I think some of those who, I suppose, don't wish us well politically have tried to make a point about this," he also said. "The facts are that in these most recent numbers, this is not an issue of people leaving the work force; the numbers are positive across the board."

 "This increase in the number of people leaving the work force has been a trend and a fact since 2000."
Well, that might be true.... except for the fact that it's not. The labor force graphs you can make at the federal government's own Bureau of Labor Statistics with the press of a button show the labor force growing steadily every year since they started collecting data in 1947, and only flattening out beginning in 2008, i.e., when He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Blamed got the Democratic nomination and started to look like he might win the Presidency:

It literally took me 30 seconds to create this graph.   What do you think the odds are that anyone in the White House Press Corps bothers to do this modicum of fact-checking?

Just a couple of data points: January 2001 labor force = 143,800,000; January 2005 labor force = 148,029,000; January 2009 labor force = 154,236,000; January 2012 labor force = 154,395,000. So contrary to Carney's spin (which is the standard, Bush did it too and worse spiel), the labor force grew by more than 10 million during the eight years of the Bush administration, while it has grown by only 159,000 in the three years of the Obama administration. The "trend" has actually changed, Jay!

They must think we're stupid, or something.

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