Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

Folks in government regularly lie with statistics.

A ReasonTV interview by historian Thaddeus Russell of Maggie McNeill, a former sex worker, illustrates this well. Russell quoted a U.S. State Department website that claims there are presently “up to 27 million slaves in the world,” and asked Ms. McNeill where that number on “human trafficking” came from.

An expert at a UN conference concocted the startling figure from a complex formula based on government reporting, his own arbitrary compensation for likely under-reporting, and extra points thrown in for media coverage.

Not scientific. At all. “When you are using media reports in the middle of a panic,” McNeill argues, “your numbers are going to keep increasing.”

Further, she notes that there is no way to know the real number of sex workers, voluntary or enslaved — the very fact of prostitution’s illegality not unreasonably engenders distrust amongst sex workers in medical as well as police officials.

“Stand up and be counted” appears ominous when “counted” really means “jailed.”

Human trafficking numbers are also over-estimated because government officials tend to define all criminal sex work as involuntary, lumping call girls, escorts and streetwalkers in with actual sex slaves. The argument, of course, is that voluntary sex workers are “victims”; their decisions downgraded on a theoretical level — because of disapproval.

Sure, they are all “victims” in some sense. (A preacher could marshal the argument better than I.) But there remains a difference between a person who goes into an illegal trade seeking a comparative advantage, and somebody kidnapped, imprisoned, and threatened to do the work.

Recognizing such distinctions makes for better public policies than fuzzing them up.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

By: Redactor


  1. Rick says:

    Virtually every number the government publishes comes with an agenda.

    Probably the two most followed numbers are 1) unemployment and 2) inflation are both mental masturbation with political agenda.

    On unemployment, they take a survery by phone of a “statistically relevant size”. And as Charles Biderman regularly points out, they could simply check the state payroll tax payments and tell you EXACTLY how many people work but they don’t. That number can’t be fudged. They also revise the previously published numbers down almost every single month. The inflation number is “Ex-Food and Energy. Well……what’s more relevant than your monthly food bill or your cost of getting to work & heating or cooling your house?

    At a conference today in New York, Stanley Druckenmiller basically called the Federal Reserve fools on interest rate policy. He has as much cred as anybody since he has made his billions betting AGAINST Central Bank policy his entire career. He was George Soros’s partner when they broke the Bank of England back in the early 90s, bagging a cool $1billion in a single day when B of England had to devalue the Pound.

  2. Paul Jacob says:

    Well said, Rick. Though I might quibble with one word: “Virtually”.

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