A nerd and his stats

So Governor Snyder made himself famous by being this “data-driven” nerd, right? Then in lame duck he magically appeared as this right-wing political hack who didn’t care about numbers, which is a transformation that no one could have seen coming if they didn’t have any sense. Well now that the curtain has been pulled back, let’s take a closer look at a few things.

First let’s revisit this morning’s briefing, in which we linked to a Free Press piece questioning the nerd’s lack of accountability in his business tax giveaways:

.. the business tax cuts came with no built-in accountability or analysis to show whether they’re driving job creation, and whether those new jobs are sufficient to balance out the pain from the cuts made to support them.

Bet on this: If schools or local governments or the poor had been handed $1.8 billion, the majority party in Lansing would be braying about exacting accountability requirements. And, frankly, there’s nothing wrong with that. Did it work? What did the money buy? These are basic questions elected officials ought to ask about any major policy initiative.

Nearly two years after Snyder’s tax shift was passed by the Legislature, and a year after the changes took effect, it’s time to get the dashboard out (Remember that meme, from Snyder’s early days in office?) and count the wins and losses.

See that? No counting the jobs from the tax giveaways. Why not? The people who are paying for those jobs have a right to know, don’t they?

The reason we don’t count stuff like this is simple: any job attributed to the tax break can likely be attributed to another source. After all, there is a national recovery going on in the background, and the Michigan auto industry is bouncing back quite nicely, no thanks to the GOP. If he tells us where the corporate giveaways went and where the jobs are, he’ll have to defend it, and if you’re just going to question it then he’s not going to give it to you gosh darn it. Kind of Romney-like in that respect.

Next up, let’s take a closer look at the education numbers the nerd was dishing out at the State of the State.

According to Gov, Snyder only 17 percent of graduating high school students in our state are “college ready.” The statistic the governor used is based on the ACT, which all students in Michigan must take in the spring of their junior year. According to the ACT, students must score the following on the various subtests in order to have a 50 percent probability of earning an A or a B or a 75 percent probability of earning a C or higher in freshman algebra, biology and social science.


In the real world of being accepted to colleges and universities, Roger will have fewer opportunities than Lindsay to get in to the college/university of his choice. Lindsay’s ACT score will be above the incoming freshmen average ACT score and Roger’s score will be well below the average. According to Gov. Snyder the public school in charge of educating Roger did a fine job (he is one of only 17 percent of students “college ready”), but the public school responsible for educating Lindsay failed miserably (she is one of the 83 percent who is not “college ready”).

You can click through to see the test scores he’s using to make the point about Lindsay & Roger. In short, Snyder pulled another “outhouse moment” with the test scores. By choosing one test that gives our local schools the worst scores, Snyder has a better chance of convincing people that we have a crisis. Thanks for that thoughtful and thorough evaluation of our public school system, Dick. Err, Rick.

One quick note on that population thing. Remember when Governor Snyder proudly proclaimed that the population increased for the first time since 2004? Well, that’s true, and here are some details:

Michigan’s growth was only about 1,000 people according to the Census Bureau estimates, an increase of 0.06 percent. That left the state with an estimated population in 2012 of 9,877,670.

But that still left Michigan with fewer people than it had in 2010, when it was counted at 9,883,360. The state dropped more than 6,000 people in 2011, the Census Bureau estimated, with a population 9,876,801.

Hey I’ll take the increase, but I like my data dished out with a side of perspective.

And finally, there’s the super-secret right to work for less data that the nerd would love to share, but can’t:

“… “they’re going to be worried that they’re simply going to become a target for the same kind of protests that I’m seeing. … So this is a case where we’ll have data, but I don’t think you’re going to find a lot of instances of companies being very public about it.”

If only you could see all of the Governor’s data, you would know that he is right. But you can’t, because of union thugs like me. (Be afraid)

So let’s review:

Business tax to job creation? No numbers
Education data? Cultivated and packaged to support the right wing agenda
Population data? Don’t look too closely, it’s more about births over deaths
Right to work for less? We have data but we can’t tell you about it

A nerd and his stats. It would be cute if it was just a numbers based magic show and we weren’t actually getting screwed.

There are no cover bands in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Follow me on Twitter - @christinebarry
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  1. Hector Solon says:

    Awesome piece, just can’t “quantify” how awesome… lol.

    All spending requires a “report” on impact and costs. Where’s the rest of the analysis. Businessman? Nope.

  2. Harris Hubbard Sr. says:

    “A nerd and his stats. It would be cute if it was just a numbers based magic show and we weren’t actually getting screwed.” Well, Well….. I see the nerd has now turned into the turd…. How’s that for a magic show! …. How great for Michigan…. (snark).

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