Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for July, 2009

American Growth

.
In his Town Hall Meetings Bernanke said:

“It takes GDP growth of about 2.5 percent to keep the jobless rate constant. But the Fed expects growth of only about 1 percent in the last six months of the year. So that’s not enough to bring down the unemployment rate.”

Inquiring minds might be asking: Why does it take 2.5% growth to keep the jobless rate constant? The answer is the first 2.5%+- of GDP is based on hedonics and imputations. In plain English, the first 2.5%+- of GDP (if not much more) is fictional. When the economy is growing at 2% it feels like a recession because it probably is, even though no one will admit it.

Now consider the implications of a 2.4% GDP forecast for three decades.

If Bernanke is correct that it takes 2.5% GDP growth just to keep the unemployment rate constant, and McKinsey is also correct in its 2.4% forecast, we will be stuck with 10% unemployment for decades.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com

Read Full Post »

(What to Change)

.
I read a book by Alvin Toffler, it was a follow-on to his seminal work “Future Shock”, it was either “War and anti-war” or “Powershift” I believe. He is worth a read even now many years after his books were first published. The concept I am interested in that he raised was that war is entirely possible in a positive context. We as often as not hear the refrain these days of “War, what is it good for, absolutely nothing”. He disputed that though, he framed the question rather differently and asked what would you be prepared to fight for? If you were faced with an appalling threat, at what point would you be prepared to sacrifice lives and treasure to whatever extent necessary, in order to defeat that threat to all you value and hold dear. To be sure; be exactly clear about what is at stake and what your motives are, but if the situation is clear, then be prepared to fight to the death for it. Know the answer to the question – what would you fight for?

The generation that fought the Nazi’s and Imperial Japan were in no doubt what was at stake and were prepared to use atomic weapons to stop their foe. Perhaps more significantly though, rather than analyse their thinking from the circumstances surrounding the use of Nukes, look instead to the situation that Britain faced in 1940. Here was a relatively small country that was faced with some pretty overwhelming odds, but instead of working out an accommodation and a truce, they stated “we will never surrender, we will fight you on the beaches, in the hedgerows, in the streets and the cities…”. Typically that is taken as referring to defending the homeland of Britain in the event of an invasion, and also as a degree of political blustering. I will argue that it was a lot more than that. I see it as a deadly promise and threat aimed at an absolute enemy. It would brook no quarter, ever, and encompassed fighting on forever, if that is what it took, in a vicious wrestling knife-fight until one of them was dead. Britain was going to attack and attack and attack and never relent until Nazi Germany was a smoking ruined wasteland. That is exactly what they achieved as well, the threat was prosecuted with extreme prejudice. They would kill men, women and children, in whatever numbers were necessary to defeat the enemy. If the Nazi’s were ruthless bastards, then they met their match in the British, because the British were very clear about what they believed in and were prepared to fight and die for it. In a manner that the Nazi’s never quite got around to until it was far too late, the British from the start mobilised their whole nation to fight a Total War.

There probably isn’t a need to fight total wars anymore. That was a function of a time and a place in history when social, economic and industrial forces converged to create the phenomena of Mass. Toffler wrote: “A Second Wave Society is industrial and based on mass production, mass distribution, mass consumption, mass education, mass media, mass recreation, mass entertainment, …and weapons of mass destruction”. The world has moved on from there, or at least I very much hope it has. However the lessons and consequences of history remain. New Zealand might like to think of itself as a peaceful country, but we are the descendants and beneficiaries of a culture and history of violence. Pakeha and Maori both are warrior peoples. We have succeeded in the human race by outfighting everyone else. That we have gotten along so well together is in part because we have recognized kindred spirits. When we jointly answered the call from the imperial centre, to return to do battle against fascism in Europe, we responded with alacrity. So lets not delude ourselves that we cannot or will not fight. But equally lets hope too that if we are called on to fight in the future, we are crystal clear about what we are fighting for. We are too small to be involved in any sort of mass confrontation except as allies, and actually we should probably not wish to get drawn into any such situation in the first place. But in the event that force is necessary to defend what we value, then we need to be able to do what we must, with determination, aggression and ruthlessness. We must ask, what is the objective, how do we mean to achieve it, what are we not prepared to do and are we in consensus on this issue? Recognizing always, that it is the option of last resort, not the first or second. Recognizing what can actually be achieved is also kind of useful – the art of the possible. New Zealand is a small country so lets always try to avoid that fatal mistake of overreach.

