I was told recently by someone at the Goldwater Institute that they are absolutely honest with their numbers and data.
Does purposeful deception fall under G.I.'s definition of "absolutely honest"?
It's possible, I guess. If bus drivers can be called bureaucrats by torturing the language in a way that probably violates the Geneva Convention, I guess by the same tortured logic, "I'm lying but I can deny it" can be considered absolute honesty.
Consider G.I. economist Byron Scholmach's anti-Prop 100 op ed in today's Star. He says an Arizona family of 4 will spend $564 extra a year if the one cent tax hike passes. Or that's what it sounds like he says. But he doesn't exactly say that.
One cent for every dollar spent may not sound like much, but evenly divided, it's $141 per Arizonan even at the new, reduced revenue estimate. That's $564 for a family of four.
Any reader who isn't a lawyer, a trained language specialist with the CIA or an English major versed in Literary Criticism (guilty as charged) would be sure Schlomach said the average family will spend $564 on a 1 cent sales tax hike.
But he didn't. He simply stated these undeniable facts:
- If you divide the total revenues from the proposed tax by the number of people in Arizona, you get $141.
- If you multiply that by 4, you get $564.
"Hey, I never said that's what it would cost a family of 4," I can hear Schlomach saying, a look of righteous indignation on his face (or maybe a sly grin). "I just did the math."
It's been a long, bumpy road for G.I. to get its lie language parsing down pat on this one. Darcy Olsen went on the radio and told John C. Scott the tax hike would cost the average family $600. Since then, other G.I. spokespeople have lowered the number to a still-ridiculous $400, a figure Americans for Prosperity's Tom Jenney repeated in his Star op ed yesterday: "The new tax burden would be about $400 per year for the typical Arizona household."
But today, G.I. finally perfected its language to be as deceptive as ever while allowing for plausible deniability.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what passes for absolute honesty at the Goldwater Institute.