In recent years,
governments have changed the statistical methods by which they measure events.
The credibility and validity of statistical measurements such as GDP and GNP
have been and remain questionable. GDP, or Gross Domestic Product, is the
monetary sum total of all sales and business transactions over a given time
literally adds apples and oranges, along with hogs and automobiles and whatever
else, to arrive at a figure that purports to reflect the health of the nation's
economy. GNP, or Gross National Product, is determined using a similar method,
arriving at a statistical number that is open to very wide interpretation.
Government economists can
easily get away with creating such numbers because most of the population has
been led into believing that these numbers have some kind of credibility. People
might have doubts if the Ministry of Public Health initiated a program to
determine physical health by a similar method. That method might measure a
patient's pulse rate and add it to the number of eye blinks per minute, breaths
per minute and other measurements and divide the total by the person's weight to
arrive at a statistical number. It is possible to use such an approach to create
statistics indicating that a region that has undergone massive industrial
layoffs and factory closures also has a low rate of unemployment.
statistics in many nations suggest a low rate of consumer inflation, yet people
in those nations are paying higher prices for a variety of food items in
supermarkets. Such statistical "information" becomes possible when governments
change the criteria of measurement and omit items that had been included in
previous calculations. Political leaders ultimately want to look good in the
public eye, and presenting favorable statistics indicating that government
programs are actually working is certainly one way by which a government can be
made to look good.