Opinion on unemployment doesn’t dictate party allegiance

Published 5:49 pm Thursday, May 30, 2019

Recently, Eben Henson had an article in the Advocate’s “Voice of the People” column. It proposed several questions that would allegedly help people identify themselves as either a Republican or a Democrat. It was fun and clever but also not without its problems, beginning with the very first question.

Henson stated that the employment rate had dropped to 3.6%, the lowest in 49 years, then added that if one thinks that’s good, then one is a Republican, if bad, then a Democrat. I do think that 3.6% is good, so, to my surprise, despite having been a life-long Democrat, I must be a Republican after all.

While puzzling over this outcome, I recalled British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli’s dictum, made popular by America’s Mark Twain, namely, “There are three kinds of lies, lies, damned lies, and statistics.” 3.6% is a statistic and, like all numbers, is abstract. The word “abstract” means that something has been left out or pulled out from a fuller, more complete or concrete reality. If so, what got left out, what else do I need to know? Here my Democrat bones came to the rescue.

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First, what kind of jobs are they? Temp jobs? If not temp, then are they part-time or full-time? Are there any benefits (healthcare, retirement)?  Is the compensation at minimum wage, below minimum wage, or a living wage (a wage one can actually live on)? Is the 3.6% still true given the recent job losses caused by Trump’s tariff war? And what if people were desperate enough to take a job for a mere dollar a day? The 3.6% would still be true. But who would want such a job? What is a real job, after all?

Whew! Looks like I am still a Democrat after all.

Milton Scarborough