Mr. Lincoln’s Calf’s Leg

I have a book which I was given many years ago from my late grandfather.  He was born and grew up in a tiny little town in the Midwest which to this day does not have a traffic light, and only a half-dozen or so stop signs.  He grew up, went to Northwestern, where he interrupted his studies to serve as a medic in the Great War.  He returned, finished his degree, and went to Harvard Law School.  I have his diploma, signed by Roscoe Pound, at the house somewhere.  That was back in the day when a farmer’s kid from nowhere could manage to go to an Ivy League law skool in the days before student loans.

In any event the book is Abe Lincoln’s Yarns and Stories, and was published in 1901 by Alexander K. McClure.  The stories were harvested from people who’d actually known Lincoln back in the day.  Among my favorites is the one where he was in a heated discussion with some people and the proposition was made along the lines of, “Well, why don’t we just call it so-and-so?”  The astute reader will recognize in this an early murmuring of what has since become accepted political dogma.  In a world in which there is no truth, only competing narratives, it genuinely does not matter what something is, or is not (e.g. “homosexual marriage”), but rather and only what you call it.

Lincoln’s response was to pose the question of how many legs a calf would have if you called its tail a leg.  “Five!” the answers piped up.  No, Lincoln pointed out, the calf would still have only four, because “calling a tail a leg does not make it a leg.”

Which brings me, by logical transition so smooth as to be scarcely noticeable, to the question of what is the unemployment rate in the United States.  “5.6%!!” crow the lefties and their publicist arm (which is to say, the lamestream media).

Except it’s not 5.6%, not by a wide margin.  If you are so completely unemployed you’ve given up hope and looking for work for the past four weeks, you’re no longer “unemployed” for purposes of the BLS count.  Seriously, you aren’t; it’s as if you just vanished from the face of the globe, as if your belly no longer needed food, your children no longer needed food, and your car began to run on cold tap water.  If you’ve been making $82,500 a year and lost that job because your employer went bust — or if you used to work at a bookstore and minimum wage hikes have put your employer out of business — and in order to keep some ramen noodles on the table you cut your neighbor’s lawn for $50 every other week, you’re counted as “employed,” and therefore not “unemployed.”  If, because of how companies now use software to schedule their workers so that as few of them as possible are “full-time” for purposes of various federal and state mandatory benefits, and because of how many companies now use that software, you can only cobble together, among two or three part-time jobs, 18 or 20 hours of paid employment each week, you’re “employed.”  And so forth.

The CEO of Gallup calls this for the bullshit it is.  As the Blogfather would say, read the whole thing.

The employment picture is dismal and all the mulligans and we’re-not-counting-those-hungry-people-out-of-work will not change that.

This is, of course, a further illustration, as if such were needed, of why you never, ever trust government numbers on their faces.

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