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It’s a safe bet that there have been more media mentions of Kastle Systems in 2023 than at any other time in the company’s fifty year history. Many readers likely know why.

Kastle is very much a news item of late simply because the cards and fobs it produces for office workers give it rather unique knowledge of how many employees have returned to the office since the political panic over the coronavirus, and how often. At least so far, it’s apparent that more than a few companies have relaxed the expectation that employees show up for work each day. What’s important is that the information produced by Kastle Systems is crucial for commercial real estate developers, banks, and companies like Kastle as they try to divine the future of office work. The stats compiled by Kastle will have profound implications for how office space is developed in the coming years, including if it will be developed at all. Billions of dollars are at stake.

Kastle came up while reading a recent column by Washington Post columnist Catherine Rampell. Rampell has an affinity for those she deems experts, and her column cheered a bill introduced by Sens. Christopher Coons (D-Del.) and Kevin Cramer (R-ND) that “would require the U.S. government to start calculating the emissions intensity of industrial materials made in the United States and some other countries around the world.”

Bipartisanship plainly makes Rampell giddy, as does information produced in bipartisan fashion. In her own words, “measuring things is good, actually.” Rampell’s italics imply that more than a few Americans (Republicans mostly?) think “measuring things is bad, actually.” Actually, Rampell misunderstands Republicans, or conservatives, and certainly libertarians. It’s safe to say that all three tribes have no real problem with measuring things as much they don’t see why government must be the measurer. See Kastle to see why.

Or consider unemployment. The Bureau of Labor Statistics spends over $600 million annually to employ people to measure the rate of unemployment in the U.S. Unknown is why. Just as Kastle has an intimate understanding of office usage, so ADP and Paychex possess an extraordinarily clear understanding of how many Americans are working, being hired, fired, and anything else related to employment. ADP actually produces a monthly employment report that is viewed as very accurate. Realistically it’s the stuff of experts considering the business ADP is in.

This is important simply because one guesses Rampell feels measuring things like the rate of employment in the U.S. is good, actually. Maybe, maybe not (see the Hong Kong of old). The only thing is that private companies already do it for us.

Private sector analyses are important in consideration of Rampell’s assertion that statistical agencies like the Census Bureau and the Economic Research service “are critical to the functioning of both our economy and our democracy.” A tad overstated? Oh well, on the matter of the constitutionally-allowed Census, Rampell can have it. Though it’s a safe bet that Census-produced stats would exist without the Census Bureau, let’s just for fun agree that the latter is of some use. But the Economic Research Service? This subsidiary of the Department of Agriculture provides information and research on agriculture and economics. Apparently not very well judging by the 30+ Farm Aid concerts that have been staged since 1985, not to mention the billions annually directed by taxpayers to farmers in the form of subsidies.

Keep this in mind with Rampell’s supercilious stance on “measuring things” top of mind. Those who disdain government as the source of measurement are apparently the dolts. Actually, we simply understand that if a measurement is "critical," it likely already exists.  

John Tamny is editor of RealClearMarkets, Vice President at FreedomWorks, a senior fellow at the Market Institute, and a senior economic adviser to Applied Finance Advisors (www.appliedfinance.com). His latest book is The Money Confusion: How Illiteracy About Currencies and Inflation Sets the Stage For the Crypto Revolution.

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