Casper Weinberger, the American Secretary of defence, came up with 6 points regarding how and when it was appropriate to use US military force in the service of the nation. I would subscribe to the general principles, and they are these:
(1) The United States should not commit forces to combat overseas unless the particular engagement or occasion is deemed vital to our national interest or that of our allies.
(2) If we decide it is necessary to put combat troops into a given situation, we should do so wholeheartedly and with the clear intention of winning.
(3) If we do decide to commit forces to combat overseas, we should have clearly defined political and military objectives.
(4) The relationship between our objectives and the forces we have committed–their size, composition, and disposition–must be continually reassessed and adjusted if necessary.
(5) Before the United States commits combat forces abroad, there must be some reasonable assurance we will have the support of the American people and their elected representatives in Congress.
(6) The commitment of US forces to combat should be a last resort.

These six points now comprise the tenets of what has become known as the Weinberger Doctrine. The doctrine provided a legitimate framework for the commitment of military forces. Additionally, it provides a legitimate framework for those situations where our national interests are considered vital to our national security

I will add to that list only; be aware that to employ the military is to unleash lethal force onto human beings as a deliberate act of policy. Make sure that it is in defense of what you hold nearest and dearest and that you would be not only be prepared to sacrifice your own life, but also be prepared to kill, in order to secure that objective.

That is the true and proper function of the military, don’t let anyone tell you differently, or try to manipulate, distort and transform the military into something else. Too often the Military is soft-pedalled from the get-go. What used to be the Ministry of War, is segued into the Ministry of Defence(because it sounds nicer). Actually, you defend yourself by making war, not by being defensive, that way lies the Maginot Line. Also, disaster relief, humanitarian missions, peacekeeping, search and rescue, coastguard, fisheries protection and the like are civil defence and policing functions, not military functions. They are distinctly different functions, don’t confuse them and don’t combine them. If you want civil defence, then institute a Civil Guard, don’t pile those roles onto the military just because you can, be very clear about roles and objectives.

(There is a very clear and immediate need for institutions of Civil defence, what I will call a National Guard, but it is not a military institution and it need not be an armed force per se. I will deal with the matter of a National Guard in a different Post.)

In conclusion: the military is the armed wing of the nation (with the monopoly on violence) to be used to prosecute war on the enemies of the country in defence of our vital interests. It is a vital function of government, don’t confuse it or adulterate it, your life might end up depending on it.
.

Read Full Post »

(What to Change)

.

In a revolution, depending on the sort and character of it, the military would have a pivotal role. In the first instance, the military is one of the arms of government with the monopoly of violence/force (along with the police) and the responsibility for maintaining the authority of the government. Both against foreign attack and against serious internal dissent or subversion. Ipso facto, revolution is an act of dissent and subversion. Specifically it is an attack on the institutions and laws of the State and the status quo.  Consequently, a revolution must either defeat the military power of the State, or subvert it. Fail to do so is to be left open to being crushed by it.  The military is a sworn service, the members of it have sworn an oath of loyalty and allegiance to the government, likewise with the police. There is a slight anomaly in NZ in that the oath is in-fact sworn to the Queen as the Head of State (an exploitable loophole?), but the government is recognised as her representatives and so the government is therefore the supreme authority in regards to where military loyalty and submission lie.

Also, the government pays the bills, so there is also the small matter of the golden rule (the person with the gold makes the rules). More technically, the sworn services have the right and the duty under the legal/constitutional structures of the state to uphold and defend the laws and institutions of the State by force of arms. As the supreme law body of the land, parliament and the government are the core of that relationship and the core responsibility of the defence forces.

In a parliamentary democracy, the people elect parliament, parliament elects the government and the government is responsible for establishing and maintaining military forces for the defence of the people and their way of life.  Therefore the military should in theory serve the will of the people, although it doesn’t necessarily work out quite like that in practice. In general, a nation will have a core of common and shared values, beliefs and identity. From that core, parliament and the military should have the basis for establishing laws and strategies for what objectives to pursue and what institutions to defend.  In general, western Anglo  democracies do substantially have a commonality between the people, the government and the military. There is a consensus between all the parties of  the rules, the objectives, and the values of the country.  But there is no guarantee of permanence of that relationship. If the consensus breaks down for some reason, then one would expect that the structures and institutions will be forced to evolve and change in consequence.

That at least is the theoretical overview.

