Why You Have No Reason to Take Your Government Seriously … Episode 37546219
January 17, 2012 Politics

I cannot believe I read this correctly, but it appears that the federal government is going to stop producing the Statistical Abstract of the United States. Let me remind readers that data collection and presentation is one of the most effective aspects of your federal government. Furthermore, the costs of doing this are miniscule and provide an enormous public benefit, and not just because I am free-riding on the existence of such data. So, when the government is busy providing subsidies to mohair farmers, and spending billions on environmentally damaging and cost-ineffective “green energy” and cannot manage to stop the post office from existing ($5 billion+ in losses each year) they are seriously going to stop producing the Statistical Abstract, which costs us a whopping … $3 million per year. Yes, that’s right, $3 million.

"6" Comments
  1. You want us to cut the school budget? OK, we’ll close the library and cut out football!

    It sounds like the Census Bureau is doing the same thing in response to calls for fiscal restraint: “We’ll fix ’em!” Collecting the data is OK even if it is not published.

  2. From Tom Bethell’s “The Noblest Triumph”: “Today it seems probable that the gross domestic product (GDP) of the Soviet Union and satellites were exaggerated by as much as a factor of ten. One example should suffice. ‘The Statistical Abstract of the United States, published by the Department of Commerce, includes a table comparing GDP per capita in different countries. In 1989, the year the Berlin Wall fell, per capita income was said to be higher in East Germany ($10,330) than in West Germany ($10,320). The same table also alleged that East Germany’s GDP per capita in 1980 was higher than Japan’s. No one even tries to defend these figures today.”

  3. It is not that the government will not gather the data, but only that they will not share it with those who paid for it. Well, the CIA and NSA operate on that basis; and I think that we might want them to. That raises a basic question about the role of government, its purpose, nature, and function. If it exists to protect and defend our rights, you have to ask where the Statistical Abstract comes from. On the other hand, granted that the government can (must) gather this information in the first place simply to operate, when, then, would it not be available?

  4. ” includes a table comparing GDP per capita in different countries. In 1989, the year the Berlin Wall fell, per capita income was said to be higher in East Germany ($10,330) than in West Germany ($10,320″

    That can’t be true. I’ve never read any estimates of DDR GDP that went that high, or West German GDP that went that low. Estimates vary from 50% to 200% greater GDP per capita. Besides, if there were table reporting GDPs of other countries, they were likely take from sources within those countries. They’re not evidence of a poor job by the US gov.

  5. U.S. Department of Commerce, “Statistical Abstract of the United States”, 1989 (Washington, D.C.; G.P.O.), 822.

  6. Thanks Chuck. But i still can’t believe your source. While I haven’t seen the 1989 edition, I have seen the 1990 edition. In it, the GDP per capita of West Germany is given as 13,323, with 1987 being the last data point. East Germany is not included.

    It does however have GNP per capita, which lists East Germany as 11,860 (1987), and West Germany as 19,907 (1988) (or about 70% higher). East Germany did have a considerably better economy than any other Communist E. European country. But of course, the sources for all this data is the respective countries. So you can’t blame the US statistics for that.

    Now, of course E. Germany’s economy wasn’t that high, but we can only know that now when we have more info.

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