Screw Stats | Letters | Chicago Reader

Screw Stats 

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That Section 2 invective you printed ["Sculpting the Statistics" by Deanna Isaacs, July 13] was not only a nice chomp at one of the hands that feeds you, but it also lacked the kind of assessment an artistically cultivated city like Chicago should expect of its people, especially its journalists and critics. After Ms. Isaacs's opening bit of sarcastic endearment for the misleading and insidious use of statistics, she shows us she knows what she's talking about by using the same tactic to contradict the report in question--a nauseating good time for everybody.

When I first heard about this report a couple weeks ago, it wasn't the numbers themselves that impressed me. It was that somebody representing the arts was up there on the hill, spinning mere numbers and getting noticed. The lobbyists who represent some of those other industries, the ones that enjoy far more consumption, don't need to fuck around with stats. They use something far easier to understand: currency.

If the report was edited to leave out what it didn't need, this only balances what could not have been put in, but should have. For instance, few people are "stuck" in the arts biz. Those jobs may not all provide health coverage, but at least the people working them are there because they want to be. Most service positions lack the same, but I can tell you which job is healthier. What kind of a strain are a handful of uninsured artists on the national health care system compared to what our nation's overeating and drinking problems amount to?

In defense of "blow[ing] off the substitution effect," we don't need to mind that money would be spent elsewhere if a sudden dearth struck us, the point is that money is being spent on art and related events; that attendance and revenues are growing; and that with commensurate financial support from the local and federal governments, the little industry that could (and has thus far without enough public support) will provide more and better of what spenders apparently want.

If a little prestidigitation means it seems more tickets get sold, and as long as that part of it remains unnecessary to refute, then suspend your disbelief and enjoy the show. I'm sure the few strategic omissions in a lobbyist report on the art industry are but a couple white lies in a place where oils spills are obfuscated. If we're lucky, maybe the Americans for the Arts will do what the no-nonsense lobbyists do, and just start penning congressional documents themselves. Maybe some subversive behavior can sneak decent art programs into our public schools.

Anthony Dispinoza

19th Street

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