23 Nov 2009

Lies, damned lies and politics

As I warned in this post, Richard Howitt's research into the connection between water and unemployment continues to be abused by politicians who interpret things to suit their goals.

On October 30, Rep. Nunes said [PDF]:
DISTORTION: Farm jobs have increased during the past year.
FACT: According to a May 2009 study conducted by the University of California, Davis, 35,285 jobs and $1.6 billion in economic revenue have been lost as a result of the man-made drought.
In May, Howitt et al said:
90-percent exceedence forecasts are summarized and employment losses are broken down by income group using a set of REMI multipliers... Employment Loss: 35,285
I have three things to note:
  1. Nunes used the highest figure for losses that ranged from 31,178 to 35,285. This is a forgivable, partisan action.
  2. Howitt et al. updated their forecast in Sept to 21,000 job losses. Nunes used outdated numbers. This is sloppy (and maybe forgivable)
  3. Howitt et al. said "forecast" (with simulations, etc.) and Nunes says "have been lost." This is an unforgivable fabrication.
I have asked Richard if he has asked Nunes's office to retract this fabrication distortion (oh, the irony!). I'm not holding my breath (but Howitt has not replied).
Oh, and while we are discussing job losses in the Central Valley, let's take a look at one other factor (no, not the crash in housing; no, not the general economic slowdown) -- the crashing price of almonds. California supplies about 80 of the global market, and it appears that California's farmers went too far into this market [pdf]:
As a result of three record California crops in a row, supply has temporarily outpaced the increase in demand. This is because the double-digit consumption increases normally expected in a bumper crop year were held to 7% by the global financial crisis. As a result, market prices have fallen to levels not seen since the beginning of the decade.
According to this October update, supply is high, and prices are low. Seems that scarce water may have helped farmers (as a group), even if individual farmers suffered.

Bottom Line: Some people have made mistakes and some people are suffering. Some people may not deserve it, but others perhaps do deserve their "just deserts." They should have bought insurance, not made a campaign contribution to politicians who want to "help" them with money from our pockets!

Hattips to LC and CM


Wes said...

Liars do figure, especially politicians.

Jeff said...

The other unforgivable distortion is Nunes saying it is due to the "man made drought." Howitt's latest forecast is quite clear that only 5,000 of his 21,000 is due to the "man made drought" (aka Smelt).

He also ignores other estimates that are out there (partisan but forgivable I guess).

Josh said...

I won't post my personal perception of Mr. Nunes here. Suffice it to say, I wouldn't hold my breath on any retraction.

Tim in Albion said...

It was deeply suspicious last spring when we read of Westlands orchards being ripped out - before the water cutbacks. There was clearly something else at play. How convenient they had some enviros to blame for their own folly, and some bought-dogs in the Legislature to gin up more pork.

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