The Return of NYT’s Nate Silver
May 20, 2013 - 11:19 am
The IRS is under siege, but have no fear for Nate Silver is here. While Silver does concede that Tea Party organizations were unduly targeted, he also tried to discredit the WSJ’s Peggy Noonan on May 17 to show that the individuals being singled out in this scandal isn’t a big deal. He also he also has the mathematical calculations prove it. In fact, Silver has a very blasé attitude since hundreds of thousands of Romney and Obama supporters were subjected to audits in 2012, but that doesn’t discredit anything. Conservative groups are at the core of this government malfeasance. Yet, here’s what’s telling about the post. Silver wrote:
to be clear, this calculation assumes that individuals’ risk of being audited is independent of their political views. In fact, there is no way to know exactly how many supporters of each candidate were chosen for an audit — nor could there be, since individual-level voting records and audit records are private.
The point is, however, that even with no political targeting at all, hundreds of thousands of conservative voters would have been chosen for audits in the I.R.S.’s normal course of business. Among these hundreds of thousands of voters, thousands would undoubtedly have gone beyond merely voting to become political activists.
So, Nate Silver just said that there were a lot of audits that we can’t verify were politically motivated, but it happens anyway – which means it’s ok. All of this proved was that Silver has too much time on his hands, and gave us an irrelevant tally of audited Romney and Obama voters. Now, let’s say they were targeted. The scandal is now much more serious and larger in scope. And the fact the people on both sides were hunted down means that the IRS – and Washington – are running amok. Concerning Silver’s calculations on individual audits from 2012, Joel Pollack at Breitbart wrote yesterday that:
the telling omission in Silver’s post is that he cannot prove that these conservatives–some of whom were subjected to several audits at once–weren’t audited for political reasons. The fact that some were statistically more likely to have been audited (once) for ordinary reasons does not mean that they were not audited for political reasons.
In fact, it is precisely the unlikely nature of some of these audits that has led to legitimate suspicion of the IRS’s motives.
Consider Noonan’s account of what happened to Romney donor Frank VanderSloot: “He found himself last June, for the first time in 30 years, the target of IRS auditors. His wife and his business were also soon audited.” Were his wife and business also statistically likely to have been chosen?
Granted, Silver did concede that the targeting of conservative organizations was “very clear.”
And evidence could yet emerge that there was targeting of politically active individual taxpayers. But the principle is important: a handful of anecdotal data points are not worth very much in a country of more than 300 million people.
Math cannot spin away a scandal any better than magic fairy dust. Just because one angle of a scandal looks shoddy doesn’t mean the whole fiasco is now disproved. That’s the problem with liberals. They fail to see that big government will execute ways to maximize their power in any way, shape or form. Conservative groups were targeted, and I’m glad Silver admits that point. But if organizations were targeted – what’s to stop the IRS from going after individuals? With an administration that seems aloof to all of these scandals, we shouldn’t be surprised if future developments show that the IRS did just that. I guess that’s the price you pay for a government that’s “too vast.”
Nevertheless, an investigation is underway. Let’s see what happens.