Sunday, August 21, 2011

Weekend rant: the triumph of the Know-Nothings

- by New Deal democrat

It isn't just the right wing teabaggers whose know-nothing, "keep the government out of my Medicare" worldview is ascendant. On the left, it's pretty clear that a large part of the activist base wants no part of actual, you know, facts.

Last Wednesday the Pied Piper of Doom told his acolytes that:
What if ”they” told you that many, if not most, of the “official” economic numbers that have been hyped by our government and our private sector over the past few years—the very core statistics that form the faux “basis” of our society’s so-called, “professional” and pundit class’ economic analyses and the same numbers which are at the heart of our nation’s MSM reports on our economy, which then create the public’s perception about it, and our government’s response to it—have recently been proven to be so incredibly and grossly distorted in favor of Wall Street, that it’s now basic FACT that they were little more than corporatist hyperbole?

... the BEA, in Q1 ’11, screwed the pooch on what is, arguably, the single most important statistical indicator (and, certainly the most inherently flawed) of our economy, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ....
Unfortunately, this latest “chapter” in the story of the curtain being pulled back on the truth about our distorted economic “news” won’t be the last we hear of this propaganda travesty.

Stories of economic mis- and disinformation account for most of the “statistics” that we read and hear in the MSM concering our nation’s financial services sector, on a daily—if not hourly—basis, too.
Quelle surprise! The first estimate of quarterly GDP is ... an estimate! Beyond that, most of our economic statistics are "distortions," "propaganda," a "travesty," "mis- and disinformation." So, as one person finally noted, the Pied Piper of Doom's point "is that nothing anyone says can be trusted, even the final numbers, to any extent whatsoever, and ergo, we have to believe his conclusions."

Well, if that's the case, there's a little problem. Here's the Pied Piper of Doom only 3 days later:
By the way, and for the record, for any that deny what’s going on before their eyes, this month-over-month/year-over-year number inflation issue is not a “conspiracy theory.” These are cold, hard facts, (independently facilitated--without ANY inference/implication of collusion) by three separate entities publishing many of the most important key economic metrics utilized within our society: our government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the private sector’s National Association of Realtors.
Ummm, first of all, I didn't know the NAR had anything to do with generating the CPI report. Apparently that's in the double-secret Doomer spy kit. But more importantly, didn't we just hear that we're not supposed to trust any government economic statistics?!?

But wait, you say. In the first article, he was discussing GDP. In this one he's discussing inflation. Well then, let me take you all the way back to ... two weeks ago. That's when the Pied Piper of Doom told his audience that:
here we are, a year after Secretary Geithner’s failed message appeared in print, and what do we have? Economic realities that tell us things might morph, yet again, from very bad to worse. How bad? Here’s a link to the latest analysis from William Alden over at HuffPo: “Recession Fears Revived As Economic Data Point To Critically Weakened Growth.”
And what did the aforesaid William Alden rely upon? From the link:
[I]nvestors ... quickly changed focus to the increasingly ugly fundamentals: Gross domestic product is barely growing, the unemployment rate is high, home prices are falling and the manufacturing sector is suffering, with little relief in sight.

A stream of data in recent days vividly portrays a sick economy. One more obstacle, experts say, might put an end to growth.
The economic situation may be worse than the headline numbers make it seem. Economic output grew at an annual rate of just 0.85 percent in the first half of the year, the government announced Friday. Growth in the first three months clocked in at a meager 0.4 percent.
(my emphasis) Yep. The Pied Piper of Doom told his audience that "economic realities ... [are] morph[ing] from very bad to worse" because of downward revisions to GDP!!!

So, let me get this straight. Government statistics like GDP and payroll data are misinformation and propaganda, like when they show 9 straight quarters of growth from the 3rd quarter of 2009 on, except when they are revised downward. Then they're gospel. I'm sure there's a reason for that somewhere....

But it isn't just the Pied Piper of Doom I'm writing about. He got over 400 recommendations for that know-nothing screed. Here's a few of the comments:

- "Thanks for the confirmation of what many of us knew all along. The stats used in the Green Shoots diaries were known by many to be complete horseshit." (77 recs)

- "The official "unemployment" statistics are a total fabrication .... "They" don't tell you, because "they" don't want you to know" (48 recs)

- "Torture those numbers. Waterboard the numbers until they tell you what you want to hear!")

- "Of course government reporting is "managed". ... the fact that government is lying about its economic reporting"

- "Clap harder, everything will be all right. The government IS playing with number"

- "there is no shortage of idiots who will point to economic reports, dat, and statistics as somehow contradicting what peoples' personal experiences tell them."

That last one is a real gem. I don't know about you, but my personal experience everywhere I go is that the earth is flat, and plainly the sun, the moon, and the planets and stars all revolve around it.

That the Pied Piper of Doom is an economic dunce is plain if you actually dig into his record of over 100 false prophecies of Doom (saved on my hard drive), including for example multiple prophecies of imminent stock market crashes dating from May 2009 with the Dow Jones at about 7000. But he could not survive without his acolytes, for whom data is selectively accurate and selectively propaganda -- depending on whether it fits with their preconceived notions or not.

I never did a GBCW from DK. I left because even in the heyday only about 1 in 8 of my posts ever hit the rec list, and I am under no obligation to endure insults from people who plainly are not interested in factual debate. There is no point in attempting discourse with Know-Nothings - and with DK's participation numbers continuing to decline, it's clear that when it comes to the economy, Know-Nothings are the largest part of the remaining rump.

P.S.: Unlike DK, whose YoY readership continues to decline, our numbers are going up in this period of uncertainty. We're getting a bunch of new readers who have seen our work on Seeking Alpha, and we know that some others quietly sneak over here from DK to find out what is really going on.