Your Views for July 25
A strong defense
Regarding Pradeepta Chowdhury’s July 20 letter to the editor: I have filed his letter in the trash where it belongs.
Israel has every moral obligation to protect its citizens from barbarians.
The inflation debate
Lon Hocker’s letter (Tribune-Herald, Your Views, July 13) says that food and fuel costs are not included in computing the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) inflation rate.
The BLS in fact compiles several different indexes to measure various aspects of inflation, such as the Producer Price Indexes that provide valuable price information from the perspective of the seller, and the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is helpful from the perspective of purchasers, such as you and me.
The CPI itself is published in various formats, one of which doesn’t include food and energy prices and is of interest primarily to those involved in monetary policy for the reason of volatility that Hocker gives, and is called the “core” CPI. A second is called the headline CPI and includes food and fuel in its “market basket” of consumer goods and services (BLS).
The current low inflation rate of 2.13 percent I recently quoted, and the rate most prominently understood by the media and the public as the inflation rate, is based on the headline CPI … so not only have I been to the grocery store and gas pump, but so have the BLS statisticians.
Now, why was it important that Hocker’s views about not trusting government information be called into question?
Looking at this specific issue of inflation, it’s important to us as individual Americans to know that the legislated uses of the CPI, such as Social Security increases and individual income tax parameters, are based on the headline CPI. This gives us confidence as citizens that our benefits and financial responsibilities are not arbitrary and subject to political whim.
Second, and more broadly, while it’s certainly important that we question the validity and reliability of the findings and conclusions of our institutions, public and private, it’s essential that we do so in the context of the facts of each matter at hand, and the facts related to most matters are abundantly at hand: It’s the purpose of science.
When, as in Hocker’s letter, we aren’t shown the facts regarding global warming, for example, we should be most careful of the opinions expressed regarding the accuracy of information from the government.
As encouraged by William Ian Beardmore Beveridge, we should “cultivate an intellectual habit of subordinating one’s opinions and wishes to objective evidence and a reverence for things as they really are.”
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