Friday, January 28, 2011

Michele Bachmann pinned my bogometer!

In her Tea Party Express reply to the State of the Union address Representative Michele Bachmann showed us an Unemployment Rate bar chart. It supposedly compares the rate each year under the Bush and Obama administrations. The implied message obviously was that the recession and resulting misery was solely due to Obama. But, wait a minute. Why are there three blue bars for an administration that’s been in office for just two years? The opposite of credibility is bogosity. It’s measured with a bogometer, and “pinning my bogometer” means that you said something incredibly bogus.


The bar chart she used is shown above. (I have changed the background to purple for artistic reasons). When you see a bar chart with annual entries, they usually are the average for that year. The tiny legend at the bottom says that these data actually are just from the month of October (except for the bogus 2011 point from December 2010).  Going from 2008 to 2009 the rate jumped up by 3.5%. 


What was the monthly unemployment rate doing from 2008 to 2010? You can find the data and another very long bar chart on the Misery Index web site. A graph is shown above. Unemployment rose during 2008 under Bush, and it continued to rise in 2009 after Obama took over. Both Republicans and Democrats got us into this mess, and they will need to work together to get us out of it.

I don’t know why Bachmann chose to use monthly numbers from October in her chart. If she had chosen to use May or June the rate jump would have been 4.0% rather than 3.5%. (Using December it would have been a less impressive 2.6%).

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