How to Tell a Truth with Numbers

How to tell a truth with numbers. *A* truth.

Gallup has complied a year end poll, to determine how people feel about their life in the current political environment.

Q: Are you better off than you were three years ago, or not?

61% say they are better off as compared to 45% in previous poll. Sounds good, right? In an effort to match apples to apples, Gallup posited the question in relation to the previous incumbent President. So..we’re talking, as compared to Barrack Obama. As compared to Obama between terms, so…that means from the beginning of 2012. three years before that, is 2008-2009. Which is the beginning of the global financial crisis that had the US reeling.

Honestly, I am surprised only 45% said their lives were better off at that time, although the economy had not yet recovered and was in recession at end of 2011. I can’t blame Gallup for matching apples to apples, but this data doesn’t tell us anything, except that people tend to feel better when the world doesn’t feel as if it is collapsing.

People felt as if they were doing better this time around as compared to the 2012 to 2008-2009 comparison, and surely there is empirical data that would support sound reasons for people to have that feeling.

Now this is much more interesting:

Q: Is America as respected throughout the world as it was three years ago, or not?

38% say yes. 59% say no. Again this is matched apples to apples with Obama; compared to what someone would think in relation to 3 years earlier, so again 2008 2009.

A lot to think about here, isn’t there.

For Trump’s term(s) we are comparing beginning of 2020 to 2016. We have to think, hold on, shouldn’t that be 0%? Don’t we all know that clearly the US is viewed much less favorably on average throughout the world? How about if we ask the Europeans? Gallup did.

What is really odd about the US response is, why would Americans think the US wasn’t viewed more positively in the world in 2012, then in 2008-2009? 30%? when clearly EU had a very positive feeling about the change to Obama. I don’t know. I suspect US citizens were feeling bad about our part in the global meltdown and ongoing Middle East bullshit at that time. No idea.

Back to Trump, how could we possibly come to 38%? Because:

70% Republicans feel that is the correct answer

9% Democrats fell that is the correct answer

32% independents feel that is the correct answer.

It doesn’t matter what the world might think. How do you feel the world thinks, or even better, how do you feel the world should rightly think.

To Trump’s followers, the US *is* stronger as a nation and their leader keeps everyone else guessing what he might do next. Other nations fear the US and therefore respect the US. Even if they say that they do not respect the US, it is because they fear the might of the US, as they should. So- their feelings are incorrectly expressed. Our feelings are correct.

Polls like this are a truth. They are not uniformly or even realistically the truth.

Trump’s 2021 Proposed Budget

Each year I have read through the Trump administration’s proposed budget and various proposals at reshaping the government to their desires. Every proposal by this administration has been more of an ideological device than sound, realistic policy. The proposed 2021 fiscal year budget is no exception.

The Trump administration continues to promote policies whose goals are to create a dumber, sicker, less secure populace; viewed more as a cog in an idealized, 50’s era, workforce deployment, that reflects an unquestioning, patriarchal society which could never again exist. We should be more beholden to private enterprise, and less concerned with social well-being. We should be vocationally trained, and less inquisitive or enriched by higher education. We are ideally represented by hard-hat wearing men without a social safety net; pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. Our social needs are replaced with “synergies,” “cost savings,” and “less redundancies.”

We should work long, sweaty days in a resource based economy in which industry is unconstrained by regulation or social concern. Deregulation and privatization are the name of the game wherein the extraction of oil and gas on the backs of human labor, generates huge income for the dynastic family wealth already ensured in “tax reform.” The movers and shakers on Wall Street will smoke cigars in back rooms and make one-off deals with a handshake, as they ogle the young flesh for their entertainment.

We shall continue to be less concerned with the state of the world, except as it affects us. We don’t care for the causes of anything; we respond with well-funded threats. Population displacement-a wall, unbalanced trade- unilateral tariffs, political differences-how about a war? How does that sound.

