The reason I take lying with statistics so seriously is that it offends my pride as a thinker. To use facts – things that are, in isolation, wholly true – to deceive, misusing them to paint a deceptive picture of a larger situation, is to manipulate and render actual logic useless. By putting garbage in, one gets garbage out, even if the person making the conclusion is behaving perfectly logically… but is unaware of how irrelevant the raw material for the logic is to the actual question.
That such lies are used to promote public policy doubly offends me, for it is not simply a matter of insulting my intelligence, but wasting money that is badly needed where it will do actual good.
Statistics can tell us a great deal about the world, but they can be used to horribly deceive in two ways: a) not recognizing their limits, and b) willfully applying statistics to the wrong questions, ones they were never designed to answer.
If you want an argument treated with respect, you have to be honest and lay your cards on the table, and ensure that you are speaking in a manner that is consistent with the truth.
Note that if the persons concerned had simply argued that the economy is being stimulated by unemployment checks, I would have simply agreed and moved on. It is the argument that these checks are the best money for job creation available that is completely bonkers.