Monday, April 12, 2004

Origami Economics Update

Kerry has published the details of his new misery index.

Taken from Kerry's site:

"Median family income. Median family income is from the Bureau of Census’ Income in the United States report. It is adjusted for inflation. Census has not released the 2003 income data yet; this study constructs the 2003 number by assuming that income grows from 2002 to 2003 at the same rate as Usual Weekly Earnings reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"College tuition. College tuition is the average tuition and fees for public four-year universities adjusted for inflation from the College Board’s Trends in College Pricing 2003. (NOTE - see the Fox News September 2003 article linked in an earlier post.)

"Health premiums. Health premiums are for private health insurance available from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. CMS has not release the 2003 data yet; this study constructs the 2003 number using the Kaiser Family Foundation’s estimate of 2003 health premium growth. All data is adjusted for inflation.

"Gasoline prices. Gasoline prices are the average national price for unleaded regular gasoline from the Energy Information Agency, adjusted for inflation.

"Homeownership. The homeownership rate is available from the Bureau of the Census.

"Private-sector job growth. Available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"Personal bankruptcies. This is non-business bankruptcies and it is available from the American Bankruptcy Institute."

Now, although Kerry lists the items above, he doesn't give us hot links to the source data. Thanks, pal. We'll get there eventually.

The kick is this: the calculation. "The growth rate of the index is formed by adding up the growth rates of these seven series – weighting them by the inverse of their standard deviation to ensure that each series contributes equally to the overall index. The index is set at 100 in 1976."

OK. I can pull out my statistics book and calculate the standard deviation ... but why? This guy needs to relate to the voter sitting at the bar, stubbing out his Camel. Can't you just see Kerry drawing a bell curve with a set of dotted lines on either side of the apex? Intoning in that French dialect of his, "you see, it measures the dispersion or variation in a distribution. OK? Look it, you take the square root of the arithmetic mean of the squares of the deviations from the arithmetic mean. It's a standard deviation! Don't you get it?"

Me thinks Kerry is the one who just doesn't get it.

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