You know truth is a slippery thing and numbers—particularly large numbers—are even slipperier. In watching the parts of the House hearing on Planned Parenthood that I could stomach it is interesting to note some of the numbers that were thrown out and from where. It is also pertinent to know who is behind those numbers and why it is so necessary to use deception to remove a woman's right to choice.
The most startling numbers are the ones presented graphically above. Wow it looks like Planned Parenthood is all about abortion and becoming even more so. The problem is that there is no Y-axis. Most people looking at this graphic would incorrectly assume that Planned Parenthood was performing just as many abortions in 2010 as they were cancer screenings and prevention services. If there was a Y-axis then 935,573 would not appear below 327,000.
Now granted Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz from Utah only has a degree in Communications (just like Sarah Palin), but I would assume that anyone regardless of their degree would know that a graph such as this needs a Y-axis otherwise it is misleading. Moreover, when dealing with something as important as women’s health—if you are sincerely concerned—you would think you would want to check the sources for your information which in this instance is an anti-abortion group called Americans United for Life with a vested interest in sinking Planned Parenthood. And that organization is led by Charmaine Yoest a person with a PhD in Political Science from University of Virginia who certainly should know her way around a Y-axis.
Now perhaps I am giving Rep. Chaffetz too much credit. He was after all he was Jewish and then became a Mormon as well as being a Democrat until he figured out he was actually a conservative Republican. And he also famously confused his congressional office with a hotel room.
One of the other numbers being thrown out there is Planned Parenthood CEOs Ms. Richards’ salary which in 2013 was a $482,157 according to the organization’s IRS 990 forms. The question being not is that a lot of money, but rather is that reasonable compensation for someone running an organization of this size ($169 Million in 2013) or complexity. To answer this question why don’t we look at Americans United for Life and we see that they paid their CEO $205,613 to run a far smaller ($4.5 million) and much less complex organization. Certainly, Ms. Richards makes 2.3 times what AUL’s CEO makes but Planned Parenthood is 37 times as large and much, much more complex. Seems to me that making misleading graphs pays better percentage-wise than helping women to be healthier and exercising their right to choice. This seems as wrong as these charts. (For point of reference, I ran $4.5 million non-profit in a high salary setting and received about half of what Dr. Charmaine Yoest receives)
A few last things before I close and we leave this discussion. The first is that Americans United for Life is miss-named. The organization should really be named A Few Conservative Rich People Against Abortion as much of its funding comes from a relatively few rich individuals and a lot is funneled through a variety of the usual suspects such as Center to Protect Patients Rights and even the American Future Fund (see note) that—wait for it—is linked to the Koch brothers’ evil octopus of democratically destructive funding (see below). In this latter context it is not hard to draw the connections between the neon-lit dots of a Koch-launched Tea Party Congressman and a Koch-backed non-profit’s graphs. The brothers and their allies seem bent on establishing a vertically integrated political monopoly of monstrous proportions and evil intent.
My last point is a question: If a particular view point is so rock-solid and righteous why-oh-why (Y-axis) does it need doctored videos, deceptive graphs, networks of shady funding (see above), obvious prevarication and outright bullying (see Chaffetz video above) to prevail? But of course that very same question can be asked also about climate change, tax cuts for the rich, marriage equality and the war in Iraq. We need to do better at protecting our democracy.
(Note: I am aware of the criticism of this Wikipedia piece, but given what the Koch brothers and their allies have attempted on Wikipedia to scrub their image these criticisms should be taken with a little salt.)