Saturday, October 15, 2016

Lies, Damned Lies & Statistics

The New York Times informed us yesterday the the federal deficit in the current fiscal year ending last month rose to $587 billion. You can go to a nice government website which shows colorful charts illustrating this deficit and confirming the story told to us by the Times.

I’m always a little suspicious when I see something this elaborately stage managed, not to mention that I saw the word “budget” in that report, so let’s dig a little deeper.

It took a while, and this government website is nowhere as pretty, but the Treasury Department does publish a monthly statement of the total debt outstanding owed by the federal government. Guess what, it doesn’t verify the $587 billion deficit. It doesn’t contain the word “budget” either. The amounts are in trillions.

lego mania
So it would appear that the deficit was closer to $1.5 trillion than it was to the $.5 trillion that the Times is telling us about. Where did the other $835 billion go?

Is it the difference between the budget and actual spending? Perhaps so, but to some degree it is the result of a distortion caused by lumping Social Security revenue into the general revenue stream. That money is paid into a trust fund, not into the government’s coffers, and the government borrows from the trust fund, borrowing which is largely concealed in the reporting by the ploy of including non-government funds into government revenue reporting.

This is just one of many ways in which our government lies to us.

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