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You know what burns my biscuits? Math. Don’t get me wrong, math is a wonderful tool to understand quantitative applications.

For example, “Rob Smith can throw a football 65 yards on a rope.”  We can all understand the meaning of this statement, not to mention the reasoning behind the statement (I have a cannon for an arm). But what I can’t stand is the misuse of math in public policy. This occurs for various reasons and motivations. Below are a few of the more common varieties of math errors let loose into “public discourse.”


(Math makes her head hurt)

Bless her heart. The half empty CNN news babe reads her script and says something like “housing starts rose 3.6% last month.” All of the media sheep and political class “baa” in unison as if to say, in a very Stepford wife way: “this is good,” because it sounds good. But is it good? Who the hell knows? Is it 3.6 % on an annual basis, 3.6 % over last month’s starts? What were last month’s starts? Were they below the previous month? What’s the year over year comparison? Is a “start” the same as pulling a “building permit?”  She spews, but gives no news, and it is very frustrating because the number 3.6 means nothing without more detail. This is about the time I cuss at the news babe and throw an empty PBR bottle at the tv.


(I’m too nice to be worried about math)

In Virginia, before we were taken over by ill mannered  barbarian hordes, we had a zero % sales tax. Then in 1966, it was 2%, in 1968 it increased to 3%. At the time, all the really nice beautiful people said “it is only a 1% increase!” No, it is a 50 % increase over the existing tax being paid! Nice liberals feel that they don’t need  to learn math as long as they “care.” (It’s easy to “care” when your “caring” is done with other people’s money). These are the same people who get their utility bill cut off for non-payment and then call the power company and tell them they should be given a break because they adopted a stray cat.


(I am a lying skunk)

In 2021 Virginia, our gas tax has been increased 12.6 cents/gallon from 16.2 cents gallon to 28.8 cents. The professional political class says “it’s only 12 cents!” They don’t say we are increasing your taxes 77.78%! Gee, I wonder why?


(Chairman Mao was a cool dude!)

During the recent Covid hysteria, everyday for months, the hip collectivists tried to scare us and make us afraid to leave our basements, because it is much easier to have a red revolution if the peons have no freedom of assembly. The media machine they control told us about hundreds of thousands of new Covid cases every day! Run for the hills!  Reporting on new cases was of trivial value. Saying that U.S. Covid cases increased 500,000 in one day is about as meaningless as saying 500,000 Americans ate fish tacos the previous day. The only meaningful issue was how many people got seriously sick and then died. The death counts were also misleading as they didn’t distinguish between dying “of” Covid and dying “with” Covid.  These are the evil math manipulators. They manipulate math so that one day they can seize power and throw you in the gulag.


(I have been in DC so long, I actually believe my own bs)

What about when a president says our administration created 288,421 new jobs last month? Ignore this number, as it is off by 288,421. The government does not create any jobs! Only the private sector can do this.


(I am a G-7 employee, and I have a mortgage and an ugly wife)

What about GDP? Whatever the number the Bureau of Labor Statistics quotes you is just goofy.  Why? Because it double counts and includes all government spending in the GDP calculation. Government spending has nothing to do with productivity, other than it is a drag on productivity. The guy who comes up with the GDP number needs to push meaningless numbers around until he can receive his federal pension.


(Those foreign countries that provide us with things we want are bad)

What about the U.S. Balance of Trade? This isn’t even a real thing. It’s an extraordinarily stupid concept. Don’t listen to the alarmists. The “imbalance” of trade means nothing.  People trade amongst each other, not countries. It’s all voluntary. If the people of the U.S. buy more lederhosen from Lichtenstein than Liechtensteiners buy Kanye West records from the U.S., who cares? Both sides get what they want. It balances out and Liechtensteiners yodeling “Gold Digger” are happy, even though they likely have no rhythm.

Dear Reader, I am just asking you to use your noggin when the low IQ elites and the evil math manipulators throw out numbers.  Many of you strike like a big mouth bass on a June Bug.  Don’t bite! Don’t let them set the hook, because if you do, you are accepting their narrative.

So class, when Joe Biden says “we” are going to “invest” a gazillion dollars in early education programs for transgender antelopes, how much are “we” actually “investing?”  Answer: $0, because the government does not “invest,” and “we” is a collectivist term that should scare the hell out of you.  Don’t accept the premise being presented. Numbers are almost always presented in a way that benefits the presenter. Remember numbers don’t lie, but people do.

Now here are some numbers that you can rely on! 9 times out of 10 times the political class doesn’t have a clue about the mathematical concepts it proposes. Everything it states are 6s and 7s. No 2 ways about it. Wise citizens 86 their nonsense.

Robert C. Smith is Managing Partner of Chartwell Capital Advisors

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