Data and Economics

The Challenge

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One of the great responses to data driven arguments, especially by those who are more prone to ideological predispositions, is that you can “make” the data say whatever you want to support your case.  There’s also the Mark Twain quote about the three types of lies, “Lies, damn lies, and statistics”.  That’s a common club to play when you find yourself staring up at a heap of hard evidence standing between you and the holy truths your “gut” is telling you. With all of this in mind, let’s wager a challenge. The chart above is raw data taken from the U.S. Department of Labor, The Department of Economic Analysis and the Department of Management and Budget.  The challenge: Find a way to “make” that data tell a story that would compel lower and middle class America to believe that the only path to tangible economic outcomes that benefit them, is through corporate profit growth.  Now go sell that message so convincingly that they believe that their government should maintain historically low taxes to preserve that growth and take on unprecedented debt in order to fund social programs that benefit middle and lower class Americans.  Pretty simple right?  Well here’s the tricky part.  Make a convincing argument that the only way to end this vicious cycle of spiraling debt is to stop funding these social programs that benefit middle and lower class Americans because the very existence of those social programs is choking free markets and killing economic growth.   Do this, using the data in the chart above. Good luck and Godspeed.