Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Please note I have a new phone number...


Alan Maki

Alan Maki
Doing research at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

A program for real change...


What we need is a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" which would make it a mandatory requirement that the president and Congress attain and maintain full employment.

"Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens"

- Ben Franklin

Let's talk...

Let's talk...

Friday, January 12, 2007

The Problem with Research, Facts, Figures, and Statistics

A politician called me today and asked why I don't rely more on research, facts, figures, and statistics to back up what I write about in this daily blog; insinuating that facts and figures don't support what I write about.

My other blogs offer many facts, figures, and statistics arrived at through meticulous research that more often than not includes first hand personal observations and research... which includes my daily associations with working people.

It is not that I have a disdain for statistics; but anyone can see that this country is all screwed up.

To provide another example... I received an e-mail asking me to provide the figures for how much the war in Iraq was costing and how much a single-payer, universal health care system would cost in response to writing that we should stop pissing away money on this dirty war in Iraq and use that money to create a world class single-payer, universal health care system.

I don't think I have to use specific figures to justify that there would be enough money for a single-payer, universal health care system if the war was stopped and the money was used for health care.

Whether there would be enough money to completely finance such a health care system from what is being spent on this war is not relevant. It is simply enough that I say spending this money for health care would be good while spending this money to kill people is wrong.

Perhaps there would be enough just from this source, perhaps not. What difference does it make? By any standards the United States is the wealthiest country in the world... certainly we can provide at least the level of health care a small country like Cuba provides for its people... or even like Canada.

This debate over facts, figures, and statistics reminds me of the discussion I had with Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty. In response to my suggestion that social programs should be expanded and improved, rather than cut, Governor Pawlenty told me he had figures that prove what I was saying was wrong and he started quoting me "figures" supporting his cuts to social programs... in response, I told him, "Mr. Pawlenty, all your facts and figures don't mean a goddamn thing to me; you can take your facts and figures and shove them where the sun doesn't shine; what I want to know is how you are going to feed the little kid who is going to bed hungry; what I want to know is how you are going to provide the worker without a job with a job, not how many people your piece of paper says are going to be working." I told the Governor that what I wanted to know is how his cuts to social service budgets were going to affect real living, breathing, human beings; not be read facts and figures from a notebook. Politicians are very comfortable reciting facts and figures; put a live human being with a particular problem in front of them and they squirm.

Right now we are witnessing two levels of government--- federal and state--- arguing over budgets based on research, facts, figures, and statistics... all this paperwork can be burned for all I care because none of it explains why many people are dying in a senseless war in Iraq based upon lies and deceit as other people are going without health care and others are going homeless and others hungry.

The debate in this country has to shift to a new way of thinking that considers the very real life situations of living, breathing, human beings. On any given day I can introduce any politician in this country to someone having some kind of problem because priorities in this country are all screwed up... these politicians don't want to come out and meet people with problems... in fact, like State Representative Tony Cornish they get up out of their nice cushy chairs and run the other way when they see me coming with someone with a problem. These politicians want to remain completely isolated and aloof from anyone with a problem... choosing instead to recite facts, figures, and statistics.

Whether it is Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty or President George Bush or Teddy Kennedy... these people just don't get it... working people are suffering because the priorities in this country are all screwed up and these politicians have no concept of the problems working people are experiencing because the closest they ever get to our problems is seeing a few figures on pieces of paper... if they had to shiver in the cold and go hungry they would solve these problems real quick.

If you don't have access to health care you are simply one out of so many percentage points. Neither George Bush, Tim Pawlenty, nor Teddy Kennedy is going to feel the pain and agony of having their homestead foreclosed on because they can't afford a hospital bill; and neither are they going to cry over the casket containing one of some three thousand human beings killed in Iraq [we know they aren't going to cry over Iraqi deaths]; nor are they ever going to wonder where they are going to come up with the money to heat their homes or get the next dollar to buy food for this evening's dinner; they just don't get it.

I do not need to research anything to know the daily suffering working people have to endure. I do not have to read that so many people are unemployed; I do not have to have the figures for how many people are without health care; I do not have to read a United Nations' periodical to know that there are people in this world who are going hungry. I just have to know someone is going hungry to understand that the solution is seeing to it that person gets fed.

As long as the policies of this country are ass-backwards and skewed to allowing the rich to get richer as people suffer from war, hunger, disease, and poverty the only thing that I need to know is that it is time to do things differently by putting the needs of people first. The fact of the matter is that a few people are getting richer as the direct result of so many other people suffering. Just look at Dick Cheney or George Bush at any given time... you can tell just by looking at them they are playing us all for fools and suckers.

No one can tell me that the place to start changing priorities is not by ending this stupid and criminal war and using those funds for the social programs needed by people to live decent lives... I don't need to do any research or produce any facts, figures, or statistics to prove my point... every filled body bag does that.

What kind of fools stand up in an empty hall pretending they are talking to others as they recite facts and figures anyways?

What I want to know, is if these politicians cannot even come up with a solution to this health care mess or bring a halt to a senseless, criminal war that was begun based upon lies and deceit... how can these politicians be trusted to solve any problems? This is the question that needs to be asked; not where are my facts and figures to prove we can afford single-payer, universal health care.

I don't see any of these politicians holding up a copy of the Wall Street Journal and saying, "OK, CEO's, bring out your books and lets see your financial records to see if you need to close this plant today and throw two-thousand workers out on the street?" But the same politician who lacks the political courage to ask the corporate CEOs for their facts and figures has the unmitigated gall to tell me to "prove" that this country can afford single-payer, universal health care and to "prove" that we can finance it by stopping the war in Iraq--- only a very sick society could produce such a troubled health care system along with a politician who would ask me for facts and figures to back this up.