Saturday, 10 January 2015

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

So said that populist rabble-rouser Winston Churchill. Certainly ‘Official figures’ can be misleading; are indeed often presented in deliberately misleading ways. Even so, some official figures can be illuminating, especially the less publicised ones. For instance, UK government figures show that 80% of motorcycle accidents are caused by people other than the motorcyclist him or herself, but the government chooses to keep very quiet about that. Every motorcyclist has had the experience of picking himself up out of the wreckage of his machine to be confronted by the car driver who has knocked him down saying ‘Sorry mate; didn’t see you.’ There seem not to be any official figures for the number of car drivers who have had their licenses revoked because they cannot see objects as large as a motorcycle; I suspect the figure is zero.

But it was some other official UK government figures I wanted to talk about, or rather just present; make of them what you will:

UK minimum wage: £6.50 an hour.

Number of people currently being illegally paid less than this: 287,000.

Number of employers during David Cameron’s government who have been fined for underpaying: 2.

Total fine paid by the two employers: £4,696.

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