How to Lose Trust

The AP reports that the White House, in measuring the effects of the economic stimulus program, is counting employee raises in salary as “jobs saved.”

“More than two-thirds of 14,506 jobs credited to the recovery act under spending by just one federal office were overstated because they counted pay increases for existing workers as jobs saved,” Brett Blackledge and Matt Apuzzo write. This kind of Orwellian funny business with definitions is an old trick, of course, but also the kind of  deception that President Barack Obama was supposed to eliminate. It is, after all, dishonest. It would be better to learn that this was the inadvertent mistake of some secretary somewhere, but no: according to the story, the Administration stands by its calculations, and defended the use of raises as “jobs saved.”

“If I give you a raise, it is going to save a portion of your job,” HHS spokesman Luis Rosero said.

Rosero then proceeded to sell the reporter a share of the Brooklyn Bridge. One of the resullts of this “logic” is that  it allows the Administration to save more jobs than there were in the first place. For example, to measure the jobs saved at the Southwest Georgia Community Action Council,they multiplied the 508 employees by 1.84 — the percentage pay raise they received — and voila!  935 jobs saved!

The problem with this, besides the obvious (it’s ridiculous!), is that it erodes the President’s most precious commodity: trust. People who twist facts and numbers like this are either con-artists or incompetents, and you shouldn’t never trust either. Today the papers were all about Democrats worried about the election results, but in the long run, this story is much more ominous.

2 thoughts on “How to Lose Trust

  1. I don’t know if it’s your mistake or his, but wouldn’t 508 * 1.84% be 9.35? Only because 1.84% actually looks like .0184 when you go to multiply….

    If it’s yours, I can’t blame you. I still don’t think there is logic in his claim. Even assuming that 1.84% of total payroll is the same amount they would have had to cut in terms of headcount, it still doesn’t jive. If there wasn’t 1.84% to increase pay – then they still would not have had to trim payroll at all – they’d be even.

    And even if they had to cut 1.84% of payroll – perhaps they would have eliminated 1 senior management position instead of 9 worker bees.

    You are absolutely right. This stinks.

  2. You mean, on top of everything else, they didn’t even multiply correctly? No, those figures are right out of the AP story. My mind is still boggled by it all. Thanks for actually doing the math.

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