I passed a couple of stories this morning (I won't link to them since my thought are more generic) that again raised the question in my mind of how much can we trust the so-called statistics we are fed these days. One headline noted that retail sales fell in May to the lowest level in 8 months. The other said that consumer confidence has risen so far this month. One comment in the first article amused me somewhat: economists are afraid that households will START cutting back their expenditures because they fear for their jobs or because they are concerned that the recession will be harder and more prolonged than they expected. START??? Everyone I now are squeezing their pennies so hard Lincoln is howling.
Then, of course, there are the stories that the size of the Deepwater Horizon leak is twice or more the volume we had been told. From the beginning the Federal Government has accepted BP's assurances and numbers while other observers have raised serious doubts about the veracity of the numbers and the trustworthiness of the assurances. But another story that came to my attention last weekend, I think, leads me to another question about the numbers of any economic story. A woman, and I don't remember her name or who she represented, expressed the opinion that we should all lighten up on BP because they provide a lot of economic benefit to the Gulf coast states and the nation generally in the forms of jobs, refining, crude oil harvested, etc. So we should--what?--give BP a pass on the damage done to fisheries (which will persist for decades), for the damage done to the marshes and wetlands (which, again, will persist for decades), for the fishing jobs lost, for the tourism income lost, and for the health problems of the workers? I am not so sure the 'benefits' here outweigh the losses.
One of the Google alerts I set up was for 'food recalls' and yesterday I saw the first notice of a recall from Proctor and Gamble for its Iams brand cat and kitten food. The food is deficient in thiamine which cats require. As I read the symptoms of thiamine deficiency I wondered how long they had been churning out the defective product. According to the link on Elaine's Place--
about nine months. Iams has always been a bit pricey for my budget so we don't have any of it.