The Dumbest Thing I Heard This Week — Mitt Romney “Dreams of Gini”

So much stupid this week. At one point I had no idea how to choose the dumbest thing I’d heard. Though I was pretty sure it was the John Stossel story, because that guy is just walking dumb.

And yet, like most things in life it managed to shake itself out with one more proof that Mitt Romney will not be dictated to by “facts.”

While I only heard this dubious claim tossed around once this week, it promises to be repeated countless times over the next several weeks by Mitt Romney and other Republican hacks. So consider this a pre-emptive drone strike on stupidity.

Wait, am I calling myself a drone? That’s not good. Maybe a “pre-emptive ‘smart bomb’ strike on stupidity.” That sounds better.

In a stump speech yesterday, Mitt Romney told the crowd that income inequality has grown this year under Barack Obama for the first time since 1993.

Romney is referring to a study released by the U.S. Census Bureau reporting on the “Gini coefficient” which is economist-speak for income inequality. That’s a damning attack against the Obama administration’s economic leadership. Here’s a graph showing the Gini coefficient over the last 44 years:

See how the graph is a flat-line until Socialist Overlord Obama took over? Yeah, me neither.

The problem, as economist Justin Wolfers points out at Freakanomics, is that stat nerds don’t quite understand that real people don’t speak their language. Basically, the Census Bureau declares an annual “increase” in income inequality only when the year-to-year increase is “statistically significant.”

In other words, during the course of the upward trend in income inequality beginning, coincidentally, in 1980 the annual increase was so small that statisticians balked at giving it their “seal of approval” because the increase was so small that they could not confidently declare that the increase was more than statistical “noise.”

But of course the culmination of all these “insignificant” increases has taken the coefficient up dramatically over the last 32 years. For Mitt Romney to tag Barack Obama with responsibility for income inequality while glossing over the Republican policies that exploded this coefficient is the height of dumb.

2 comments for “The Dumbest Thing I Heard This Week — Mitt Romney “Dreams of Gini”

  1. Kathryn
    September 14, 2012 at 11:43 am

    I’m not sure this is “dumb” as much as clever… What percentage of the small undecided population will understand this? Even when you try to explain it I fear it still does damage to the perception that Obama is working for the middle class.

  2. November 9, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    Income inequality is a real problem. is a tool for consumers to correct that problem.

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