But people being people, the reality on the ground could be any number of possible permutations. Societies and nations are not monocultures. As often as not, countries find that the People, the Nation and State are not a synonymous entities. In fact, they never are, the only question is to what degree a consensus can be agreed or imposed.  If a substantial majority consensus can be agreed then fine and good, dissent can be marginalised and effectively ignored or sanctioned. If there is something approaching an even split within a society and consensus is not possible then there exists real potential for civil strife and the necessity for the intervention of an armed force to quell dissent and impose a regime and settlement. Revolutions arise from this latter case and the dispute over what the rules are and who gets to make them.  So, the Government is either solidly in one camp or the other, in which case the military will move to impose the decree or writ of law on any and all dissenters.  Or, the government is as hopelessly split as the populace and is unable to direct the military to impose anything. In which case the military will end up sidelined while the battle for political power is settle by other means. Or the military might step in to establish a military government at their own discretion.  Typically military governments have not been conspicuous success stories.  They tend to be resented by almost everyone and are not particularly competent either in any areas outside their core skillset.

What they do have is discipline, unity, structure, mass and firepower.  This is what gives the military the ability to seize power (if not necessarily the ability to exploit it productively). Interestingly, those are also the qualities that a revolutionary movement requires if it is to seize control and power.  To a certain degree that requirement may only need to be met to a minimal level by a revolutionary movement, and the balance of the requirement can be met by co-opting the existing military structure in an environment where the political authority of the State is paralysed by divisions. Alternatively, a shadow State structure and military force can be accumulated and assembled that is eventually able to meet the De-Jure authority on the battlefield and contest for primacy. The SriLankan civil war was an example of one such contest. Interestingly enough, Russia has provided examples of both types of revolutionary conflict.

The Russian and Bolshevik revolutions 1917-1923, became a military contest on the battlefield between alternative State/military structures. In contrast, the 1991 revolution exploited the fractured consensus of the communist regime and allowed a third party to co-opt the military organs of the State and establish a new political regime. In that case the transfer of power was swift and practically bloodless. In the first revolution, the transition of power was an exceedingly violent affair which evolved over many years and cost the lives of millions of people. Even after the nominal establishment of a new regime from a decisive battlefield decision, securing complete civil control and compliance required much further time and blood. Other examples of a contested revolution can include America (1775-1783), France (1787-1815), China (1927-1950), Vietnam (1945[?]-1975).  As can be seen from these examples, contested revolutions can be lengthy and brutal, and in general something to be avoided if possible.

While a conflict over politics can be prosecuted to completion on the battlefield, in actuality, the true objective is to assume political control, not to engage in a deadly conflict.  In order to achieve as swift a transfer of power as possible, the existing forces for the defence and preservation of an established regime needs to be either sidelined or co-opted as quickly as possible. Anything else really rather reflects a failure of strategy, because one thing is for certain, no plan survives beyond the opening exchange of shots and the outcome is then thrown into the hands of chance. Quite aside from the fact that attitudes and actions also speedily set into virulent antagonism. The consequences of that will be felt for years, if not generations to come. Such a battle as may come should rather be one for hearts and minds. Militaries deal in force and violence, their power comes out of the barrel of a gun and extreme caution needs to be exercised in unleashing that force. Once unleashed it is a phenomena terribly unresponsive to control or recall, its true nature is toward escalation.

That may not be a significant consideration to a regime under imminent threat of extinction, but it should be a major consideration for a revolutionary movement. One that requires contemplation and planning well ahead of events, at least some-one needs to be thinking clearly. Yes a revolutionary movement will require an armed wing, for exactly the same reasons that any government requires armed forces, but very careful consideration needs to be given to how that is employed.  Open and direct conflict with a large existing armed force is not rational, desirable or, frankly, intelligent. It would be nice to think that the purpose of a revolution would be to install a more rational and intelligent administration. If that could be done via sheer strength of reason then that would be a wonderful thing.  Unfortunately when dealing with politics you are dealing with people, so stupidity will inevitably raise its ugly head. In light of that, protection and defences will always be required, be it the armed wing of a revolutionary movement, or the standing army of a Nation State, but it also needs to be under strict and clear control. Interestingly, such organizations have an innate tendency to align towards the clearest organ of authority. In order to deal with the organs of force of the State, it is eminently possible to co-opt them, even against their sworn loyalty, if there is no belief in the competence or righteousness of the nominal authority and the alternative provides a clear and credible choice.

