Victor Davis Hanson

Suddenly, a cost became proof of business output and thus was added into the business investment contribution to GDP. That new accounting gimmick may have added hundreds of billions of dollars into the equation of figuring GDP growth last year alone. Not surprisingly, the government reported unexpectedly high 2.8 percent GDP growth after the changes.

Is inflation really as low as the government insists? In recent times the government has not just counted the increase in the prices of goods, but also factored into its calculus theories about changing consumer buying habits when prices increase. The changes have resulted in officially lowered inflation rates.

No one knows how many Americans have now bought and paid for Affordable Care Act health insurance policies. There is no accurate information about how many young people have enrolled -- critical to the success of Obamacare. Nor do Americans know how many enrollees were previously uninsured. Nor does the public know how many enrollees simply switched insurance from Medicaid to the Affordable Care Act. There is no information about how many actually have paid their premiums.

No one knows how many foreign citizens who entered the U.S. illegally were apprehended inside the United States and returned to their country of origin last year -- a figure vital for any compromise on passing comprehensive immigration reform.

The Obama administration claims near-record numbers of deportations. In fact, once again government agencies -- in this case the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) -- have mysteriously changed the way they compile statistics. The ICE now counts as deportations those foreign nationals whom the Border Patrol immediately stops or turns away at the border. Such detentions were not previously counted as deportations.

The result is that bureaucrats can report near-record numbers of deportations, while privately assuring the administration that immigration enforcement has been greatly relaxed.

There is a pattern here. Changes in data collection seem to have a predictable result: Inflation and unemployment rates become lower. Economic growth becomes greater. The IRS focuses on government skeptics. The Affordable Care Act is not in trouble. Illegal immigration is not such a problem.

If the people increasingly believe that bureaucrats try to alter realty to reflect preconceived ideologies or the goals of the particular regime in power, then America as we know it is finished.

Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal.