Thank goodness for the likes of economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, who seems to be one of the very few experts who casts a skeptic's eye among Big Media outlets.

If I have $100 and gain $1, that's a 1 percent increase.

If I have $10 and gain that same $1, now it's a 10 percent increase.

This essentially underscores Krugman's debunking of Bush apologists' spin.

First, they talk about recent increases in the number of jobs, not the fact that payroll employment is still far below its previous peak, and even further below anything one could call full employment. Because job growth has finally turned positive, some economists (who probably know better) claim that prosperity has returned - and some partisans have even claimed that we have the best economy in 20 years.

But job growth, by itself, says nothing about prosperity: growth can be higher in a bad year than a good year, if the bad year follows a terrible year while the good year follows another good year. I've drawn a chart of job growth for the 1930's; there was rapid nonfarm job growth (8.1 percent) in 1934, a year of mass unemployment and widespread misery - but that year was slightly less terrible than 1933. ...

Second, the apologists give numbers without context. President Bush boasts about 1.5 million new jobs over the past 11 months. Yet this was barely enough to keep up with population growth, and it's worse than any 11-month stretch during the Clinton years.

Third, they cherry-pick any good numbers they can find.

There's plenty more to quote, but you get the idea.


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