So, if the revolutionary movement is capable of projecting itself as superior in competence and righteousness and can swing sufficient loyalties to itself to enable it to seize the reins of power, that is still only a beginning. Stabilising and securing that victory is another huge challenge in and of itself. The revolutions of 1848 proved that repeatedly. Failures to consolidate and unify resulted in the powers of Reaction sweeping back into power, and viciously at that. The Spanish civil war demonstrated what can happen to regimes that can’t get their act together and can’t get a competent military/defence organization fielded. It also demonstrated the degree to which outside powers are likely to stick their oar in if they think they can and there is utility in them doing so. Revolutions attract outside interference like bees to honey – or flies to shit (take your pick). Part of that is because inherent in the process of revolution is the creation of power vacuums during the transition process. You are not just changing the internal structures and relationships within the country, you are transforming them beyond your borders as well. That may not be at all welcome in foreign capitals and they may well investigate intervening. There will be personal and financial interests at stake and that is always a chancy ants nest to stir up. So the less time, opportunity and vulnerability that is left exposed the better.

The faster and easier a takeover can occur and the more of the existing military power that can be retained and assimilated the better. You WILL need to look to the securing of your borders, because they will be tested.

At this point, both the original armed forces and the armed wing of the revolution take on major significance. The old military, because it will be needed and can become a keystone part of constructing a new social zeitgeist by demonstrating its allegiance to the new regime. And the revolutionary armed cadre, because it will need to become the core of the new army around which the old military will be integrated and remodelled. Militaries are conservative forces, but they can be transformed, as long as they are given clear directions and political leadership. During the initial phase of realignment, the leadership of the military will need to be political. The existing top commanders will all almost inevitably need to be removed and replaced by revolutionaries. Long serving officers are intrinsically not best able to accommodate innovative thinking, particularly not in a social/political context. Also, they have been loyal all their careers to their oath of allegiance, that’s OK, they have done their duty and can now be pensioned off . The new broom will need to sweep clean, not just in some personnel but also in structures. It will need to be a “new model army”, obviously and quickly. And that’s OK too, because what we have at the moment is a bit of an abortion quite frankly.  There are quite a few changes I would make to how our armed forces are structured and tasked.

I’ll examine that in my next essay.

.
PS. Just to be perfectly clear, one of the primary objectives of a revolutionary movement is to co-opt (subvert?) the nations military(specifically the army). The principal mechanism for doing that is to funnel as many supporters as possible into serving in the Territorial Army. This experience and presence in this volunteer reserve will give the movement a reservoir of trained fighters and intelligence and political influence within the army. It is much easier to sway the actions of the army if you are half of it already

.

Read Full Post »

Cindy Sheehan

21st Century Class warfare.

Cindy Sheehan @

http://cindysheehanssoapbox.blogspot.com/

And

http://dandelionsalad.wordpress.com/2009/03/22/intro-to-myth-america-by-cindy-sheehan/

“There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”
Billionaire Robber, Warren Buffet.

“I call you my base: the Haves and the Have Mores.”
George W. Bush”

Read Full Post »

Yesterday

.

I saw your footprints in the sand, Yesterday

I saw your smile so close at hand, Yesterday

Yet many years have come and gone, since then

My hair has silvered from our dawn, since then

And all my days have passed away

And all my nights are Yesterday

~ L.E. Modesitt, Jr

….

Don’t leave your life until it is too late ~ R.

Read Full Post »

(What to Change)

.

Actually, I don’t really want to bag the NZ Dept of Statistics too badly.  In fact if you have a good surf around their website, like I have, then you will find that there actually is a good amount of information there. Albeit, finding it can take a fair bit of work.  It isn’t that the institution, its charter, or the people working for it are at issue. Rather it is the structural context in which it has to work that has an invidious effect on what it is, or can do.

Interestingly enough, the dept is well aware of these issues too and has even enumerated them explicitly.  The “briefing to the incoming Minister: 2008” makes for very interesting reading, as do their statements of Intent & Values.  There are various dept budget reports sprinkled around as well, which support the comments made by the Head of the dept in the briefing to the Minister.  So an interesting and encouraging display of candor from with-in the Dept.

But equally, a disturbing range of issues as well:

1.) Issues over funding, they are facing cuts to their budgets right when they are facing infrastructure cost increases. Effecting their ability to do their job and to contribute productively.

2.) (subtly put, but clear enough) issues of getting information and cooperation from other depts.

3.) (a little less subtly) indicating that there is a certain level of mistrust regarding certain statistics.

The dept is obviously aware of the threats to the integrity of their work, professionalism and reputation. As far as they are able, they are pushing back against these sorts of things and they have my respect for that. But the fact that they are raising these issues now on the public record only serves to demonstrate exactly my points.

Financial/budget pressures raise the vulnerability that a certain bias can be induced into the end product. While any one government/administration may be completely ethical, would you bet anything that they all will be, and there won’t be blackmail of the dept to produce “acceptable” reports.

Vested interests in government depts not wanting to release their data to another agency? Well that would be the norm rather than the exception, so at this point we can take it as read that is happening. It would take major structural reform to turn that around, and in the meantime the work of producing good outputs is compromised.

A certain amount of mistrust in the wider community regarding the accuracy of official statistics!  No… really?  The fact that they even mention this is simultaneously encouraging and depressing. But it at least acknowledges the problem which is the first step to fixing it.  It rather omits to explain just why there would be a lack of trust however, and that would be a report from the dept that I would enjoy reading. I wont hold my breath though.  Suffice to say the direct implication is that numbers have been manipulated or skewed one way or another in the past.

So, statistics are important and necessary and the Dept is a very good basis for developing what we need. We need to strengthen, insulate and protect it. What needs to change is not so much the dept, as that which would work to influence it. As I have previously said, the change needs to be that it is statistics influencing politics and not politics influencing the statistics.

.

Read Full Post »

(What to Change)

.

New Zealand does actually have a department of Statistics. Their URL is: http://www.stats.govt.nz/default.htm

And in general, it is pretty well set up and would appear to do exactly the sorts of things you would want from such a body.  But this is where Statistics get their appellation of “damned lies” from.  It’s just not so straight forward is it.

In my first ‘Statistics post’ I drew up a fatuous unemployment statistic.  I concluded that we only had half a million people actually doing any work in this country. Officially, the numbers are drawn from the Household labour survey.  The numbers there are rather significantly different than I got from my little exercise. The differences come from embedded assumptions and contexts. For instance, the household labour survey assumes that the workforce consists of everyone over 15 yrs, while I assumed that it was 20 yrs. I will leave you to make your own judgements about that. Now I know that they start measuring from 15 yrs because they say so in the section at the end of the report document. In fact they have quite a useful and significant explanation of how and why they come up with the numbers they do.  For instance, they have a seasonal adjustment they make to the figures in order to smooth out regular but transitory fluctuations to the numbers. they even state what their methodology is:  (All seasonally adjusted and trend series are produced using the X-12-ARIMA Version 0.2.10 package developed by the US Bureau of the Census) So that is quite helpful and useful to know.

They also explain that the survey which provides the official unemployment rate is generated each quarter by taking a representative sample poll of the population using 15,000 households and 30,000 individuals (actually true?).  Now in general, I don’t have too much of a problem with that, polling if done properly can produce very accurate results from relatively small samples.  However, on the other hand, New Zealand is not a very big country, we are approx 4 million people and we are all already tied into the Internal Revenue Department systems anyway.  Why isn’t the employment numbers taken straight from that data base and then corrected if necessary. We don’t have to assume anything, between all the government depts we will have all the information we could every need on everyone in the country, and in consequences, extract all the gross data needed for any statistical analysis.  Why are we not?

Well actually we may well, but no-one is saying if they are (there are even laws against data matching between depts).  Because now we are getting into the realm of politics and thats insidious little effects on data. IRD will have all the data I am talking about regarding people working, but where does all that data go?  Presumably it will be funneled to the minister if he requests it and presumably also it is part of the information flow and process of drawing up the annual appropriations and spending Budget. But it is not like we are going to see that data now is it. Ohh no, that is altogether a very tightly held little secret.  Certainly it does come out in the end. When the budget is released, that has “all” the “relevant” data-points enumerated, albeit only after everything has been massaged to fit with the programme as well (you know, like company financial reports… Enron, Worldcom, Parmalat?).

