Kerry’s Miserable Index

Mark Twain once observed that there are “lies, damned lies, and statistics” and John Kerry is proving that statement true with his miserable “misery index”, a compilation of economic factors that’s supposed to show that George W. Bush has created “the worst economy in 30 years.”

Except Kerry’s “misery index” is an exercise in misleading statistics.

First, Kerry deliberately underplays the effect of the Bush tax cuts on real wages. The Kerry “misery index” also deliberately selects statistics that make the economy look worse than it actually is. It’s a selective use of evidence that offers no substantive economic claims and instead is little more than an exercise in partisanship.

Second, Kerry’s misery index includes factors such as gas prices that are highly variable. The cost of gas has huge regional differences – for example, I filled up at my local station for $1.65/gallon, while if I were living on the Left Coast of California I’d be paying close to double that. Furthermore, the price of gas could fall at any time if OPEC realizes that starving their economies of money by lowering oil production isn’t a sustainable strategy. Furthermore, the price of state university tuitions doesn’t have anything to do with Bush Administration policy – those are due to the way in which states spent like drunken sailors during the boom without a consideration of what would happen when they got stuck with the check.

The real misery index is a combination of unemployment rate and inflation, and is a proven economic measurement rather than a selective use of statistics. There’s a reason why Kerry isn’t using the real misery index and is inventing his own: the misery index for the first term of Bill Clinton was about 8.75.

The current misery index is 7.6.

It’s clear that Kerry is engaging in an effort to paint the economy in the worst possible light – another sign of the increasing desperation of the Kerry campaign. After weeks of bad news for the Bush Administration, the best Kerry can do is tie with Bush. If the situation in Iraq dies down and the economy continues to improve, Kerry’s political misery index is likely to dramatically increase come November.

UPDATE: Powerline finds an Annenberg Center report that illustrates why Kerry’s “misery index” is just more bad math.

6 thoughts on “Kerry’s Miserable Index

  1. However, Kerry’s Senate current term runs until 2009; Would I be suprised if an embittered Kerry spent the next four years trying to sabotage Bush’s second term? Not at all….

  2. You mean just like every other member of what we call the “other party” for a good reason- that they disagree with the party in power and therefore do not want Bush to get his anti-environment, anti-woman and anti-gay sentiment (not to mention anti-fiscal responsibility) initiatives through. But maybe we should just all agree. That would be way easier.

  3. As I just wrote:

    …defining things in an abusive way is a major sign of an unacceptably weak argument. When one side tries to define itself as the very paragon of virtue and the other side as evil, nothing of substance is being debated.

    Thanks for proving it.

  4. Jay,
    do you remenber the “axis of evil” theory? Given what you just wrote, it seems like you wouldn’t support such a substanceless argument, would you? And of course, you wouldn’t support the “unacceptably weak” person defending such a theory…

  5. Considering the human rights, weapons proliferation, and support for terrorism shared between Iran, Iraq, and North Korea at the time, calling them an “Axis of Evil” was (and for the two remaining members remains) perfectly justified.

  6. 1-you just said that “When one side tries to define itself as the very paragon of virtue and the other side as evil, nothing of substance is being debated”. By some magical mean and rethoric, this (perfectly sane) sentence doesn’t apply to your beloved Bush. It does!!

    2-According to your well-supported (but really simplistic) theory, Iran is part of an “axis of evil”. So why are the US begging for help from them to help stabilise Irak? don’t you think this is a bit unconsistent to call someone “evil”, and then try to make friends with them when needed? I think this is just one more evidence of the lack of ethic and of cleverness in this administration.

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