Thursday, January 14, 2010

Socialist GDP

Michael Boskin writes:
Politicians and scientists who don't like what their data show lately have simply taken to changing the numbers. They believe that their end—socialism, global climate regulation, health-care legislation, repudiating debt commitments, la gloire fran├žaise—justifies throwing out even minimum standards of accuracy. It appears that no numbers are immune: not GDP, not inflation, not budget, not job or cost estimates, and certainly not temperature. A CEO or CFO issuing such massaged numbers would land in jail....

There is historical precedent for a "socialist GDP." When President George H.W. Bush sent me to help Mikhail Gorbachev with economic reform, I found out that the Soviet statistics office kept two sets of books: those they published, and those they actually believed (plus another for Stalin when he was alive)...

Rabid environmentalists have descended into a separate reality where only green counts. It's gotten so bad that the head of the California Air Resources Board, Mary Nichols, announced this past fall that costly new carbon regulations would boost the economy shortly after she was told by eight of the state's most respected economists that they were certain these new rules would damage the economy. The next day, her own economic consultant, Harvard's Robert Stavis, denounced her statement as a blatant distortion.

1 comment:

  1. Former Soviet economist Yuri Maltsev had some interesting things to say about Soviet GDP that you might want to check out. It might have some similar parallels (albeit on a lesser scale) to current US government policy.

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