Jack Welch Should be Ashamed

October 5th, 2012 at 11:42 pm

I hesitate to weigh in on such foolishness—I’m a strong advocate of not shooting everything that moves—but this seems to have some legs.  I was just on the Thomas Roberts show where they showed a clip (or maybe it was a tweet) of Jack Welch suggesting that the Bureau of Labor Statistics was cooking the books on the employment report to help the President.

As I said on air, “Jack Welch should be ashamed of himself.”

The BLS is an institution with tremendous integrity, and with very deep procedures and methods to ensure the most accurate and confidential collection, analysis, and reporting of data known to this or any other country.  You want proof?   Go the their website and find me one document among the hundreds of thousands up there that show any political leanings one way or the other—it’s all “just the facts, maam.”  Then—and I’m talking to you, Jack—look at their survey methods and explain to me how they’re cooking the books—at what stage the fix is going in.

Welch is blowing smoke and speaking off the cuff out of pure ignorance.

To be clear, I’m not saying the numbers don’t have some error in them.  These are statistical estimates, and in fact, the BLS is very careful to provide error margins for their data.  I am very much saying that any errors are random, as with all sample data, and absolutely politically unbiased.

My man Larry Mishel says as much here, and here’s a great CBS piece providing details as to the implausibility of Welch’s claims based on BLS procedure.

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12 comments in reply to "Jack Welch Should be Ashamed"

  1. mitakeet says:

    I was thinking the _exact_ same thing when I read about it. Some people just never seem to learn when it is time to keep their mouths shut!

  2. Miguel says:


    It says not to post any comments that are ‘injurious, defamatory, profane, off-topic or inappropriate; (that contains) personal attacks or racist, sexist, homophobic, or other slurs.’

    And I thought about what I could say about Welch… And I think it’s not going to trigger any of those categories because the truth is a defense, isn’t it? The man has been sainted by the likes of CNBC’s intellectuals because he was smart enough to dump unprofitable businesses, ruthless enough to lay off thousands of people to cut costs and lucky enough to operate when the US economy was growin’ like a week.

    He walks away with hundreds of millions of dollars.

    Barry Ritholtz — a Wall Streeter — has a post today about how Welch also understands well how to cook the books. So maybe his BLS attack isn’t ignorance as much as projection?

    And no one ever mentions this guy’s very public adultery — with a journalist writing a puff profile of him. Is he still married to her?

    So I read your comment and think: Yes, he should be ashamed for so *many* reasons.

    And were it not for the fever swamp he drops this slander into, it would be utterly ignored.

  3. Steve says:

    I think it is impossible to make him ashamed. I think the only way to stop B.S. like this is to ridicule it relentlessly, he should be shown to be a fool.

  4. Tim says:

    People with no integrity tend to assume that everyone else has no integrity either.

  5. Michael says:

    Tim has it exactly — Welch knows he would doctor the numbers, so he assumes Obama would, too. In a sane country, this would trigger a massive IRS audit of his personal finances.

  6. Steven Nagourney says:

    Go to the Bureau of Labor Statistics site to see how each president did in his monthly jobs total:


    Then, in fairness to each candidate, eliminate his first year in office, on the assumption that it takes about that long for an administration’s actions to be truly felt in the economy and because many of the job gains and losses during that period can be attributed to policies put in place by the previous administration (believe me, it’s almost as much a kindness to Bush as it is to Obama to do so, 2001 being a year of almost continual job losses).

    That means I didn’t include either 2001 or 2009 in my calculations.

    So what did I find?

    From January 2002 to September 2004, under the Bush administration, a net total of 1,050,000 public and private-sector jobs were created.

    From January 2010 to September 2012, under the Obama administration, a net total of 4,181,000 public and private sector jobs were created.

    That’s right. In the same exact time period, four times more jobs have been created during the Obama administration than during Bush’s. So much for the theory that cutting rich people’s taxes leads to job growth.

    Also, 13 months of the Bush administration saw job losses as opposed to 6 during the Obama administration.

    I wish the Bureau would separate out the private-sector from the public-sector jobs statistics, since I believe Obama would wallop Bush even more if that were the case. In fact, if it weren’t for continued public-sector job losses under Obama, the gap between the two presidents would be far greater.
    And imagine if he had had his jobs plan passed!

  7. dilbert dogbert says:

    Was it Nixon who sent Malek to purge the Jewish democrats in the BLS?
    Malek who developed the Malek Manual?
    How did that turn out?

  8. sixty of us in fl says:

    Jack Welch should be baker acted quickly!
    Wow, I have to wonder how history is going to look back on how the republicans reacted to / treated the first black president of our country.
    I don’t think they have done their party any good for many years to come.

    about the debate to come. Obama is going to have to be the man he is on the campaign trail. Flash that smile, gently jab romney with that smile while hitting him with things like lying about preconditions being covered after he tape we do have health care for poor people (they can use the ER)
    We would like to see the republican platform on abortion and gay rights explained….how does romney differ from those things in his party platform?

  9. alan says:

    Mr. Welch,
    It is so sad when you hate a sitting president so much that your only wish is to replace him with someone like you!
    Please don’t forget that over 50% of Americans voted for this man.
    Have the common decency to behave with dignity and not to reveal the ugly side of ones personality to the world.

  10. Senator Blutarsky says:

    Conservatives dismayed by the misleadingly bullish headline unemployment number should focus less on the probability that the numbers were cooked, which is quite low, and more on the probability of mean reversion in the November number, which is high.

    And they should really avoid associating their own credibility with that of Jack Welch, who in his own memoir offered evidence that GE routinely engaged in what in boardrooms is called “earnings management,” and out of boardrooms is called “fraud.”


  11. Michael C. Morrison says:

    It’s clear that month-to-month changes in unemployment rates are somewhat volatile. The interesting part is that I counted the number of times the month-to-month rate change showed an increase equal to or above 0.30% (red numbers in the graph) and the number of times the month-to-month rate change rate decreased by 0.30% or more (green numbers.

    Four times the month-to-month change in unemployment rates increased 0.30% or more and four times it decreased by 0.30% or more. That’s a total of eight times the rate has changed by 0.30% points or more since January 2009. Extraordinary? No.

    So, the kind of rate change that the conspiracy theorists point to has happened in the past. It’s not abnormal to see change in economic data  in the ranges specified in the above graph.

    When the changes occurred in the past there was no outrage. No conspiracy theory that the BLS numbers were rigged from Chicago. These claims which are anti-fact, ant-science represent a continuation by some to interpret or question data to suit their ideology.

    When will this nonsense stop? There’s a conspiracy that the polls are rigged. Climate science is a conspiracy. The BLS is infiltrated to suit the electoral needs of the President. Conspiracy about voter fraud, when there is none. These anti-fact, anti-science folks are dangerous to a civilized society.

    To see the graph go to http://www.decisionsonevidence.com/2012/10/debunking-the-conspiracy-theory-of-rigged-unemployment-rates/