Reality Check: When the math doesn't add up for Alaska
I want to talk to you tonight about fuzzy math.
I don't mean algebra or calculus -- which has always been fuzzy to me -- but fuzzy math, as in the currency of political argument. Expecting to reduce the national deficit by adding one and a half trillion dollars in tax cuts is one example of fuzzy math.
President George W. Bush tried that in his first term, and the national debt soared. Another is the math used by Senate President Pete Kelly this week, to downplay the seriousness of the Alaska recession. Senator Kelly seized upon the State's projections of oil production. And he's right -- that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) blew their prediction by a country mile.
The OMB predicted a production decline of 12 percent in the oil patch this year. However, it turns out the industry actually managed a production increase of 2 percent, which is good news.
According to Senator Kelly, "That 14 percent change represents nearly an additional $1.5 billion circulating in our economy."
So, as the headline to his Op-Ed says, "The Sky Isn't Falling".
See? With fuzzy math, you can make the numbers say whatever you want. Actually, OMB's miscalculation doesn't mean that Alaska is suddenly awash in oil money. It simply means the state is really bad at predicting oil production.
In reality, that extra oil production brought in maybe $100 million dollars more this year over last. And $100 million is a lot less than $1.5 billion.
That's actual math, not fuzzy math -- and that extra $100 million is especially less significant when you're staring at a $2.5 billion dollar budget shortfall.
I get that Senator Kelly and many of his colleagues don't want to talk about taxes, but you shouldn't use fuzzy math to whitewash, a genuine mathematical problem.
To suggest three years of deficit spending hasn¹t had an impact on our economy is fuzzy logic. If you're a business owner, you're feeling it. If you're a victim of crime, you're feeling it. And if you're a homeowner, it won't be long before you're feeling it in the lost value of your home and property -- if you haven't already.
Because fuzzy math may work in the world of politics, in the real world, where the rest of us live -- it just doesn't add up.
John's opinions are his own and not necessarily those of Denali Media or its employees.
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