Wednesday, June 22, 2011

News Without Perspective

I liked this post on Powerline in reference to the U of Minnesota's "dismal" budget, mostly because it shows what should be included in a financial story and almost never is, namely some historical perspective through numbers.  Go to the link and read the Star & Tribune's story, then look at the actual U of Minn. budget numbers that Scott has added and tell me if your take on the budget isn't altered by the additional numerical information.

One notes that not only is the "dismal" budget an 8.8% increase but that over the last ten years the increases average 8.5% and that the current increase comes right after a 17.2% bump.  If the Stribs writers were a little more numerically inclined they might be asking what could possibly be going on in higher education--where we can be certain that the output isn't going up by 8.5% a year--that would justify these numbers. 

The Stribs presentation is similar to stories on deficits which never seem to get around to asking the obvious question, namely what's happening on the revenue side, and what's happening on the spending side, the combination of which determines the deficit.  If democracy requires an informed electorate it's no wonder our public finances are a mess.

No comments:

Post a Comment