Playing With Numbers

Baseball is a sport that is built on numbers. How many home runs a player has, how many strikeouts a pitcher has, his ERA or a hitter’s batting average. Most fans understand these numbers, how to figure them out and generally what they mean. A hitter who gets a hit three times out of ten bats .300 (3/10).
Generally, the only way for a hitter to end up with a better batting average is to get more hits when he’s up at bat. But what if there was another way. What if instead of having to get hits each time up, he could simply start subtracting some at bats. He decides to not count one at bat, and now he’s batting .333 (3/9). What an improvement! He’s a better hitter now!
Oh, that’s not fair, you say? That’s cheating? Ok, fine, let’s go back to the 3 out of 10 thing. We’re back to that .300. But now, when he goes to bat and doesn’t get a hit, we just don’t count those. He goes up to bat and makes an out for the next five times. Instead, we’re going to just tell people that he held steady and is still batting .300. Isn’t that great? In watching him, he sure hasn’t looked very good, but the numbers show that he’s still the same hitter. The numbers haven’t gotten any worse, even though it sure feels like he’s playing worse.
Does any of this seem to make any sense? If this is how baseball statistics worked, would the statistics really mean anything if we could play with the numbers this way? Of course not. Yet we still try to put some meaning on unemployment stats. Month after month, Rhode Island’s unemployment numbers either hold steady or improve a little bit at a time, but it sure doesn’t feel like it. It doesn’t seem like there are more jobs available. But if you look just barely past the headlines, you start to see that there are fewer people even looking for jobs, fewer people on unemployment. They’ve either simply given up or they left the Rhode Island market and found a job elsewhere. Is that our economic strategy? Is that how we’ll get the state out of last place in employment numbers? We’ll just keep erasing our “outs” until eventually we’re batting 1.000? At what point does this get turned around?
I guess in the meantime, our General Assembly can have twelve-hour debates on issues where everyone’s mind is already made up and still not call a vote. We can submit bills on what should be the official mollusk of the state and play games with votes already cast and try some Jedi mind tricks in telling people that the vote that just happened didn’t really happen. But maybe someday, we can reverse the trend and create an environment where all Rhode Islanders can find a job, instead of pushing them away to make our numbers look better. Batter up!

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Tommy Cranston
Tommy Cranston
11 years ago

In RI (and increasingly in ALL Blue America) SSI, SSDI, SNAP, free medical, dental, babysitting, housing, heat and air conditioning are the new “jobs”.
Fun while it lasts but it’s all going to collapse in 10-15 years baby-count on it. Maybe sooner.
Spengler said it all a century ago in “Decline Of the West”.

11 years ago

” try some Jedi mind tricks in telling people that the vote that just happened didn’t really happen.”
Heh. And, further to the topic of the post, Jedi mind tricks that unemployment in the state is really not all that bad.

11 years ago

Liberals and progressives depend on lies for their existence. No surprises here. What is troubling is that at our current rate of decline the US will be looking at a Greek/Cypriot scenario faster than you think. The house of cards can only be manipulated so long before they crash as will the growing welfare state. Fewer private sector productive workers are paying for more (wait until Hussein gets his immigration “reform”) unproductive leeches. The math does not work . Never fear the Fed will print more Obamadollars to pay for the Obamaphones. Meanwhile the unemployment rate miraculously drops! Don’t look behind the curtain…the Wizard has been laid off.

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