Truth-O-Meter gets tuneup
By Willoughby Mariano
Published on Sunday, July 31st, 2011 at 6:00 a.m.
The Truth-O-Meter endures. But we occasionally give it a tuneup.
Due to overwhelming response from our readers, we’re making a slight tweak to our ratings. We are changing our Barely True to Mostly False.
Many readers complained the Barely True rating put too much emphasis on "true" when the rating actually describes something without much truth. The definition will remain the same -- "The statement contains an element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression."
Sadly, last week, politicians did not give us the chance to shift the Truth-O-Meter to Mostly False mode. They earned two False ratings one Pants on Fire, and a single True.
There’s always next week.
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Federal Transit Administration: The Atlanta streetcar is expected to create 930 jobs during construction, totaling more than 5,600 jobs over the next 20 years.
A Federal Transit Administration news release on July 13 made the above claim. But didn’t the Truth-O-Meter debunk a similar Atlanta Streetcar Project job creation statement in March?
Indeed, we did. And we gave the statement a False.
The FTA’s figures represent "job years," a technical measure often used by economists. Not actual jobs.
In fact, it will take an estimated 467 jobs to construct the line, plus 23 jobs that last 20 years or longer to run the streetcar. Experts think the remaining 4,600 jobs will be for those who produce materials needed to build the line or products workers buy with their earnings, as well as employees of new businesses the streetcar brings to surrounding neighborhoods.
If public officials keep exaggerating the number of jobs created by this project, PoiltiFact Georgia will keep turning up the heat.
Pants on Fire.
Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens: "If you're from Guatemala and you are found illegally in Mexico, you are automatically jailed."
After the Mexican government spoke out against Georgia’s tough new immigration law, Olens accused it of hypocrisy with this statement made on AM 750 and 95.5 FM News/Talk WSB.
An Olens spokeswoman said the claim was incorrect and that he will not repeat it in the future. She said in an email that he was unaware Mexico had changed its immigration law a few years ago.
Then, violating Mexico immigration law was a criminal offense. Now, it’s a civil violation.
Violators are not arrested or put in jail. They are sent to detention facilities and undergo a separate administrative process.
Only those detected by national immigration authorities can be sent for deportation, and Mexican police are not allowed to stop people on the suspicion that they are in the country illegally.
Olens earns a False.
State Sen. Chip Rogers: "The state of Georgia is near the bottom among states for SAT scores and graduation rates."
Rogers, one of the most powerful politicians in the Georgia Legislature, made this statement at a recent town hall meeting to improve education in the state.
Wow! Is it that bad here?
We searched for answers.
First, let’s look at SAT scores.
We looked at Georgia’s SAT mean scores in 2010, the most recent year available. The only states that ranked lower were South Carolina (1,447) and Maine (1,389).
So what about graduation rates? Even with what may be flawed numbers, Georgia ranked ahead of only Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada and Washington, D.C.
We rate Rogers’ claim as True.
U.S. Rep. Tom Price: "The U.S. won't default because default means that you don't pay your creditors. And it takes about 10 percent of the money that's coming in right now" to pay interest to bondholders.
This Roswell Republican told CNN’s Candy Crowley that the nation won’t default on its debts -- not even if lawmakers fail to reach a deal to raise the limit before the Aug. 2 deadline.
If that's right, we wondered, then why all the hand-wringing?
Price thinks that the financial markets would be satisfied as long as the interest on bonds was paid, even if doing so meant delaying other payments, such as Social Security.
Independent experts suggest, however, that this won’t keep the U.S. from default, since we would still fail to pay some creditors.
In addition, both academic experts and the Congressional Research Service agree that only paying debt holders won’t be enough to keep U.S. creditworthiness unblemished.
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