Sunday, August 21, 2011

Figures Don't Lie, But Rick Perry Figures

Definition of Statistics: The science of producing unreliable facts from reliable figures ~ Evan Esar (1899 to 1995) an American humorist who wrote Esar's Comic Dictionary 1943, "Humorous English" in 1961, and 20,000 Quips and Quotes in 1968.

The following monologue is an excerpt from the Thom Hartmann Radio Program, 8/17/2011, which I edited for brevity and clarity. Thom's rant concerns Texas Governor (and 2012 presidential candidate) Rick Perry's claims of job creation in his state...

Thom Hartmann: Rick Perry is running around saying, quote, "Since June of 2009, Texas is responsible for more than 40 percent of all of the new jobs created in America. Now think about that. We’re home to less than 10 percent of the population in America, but 40 percent of all the new jobs were created in that state". End of quote.

Now, notice that he says since the end of June 2009. If you go back to 2008, jobs actually grew faster in Massachusetts (a classic example of "figures don't lie, but liars can figure"). And secondly, Texas has actually done worse than the rest of the country in increasing rates of unemployment. In fact they are the worst in the country, in terms of how rapidly unemployment has increased in the state.

Why? For the exact same reason why they have created more jobs than any other state - because over 437 thousand people of working age people (it's probably over a million when you consider their spouses and children) have moved into Texas. Many of them from Mexico. Many of them from surrounding states. But because Texas by-and-large doesn't enforce anti-immigration laws like Arizona, a lot of illegal immigrants are moving out of Arizona into Texas, and because Texas hasn't a higher minimum wage than any other state, you've got a lot of cheap labor in that state. A lot of cheap labor.

So, 437 thousand people moved into the state, and the state only created 126 thousand jobs. So, Texas has seen an explosion in unemployment. Over 300 thousand people - the most rapid explosion of unemployment in the entire United States. At the same time they created more jobs.

I would submit, that probably the major factor, is that because of Senate bill 1070 in Arizona, people who are in Arizona illegally... or simply people who are in Arizona and committing the crime of walking down the street while being Hispanic, even if they're American citizens... those people are saying screw this hostile atmosphere, I'll go to Texas, where people are actually, in many parts of Texas, proud of the fact that they're bilingual, and a lot of people have Mexican heritage. People who are 5th generation American Texans, are proud of their Mexican heritage.

So you've got a lot of people moving out of Arizona and into Texas. But while 126 thousand of them found a job, 300 thousand of them didn't. It turns out Rick Perry is really wrong. But expect him to repeat it... it's his lie.

Note: If you are a subscriber to the Thom Hartmann program podcast, the location of this segment of audio can be found at 13:30 to 17:03 of Hour 2 on Wednesday August 17 of 2011.

SWTD #91


  1. But wait! Jobs grew faster in Massachusetts than in Texas? Massachusetts is a high tax state. I thought high taxes were suppose to suppress job least that is what all the rightwingers say. And you know what? Massachusetts beats Texas in a lot of areas. Plus, it is a hell of a lot nicer place to live than Texas.

  2. I live in Europe and don't follow day to day US politics except in as far as they affect the world (which is all too often). But I just learned this morning that Perry used to be a Democrat. What does that say about the absurd and meaningless 'distinctions' between your (mainstream) parties. It confirms me in my view that Obama, like Perry, could belong to either Party. Not the Tea Party, granted, but certainly to the liberal wing of the GOP. There are also raging Ziocons in the Democratic Party and, palpably, Perry himself must have been one. Obama, to me, doesn't believe in anything overmuch. He is a rabid moderate. A semi-detached fatalist like many Social Democrats across Europe. They are all useless, by the way.

  3. I was just here the other day, but ...

    Rusty recommended your site (perhaps accidentally) and made me take a closer look.

    You should think him for the advertizing.

  4. Sadly many people don't look past the 'talking points' and into the data. Nice elaboration on the topic, correlates with what I've observed as well. Perry's done far more harm to Texas than any small amount of good.

  5. This is all we need to see the "Texas Miracle" for the shameless sham it is.

    From USA Today:

    Others say the state's low tax burdens exact a high cost: fewer state services. Perry, for example, refused to raise taxes to close a $27 billion budget gap last spring. Instead, the Legislature slashed more than $4 billion in funding for public schools the next two years, a move that's likely to lead to tens of thousands of teacher layoffs.

    "We're not preparing our children to compete in tomorrow's economy," says Scott McCown, head of Texas' Center for Public Policy Priorities.

    Texas ranks 44th in the USA in per-student expenditures and 43rd in high school graduation rates, McCown says. Seventeen percent of Texans lived below the poverty level in 2009, compared with 14% for the nation. The state leads in the percentage of the population with no health insurance and was ninth in income inequality in the mid-2000s, the latest data available, according to McCown and the Economic Policy Institute.

    McCown says Texas should not serve as a job-growth paradigm for the rest of the nation.

    "If you're saying you want to look like Texas, you're saying you want to be poor and have less health care," he says.


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