There’s lots of talk right now about the people losing trust in government.
The current wisdom seems concerned that this is a bad development, that the government can only continue to grow and expand if the people trust what it is doing.
As Orrin Woodward and I recently wrote, the American founders thought the people should strongly mistrust government — and keep a close eye on everything it does in order to keep it in check.
When this happens, government is less likely to grow, and more likely to stay within the bounds of the Constitution.
But what happens when the government lies? Or lies consistently?
In fact, what happens when the government seems to adopt a policy of lying in order to promote its agenda?
For example, the new numbers from the Commerce Department say that the U.S. economy grew 1.7 percent in the second quarter of the year. This is still sluggish growth, but it’s “better than expected.”
The problem is that we were told that the growth in the first quarter of the year was 1.8%, but now that has been downgraded to 1.1%.
This is a recurring pattern. The government tells us over and over the economy is growing faster than the experts predicted, and uses statistics to prove its point. Then it notes that the amount it gave last time it shared such good news was actually inaccurate — and gives us a much lower revised statistic.
Mark Twain and Benjamin Disraeli are often credited with saying that, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”
Add to that “Revised Statistics,” which are a whole new level of lying.
Just have the experts suggest what is expected, then announce that things are better than we thought, then, a few months later note that, sorry, it was all wrong. Then repeat.
The government will look better than it should, and very few people will bother to notice or report the repeatedly revised numbers.
Too many people follow the narrative of “Look, the economy is getting better,” while the truth is something very different.
As the Associated Press reported on July 28, 2013:
WASHINGTON (AP) — Four out of 5 U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, near-poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives, a sign of deteriorating economic security and an elusive American dream.
“Survey data exclusive to The Associated Press points to an increasingly globalized U.S. economy, the widening gap between rich and poor, and the loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs as reasons for the trend.”
Four out of five adults are struggling in this economy. That’s the reality.
It’s time for people to look past most government statistics and the current trend of giving rosy reports now and then revising the numbers a few months from now.
A similar play on statistics has been used with unemployment rates, government spending, and the national debt.
People who want to stay free must read past statistics and government reports and really study the fine print.
Oliver DeMille is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling co-author of LeaderShift: A Call for Americans to Finally Stand Up and Lead, the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.
Among many other works, he is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, The Coming Aristocracy, and FreedomShift: 3 Choices to Reclaim America’s Destiny.
Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.