Don’t worry about the facts – just feel the ideology

Lindsay Mitchell has an op ed in the NZ Herald today. It’s on her usual topic of attacking the DPB.

The biggest problem I have with Lindsay Mitchell is that to back her ideological position she makes sweeping statements without producing any evidence to support them and interprets events that are loosely temporally related as being causally related without producing any evidence of causation.

Just take this quote from her op ed:

When the United States declared war on poverty and expanded welfare in the 1960s, poverty won. When it reformed welfare in the 1990s, welfare rolls dropped dramatically and so did poverty levels.

Well, not according to the University of Michigan’s Gerald R Ford School of Public Policy:

In the late 1950s, the poverty rate for all Americans was 22.4 percent, or 39.5 million individuals. These numbers declined steadily throughout the 1960s, reaching a low of 11.1 percent, or 22.9 million individuals, in 1973. Over the next decade, the poverty rate fluctuated between 11.1 and 12.6 percent, but it began to rise steadily again in 1980. By 1983, the number of poor individuals had risen to 35.3 million individuals, or 15.2 percent.

For the next ten years, the poverty rate remained above 12.8 percent, increasing to 15.1 percent, or 39.3 million individuals, by 1993. The rate declined for the remainder of the decade, to 11.3 percent by 2000. From 2000 to 2004 it rose each year to 12.7 in 2004.

So poverty levels, contrary to Mitchell’s assertion, dropped right through to 1973 and remained reasonably stable through to the early 1980s.

And they started to decline in 1993 – three years before the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act was signed into law by Bill Clinton. Mitchell is wrong again.

And to claim the trifecta of inaccuracy, under the welfare reforms Mitchell lauds poverty levels rose between 2000 to 2004.

Or maybe she’s using a different measure of poverty to the researchers at the University of Michigan. We just don’t know.

So why does the Herald keep printing this nonsense.

3 thoughts on “Don’t worry about the facts – just feel the ideology

  1. toad

    So why does the Herald keep printing this nonsense.

    Because it is all acadamic.

    In New Zealand we have a government borrowing $400 per week to maintain the lifestyle we have set for ourselves. How long can we keep borrowing to pay for the social welfare we allow ourselves (collectively) to enjoy.

    We cant, so like the housing bubble, social welfare will collapse into itself in the very near future.

    And we will all be in real poverty.

    So the argument on whether you or Mitchell are right, which figures are correct is purely acadamic and at best purile.

    We (including you and Mitchell) should instead face up to the real problem of a collapsing tradeable sector (dragged down by social welfare and state employment) and how to bring tradeable activity up so that the tax take increases.

    That is the real problem, not this acadamic and highly subjective argument on poverty figures.

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