As usual, there are cuts to everything except to the military, veterans, and the new and exciting space-force!

Unrealistic and not at all reflective of what will take place in Congress. I expect the usual horse trading of military for social programs as Congress will once again ignore the administration’s input.

Keep in mind, in 2016, ol’ Mitch baby held up the budget for the incoming “President.” This resulted in immediately highlighting what an inept administration the US had and how unprepared the GOP was to be the governing party instead of the obstructionist party as they could not come up with a budget the *entire* year in which they were already operating. The US survived on perpetual continuing resolutions.

Democrats could do the same thing if they wanted. Could use continuing resolutions for October, November, and December (Fiscal year starts Oct.1). I don’t think they will, because McConnell would probably not blink and force the Democrats to shut down the government before elections. Right? Right.

How to Lie with Numbers

There were many lies, misrepresentations, and false attributions in Donny’s State of the Union Address. We expected that.

I’d like to draw our attention to a particularly nefarious implied truth, wrapped up in a slight-of-hand misrepresentation:

“Since my election, the net worth of the bottom half of wage-earners has increased by 47 percent – 3 times faster than the increase for the top 1 percent.”

This statement is true. What it implies, is not. These types of misrepresentations are the worst sort of statistical manipulation to imply facts that simply are not true. As I have pointed out in other posts throughout my years- numbers can lie, even when they are true.

The implication is some purposeful acceleration, through Donny’s agenda and GOP legislation, of the bottom halves percentiles’ share of total wealth as if, at some point, 50% of the population will likely mirror the top 1%’s share. Even on it’s face, this wouldn’t be something to sing hosannas about, would it.

It is possible, in about 25 years, at these rates, the bottom 50% could achieve the same measure of wealth as the top 1%. The problem is, there is zero context, and this actually taking place, would presume events that could not happen.

Wealth in this fashion is measure by household, not by person. It is also a mean number, not an average. Usually one could argue that means and averages often come out close. Not in this case. because the bottom 10%’s net wealth is a negative number. The top 40-50% net wealth, is the equity in the family house and some amount of IRA or similar. These increases in wealth were naturally accrued over time and are entirely affected by forces outside the control of the wealth holder.

Beginning to see the problem here?

There is no reflection of the cost of living. No inflation. How many hours does someone have to work to stay at water level? We aren’t talking about people playing the stock market and real estate investment vehicles. The people in the bottom 50% that are above water have zero liquidity.

That entire 50% bracket delays healthcare or doesn’t get healthcare at all because they have no money and/or shitty insurance. These people live paycheck-to-paycheck. Half of older American have no retirement savings...zero saving for their retirement, and neither does 1/4 total of the US populace.

Almost 60 percent of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings, meaning an emergency expense would put many people in debt.

Get the picture?

Now for the absolute numbers that Donny was so proud of:

Between the end of 2016 and the end of 2019, 1% of the US population increased their share of total US wealth from 29.18 Trillion to 34.53 Trillion Dollars.

In that same time frame, the bottom 50% of the US population increased their share of total US wealth from 1.08 Trillion to 1.67 Trillion dollars.

1% -$34.53 Trillion, or $1,046,363 per theoretical person.

50% -$1.67 Trillion, or $10,182 per theoretical person.

All things being equal, which they aren’t, if the rich households had the same number of people in them, which they don’t (but let’s pretend they do), the top 1% people would be worth 103x the amount of those in the bottom 50%.

I can only guesstimate the actual number would be something in the area of 140x.

Why Not?

Donald Trump’s 2020 State of the Union Address was crafted for 1/2 of Congress and a minority of the electorate. It wasn’t a speech for me and you. What we may think of it doesn’t matter to Donny, to the GOP, or to Trump’s base. They could not care less.

His speech was full of inaccuracies and childish boastfulness. That is par for the course, right? It was a crafted reality show with special guest appearances. There were many outright lies that are now commonplace in political discourse. We can fact-check Donny until we are blue in the face. No one cares. No one is going to change their mind.

