April 10, 2014

#NateSilver and #FiveThirtyEight turd-polish with 'Inflation hurts poor more'

Nate Silver, posing for a cheap knockoff of Rodin's "The Thinker."
Photo from The Guardian.
Nate Silver apologists, stop it.

It's true that Nate himself didn't write this piece, but he's the editor in chief who let this dreck slide.

My header pretty much matches the story's of "Inflation may hurt the poor more."

My counter-header should have been: "Dear Nate Silver: No shit, Sherlock?"

Or: "Reading FiveThirtyEight may hurt fanboys more."

Anyway, on to why this piece is a total teh suck.

Ben Casselman offer this early graf:
We tend to talk about inflation as a single number affecting the whole economy. But everyone experiences a slightly different rate of inflation for the simple reason that we all spend money on different things. The price of cigarettes matters primarily to smokers; the price of diapers affects mostly parents of young children; and the price of gas is a much bigger deal to someone with an 80-mile daily commute than to someone who only takes the car out for weekend excursions.
First, there's the rhetorical "we" that is a straw man for what's about to follow, namely that one of Nate's sages will set you the idiot straight of your naive thoughts.

Second?

This ain't new or even close. It's part of the old "buy hamberger instead of steak, you poor moochers."

You know? The "different inflation" is exactly why wingnuts and neolib fellow travelers argue for chained CPI and similar. You know, like neolib fellow travelers such as Obama's best buds at the Center for American Progress arguing for a chained CPI. So, it IS a policy piece of sorts, despite Casselman later claiming it isn't. 

Third, the "long term" and how this is unusual? None of the claims that this is different go back before the mid-1930s and much doesn't go back before the mid-1950s. And, plenty of economists, including Thomas Piketty as part of his massive new book, reviewed here by Silver's bete noire, Paul Krugman, say that the New Deal era up to Nixon's time was an anomaly.

Fourth? That's not all, folks. Watch me, Ben Casselman, invent quintiles!
To figure out how inflation varies by income, I divided the population into five groups by earnings, then calculated how much different income groups spend on each of more than 150 goods and services.
What would we ever do without such brilliance?

Thanks, Nate Silver; how did anybody not named Matt Ygelsias write such incredible insight? Well ... the rhetorical "we" and other stuff reminds me of Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo. It reads like a pedantic high school teacher from the city in his first small-town classroom.

Meanwhile, among other headers on that page? "Jeb Bush has as Good of a Shot as Anybody." Wow!

I never would have fucking known that without the help of Nate Silver and his gang. 

Bottom line? Per the likes of Michael Wolff, this exemplifies everything wrong with "branded" journalism. 

This is also a bright line. I'm putting a "no-follow" on every link to Silver from now on, too.  For more on how the place is pretty much all wet, go here. Speaking of that link, I wonder if Nate has asked Ben to send Paul Krugman a link to that piece. Because, you know, Krugman is so jealous of Silver he probably never realized that inflation hurts poor people more.

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