Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Bill Mitchell — Back to the future – employment freezes – they only degrade services

A report in the The Washington Post (January 23, 2017) – The Trump administration just told a whopper about the size of the federal workforce – caught my attention earlier this week because it cut across some work I had been doing on public employment. The headline is self-explanatory – the accusation was that Sean Spicer lied in his first press briefing following the inauguration of the new President. The reporter in question (Christopher Ingraham) promoted his article with a Tweet and accompanying image which was then circulated widely on the Internet. The graph is what attracted my attention given that I rarely read the Washington Post, since it sold pages to the likes of Peter Peterson and allowed propaganda to parade as news. In this case, the problem was that the graph provided was highly misleading and didn’t refute anything that Sean Spicer had said about US federal government employment. Spicer had lied. But the Washington Post tweet didn’t prove that. This failing highlights an often-made confusion in the public – the difference between proportions and levels and the way graphs can lure us into wrongful conclusions. The sort of puzzle that young students in statistics are taught to work through. The other point is that employment freezes degrade public services and end up not saving cash anyway....
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
Back to the future – employment freezes – they only degrade services
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

No comments: