Friday, 19 July 2013

Day 33 - Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

The above chart is similar to that of Istanshire's gas price increases over several years. Of course this diary is about Istanshire and has absolutely nothing to do with Turkey, which is in a parallel universe.

Mister Thorn, the self-appointed Grand Caliph of Istanshire, is meeting with a journalist from the world-famous financial service, Gloomberg, at his sultanate in the village of Little Tallyban.

Journalist: There are some concerns in the world of international finance that your inflation figures over the last few years just don't add up. Try as we might, we just can't square the circle. We see that beer prices have almost doubled and beer prices in bars have almost trebled in three years, thanks to the new ultra-expensive license fees you have levied.

Thorn: My people don't drink alcohol. If they drink then they are not my people. They did not vote for me.

Journalist: So alcohol has not been included in your theoretical inflation basket of products ?

Thorn: Of course not. Drinkers will go straight to hell. It is an infidel habit.

Journalist: Okay then. How about cigarettes ? They have doubled in price in the last few years, haven't they ?

Thorn: My people don't smoke cigarettes. If they smoke then they will go straight to hell. Smokers are not my people.

Journalist: Okay then. That's not included either. So - this brings us onto petrol. Benzine prices have doubled in the last three years, have they not ?

Thorn: Benzine is a vice. Cars are a vice. Only the price of public transport is included in my inflation figures. These prices are fixed by the state and cross subsidised from private use of petrol. My people do not use cars.

Journalist: Your people do not use cars ? Surely not true. Many workers outside the great cities have to use a car or a truck to carry out their business. They are paying almost a third of their tiny monthly net income on benzine alone.

Thorn: If they can afford a car or a truck then they can afford to pay the tax. Or buy a camel like a good Arab.

Journalist (exasperated): But surely benzine should be included in your inflation calculations! Please tell me exactly what is included in your calculations. How is your annual inflation figure calculated ? Is it based on the price of camel fodder perhaps ? We calculate your country's annual inflation as at least 30%. You claim it is 6% to 8%.

Thorn: Well, we selected a village market in the East where there is no industry, just family farms. The people buy their food from the market or grow it themselves. The market prices are fixed by the state.

Journalist: So your inflation figure is based on the lifestyle of someone living a subsistence existence, buying local produce occasionally, at a fixed, subsidized price, taking public transport when available.

Thorn: Or using a donkey. More chai ?

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