By the Numbers

More unemployment stats are out. It appears jobs have been added, but also unemployment climbed slightly. Experts say this is because more people entered the job market, when they got excited about seeing falling unemployment numbers last month. This points out a big flaw in all of this data; who exactly is unemployed? M and I recently left our jobs. We jointly own an LLC, but are not legally employees of the LLC. But small business owners can't be unemployed, right? Are we job creators because we made some jobs for ourselves, and also left spots for other, previously unemployed people to take our old positions? Do I even count at all, being that I'm also a mom, and soon to be full-time caregiver to an infant? Laurel still goes to preschool every day so I don't consider myself a Stay at Home Mom, although if she were 2 years older and attended school during the same hours, then I possibly would claim that status. To complicate matters, if some pollster called me up and asked me about my status, I would indeed say that I'm looking for work. I apply to jobs with some regularity. Everyone I know does this, even when they have a job, because you never know how long you are going to have your job, or when you want to ask for a raise and need some leverage.

Whew. That was a bit of a ramble. But my point is stats are a useful way to measure change on a large-scale, but we must never stop asking the questions, "How did you arrive at that number? What was taken into consideration? Where did you get that data? Who is excluded? What do I know about this experience?"

I maintain that unemployment is a stupid way to measure the economy. We should be more focused on who can afford health care, food, and housing. Your employment status doesn't really matter so much as long as you can provide those things. If a lot of people are employed but can't afford health insurance, the country is not in a better position.

Hope everyone is planning to vote on Tuesday. Make sure you know where your poll is, read up on your local races, and please knock on your neighbors' doors and see if you can drive somebody who might not otherwise make it. Pennsylvania polls are open from 7:00am to 8:00pm. Check here if you are in another state.

Never has it been more important to have a high level of literacy. If you want to be an informed voter, do not watch television ads! Or read your mail. I just watched the much acclaimed documentary Big Sky, Big Money (embedded below for your viewing pleasure), which does a really good job of explaining campaign finance law and identifying who is behind the vast majority of ads that you see.

You can also review the issues at Fact Check.org or Politifact. I am especially fond of Politifact's "Truth-o-meter" graphics".

Watch Big Sky, Big Money on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

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