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It is said that numbers do not lie. How often do we want to see final numbers on something before we make a decision? 

Numbers guide us in so many ways, from deciding whether to buy a million-dollar boat to choosing the right brand of beans in the grocery.

Numbers are supposed to guide our governments as well. 

Every year, they adopt budgets that are supposed to limit spending. That limit usually goes up each year. However, you can hope until you get your November property-tax notice.

This COVID-19 has caused some changes to many of our budgets, however. The economy has tanked: People are behind on rents and mortgages; sales-tax receipts are down; and job prospects are looking grim.

That is, everywhere but Florida. Here, thanks to two forward-thinking governors, we have an unemployment system that crashes under the load. 

Because the system cannot timely process applications, our unemployment numbers stay mercifully low.

For a while, there was concern that our disease numbers would also look bad. 

It turned out that the problem was one Rebekah Jones, who worked for the state health department. 

She refused to fudge the numbers to support the governor’s plans. Technically, they call that “insubordination,” or failure to follow orders.

The governor had her sacked, and then, with a few tweaks, the state’s numbers supported his reopening plan. 

With the numbers properly adjusted, the governor was able to proceed.

Admittedly, at that time, the daily disease counts doubled. Then they doubled again. Then they doubled a third time, and increased some more after that. The numbers got so bad that the federal government had to step in to suppress reporting. 

Yet, think how much worse the numbers would be had the state not sacked Jones. Honest figures would be disastrous.

Finally, we have a solution to those rising numbers. 

With storm Isaias, the state closed its testing centers. By reducing the number of tests, they reduced the number of reported cases. 

And, with the lag time in test processing, all those tests not done should result in at least two weeks of reduced numbers.

Sure, there are a few people whining about the numbers being “adjusted” to meet political requirements. 

Those whiners are not in charge, however, and we know what people in charge are thinking — figures may not lie, but we liars can sure figure!

— Andrews is a DeLand-area attorney and a longtime government critic. For purposes of the column, he finds it convenient that there is so much government to criticize.


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