Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Fudging The Numbers

Here's an interesting glimpse at Swedish unemployment numbers. No, it's not an oxymoron. In this case they really are interesting, because of the methods the Swedish state unemployment agency is using to keep the numbers down. What methods are those you ask? Are they using some wonderful new training method which helps people transition from obsolete jobs to cutting edge employment opportunities? Not as far as I know. Well then, is the government cutting taxes to promote investment, leading to an increase in job availability? Again, not as far as I know. Okay then, are they using the socialist approach, and creating more government jobs, and that's how they're taking citizens off the unemployment roles? Sort of. According to Nima Sanandaji, at TCS Daily, they are re-classifying healthy young Swedes as mentally disabled, so that they don't count against the standard employment rolls, and then giving them menial work in a government subsidized project designed to provide jobs for the disabled, jobs such as cleaning and building wheelchairs.

Sanandaji cites one Swedish girl, Jessica Pettersson, that the agency wanted to classify as mentally disabled because she wasn't good enough in math, despite the fact she has a high school degree in economics. Pettersson refused the reclassification, but apparently, many people cave to agency pressure:

Alarmingly, what happened to Petterson is not an isolated incident in Sweden. The state unemployment agency is constantly attempting to force people to "admit" to being disabled. Today 19.3 percent of those seeking jobs at the unemployment office are being classified as disabled.
Wow, 19.3 percent of the people looking for a job through the government agency are classified as disabled?! What is wrong with the water in Sweden? Either there is something terribly wrong with the environment, or the gene pool, over there, causing so many people to be mentally handicapped, or (much more likely) the government doesn't want to admit they have an economic problem which is contributing to a dirth of jobs, so they're fudging the employment numbers, and calling their populace stupid to do it. Sweden is a socialist country, and not very big on free market economies, so they have high government employment anyway, but if Sanandaji is right, and the Social Democrats running the government are using this particular method of keeping the numbers looking shiny, that's just pathetic, don't you think? Fixing the numbers is one thing, but they're setting the accomplishment standard for a whole host of young people at far less than their true potential, telling them they are too dumb to do more, which could determine the course for their entire lives. The politicians who are benefiting from this kind of chicanery are literally sacrificing other people's futures to make their own political futures safer. Like I said, if it's true, it's pathetic.