My take on Doug Henwood's commentary about John Williams of Shadow Government Statistics (shadowstats.com)


Tom Usher commented or added the following:


Doug, Doug, Doug,

You are being half-truthful. The way unemployment is calculated and reported changed under Clinton. You know that. You should know that the basket of goods used to determine inflation has also undergone convenient/political changes. The goods are not as large or of as high quality as they once were.

Why not write about the full picture (both sides) rather than just the one that makes your chosen ideology appear nearly incorruptible?

The people working for the government doing the stats usually aren't looking at continuity over decades and decades but rather the shorter term. John Williams has been looking at the multi-decades trends. That's a fair thing for him to do and intelligent.

It is true that he doesn't reveal all of his methodology, but he's a capitalist seeking to capitalize on his intellectual investment. I don't agree with the basic system of capitalism, but what he's doing is understandable to you within that system (mixed or not; partially socialistic). Your statements about him appear to disregard that entirely. He'd say to you that you can buy his service if you want to see deeper inside his thinking and how to "profit" while others who aren't "smart" enough to buy flounder and sink.

[Update to be "fair and balanced": "Shadowstats presents what they claim to be the original methodology. But Shadowstats is not calculating inflation any differently.They are not using the 1980s or 1990s methodology that they believe would be higher.  All Shadowstats is doing is taking the CPI data and adding on an arbitrary constant to make it look like inflation is higher!" Source.

See also: "The intellectual cesspool of the inflation truthers - The Washington Post"

I'm not suggesting that those sources completely negate every point John Williams has attempted to make, but they do point out some apparently legitimate difficulties for him.

I just think that discussion between the two camps could be less demeaning and rather be gauged more at getting at a mutual understanding of the truth, not that I don't engage in harsh talk myself.]

You have made many points that your opposition should address, but you've harmed your own cause by not seeing any validity in the factual claims of your opposition.

I happen to agree with you that government, per se, is not the enemy. It can though be used to evil ends. More often than not, it is. It's used by the superrich for their benefit first and foremost and usually to the detriment of the common people. Let's fix that.

Ripping at John Williams from the basis of half-truths is not the way — conveniently selecting things to complain about while ignoring the things clearly he's been truthful about/historically accurate.

I for one am glad that he continued calculating unemployment at the U6 level the way it was done before Clinton changed it for his personal political gain at the direct, negative expense of the unemployed.

You should agree with that and openly. Give John Williams credit for it and other things concerning his historical analysis of hyperinflation.

Thomas Smitherman

Williams' services are obviously aimed at businesses that need to do long-term financial planning, which requires some intelligence about the current situation and future trends in the economy. Apparently, he makes a living this way, so some capitalists trust his methodology more than govt agencies. So, Henwood's criticism is largely out of line. And, not to be picky, I am not sure he qualifies as a capitalist for selling his services, as this does not involve the investment of capital.

Tom Usher

I hear you, Thomas; however, I should think John would tell you about all the capital he has invested in his company. He probably has some fairly sophisticated computers and databases. Plus, he has other overhead in the form of on-going expenses to stay and become more connected — all with an eye to generating greater profits.

If your point is that there are people who sell services who are not capitalists, I agree that there are such people. Sales people who do not own the "means" fit that bill.

There's also the connotation where people are not capitalists at heart. I have equipment I own in the capitalists view. I use it to generate an income. However, I am not a capitalist at heart. I'm just forced into living under their selfish system. The Christian Commons https://www.causes.com/causes/99753-christian-commons-project?m=e5767d02&recruiter_id=13875729 is my theological and intellectual answer, but it's a hard sell in this dark, dark world.

By the way, lots of people who read Doug Henwood, including Doug Henwood, are my Facebook friends. I think the vast majority of them have never heard of John Williams because he runs in the Gold-Bug circles, and our "left-liberal" friends don't go there very often.

I like hearing all the sides though. Some of the Gold Bugs can be highly astute on other issues. I do enjoy hearing Max Keiser when he gets revved up against the financial terrorists for instance. When it comes to getting closer to the Commons though, I think fiat-people such as Ellen Brown and Bill Still have provided solid suggestions for turning away from banksterism.

United States Notes would be a huge step in the right direction. They don't get more play because of it.

I've written about them dozens and dozens of times and never had anyone inquire or respond directly about them though. It's as if they are hypnotized to avoid the subject.

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  • Tom Usher

    About Tom Usher

    Employment: 2008 - present, website developer and writer. 2015 - present, insurance broker. Education: Arizona State University, Bachelor of Science in Political Science. City University of Seattle, graduate studies in Public Administration. Volunteerism: 2007 - present, president of the Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project.
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