Monday, April 11, 2011

Save the Statistical Abstract

Very disturbing news came to me by way of an observant former colleague. She pointed me to this site. It reports that the Obama Administration has evidently decided to nix the Statistical Abstract. The request to kill one of the oldest products of the Bureau, and one most used by the public, is in black-and-white in the U.S. Census Bureau’s Budget Estimates, presented to Congress, for Fiscal Year 2012. Do you want to read the words? Okay. Here is the text itself (pages 79-80), and here is what it says (FTE stands for full-time employees):

1. Terminate Statistical Abstract (Base Funding 24 FTE and $2.9 million; Program Change minus 24 FTE and minus $2.9 million):The Census Bureau requests a decrease to terminate the Statistical Abstract program. The FY 2012 budget request is the result of a review of both ongoing and cyclical programs necessary to achieve Department of Commerce and Census Bureau goals and difficult choices had to be made in balancing program needs and fiscal constraints. The availability elsewhere of much of the information in the statistical abstract has led the Department and Census Bureau to the difficult decision to terminate the program.
I have often asserted on LaMarotte, emphatically, indeed with passion, that the statistical functions of the Federal Government—the very best in the world, believe me—are the eyes through which we see. The Statistical Abstract of the United States, to be sure, is an aggregation of data made available to the public, thus the citizenry, and doing away with it does not, automatically, also nix the functionalities that produce the original data professionally and thoughtfully assembled by those 24 FTEs. Wow! We can afford to expend $300 million a day on the war in Afghanistan but we can’t afford $2.9 million a year to produce a publication that we have been producing since 1878? The Stat Ab in 2011 is in its 130th edition!

We’ve managed to publish the Statistical Abstract right through World War I, the Depression, World War II, the Korean Conflict, and Vietnam—and now, suddenly, because a bunch of financial speculators majorly screwed up our financial markets—now, suddenly, we have to furlough 24 people and shed $2.9 million? Give. Me. A. Break!

Even when people lose their jobs and then break their eyeglasses, they do order new ones. We can’t mess with the lens by which we see the world. Save the Stat Ab, you blundering idiots—or surely I’ll—well, impotence is great when you live down here in the so-called real world. But I’ll think of something.

Added Later: Commenter Joyce Simkin left a link to Change.org where you, too, can sign a petition in support of saving the Statistical Abstract. Unfortunately the link she left does not work. It is HERE in proper working order.

7 comments:

  1. Change.org is petitioning the government to save the StatAb here: here.

    So far they have a meager 816 signatures, mine included. Maybe LaMarotte can get the word out. I tried putting this in a comment on your blog, but blogger didn’t seem to accept my comment.

    Joyce Simkin

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  2. Change.org is petitioning the government to save the StatAb here.

    So far they have a meager 816 signatures, mine included. Maybe LaMarotte can get the word out. I tried putting this in a comment on your blog, but blogger didn’t seem to accept my comment.
    Joyce Simkin

    ReplyDelete
  3. Well put!

    Thanks for the heads up on Change.org, Joyce. Unfortunately, the pleas to HELP SAVE X are coming in daily from every direction... Sigh. People are weary of calling/writting their congressional reps and Senators...

    Nonetheless, I'll head over to Change.org right now.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you for writing about this and getting the word about the petition http://www.change.org/petitions/save-the-statistical-abstract-of-the-united-states-2. We also have a Facebook group to share information and ideas https://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_193019537404038&ap=1

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  5. Alesia: Thanks for your comment -- and for your initiative in organizing a Facebook support group for saving the Statistical Abstract. Delighted to see that, since this morning, you've gained new members for that site, and more every day. And that the votes on Change.org are also growing at the same brisk pace!

    If a March on Washington is next on your agenda, be sure to let me know :).

    ReplyDelete
  6. Some of the librarians at the George Washington University created a video to help save the statistical abstract! Feel free to share widely!

    www.freegovinfo.info/node/3254

    ReplyDelete