Tuesday, 24 November 2009

First rule of social policy advocacy

The first rule of social policy advocacy is to get yourself a really Big Number. The bigger and badder your problem appears, the better. Whether it makes any sense is beside the point.

This explains why some poverty groups still cling to the deliberate deception of before-tax poverty rates. Any poverty rate that ignores the role of taxes and transfers in redistributing income, as before-tax calculations do, only tells half the story. But advocates use it rather than the after-tax figure because it makes poverty look bigger.

The same statistical obfuscation appears to be going on in housing policy.
From Peter Shawn Taylor's article on problems in the advocacy stats for social housing in Canada. Turns out that the vast majority of folks falling into the advocacy stats are households spending more than 30% of their income on housing. I guess I also have a housing affordability problem too! Somebody subsidize me!

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