Policy wonks, and I guess I am one, love to discover or create statistics to guide our judgments. Statistics seem to provide authority and greater certainty. The problems with this reliance upon statistics, among others, is that they’re by nature retrospective, easily manipulated or faulty – even moreso when used to forecast or to bolster a partisan argument, and can be so complex and confusing even when exhaustively and correctly collected that even extremely sophisticated multi-correlation computer-statistical techniques like factor analysis are beyond the ken or budget of even the most skilled users.
An excellent example is the post at the American Enterprise Institute blog with a seemingly startling graph about the parallel rise in spending upon human and veterinary medicine.
This stimulated many of my factual and prejudicial beliefs. Luckily, before I went too far in ruminations, Maggies News Junkie (below) reminded me to check in with another prominent blogger, of similar factual and prejudicial beliefs on many subjects. You have to read all the many comments at her post to get some understanding of how there are too often “lies, damn lies and statistics.” The last comment up at the time I’m writing this gives the flavor:
In five years we went from 147,580,000 to 172,329,000 pets, a 16% increase
Pet care went from 8b in 2001 to what looks like will be 10.5b in 2007. So, per pet, care costs were $54.21 per pet in '01 and $60.93 in '07, a 12% increase
Meanwhile, human population in 2001 was 278,058,881 and in '07 it was 301,621,157 which is only a 8.5% increase
Meanwhile costs went from 1600b to 2400b based on my poor reading of the graph.
So, per person costs were $5,754 per person in '01 and $7,957 in '07 a 38% increase.
So, 12% more spending per pet, vs 38% per human in the same time frame, so much for cost control.
I hate to say this, Megan, but you might have been duped by a pretty graphic.
This does undermine the reliance upon the graphic's statistics. But, a bigger point is made, I think, the one in my opening paragraph about the limitations of relying upon complex or inadequately analyzed statistics.
There’s another important point to be made. Just as rising societal wealth and its distribution correlates with reduced child bearing, as most choose and have powers of choice to spend time and funds on other priorities, it also correlates with increased numbers and households with pets, another way to have companionship and express caring. Aside from any value judgments about this or its economic portents, the point is that it’s primarily a cumulation of free individual choices.
Similarly, our increased national and per capita spending on health care is the cumulation of free individual choices. Polling shows the tilt against ObamaCare, regardless of all the underlying opposing and supporting statistics, actually not regardless but because they've been considered and synthsized by sane individual calculations. The core understanding of free people is increasing that the essence of Obamacare is neither cost reductions nor improved health care. Its essence is transferring our individual choices to the imperfect, impersonal, and – even with the best of intentions and efforts, though required rationing is always life endangering to at least some – naturally politicized and prejudiced hands of Washington bureaucrats and their NGO hanger-ons who gain power and profit from controlling our lives. There's some nuggets within ObamaCare that may be worth further exploring or experimenting with, but ObamaCare buries them within a wholesale, rapid, complete takeover of America's health care and rejection of other worthy but non-liberal nuggets.
ObamaCare's polling rejection is a reliable statistic that cuts through all the other murkier ones. If we allow Washington politics to override that, there’s no going back, except maybe in a retrospective statistic of what we’ve irretrievably lost as life-saving and quality of life medical innovation and our rapid access to quality diminishes.
Tracked: Jul 15, 13:32
Insty: MICKEY KAUS: Smug self-styled wonks will kill health care yet. “WaPo’s Ezra Klein decrees ‘rules’ for those who would use the CBO’s damning analysis ‘against the existing health-care reform proposals’–they ‘must,’ he says, endorse some combinati
Tracked: Jul 17, 16:55