Sun 2008-09-14 ( po En )

I love Barack Obama’s speeches, and I wish we had such a charismatic politician with such bold ideas of change here in Germany. He’s an attourney, and I assume a great one. But he seems to have some problems with math.

Average family income

In his speech in New Philadelphia, Ohio two weeks ago, Obama said:

When Bill Clinton was president, the average family income went up seventy-five hundred dollars. Seventy-five hundred dollars. Since George Bush has been president, you know what it’s done? It’s gone down two thousand dollars. [2:33]

Okay, we got that…Clinton: +$7500, Bush -$2000. But what income number went down by 2000 dollars? From the way Obama’s telling us this “history of the average family income”, it seems like he’s saying that in the years of Bush’s presidency, it went down by 2000 dollars compared to where it was the day Bush became president. But he goes on:

Think about that. That’s a ninety-five hundred dollar swing (draws a circle with his hand). Ninety-five hundred dollars. That’s money outta your pocket. [2:48]

To me, 7500 – 2000 is 5500, meaning that the average family income today is 5500 dollar higher than before Bill Clinton was president. Bush can be blamed for the 2000 dollars it went down the last eight years, but not for 9500 dollars, because there is nothing to add here. Compared to sixteen years ago, it didn’t go down 9500 dollars – like Obama suggests – but went up 5500 dollars. That’s a difference, no a sum. That’s a basic mathematical riddle we expect a school child to solve.

And what the hell is a swing supposed to be? A weird combination of addition and subtraction? Do they teach distractions like this in attourney school? Spare me.

Tax relief

In his yesterday speech in Manchester, New Hampshire, Obama said:

When his [John McCain’s] tax plan leaves a hundred million Americans with no relief, not a dime’s worth of tax relief – that’s not change. [18:10]

So, McCain’s tax relief = 0. He goes on:

The truth is: I provide three times the amount of middle class tax relief than John McCain does. [19:25]

This means Obama’s tax relief = 3 x McCain’s tax relief. Which is zero. That’s bullshit, something’s wrong here. Let’s look closer to what he said:

  1. 100,000,000 US citizens get no tax relief (or maybe even a tax increase) under McCain’s plan.
  2. The middle class gets three times the tax relief under Obama’s plan.

I conclude that the hundred million people Obama mentions first are not the middle class he speaks about later. If they are, the whole argument is just an evil trick.

The question seems to be: What is the middle class? Wikipedia:

Depending on class model used, the middle class may constitute anywhere from 25% to 73% of households.

So, it can mean about anything. We can’t be sure what he’s meaning. Whatever his plans are, Obama shouldn’t make such misleading and unclear remarks, and do his math rhetoric homework. He must be more specific when he talks about numbers, and stop making such foolish mistakes.

I still hope he’s going to win, because he’s the better candidate by far. He brings a positive sound to the term “populist” (which has a very negative connotation in Germany).

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