How about if we regularly each week had an Official Information release of all the data that has been presented to, or requested by ministers, if we knew as much as they did about what they are working on!  Hmmm, I suspect not, at least not if they have any say in the matter.  Afterall, what’s the point of being the high priest if you can’t have your little secrets and lord it over everyone else with your superior knowledge and ability.  And we all know just how admirable and intelligent MP’s are  </Sarc>.  When I was involved in politics a good number of years ago, one of the MP’s made the comment that parliament is actually the House of Representatives.  He went on to say, in any society you have a certain proportion of people who are liars, cheats and thieves…. and that parliament is no different.  All the characteristics of everyday society is manifested equally in parliament – the good and the bad.  Actually, don’t get me wrong, there are a good number of MP’s who do a very good job and put a lot of very hard work and dedication in to what is mostly a pretty thankless job.  But that’s only a relatively small part of the whole equation.

When a new MP first arrives in parliament, they get inducted into a system and institution that has been designed and evolved over a very long time.  You aren’t going to be leaping in and radically re-arranging anything, instead it is going to normalise/socialise you.  What is more, if you play the game correctly by the rules, it will introduce you to the rewards of power, or at the very least the “baubles of office”.  So then we have the problem of – power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.  Everyone gets rewarded for staying within the norms and accepting the status quo. What the status quo does is perpetuate a system, where it is now in the best interests of everyone to accept certain presuppositions and to manipulate data to achieve your objectives.  Political parties have their agenda’s and government depts have theirs as well. In general they all find they can knock along together OK with a a wink and a nod. Remember “Yes Minister”? bbc The system works, at least insofar as serving the system, but not quite so well insofar as serving the truth or the public at large.  Manipulation is built into the system, at this point only a revolution is going to change anything there, albeit history would suggest you only really end up swapping one type of failure for a different type of failure.  Still, no need to start off pessimistically, yes?

What we are trying to achieve is some clarity, enlightenment and yes even truth.  So that means the Statistics have to be out of the hands of interested parties, whether that be political party’s, government depts and senior civil servant, commercial institutions or any other sort of lobby group.  It is far too easy to influence data and the results of  data analysis if you can frame the questions or otherwise control the context.  The Household Labour Survey is a very interesting example.  It attempts to answer  questions directly relevant to the political economy while at the same time whole relevant data blocks are not included in the analysis. Who gets to decide that X.Y and Z groups are not relevant or to be included in generating a result?  When they say that the unemployment is 5%, that is after the whole question has already been skewed by preconditions about what we are measuring and how.  I recommend you take the time to read the whole of the Household Labour report and see what sort of distortions you can foresee in what their methodology would produce.

Unfortunately, it is not just methodology that is at issue, another is just raw content.  Have a surf around the Statistics NZ website, in theory they have stats on just about everything you could imagine, except they don’t.  Look under any number of headings, click the links, and actually there isn’t any data or analysis or summary at all.  So, all form and no substance? What is actually going on? When I looked, there was a statement saying that during July 09 there was going to be a revamp of the website and that things would be re-arranged much better. So arguably, there was no point in them putting up pages that only a short while later would have to be taken down and then reformatted.  I.T. is not a cheap exercise and they could be forgiven for husbanding their resources and proceeding as efficiently as practical. Assuming of course that the data does actually make it onto the system at some point and doesn’t just somehow get lost in the mix perpetually, which unfortunately is rather more the style of government depts. If it takes too much trouble for anyone to get around to auditing the performance of a system then any number of sins can slip through the cracks.  How many ordinary people I wonder have ever looked at the website, surfed around, discovered issues and raised them forcefully enough so that they get addressed?

It isn’t just political interests which effect results, bureaucratic systems and human nature can also weave their subtle magic and result in the information coming out as either lies, or at best, distortions.  As it happens, I just read something today that explored this effect, read here for more if you are interested.  What it means is you have to be very careful about data and that rubbish in equals rubbish out. It also means you have to be super cautious about who gets to have a hand in the collection, processing and dissemination of data. Basically, I am rubbishing Statistics NZ and the Household Labour Survey, because how can I not? There is too much room for errors to occur, as well as too many incentives to introduce them.  Coupled unfortunately with too little incentive to prevent it – “thats somebody else’s problem…”  So, I like the idea of Statistics NZ, pity I just can’t believe in it. Which is a problem because I would dearly like to be able to, and the need for  them is so important.  The basic form is there of what is needed, can we actually turn it into what it needs to be?  It needs to be clearly independant, and it needs to be open to examination, audited even, in a way that is transparent and trusted.  lastly, it needs to turn out a product that is clear, accurate and actionable because that in turn will cast a light on the very influences, political and economic that most need the attention and the feedback. Statistics should be affecting politics, not the other way around.

.

BTW, the Statistics NZ website has a neat “population clock” in its Banner

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »