Time to appoint a secretary of numbersIt might be time to add another executive position in Wisconsin. Because we can’t seem to agree about the number of deer in Wisconsin, the number of jobs the governor has created, how budget cuts have affected public education or the numbers of people potentially affected by the Affordable Health Care Act, it’s time to appoint the secretary of numbers.
By: La Crosse Tribune, Wis., Superior Telegram
It might be time to add another executive position in Wisconsin.
Because we can’t seem to agree about the number of deer in Wisconsin, the number of jobs the governor has created, how budget cuts have affected public education or the numbers of people potentially affected by the Affordable Health Care Act, it’s time to appoint the secretary of numbers.
While we’re at it, we might as well create a federal executive level cabinet position, too, because we seem to be spinning numbers at all levels of government. Toss in some partisan politics, and it leaves us dizzy.
Case in point: Last week the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the July unemployment numbers that showed Wisconsin’s jobless rate increased from 7 to 7.3 percent, resulting in a loss of 6,500 jobs.
The response from Nicole Tieman, the Wisconsin communications director for the Republican National Committee: “Once again, residents of Wisconsin have received more dismal news about the state of the Obama economy. Over the last four years, President Obama’s failed economic policies have left us with more unemployment, more debt, and more uncertainty for middle-class families struggling to make ends meet.”
The response from Gov. Scott Walker: “These estimates are currently unreliable for Wisconsin because, for the first time ever, the federal government benchmarked this estimate off of only two quarters of actual jobs data.”
Are you confused yet?
Walker is correct that the quarterly data — which is collected from reports filled out by most of Wisconsin’s employers with workers covered by unemployment insurance — is more accurate than the monthly survey data that is from smaller data set and has a larger measure of error.
Walker pointed to jobs data from the first three months of the year that shows Wisconsin added 37,464 private-sector jobs from March 2011 through March 2012, information that the federal bureau would not normally release until Sept. 27. The monthly report in March said Wisconsin had lost 11,300 jobs.
It’s difficult to believe any numbers in the middle of an election season. Politicians have long used smoke, mirrors and incantations to make numbers look better or worse to either support their cause or attack their competition. Obama clearly wants to divert attention from his economic record. And Walker has mastered the Teflon approach when it comes to taking credit for job growth and blaming the Obama administration at the same time.
Regardless of which set of numbers you use, Wisconsin is still a long ways away from the governor’s goal of creating 250,000 jobs.
It’s silly when politicians promise jobs in the first place, particularly when politicians at the state and certainly at the local level have little to do with the national economy. And it seems like we’re always waiting for the results of the next election before the real job creators — the business sector — is going to do something with the trillions of dollars in cash it is sitting on.
Until then, let’s appoint a Numerals Czar. In between helping count deer and playing the job shell game, perhaps he or she can divine the numbers to the next lottery jackpot or figure out the point spread for the Packers’ season opener.
(c)2012 the La Crosse Tribune (La Crosse, Wis.)
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