But then an odd thing happened.

She did it.

Why not?

We are shocked! Or are we pleased? Are we wringing our hands in that special, knee-jerk, overly reflective way that only liberals can?

The hysterical cries of foul! were immediate and uniform across what used to be the conservative electorate and their chosen talking heads.

“How dare you Madam!” …and the charges and counter charges flew in mighty battle.

“But he didn’t shake her hand!” “But he lied, he’s always lying!”

So what. No one cares. No needle is moved, except…

Take this as a wake-up call. There is one enemy. One.

The enemy isn’t Bernie Sanders or the Bernie Bros or Pete Buttigieg for his brazen proclamation or Warren not saying the right thing or Joe because he’s lame sauce or Klobuchar’s middle-of-the-road-iness, or any of the other fucking shit that liberals are so desperate to self-destruct with.

The only thing we have to do is get out and vote for our candidate. Everyone. That’s it. That is all.

There is one enemy. Stop trying to find a way to fuck this up.

She did it, and that’s totally cool. Don’t apologize. There is neither a defense that needs to be formulated nor a relative subject requiring your engagement. The whataboutisms in relationship to it, mean exactly nothing. Not an argument worth having.

Stick out your tongue if you feel like it. Just don’t fuck this up.

The Theory

Iraqi Parliament was already prepared to take a vote to demand US forces leave their nation. With the drone strike that killed head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force, Qasem Soleimani, and head of the Iran-backed Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, this is probably a foregone conclusion considering what an escalation will mean throughout the Middle East and particularly in Iraq.

If the US remains, there will not only be escalating proxy battles with Iranian-backed militias, there will be internal strife as Iraqi national forces are forced to take sides and possibly inter-militia fights as some forces would prefer Iran to leave and some not. Total mess.

Some have reported that it was Iraq itself which provided the intel to the US, as to the impending arrival of Soleimani, this isn’t necessary to my theory, but it is possible and also it fits nicely from Iraq’s position as killing two birds with one stone. I had also heard it was possible Soleimani was not arriving to mastermind some new plot in Iraq, but instead he wished to attend to the mourning of the 25 militia killed in the previous bombing. Maybe. Who knows.

Donald Trump is easily the dumbest piece of shit to ever occupy the White House, but he can comprehend simple concepts. So a simple concept arrived in this form:

Trump is informed a high value Iranian target will be arriving in Iraq within very easy reach within days. Trump says, “Let’s kill him.” Military responds with the need to run this by Iraq first since it will be a dronestrike by the Baghdad airport. Military returns to Trump with, “Iraq already wants us to leave, if we do this thing, Parliament will vote upon this shortly and say as much.”

Trump says, “That sounds great.”

Iraq agrees.

Therefore, there will be an escalation of proxy battles for some amount of time within Iraq, until the withdrawal from Iraq is announced in accordance with Iraqi Parliament’s wishes. Trump gets to act like he’s a tough guy that had a plan all along, and he is also following his promise as candidate Trump to leave all wars in the Middle East.

At some point this year, Baghdad will be the new evacuation of Saigon, and it will look about the same for US forces. Of course, this does not signal the end of escalation with Iran, the US just withdraws from the Iraqi theater. So perhaps, Trump will have that which he cannot foresee yet. No proxy battle in Iraq? Where would you like to continue? In the Persian Gulf, Israel, Saudi Arabia? The Middle East is fucked for the foreseeable future.

Not to mention whatever this ridiculous “maximum pressure” plan may have hoped for, like pressuring capitulation to demands that aren’t even fully understood, or expecting a political upheaval and overthrow in Iran; those dreams are long gone.

Iran will be in the position it always longed for, well positioned control across the region. Russia is very happy indeed. Iraq is left to try to figure out how to undo Iranian influence in their country.

Good luck with that.