Monday, February 6, 2012

Did You Know?

One thing that bothers is when a politician makes a statement asserting something as if it's a well-established fact but doesn't provide a source that backs it up. Kevin Parker, one of my 6th District legislators, did this today when he posted this statement on his Facebook page.

Did you know that in 2011, 1,410 new rules and regulations were created for businesses costing about $10,000 - $14,000 per employee? We need a job friendly culture now more than ever.

I asked for the source for the numbers and he replied that the AWB has quoted the number several times. I searched for "AWB" and the top hit was the Association of Washington Business. I checked out their site and couldn't find anything remotely related to what he posted. I searched for "1410 rules" on AWB and using Google and found...nothing.

When I told him I couldn't find anything on the AWB site, he told me to follow the Twitter account of Christ Teft of the AWB who "often tweets this kinds (sic) of stats". He also referred me to the Washington Policy Center that "has some good research if that is what you are looking for". In other words, he can't or won't provide the source for his statement. So there's only one conclusion I can make.

* * * Update

Mr Parker pointed me to the testimony concerning HB2276 as his source. Here it is.

After doing some homework on the short testimony presented I found that the figures come from a study contracted by the Small Business Administration in 2010. A copy is here.

However, the Congressional Research Service found a number of flaws in the way the study was conducted resulting in greatly inflated numbers. A copy of that report is here.

The Economic Policy Institute did an even more detailed report of the flaws in the study. A copy is here.

The underlying message I get from stating a cost per employee for rules and regulations is essentially that rules and regulations are bad for business or as Mr Parker puts it, "a job-friendly culture". This by itself is overly broad and ambiguous plus it ignores the cost benefits associated with regulatory requirements.

Since Mr Parker is a small business owner he is in an excellent position to address specific regulatory requirements that cost him $10,000-$14,000 per employee. I look forward to his posts about them.


CohoMike said...

Hank, don't hold me to it, but I think it was Mark Twain who said it: Figures can lie and liars can figure.

I'm sympathetic to the point your solon was trying to make, but he ought to be more careful about attribution. Your skepticism is well justified.

Words matter. I am reminded of a special section in one of my favorite magazines. The section is titled: It must be true, I read it in the tabloids.

CohoMike said...

Hank, took me a whole day, but I found another quote that your brief essay brought to mind. Two quotes, actually, both from George Orwell.

1. The slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.

2. If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought. A bad usage can spread by tradition and imitation, even among people who should and do know better.

On the second sentence of the second point, especially, Amen! I need to re-read my Orwell. I have no excuse. One of your sisters recently gave me a brook of Orwell essays.


Hank Greer said...

Thanks, Mike. You'd think that with as much exposure we have to politicians, sales people, etc., that more of us would realize how much language matters.

Jon Snyder said...

Nicely done Hank.

Hank Greer said...

Thank you, Jon.