Despite 74 pages of endnotes, Klein often omits notes and sources when there is a central and controversial claim about the horrors of markets that needs documentation. To show how Chicago policies failed, she often picks data from a particular year that suits her, and changes the yardstick when the old one yields results she doesn't like.
We can see this in her response as well when she claims that Chile is not a "free market success story," because poverty 20 years ago was almost as high as it was in the rest of Latin America. She does not mention that is has since been reduced from 45 to slightly more than 10 percent (according to the national poverty line — if we use the "extreme poverty" concept it is virtually abolished). Instead she changes the yardstick. When she writes about the situation today, she has suddenly forgotten all about poverty; now the problem is inequality, that is, the rich have become richer even faster than the poor have increased their living standards.
This is why one claim that is repeated in the book is so important: "that between 25 and 60 percent of the population is discarded or becomes a permanent underclass in countries that liberalize their economies." This is important because it is the only time when it seems like she provides the reader with data on problems from liberalisation over a longer period and worldwide, not just a short time-period in a country of her choosing, in the middle of a crisis. This in essence is her argument for why free markets and economic liberalisation are bad for mankind.
In my paper I wondered why she provided us with neither an explanation for what this means, nor a footnote or source. Now we know, because in her response she openly admits that this is just her own summary of different (and sometimes incomparable) statistics on poverty and unemployment from a brief period and sometimes only a year from no more than four countries — Bolivia in 1987, Russia in 1996, some areas of Poland in 1993 and so on. She doesn't even use data series, but newspaper articles and books with information on just that particular year.
Astonishingly, Naomi Klein calls this way of handling statistics and producing general conclusions on the effect of particular policies "standard practice." Well, it might be standard practice for some Canadian leftist fanzines, but at university we usually call it "rubbish." Not just because of the lack of data, but also of the biased choices — there is no explanation for the particular selections, it's not that they liberalised more than others, or that they are representative, and the years chosen are not the most recent ones, or from a particular period after liberalisation. It is that she found countries and years when things were really, really bad.
For example, I don't think that Klein just happened to pick the one year Bolivia's unemployment was 25-30 percent and just forgot to mention that it was soon reduced to less than 10 percent. And it is probably no coincidence that she looks at mass unemployment in Poland 15 years ago, and not today when it has been reduced to less than 10 percent. We don't have to mention that one of her statistics on Poland in 2006 comes from a 2005 article to see that something is very, very strange here.
If I took four other countries, other regions and/or other periods I would easily get the opposite result (for example if I looked at liberalisers like Estonia, Ireland, Iceland and Australia that Klein never writes about because they are too peaceful, democratic and successful).
The fact that Klein thinks that this is serious research is actually much more damaging for her than any of the conscious distortions that I have examined elsewhere.
If you want unbiased data you obviously can't cherry-pick countries and years, you have to look at longer periods and more countries. But if you do, you get the opposite results — the more liberal economy, the lower the unemployment and poverty rates, is the consistent result. And this is the reason why Klein never even tries.
As I write in my paper, in the freest fifth of countries, poverty according to the United Nations is 15.7 percent, and in the rest of the world it is 29.8 percent. Unemployment in the freest quintile is 5.2 percent, which is less than half of what it is in the rest of the world.
In the least economically free quintile, with the kinds of restrictions on private property, businesses, and trade that Klein claims are ways of helping the people, poverty is 37.4 percent and unemployment is 13 percent.