Wednesday, October 03, 2007

What Some People Will Do To Get Elected

Presidential politics is all about provoking an emotional reaction. Facts are elusive. Take this quote for example:

"We have more work to do when more young black men languish in prison than attend colleges and universities across America."
--Barrack Obama, NAACP forum, July 12, 2007.
The number of Americans in prison is scandalous, but the Washington Post's Fact Checker looked into Obama's shocking statement, and it just ain't so. As reported on the Reason Magazine website:
According to 2005 Census Bureau statistics, the male African-American population of the United States aged between 18 and 24 numbered 1,896,000. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 106,000 African-Americans in this age group were in federal or state prisons at the end of 2005. ... If you add the numbers in local jail (measured in mid-2006), you arrive at a grand total of 193,000 incarcerated young Black males, or slightly over 10 percent.

According to the same census data, 530,000 of these African-American males, or twenty eight percent, were enrolled in colleges or universities (including two-year-colleges) in 2005. That is five times the number of young black men in federal and state prisons and two and a half times the total number incarcerated. If you expanded the age group to include African-American males up to thirty or thirty five, the college attendees would still outnumber the prisoners.

There are plenty enough real problems without making stuff up, but I guess a scary fake statistic makes a better sound bite. And what's an irishman doing talking to the NAACP anyway?

No comments: