Wednesday, 28 May 2014

A Minor Blunder

The Progressive Conservative party of Ontario had some robust economic analysis behind their political platform to create 1 million jobs over eight years.  Without any government action, the economy was expected to create 500,000 jobs, and their tax cuts and other measures would account for another 500,000.  Sounds pretty good.

Obviously this is very silly.  First of all, taking credit for things that will happen if no one did anything is a little deceptive, though to their credit all political parties take credit for the job gains that happen while they are in office even when they happen only due to population increases.  Secondly, I would hazard a guess that the models that were used to translate tax cuts into jobs created are about as reliable as and were utilized by people who, in the very best case scenario, were put in their current position due to luck and results based thinking.  Basically if you think you can make a model to successfully predict job growth from tax cuts you are a moron who should not be trusted with anything.

But lets leave all of that aside.  It turns out that the economic analysis they had done did not show that 500,000 permanent jobs would be created by their tax cuts, it showed that 500,000 person years of employment would be created over the eight years of their plan.  So they multiplied the number of jobs created by eight.  Instead of baseline times two, their plan, if we believe the completely spurious analysis of it that they endorse, would multiply the number of jobs created by one-and-one-eighth, which is well within the margin of error for an outrageous calculation like jobs-created-over-eight-years.  This is, of course, in addition to the fact that one-eighth of 500,000 is 62,500, which is less than the 100,000 public sector jobs he promised to eliminate.

So - once again trusting the math fed to us by the party - he has promised to eliminate more jobs than he has promised to create.  This is called the "Million Jobs Plan."

So the right-wing think tank masquerading as a legitimate scientific body that conducted research for a right-wing political party doesn't even remotely support the conclusion the political party made from the analysis.  A member of the party admitted the mistake was made, but Tim Hudak, the party leader, when asked, "Do you think a person-year of employment is a permanent job?" said, "I stand by my numbers."

Well the analysts who made the numbers for him don't stand by them.  A growing chorus of economists not only don't stand by them, but opening ridicule them.  Generally when you make a fundamental mistake that would disappoint me in a high school student and multiply your result by eight, you don't find a lot of people standing by you.

Okay, well, actually you might find that millions of people still stand by you.  It's not so much that his plan doesn't work out that is a problem for Tim Hudak here since obviously thinking his plan will work was always more of a matter of having faith in the man or the Progressive Conservative brand rather than understanding it.  It is more that the media is full of reports that he can't do very basic economic analysis, which goes to that "faith in the man" past.  And I don't think that this opponents are going to let that one down.

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