Monday, August 22, 2011

Because ignorance causes fear

The last edition!
Too often, ordinary citizens -- troublemakers -- have turned to libraries and librarians to arm themselves with facts and figures.  Although we have not convinced the states to sell off all the public libraries, an important step towards making libraries less useful is to eliminate up-to-date reference books.

We want to express our admiration for Director Robert Groves of the Census Bureau.  Groves recently elected to terminate publication of an immensely popular economics-related fact-book: “Statistical Abstract off the United States.”  Many non-experts and journalists consider the book an indispensable resource about the US economy.

Robert J. Samuelson, the Washington Post financial columnist, comments:
I am a devoted fan of the Stat Abstract. In four decades of reporting, I have grabbed it thousands of times to find a fact, tutor myself or answer a pressing question. Its figures are usually the start of a story, not the end. They suggest paths of inquiry, including the meaning and reliability of the statistics themselves (otherwise, they can mislead or tell false tales). The Stat Abstract has been a stalwart journalistic ally. With some interruptions, the government has published it since 1878. No more. The Stat Abstract is headed for the chopping block. The 2012 edition, scheduled for publication later this year, will be the last, unless someone saves it. 
In our view, it's liberal economist Paul Krugman who makes the best case for terminating "Statistical Abstract":
Killing the publication for the sake of a tiny saving would be a truly gratuitous step toward a dumbed-down country.
"Timendi causa est nescire" (Ignorance causes fear) is the moto of the United States Department of Fear.

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Dr. Rebecca Wolf
Undersecretary for Community and New Media
United States Department of Fear