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Opinion on unemployment doesn’t dictate party allegiance

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.

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

Danville