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Monday, August 22, 2005

Bush Bashing Feels Soooooo Good...

...that some people are willing to use any distortion of the data.

I was recently emailed the following graph:

What's interesting is that the poster chose to use absolute numbers, not taking into account inflation, population growth, or growth in GDP, and by doing so, makes Bush look as bad as possible. The following chart shows this same data (going back to 1930), derived from data supplied by the Government Printing Office, using percentages of GDP instead of absolute numbers:

What a difference a little data normalization makes! Since I think the optimal amount for the federal government to borrow every year is about 2 percent (one of these days I'll post about why I think that), it looks pretty good to me.

But, if you want to bash Bush instead of having a rational discussion, you might as well use a data set that's not normalized and doesn't make any sense. Heck, you might as well use made up and totally bogus data!


Howard said...

Political hysteria aside, I wonder if people with DOD (deficit obsession disorder) realize 1)the near irrelevance of the deficit 2)what a totally government centric view of the economy DOD provides them with... what about the much larger private sector which generates the wealth and funds the public sector?

Bret said...

As you might've guessed, the first graph was posted on the tscobb email list. We're now engaged in a long and surprisingly civil discussion regarding this topic.

The government centric view is similar to that for science. Many people think that if it weren't for government, nothing would ever be invented. They forget that there were already 600,000 patents filed prior to 1900, and there was little government funding back then.

Howard said...

I had forgotten about those Marxists!
If they really want to worry about deficits then you have to do Japanese style - HUGE pork-barrel spending and no marginal or cap. gains tax cuts.