Life Imitates Sir Humphrey

Sir Humphrey Appleby As I read the news this morning, I came across a story about how a supposedly independent government agency, wasn’t. The Prime Minister was upset about the high unemployment numbers, so five minutes before he had to face questions in Parliament, his bureaucrats redefined unemployment and submitted lower figures to him.

While this happened in England, it happens here in the States, too. One of the realities of US Government is that politicians can sometimes get the quick fix they want not through actual action, but through fiddling with the figures. That’s why I wish media would run more stories like this one. The job of journalists should be to scrutinize those in power, not to serve as proponents of ideological propaganda.

One thought on “Life Imitates Sir Humphrey

  1. Les

    Redefining “unemployment” was an almost monthly event throughout the 80s and early 90s, making any claims about rises or falls quite meaningless. The usual method was to make it mean “those out of work and claiming benefits”, while making it harder to actually qualify for the benefits in question. Or making it apply to one particular kind of benefit, but not another.

    Then there was the “reduce the long-term unemployment figures” trick. Put people on “training courses” (not ones that might be of any use, of course), then they don’t count as unemployed, and at the end of the course, they’re new unemployed people, not long-term. Still don’t have jobs, of course…

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