We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

“There are no facts, only interpretations”, Friedrich Nietzsche once said. One needn’t be a nihilist or a relativist to be bemused at the latest radical rewriting of history from our official number-crunchers. Everything we thought we knew about the British economy’s performance over the past 15 years or so now turns out to be wrong. Endless articles, books and academic papers have become worthless at the stroke of the statisticians’ pen.”

Allister Heath.

Hey, I thought the science was settled!

7 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • RRS

    Check Disraeli on the locus of “statistics.”

    There is very little new or different in the way things change or are changed.

  • RRS


    You amaze me – John T Flynn !

    He was of my father’s generation (couple years younger) appreciated as of the same ilk. Although I was otherwise engaged and never read him at the time cited, he is a remembered name (worth recovering) from my dad’s views.

  • Laird

    I suppose there is some professional satisfaction to be gained from trying to get it “right” and thus improving the methodology employed in measuring GDP. But there is also a value in having long-term consistency in the calculation. And when you’re trying to incorporate into the measurement elements of the black market (the sex and drug trades), which necessarily relies on pure estimation (i.e., guesswork), the risk of error is greatly increased. It seems to me that both the overall accuracy and utility (such as it is) of the GDP measurement will be diminished by this change, to no apparent benefit other than enhancing professional pride.

    And of course this does nothing to address the huge flaw in the entire measurement scheme: the inclusion of government spending in the GDP calculation. If GDP is supposed to be a measure of the overall productivity of a society, transfer payments by government (which is all any government can ever do, as it produces nothing) grossly overstate that productivity. But you never see any statistics, or even any mention, of “private GDP” (GDP minus government consumption spending; I don’t know if that’s even a real term). And yet it is private economic growth which is the true driver of the economy. Remove government spending from the GDP calculation, or at least give “private” GDP equal weight in the reporting and discussion, and you would create a real improvement in the value of GDP measurement. Tweaking it at the margins to include sex workers seems to be pretty much a waste of time.

  • Laird

    Just keeping you on your toes, RRS! By the way, you can get a Kindle version of Flynn’s book for $5.

  • Nick (Natural Genius) Gray

    The Ministry of Truth knew this all along. Must catch up with young Winston for a chat sometime, doubleplusquick!

  • GDP should be discarded completely.

    Instead of that, I would follow the total income of the private sector (wages, salaries, net corporate profits) discounted by monetary inflation (not by the GDP deflator joke.)

  • Paul Marks

    It is all insanity – Fred N. (a lunatic treated as a great philosopher, the government number game players (who are including drug dealing and prostitution in the figures to make the economy look bigger – and pulling out the numbers from their backsides), all of it.