Wednesday, January 14, 2015

National Review fail of the week: the People's House

Via ScottSeesThings.
My occasional correspondent Kevin D. Williamson has some fun over at The Corner with some unhappy innumeracy from Alternet (now withdrawn from the site, because unlike National Review they do correct errors over there sometimes):
Here is an excerpt from an Alternet article by Kali Holloway republished by Salon. See if anything about the GDP figures jumps out at you.
The top five members of Congress are worth more than the GDP of entire countries. At $200.5 million, Republican Dave Trott’s personal wealth is greater than the GDP of both Peru and Iraq ($200,269 and $195,517, respectively). Democrat Jared Polis is worth $213.2 million, more than the GDP of Algeria and ($208,764). Democrat John K. Delaney is worth $222.4, greater than the GDP of the Czech Republic ($208,796). Another Democrat, Mark Warner, is worth $254.2 million, which beats out the GDP of Greece ($241,721). While Republican Darryl Issa, the richest man in Congress, is worth an incredible $448.4 million, which makes him worth more than the GDPs of Bolivia, Croatia, Sri Lanka and Hong Kong put together ($30,601; $57,869; $67,203; and $274,027, respectively). And that’s still $15.6 million less than he was valued at last year.
Yes indeed, by leaving six zeroes off the end of all the GDP figures Ms. Holloway did mislead herself into a very peculiar alternate universe. (What is almost worse is that, judging from the context, she can't even describe her mistaken belief correctly: i.e., she thinks Warner's wealth is somewhat greater than the Greek GDP, but her text makes it a thousand times greater, and she clearly doesn't notice the difference.)

Then again, Williamson himself isn't exactly shining in the math department when he adds:
The average member of Congress is about 57 years old, and they are mostly married, mostly savers and investors, and mostly college graduates in two-income households. Their net worths are about the same as other similar households. 
No, Kevin. The average member is rather more than three times as rich as other similar households (and those similar households are the ones in the top 20%):

2011 Census bureau numbers
Median net worth of married household with householder 55-64: $239,847
Median net worth of households with college graduate householder: $147,148
Median net worth of households in highest income quintile (annual household income over $101,582, mean $178,020): $292,646

Median net worth of a member of Congress (annual salary $174,000, 2013): $1,029,505

Not thousands of times richer like Issa and Pelosi, but not chopped liver. Not too bad at distinguishing millions from billions, but you do need some work on your Googling.

And getting richer while the rest of us aren't, too. Via Ecominoes.

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