It’s the tweet that launched 1,000 right-wing conspiracy claims, as if we didn’t already have more than we could use.
Soon after the U.S. Department of Labor reported the unemployment rate dropped to 7.8 percent in September, from 8.1 percent, Jack Welch, the iconic former GE chief, tweeted the untweetable: “Unbelievable jobs numbers..these Chicago guys will do anything..can’t debate so change numbers.”
Welch isn’t the first person to doubt the honesty of government figures and he won’t be the last. But the monthly jobs and unemployment report is the sacred cow of official data, guarded so closely that reporters must give up their devices and remain in a locked room before the 8:30 a.m. release time on the first Friday of every month.
Welch, in his desperation to remain in the news — and yes, I’m helping him here — attacked one of the bedrocks of industrial economies: our trust in objective, official information. Many conservative commentators followed, as Welch’s prestige gave cover to the idiotic notion.
It is irresponsible on many levels, starting with the obvious fact that if the Obama administration was cooking the books, it would not have let out month after month of lousy numbers. And, as Lawrence Mishel at the Economic Policy Institute said, as he called thhe charges “slanderous lies,” a book-cooking Bureau of Labor Statistics would have at least doubled the lukewarm total of 114,000 jobs created in September.
Welch, who has bought his name onto business schools around the country, including Sacred Heart University here in Connecticut, ran a shop at Fairfield-based General Electric for 20 years until 2001 that raised accounting suspicions, and still does years later, because it beat Wall Street expectations almost without fail, reportedly by moving money to and from the GE Capital unit.
Adding to the irony of Welch’s charge is that just last week, the Labor Department revised its job-creation totals upward for the year ending in March, 2012, by 386,000. And the last three months of totals have also been revised upward — not the sign of an administration that’s cheating.
On one point, I agree with Welch completely. His tweet immediately before the jobs bombshell said, “Valentine had to go ..He didn’t have the performance or the values( behaviors).”
Let Welch stick to baseball, philanthropy and management consulting. He and the rest of the anti-government crowd, most of whom feed more than their share at the public trough, should shut their pie holes when it comes to government data until they produce some evidence.
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