Democrats Promoting Innumeracy

Our leaders' lies are undermining Americans' ability to count.

On April 10, the Wall Street Journal had a short note on page A1:

J.P. Morgan CEO Dimon received $11.8 million in 2013, a raise in awarded pay but a pay cut by SEC methodology.

This article illustrates the Alice-In-Wonderland world of government accounting.  Mr. Dimon got a raise, but the SEC, arbiter of the exact wording of all disclosures businesses make to investors, says he's received a pay cut.

You'd think that anybody who's smart enough to get enough income to have any left over to invest could figure out the difference, but the SEC says that investors are so easily confused that businesses must describe all facts relating to the business in the way the SEC specifies.  It doesn't matter whether people can understand what's said, what's important is saying it the way the SEC requires.

The SEC isn't alone.  The rest of the federal government has a deliberate policy of misstating what they do with money.  Mr. Obama took great pride in claiming that his budget included many spending cuts.  The mainstream media duly reported his "cuts," but didn't give any numbers.

It turns out that our politicians have passed a resolution that calls a budget a "cut" if the increase is less than planned.  Politicians talk about a 20% increase in some form of spending.  When they pass a 10% increase, they trumpet a 10% cut because the budget went up 10% less than they'd first planned - or perhaps first wished?  Dreamed?

It's no wonder the mainstream media didn't publish Mr. Obama's budget numbers - readers would have realized that he was spending more money than before and would have known that he was lying about cutting the budget.  What's more, he knows he's lying - otherwise, why doesn't he simply propose doubling everything, then trumpet 100% cuts when the budget stays the same as before?  It would be just as true, and every bit as legal.

Our politicians lie about inflation, too.  Anybody who buys groceries knows that food costs are going up.  Anybody who buys gasoline for a car knows that fuel prices are increasing.  Anybody who doesn't do either is too poor to matter or too rich to care.

Why, then, does the government persist in the transparently preposterous claim that we aren't suffering from inflation?  They changed the definition, of course, so they can make this claim with a marginally straight face -  the official inflation figures now officially leave out food and fuel, which is what normal people spend most of their disposable income one.  Administration apologists say the new measure is more accurate, but we think of it as just another of Mr. Obama's lies.

The Journal did us a huge favor by fighting for years to force the government to release data on how much government money each doctor is paid.  When the courts forced the government to release the data, we learned:

... several of the seven-figure ophthalmologists and oncologists just happen to be under investigation for Medicare fraud and also happen to be extravagant contributors to Democratic politicians.

... heart patients treated by Medicare spend four times longer in the hospital than comparable patients do.

Why are we surprised that the government fought so hard to keep the data private?  They're treating health care as just another political slush fund.

The SEC calls a pay raise a pay cut.  The Obama administration refers to "budget cuts" which are in fact spending increases.  They change the definition of inflation because they didn't like the numbers the older, more accurate definition produced.  And they tried to cover up how much Democratic politicians benefit from making phone calls to the Medicare bureaucracy on behalf of their heavy-hitting campaign contributors.

Do they think we're all innumerate?  Or do they figure that the 47% who benefit from government spending won't care as long as their personal share doesn't go down?

Will Offensicht is a staff writer for and an internationally published author by a different name.  Read other articles by Will Offensicht or other articles on Economics.
Reader Comments

Baseline budgeting has been around quite a while, I remember the white-wash of Clinton's budget using the same process. The budget process is a disaster and won't change until the power to raise taxes is regulated by constitutional amendment or super-majority of both houses. Further, it is not the responsibility of congress to pay for research or to fund studies that are not pertinent to national defense. If you want to know the mating habits of the snail darter or spotted owl, find a private organization to pay for it.

April 15, 2014 8:46 PM
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