A Numbers Game….

As I sit reviewing 2014 I am looking at all sorts of numbers from my investments to my handicap. One can’t help but look at the figures as everyone wants to pare down and decipher what the hell this all means. It is actually quite telling how our moods and our outlook can be determined by a twist of a decimal point or integer.

So many of these are guesstimates. It is amazing how fortunes rise and fall on a survey. The unemployment rate is just that. The Bureau of Census surveys 60,000 households and asks them who is working and who is not. From this is garnered a rate and is deemed up or down and ditto your IRA.

At earnings season all the gurus try to project what the earnings or losses will be at XYZ corp. When they are announced they may hit or miss by one or two cents and the quants pick up key words in their algorithms and either reward or trash a stock accordingly. Then they have a conference call to explain everything and the stock continues to bounce around on projections. All of these are just numbers but who cares? Everyone looks knowing and C’est la vie.

You can play with numbers to make things look good or bad. A major league baseball player can manipulate his ERA or batting average to merit a multi year contract. His agent deftly surveys the market to show his man is not really that bad but actually better than most. What other industry can you be so handsomely rewarded for batting .270 or having a losing record and ERA just under 4.0?

By the way I don’t know about you but the analysis of everything cosmic in every sport takes a lot of fun out of doing something stupid like just watching the game. We regurgitate the On Base Percentage or Slugging Average of a guy just playing a sport. The golfer has a .043 chance of making a 40 foot putt. I know that stupid! But the best is always this kicker has not missed a field goal in his last 43 tries. The kiss of death!

The number of children born to unwed mothers in the US is 40% of the birth rate or around 1.6 million. They will then tell you it is 72% among black women which is horrific. It is the single most critical problem in solving poverty among African Americans. They will not tell you it is 30% among white women as if to say that is not really a bad number. Hello?

The number or Americans killed in Afghanistan from 2001 -2012 was 6,488. There were 11,766 women killed by their current or ex male partner in the US in the same period of time. Approximately 150,000 of the rest of our citizenry were murdered during this era. 93% of the blacks were murdered by other blacks. 83% of the whites were murdered by other whites. Males make up 90% of murderers and are equally divided by 50% black and 50% white. I am sorry. I am sure you already knew that.

I am not trying to make one side look better or worse. The point is I can fudge the numbers or at least make them look good by the way I present them to you. One of the easiest ways to present things is as percentages. While helpful I also find the mode a tad misleading.

For instance I can tell you that 7% of our population over twelve years of age abuse drugs. 6% abuse alcohol. That doesn’t sound all that bad until you realize that is 24 million and 17 million of our fellow soldiers respectively. A total of 41 million denizens have a serious problem and you and I are going to be paying for it for a long time in everything from lost productivity, healthcare and long term rehab if they don’t kill themselves first.

There are currently 11.3 million undocumenteds in the US today. That is roughly 3% of our populace. 80% are Hispanic which is a bunch. But 20 % or some 2 million aren’t of brown color. I don’t know about you but that is not just a drop in the bucket to me.

In my last shot at percentages think about the 1%. As Kathy and I travel the world we are fascinated at everywhere from San Diego to Vancouver and Aukland to Paris that there is such an incredible amount of high end real estate. Your first question is “Who are these people?” The 1% of the world population is 70 million. The 1% of the US is 3.3 million. We have 545 billionaires in the States.That’s a lot of money floating around in the pockets of a lot of people. Better buy Tiffany and Sotheby’s stock.

Point being is it is important to look at percentages. They and numbers are a very opportune way to decipher a lot of data. But when we reduce everything to decimal points and axes on a graph we really lose the humanity of things. We want to categorize and put things in neat piles. Worse yet we can’t look past the numbers. Sorry but even though your department is making money and has done so for years you are not meeting projections. Progress you know. Been nice knowing you and good luck in future endeavors. Nice and antiseptic. By the numbers.

I am a white, married, male, Catholic, retired and who knows what percentage. I am no longer looking for my 15 minutes of fame but I really do hope I am more than a statistic. I hope I contribute more than a decimal here or there. I hope I am a human being to be respected and in turn be able to respect you. It’s just me. Numero Uno. Happy New Year to all and and thanks for listening.

As Always
Ted The Great.

Factoids:

Workplace: 67% of American workers are planning on leaving their job this year. 46% of us will fail in our first 18 months of a new job. Square pegs, round holes. 10,000 Japanese drop dead yearly at their desks from overwork after 14-18 hour days.

Lifestyle: The average person spends 5 years of their life standing in line. Americans waste $165 billion annually by tossing away unwanted snacks and meals. The math works out to approximately $529 per person each year. On any given day there over 2 million impaired drivers on the road. There are more cell phones than toothbrushes in the world.

Population;
There are more women than men in the US population of 325 million. In the 85+ category they outnumber men 2 to 1. Guys, there will be some hot times in the rest home tonight. We were 76 million in 1900, 200 million in 1968, 300 in 2006 and will be 439 million in 2050. 81% of us live in cities and the population is moving west and south.

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