Saturday, November 27, 2010

Spinning Migration Data

Politicians are notorious for torturing numbers. Think tanks and consultants also belong on the podium of infamy. I won't absolve journalists, who more often than not eat up the spin. All are in cahoots promoting one brain drain boondoggle after another. Some Texas-sized tall tales:

Texas Gov. Rick Perry peppered his book tour this month with boasts that the Lone Star State had ripped off 153 businesses from the Golden State in the first eight months of the year.

But he was only half right, if that, concluded an exhaustive review of the claim by the Texas branch of Politi-Fact – journalist/fact checkers who call out politicos for their misguided bluster.

The outfit found that Perry's office obtained the figure from business consultants Dun & Bradstreet. What Perry doesn't say is that 92 companies moved from Texas to California during the same period, reducing the net gain to 61. Perry also fails to explain that the D&B figures include companies that stay put but move branches to another state.

The migration unit of analysis is businesses, but the deception is the same. Brain drain Chicken Littles often point to outmigration with no mention of inmigration. This isn't an oversight. It's active deception. You won't get what you want if you present the entire picture.

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