A Stats Offender Registry
I was trying to make sense of a certain post by the Republican National Committee. It essentially accuses Obama of fudging the numbers on healthcare estimates. As evidence, it offers the following:
- Prior to the passage of the healthcare bill, Obama said that his proposal would cost roughly a certain amount over a decade. That law that actually went into effect, which was not Obama’s proposal, will cost more than that over a period that is both different and significantly longer than the one Obama used.
- Obama said that the healthcare act will lower premiums. The law will lower premiums over what they would be without the law but won’t, by itself, decrease them below what they were when the law was passed. Nobody thought it would. In another development that surprises nobody, the subsidies set to go into effect in 2014 aren’t lowering anybody’s costs yet. Because they haven’t gone into effect.
Now, RNC Research took a whole lot longer to write this all than I did. They used a whole lot of numbers. If you were really gullible and bad at math, I could see how you might believe their claim that this is a broken promise. But it’s really comparing disconnected numbers.
I like numbers. I hate to see them abused. So here’s my modest proposal: If you post something like the RNC does that blatantly abuses numbers in order to confuse and mislead people, your name should go into a statistics offender registry. Once you’re in that registry, you will only be allowed to purchase a keyboard without any numbers on it. The letters will work just fine—but that top row will simply be missing. You’ll still be able to talk in broad terms—but the numbers themselves will be safe from you.
Hopefully this will decrease recidivism.