Numbers and statistical analysis of those numbers, we've often been told, can be twisted to accommodate nearly any argument.
There are moments, however, when numbers do speak for themselves. When they do, they can often tell a much larger story.
That seems to be the case when looking at the numbers of bills local U.S. Representatives Lou Barletta and Tom Marino have had signed into law in the 113th Congress. Between the two legislators, 2.3 percent of bills they have authored -- one of 42 -- have been signed into law by President Barack Obama. The only bill either Barletta or Marino have sponsored to make it all the way through the system was Barletta's to rename a post office in Pittston.
On the surface, those numbers don't look like résumé-builders for two law-makers who have done what many in the Valley view as an admirable job.
Closer examination reveals it looks more like an institutional problem, one bolstered by a government divided like warring siblings.
Since the start of the 113th Congress nearly 4,000 bills have been authored and exactly 15 of them have become law. Doing the math quickly proves that less than 1 percent of bills -- actually 0.38 percent — have gone through the correct procedure to earn the President's signature.
There are big problems in the United States right now and instead of fixing them, citizens get a front-row view of a grown-up version of an elementary school playground fight.
We could use a national energy policy to reduce the United States' dependence on foreign oil.
We could use jobs bill that puts Americans back to work and gets the economy moving again.
We could use immigration reform.
We could use a generation without wars we have no reason fighting.
Congress has not addressed any of those issues with anything substantive or meaningful. Rather there is another round of finger-pointing at the other party, or now, within the same party.
We get it. You don't like each other. The fact that you can't get anything done is always the other side's fault.
But we are tired of hearing it. We are tired of inaction.
Our legislators were sent to Washington to make a difference. There is work to be done, important work for an important time.
Find a way to make it work or we will find people that can.