Free Markets, Free People
Perhaps not openly, but certainly more than just by implication.
Here’s the problem as stated in the lede of the NY Times editorial:
Buried in the relatively positive numbers contained in the November jobs report was some very bad news for those who work in the public sector. There were 20,000 government workers laid off last month, by far the largest drop for any sector of the economy, mostly from states, counties and cities.
Oh, my. So, it would seem that city, county and state governments are finally dealing with the reality of their fiscal condition and, unfortunately, doing what must be done to meet the new reality of limited budgets, right? It’s about time. Many of us pointed out that the “stimulus” only put off reality, it didn’t supplant it. At sometime in the near future (like now) those government entities were going to have to deal with the reality of decreased tax revenues and shrunken budgets.
Well, not according to the NY Times which manages to stretch this into something completely different. You see, it is a grand plan being pushed by the racist GOP in case you were wondering:
That’s one reason the black unemployment rate went up last month, to 15.5 percent from 15.1. The effect is severe, destabilizing black neighborhoods and making it harder for young people to replicate their parents’ climb up the economic ladder. “The reliance on these jobs has provided African-Americans a path upward,” said Robert Zieger, an emeritus professor of history at the University of Florida. “But it is also a vulnerability.”
Many Republicans, however, don’t regard government jobs as actual jobs, and are eager to see them disappear. Republican governors around the Midwest have aggressively tried to break the power of public unions while slashing their work forces, and Congressional Republicans have proposed paying for a payroll tax cut by reducing federal employment rolls by 10 percent through attrition. That’s 200,000 jobs, many of which would be filled by blacks and Hispanics and others who tend to vote Democratic, and thus are considered politically superfluous.
Wow … in a world of groundless claims, that’s perhaps one of the most groundless I’ve seen. The case isn’t even cleverly built. I mean how do you like the claim “many Republicans … don’t regard government jobs as actual jobs”. Really? Since when? As I understand “many Republicans” they support a small and limited government but see this one as an outsized behemoth. I agree with them. What they talk about is cutting the size of government. And the intrusiveness of government. That necessarily means cutting jobs. But they don’t support cutting the size of government because it will make those that are “considered politically superfluous” unemployed. That’s just race baiting nonsense. They support it because that’s the conservative ideology based in a foundational concept of this nation.
By the way, unlike the NY Times, most people don’t consider the government to be a “jobs program”. Government is a necessary evil not a method of “getting ahead”. It is there to serve, not provide “a path upward” (although there is nothing wrong with those who’ve been given the opportunity to take advantage of it). It is there to be just as big as it needs to be and not one bit bigger. But who or what color those who work in government are is irrelevant … even to the GOP.
Finally, what you most likely won’t hear is the NY Times whining about are any cuts in defense which will see troop strength radically reduced. Those are good government job cuts too. And many blacks and Hispanics have chosen that field as “a path upward” too. But those are jobs they’re fine with being cut. After all, if they cut more of those they can probably fund the 230,000 new bureaucrats wanted by the EPA to enforce it’s regulations.
How lame is the “racist” argument today? Well, here’s your latest example. I’m sure your no more surprised at the source than I am.
Aw, Bunkie doesn’t like his job? The smartest guy in the room?
You know I think back to all the times in the past three years I’ve pointed out the man has little if any leadership skills and now, it seems, even liberals are having to admit it, even if obliquely and wrapped in spin. Check out this transcript on Morning Joe with Tina Brown:
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Tina, what has happened to this president, the president from hope and change? What has happened?
TINA BROWN: Well it’s so interesting. I think that Obama doesn’t like his job, actually. I think that he is genuinely of a professional disposition in the sense that I think that he’s interested in chewing over the pros and cons, and he doesn’t like, he doesn’t like power and he doesn’t know how to exercise power. And I think knowing how to exercise power is absolutely crucial. He doesn’t understand how to underpin his ideas with the political gritty, granular business of getting it done. And that kind of gap has just widened and widened and widened. And so that every time there is a moment, a window where he can jump in, like something like a Simpson-Bowles as well, he just doesn’t do it. He hangs back at crucial moments when you have to dive through that window.
SCARBOROUGH: And regardless of your ideology, it is very safe to say, I think most people would agree: LBJ he is not, Bill Clinton, he is not, when it just comes to understanding how to make Washington work.
MIKE BARNICLE: It appears off of what Tina just said, you just said, it appears that you could make a case that Barack Obama doesn’t like politics. [emphasis mine]
He doesn’t like power? Nonsense. As Ace says, this is just a way of spinning failure. It is an apologia. He loves power. He thought this was all about power. All he had to do was win and have his way. But a funny thing happened on the way to the Oval Office. He found out he had to lead to wield his power and he hasn’t a clue about what that entails. You see, he never thought he’d have to actually do the “political gritty, granular business of getting it done” … i.e. lead. He’d just wave his hand and demand it be done.
Just check his reliance on executive orders and executive branch agencies to see how he’d prefer to do business. Dictate.
And this claim just floored me:
He doesn’t understand how to underpin his ideas with the political gritty, granular business of getting it done.
State Senator and US Senator and he doesn’t understand the basic nature of politics today, the process and what it requires? And he’s the smartest guy in the room? That’s just absurd. He knows full well what it takes, he just doesn’t want to have to do it.
As the discussion continues, Tina Brown agrees with Mike Barnicle’s claim that Obama just doesn’t like politics:
BROWN: Right. I absolutely feel that.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Well who would today? I mean, I think it’s great that –
SCARBOROUGH: Oh come on. If you don’t like medicine, don’t be a doctor. If you don’t like politics, don’t put yourself out there to run the free world, Mika.
BRZEZINSKI: You know what? Politics today need to be changed.
SCARBOROUGH: Stop the apologizing!
BRZEZINSKI: I’m not apologizing.
SCARBOROUGH: You’re apologizing. [Sarcastically imitates Mika's voice] Who would like politics today? You know what?
BRZEZINSKI: Who would?
SCARBOROUGH: He is running the free world. He better know a lot of people love politics. Bill Clinton loves politics. FDR loved politics. Ronald Reagan loved politics. Great leaders love what they do. So who would love politics?
BROWN: Isn’t it really also about, well the other word for politics is just doing what it takes to get it done. Like, one of the things that’s interesting about Obama is that he kind of, and I think he does believe in this, that his idea of being a transformative figure who can cross many persuasions and orientations and aisles. And yet when it is actually taken to reaching out and really bringing that in, and trying, I don’t think that it really –
SCARBOROUGH: He doesn’t do that.
If he doesn’t like politics, why did he run? If the first word that springs to your mind is narcissism, I think you’re on to something. As many have already noted, to include authors on this blog, he took over in the midst of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression and what did he do? He immediately began working on his legacy – healthcare. He waved away what was important and concentrated on legislation and the politics it took by the way, to get it passed. Meanwhile, the real crisis was ignored. For two years he had a Democratic Congress and he did nothing to address jobs or anything else economic.
Brown would like to spin his narcissism as his belief that he’s a “transformative figure” who just can’t be bothered with doing the mundane stuff necessary to get things done. Again, and once more for the slow among us, ObamaCare. It gives lie to the premise. His problem isn’t that he doesn’t like politics, it’s that other than jamming through his health care fiasco, he’s been a failure.
His withdrawal now, spun as “staying above it all”, is because he’s never been an obvious failure in his entire life. Remember this is the guy who won the Nobel Peace Prize without ever doing a single thing but winning a presidential election. And he took it as his due.
Obama’s biggest problem is he thinks he’s smarter than he is and he had a misconception, for whatever reason (for, you know, such a smart guy) of the role and demands of the presidency. Apparently the unicorns and moon ponies deserted him, he found out it is damned hard work that demands a competent leader and for the first time in his life, everyone wasn’t praising every little thing he did. In fact, instead his shortcomings were being headlined. And he has plenty of them. Additionally, he’s now forced to actually run on a record of accomplishment if he wants to be reelected. Of course, that’s slim to nonexistent.
No, he and his apologists are beginning to understand that they’re going to have to spin everything – everything – to try to make him the attractive candidate he was in 2008. He’s really not cooperating which is what prompts people like Tina Brown to begin spinning like she does. Its fairly obvious that even the liberal elite are having problems dealing with his failure and are in full “explain it away” mode.
Unfortunately, Obama has finally bumped up against “hard America” after spending most of his life in “soft America”. Soft America is where everything done is touted and worshiped as wonderful and performance really doesn’t matter as much as just showing up.
Hard America demands performance and accomplishment. He has precious few to show for his time in office and plenty of failure. Its not that he doesn’t like politics or power. Its that he is inept at both and is just now discovering that for himself. Reaction? Pull back. He’s never “failed” before and doesn’t really know how to handle it.
And thus we have our present situation … a president who refuses to lead, tries to stay aloof and is seen to be withdrawing from his duties.
Gee, sure wish I could have seen that coming.
Oh, wait …
For those of you who have not taken the opportunity to listen to this week’s podcast, the above was part of the summation of our situation by Dale Franks. I’d recommend you listen to the whole thing.
No one knows in detail what will happen in the next few years. The number of variables is too high. But the general outline is clear. In the near term, the US and about half a dozen European countries have unsustainable debt curves. That unsustainable debt is going to cause financial catastrophe not in a decade or two, but sometime in the next few years.
Given the interconnected nature of the world’s trade and financial system, that catastrophe is likely to spread rapidly. Even countries whose sins have been modest, such as Germany, will be caught up. Countries who depend on the US and Europe for the money to drive their economies, such as China and India, will be caught up. It’s going to be very, very messy, and a lot of people are going to suffer.
The participants in the podcast all agreed that there isn’t any obvious politically feasible way to reverse course. I agree, and I have a few comments to add.
I see the following as the biggest three groups involved in the political decision making, from largest to smallest, with some overlap among them:
(1.) The "rationally ignorant"* – those who don’t pay that much attention to politics, and have at best a vague understanding that we have a problem. These people, to the extent they think about it at all, believe that shuffling some things around a bit, electing some different people, and passing a few laws will fix whatever is ailing us.
They believe in such a “solution” because that’s the way things have gone their whole lives. Somehow the ruling class has always managed to pull a rabbit out of the hat and keep things humming. They won’t believe this process will fail until it does.
There are even quite a few Republicans in this category. They can generally be identified by their fixation on finding "the next Reagan".**
(2.) The ones who have some glimmering that there’s a problem, perhaps because they are unemployed, mired in debt, or both, but have a convenient scapegoat in mind. That’s usually "the rich" and "the evil corporations", though for Republicans, it might be Obama, Barney Frank, George Soros, or whoever. Like group 1, they believe it’s easy to fix the problems – just come down on the scapegoat, and everything will work out.
(3.) The "ruling class" as defined by Codevilla. This group is mostly convinced of their own magnificence, and thus believe if the right people are in charge (which usually includes them personally), then they can solve any problems. The ones in this group with enough situational awareness to realize the magnitude of the problem also realize that it’s pointless to do anything significant to try and solve it because that would get them cashiered from the ruling class. So their efforts are in mitigation, obfuscations, and generally stretching things out until they are retired from the game.
Given this breakdown, we can talk all we want about who the GOP is going to nominate for president, but it really doesn’t matter. We have too big a cohort of people in this country who either believe we don’t really have a serious problem, or think there is a serious problem, but believe the cause is a boogieman of some kind that must be vanquished.
There’s a good reason they believe that. They are kept in the dark by a mainstream legacy press desperate to cover up the failings of the left-leaning governing style preferred by the vast majority of journalists.
In fact, none of the ruling class – which includes the politicians, journalists, academicians, lobbyists, staffers, and the like – has any motivation to tell the harsh truth about the trouble we are in. As I said above, they have a strong disincentive to do so. If they did, the other members of the ruling class would turn on them. They would likely lose their livelihood.
We’re also fighting ingrained culture. We have two generations that have been raised to believe that, ultimately, someone else is responsible for the essentials of their lives. They believe they are supposed to retire in their fifties or early sixties, with a pension followed by Social Security. They believe they are supposed to relinquish concern for healthcare costs when they turn 65. They believe that if things get bad enough in their lives, unemployment, and later welfare, will keep a roof over their head and food on the table. They’ve been trained to believe this by a ruling class that has been assuring them since the 1930s that they have the fundamental right to a soft life.
These people do not want to think about a world where these things are not true. It would be exquisitely painful to worry about those things. So they don’t. They ignore the warnings of the "radicals" who trot out the debt curves and the demographic stats. It’s easy enough to do that – the supposedly smart reporters ignore them too, if they don’t come right out and ridicule them. The abysmally ignorant social scientist cohort produces yet another round of "analysis" purporting to prove everything is OK, or at least would be if those rich people would just give up some more money. The political class assures them that it will be all right if they just keep electing the right people.
This state of affairs has no exit except catastrophe so major and undeniable that it affects most people personally. By then, it is virtually certain that the world financial system is past the point of no return in its current form.
I’ve stopped trying to talk to people around me about what is happening and likely to happen. I would have to spend hours removing the false assumptions they hold before I could even start. Plus, as I mentioned, they don’t want to believe what I need to tell them. It’s just too painful.
We are about to see a crisis that will set back living standards in this country to a level many alive today have never seen. The only reason it probably won’t get down to subsistence level is the technology base that we have. But we’re probably going to see stagnation, crumbling infrastructure, high unemployment, inability for most people to build any significant assets, and possible civil violence if the problem becomes so severe that it starts affecting the food supply (which I hope won’t happen).
I have no idea, and I don’t think anyone else does either, about how we will get through the chaos and what things look on the other side of it. I see three major categories of possible outcomes, and there may be more. But that’s a subject for another post.
(*)When I used the term "rational ignorance" in a comment at Daily Pundit about five years back, Bill Quick picked it up and had some unkind things to say about such people. (Daily Pundit is undergoing a platform change, so I can’t link to the page. It was on June 10, 2006, and I’ll link to it once the site over there is back to normal.) I understand Bill’s take, but unlike him and some other opinionists on the right, I don’t use it pejoratively. I use it the way economists originally intended: simply to mean people who are unwilling to invest the time and cost to become informed about the real underlying state of our political world.
It is expensive to become so informed, and the payoff for any individual is small. The aggregate effects, as we are seeing, may be horrendous. That doesn’t change the underlying economics. A political system that relies on individuals to invest the time to become informed about complex political issues, out of a higher understanding of their civic duty, is as doomed to failure as a system that expects individuals to commit to "from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs". In both cases, such an expectation crashes up against the behavior of real people, i.e., human nature. For me, this is one of the cornerstones of my strong belief in highly limited government – it’s the only form that allows people to not know much about the political world because that world is pretty simple. We just have not figured out how to make limited government stable in the long term in the face of rational ignorance plus plus the cohort of moochers that’s present in every society.
(**)While I grant that Reagan was better than many alternatives, including the pathetic scold he replaced, at best he gave us some breathing space to solve the underlying problems of a decaying welfare state. He didn’t really make much progress in actually solving the long term problem, and his inability to get Democrats to cut spending led to some significant contributions to our debt problems.
That’s the theory that is being put forward by the Nation’s Melissa Harris-Perry.
It’s an interesting argument for its ignorance. I’m sorry, that’s not very kind, but frankly it’s true. Harris-Perry gives a few paragraphs at the beginning of her piece to explaining this “most insidious” of forms of racism – electoral racism. You see, it shows up, apparently, when voters refuse to vote for someone just because of his or her skin color. And she goes to the trouble of talking about Barack Obama’s last two elections and what is called “roll off”:
One way to determine how many people felt this way is to measure the “roll-off.” In presidential election years, a small percentage vote for the president, but then “roll off” by not casting ballots for state and local offices. A substantial increase in roll-off—larger than usual numbers of voters who picked John Kerry or George Bush but declined to choose between Obama and Keyes—would have been a measure of the unwillingness of some to vote for any black candidate. I tested this in 2004 and found no increase, statistical or substantive, in roll-off in Illinois. Faced with two black candidates, white voters were willing to choose one of them.
The 2008 general election was another referendum on old-fashioned electoral racism—this time among Democratic voters. The long primary battle between Hillary Clinton and Obama had the important effect of registering hundreds of thousands of Democrats. By October 2008, it was clear that Obama could lose the general election only if a substantial portion of registered Democrats in key states failed to turn out or chose to cross party lines. For Democrats to abandon their nominee after eight years of Bush could be interpreted only as an act of electoral racism.
Not only did white Democratic voters prove willing to support a black candidate; they overperformed in their repudiation of naked electoral racism, electing Obama with a higher percentage of white votes than either Kerry or Gore earned. No amount of birther backlash can diminish the importance of these two election results. We have not landed on the shores of postracial utopia, but we have solid empirical evidence of a profound and important shift in America’s electoral politics.
Got that? In both of the elections, no “roll off” was detected. So it is usually safe to say that if none happened in the elections, racism was probably not a factor, given her theory.
But … and you knew there had to be a “but”, now Harris-Perry is very concerned that there will be a form of roll off in the 2012 presidential election. And if Barack Obama doesn’t get his due in votes, it is most likely the fact that white liberals have abandoned him that will be the reason.
The 2012 election may be a test of another form of electoral racism: the tendency of white liberals to hold African-American leaders to a higher standard than their white counterparts. If old-fashioned electoral racism is the absolute unwillingness to vote for a black candidate, then liberal electoral racism is the willingness to abandon a black candidate when he is just as competent as his white predecessors.
Really … that’s the reason? A “tendency” of white liberals to hold African-American leaders to a higher standard than their white counterparts? Well there’s news. It’s also news that he, Obama, is “just as competent as his white predecessors”. Yeah, Jimmy Carter – maybe.
This is the the old tried and true race baiter’s tactic of whipping the base into line by throwing out the race card. Pure and simple, she’s trying to use race as the basis of scaring white liberals, who would rather be called child molesters than racists, back into supporting a black president.
Harris-Perry attempts to use Bill Clinton in her comparison/justification of her claim (hey, wasn’t he the first black president?) saying that Clinton was much less impressive in his achievements yet managed to see his support increase in the days before he was re-elected:
In 1996 President Clinton was re-elected with a coalition more robust and a general election result more favorable than his first win. His vote share among women increased from 46 to 53 percent, among blacks from 83 to 84 percent, among independents from 38 to 42 percent, and among whites from 39 to 43 percent.
President Obama has experienced a swift and steep decline in support among white Americans—from 61 percent in 2009 to 33 percent now. I believe much of that decline can be attributed to their disappointment that choosing a black man for president did not prove to be salvific for them or the nation. His record is, at the very least, comparable to that of President Clinton, who was enthusiastically re-elected. The 2012 election is a test of whether Obama will be held to standards never before imposed on an incumbent. If he is, it may be possible to read that result as the triumph of a more subtle form of racism.
Anyone, is Barack Obama’s tenure in office “at the least, comparable to that of President Clinton?” Well he is beginning to catch up in the scandal department. But no one really ever considered Clinton a “failed” president. Flawed, certainly. But the word “failed” is what is beginning to be whispered about Barack Obama, even in liberal circles.
I was one of Bill Clinton’s harshest critics and frankly I see no comparison between the two. Clinton, despite all of his vices and problems was at least a competent leader. Obama has never once shown comparable leadership skills. And Clinton was a vastly better politician than is Barack Obama.
Instead of racism, could it just be something as simple as all Americans, including white Americans, are disappointed in his performance and are much more likely to compare his performance to Carter’s rather than Clinton’s? Does it really have more to do with the economy, horribly high unemployment and the failure of this president to do anything meaningful to change that (see Carter)? Clinton had the good fortune of having an up economy in his second run and he was credited with that. Where Harris-Perry would find racism, most Americans see economic misery and the ineffectiveness of the man in the Oval Office to do anything about it.
Whether you believe that the president can significantly effect the economic tides, the president is the one who gets credit or blame depending on the condition of the economy (and they have no problem claiming credit on the positive side, do they?). Oh, and don’t forget, Obama promised that if he was given his stimulus package he actually would change the economic tides and hold unemployment under 8%. Three years later, we remain in an economic morass, and the man is trying to get another chance to finally do something?
Is it really racism to drop your support for some politician who promises the moon and then delivers nothing? That’s Obama’s problem, not his race. I remember very well when the meme or talking point for Democratic politicians as applied to George W. Bush was “incompetent”. Barack Obama, in the minds of a number of voters, has redefined the word. Is it really racism to drop your support for an incompetent black politician, or is it a rational decision based on performance or lack thereof.
The key to Harris-Perry’s claim is her unsupported conjecture that Obama has been at least as competent as Bill Clinton, and if you disagree with that assessment (and aren’t going to support Obama this time) you’re a racist.
Same old song, different verse, and just as tired. This time, though, it’s being deployed to keep white liberals in line. A nice little twist.
In fact, the most insidious and subtle form of racism is claiming it exists in the face of any number of factors that weigh very heavily against such a presumption. And that’s precisely what Harris-Perry engages in here.
That Paul Krugman can be relied on to carry the Democrats water is no longer a point of argument. He is in the tank with them up to his neck.
So it should come as no surprise to anyone that he’s decided the “social contract” now requires that the rich pay more in taxes than they are presently. It is this redefinition of the social contract that allows him, one supposes, to claim that it isn’t class warfare that’s being proposed but simply the fulfilling of that contract.
And, of course, not days after the “Warren Buffet Tax” premise was completely and thoroughly destroyed, it is that upon which he begins to base his premise:
This week President Obama said the obvious: that wealthy Americans, many of whom pay remarkably little in taxes, should bear part of the cost of reducing the long-run budget deficit.
That is such a loaded line one could spend the day just unpacking it.
A) In Krugman’s world what does “remarkably little” mean? Compared to what, the bottom 50%? I mean it is a ludicrous statement to anyone who knows the amount of taxes and the percentage of taxes the so-called rich pay. Never mind the fact that the premise that they pay less than middle class secretaries is nonsense. But that’s the scary part – leaving it up to people like Krugman to make policy that effects your life with contextless terms like “remarkably little” and wave away your right to what you earned.
B) Are the rich not bearing “part of the cost of reducing the long-run budget deficit” now with the taxes they pay? Of course they are. In fact, they’re bearing more than anyone else. But to read that sentence you’d think they weren’t bearing any of it. Again, pure nonsense.
C) Did they get us in this mess financially? No. It was government spending above and beyond the revenue coming in. Actually it was government borrowing and spending above and beyond the revenue coming in. Was that done at the behest of the rich? If not why is it up to them to bear the burden? Why isn’t it up to the institution that made this mess to change its ways and live within its means? Doesn’t that mean reduction in the size of government and cuts in spending? Of course it does. But that is never mentioned in Krugman’s piece.
Krugman goes through a convoluted rationalization process involving income redistribution and comparisons that are, frankly, irrelevant to the point, all to finally end up with this as the basis of his argument (such that it is) for taxing the rich more:
Elizabeth Warren, the financial reformer who is now running for the United States Senate in Massachusetts, recently made some eloquent remarks to this effect that are, rightly, getting a lot of attention. “There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody,” she declared, pointing out that the rich can only get rich thanks to the “social contract” that provides a decent, functioning society in which they can prosper.
That’s right, this is owed because if it wasn’t for government – Krugman and apparently Warren’s new definition for a “decent, functioning society – none of the rich would be rich.
Seriously – do you actually believe that? And since when is an institution that has managed to bury itself up to its neck in 14 trillion in debt define itself as a “decent, functioning” anything? This government is dysfunctional and it is time that apologists like Warren and Krugman own up to that fact. Instead they commit themselves to this twisted line of argument that claims that the rich are the rich because of a debt ridden government and because of that they owe it to the rest of us to pay that debt down. The inference is the debt was partly (if not completely) the reason for their success.
There is nothing “eloquent” about that argument. It is irrational and frankly, stupid. The social contract as described by Rousseau, had nothing to do with paying down the debt of a profligate government. It is about the voluntary association of people to their mutual benefit and the voluntary assumption of some social obligations in order to foster that society of mutual benefit.
How that became twisted into this morass of nonsense where those that have become “rich” owe their good fortune to government is just beyond me. Obviously the society has much to do with it, but that doesn’t necessarily mean government for heaven sake. Sure, it may have been part of it, but that part was paid for and has been paid for centuries without going into 14 trillion dollars of debt.
And it also must ignore the fact that those who are rich must have done something right to get to that state beside being in a particular society. If it were just the society, i.e. government, we’d all be rich according to this line of reasoning. So why is it that they only can find 1% who fit that particular bill?
This is all nonsense on a stick using the usual liberal trick of redefining words. They attempt to create new axioms by changing the words or concepts over time. The social contract as a concept was envisioned as a voluntary association in which free people took on voluntary obligations in an effort to indeed set up a “decent, functioning society”. Note the key word: “voluntary”. What they didn’t conceive is any sort of involuntary servitude which required certain of them to be treated differently based on their success (or lack thereof if appropriate) within that society they’ve formed.
But that is precisely what Warren and Krugman are trying to sell. And it is never more obvious than in Krugman’s closing paragraph. There he speaks of the GOP trying to stop the attempt to raise taxes on only one part of society and, of course, condemns it as something it just isn’t:
Well, that amounts to a demand that a small number of very lucky people be exempted from the social contract that applies to everyone else. And that, in case you’re wondering, is what real class warfare looks like.
A portion of the populace that pays 38% of the freight but comprises only 1% of it is “exempted for the social contract that applies to everyone else?” In what world, Mr. Krugman? Certainly not in the one where sane people are able to apply critical thinking to the sloppy nonsense you seem to delight in dishing out.
And note the dismissal of their status with “very lucky people” used to describe them as if what they’ve earned was undeserved.
Makes you just want to throw up, doesn’t it? And before I get the usual “Krugman is a putz and I don’t know why you read him”, the answer is two-fold: A) so you don’t have too and B) it is important to highlight his arguments because they are the arguments of the left and the ones they will continue to push unopposed if we don’t point them out.
I refuse to let them go unanswered.
We’ve talked about this for quite some time, years in fact (hit the media category for previous discussions). And we’ve been told countless times by the media and media apologists that is just isn’t true, because, you know, they’re professionals.
But the the world of opinion, perception is reality. People’s opinions of an organization or institution are formed around their perceptions of that organization or institution. In the case of the media, it appears they have earned the reputation of a biased institution. Whether they agree that’s true or not is really incidental. Their “customers”, in the majority, believe it. And thus, to them, it’s true.
The majority of Americans still do not have confidence in the mass media to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly. The 44% of Americans who have a great deal or fair amount of trust and the 55% who have little or no trust remain among the most negative views Gallup has measured.
That’s an earned reputation, especially after the last election when the media refused to the vetting of Obama that is customary for a presidential candidate while going into full feeding frenzy over Sarah Palin. The difference was obvious even to the most disinterested of Americans. And there are numerous other examples. But primarily it was the obviousness of the political bias demonstrated by the media in that election which sealed the deal for many.
Partisans continue to perceive the media very differently. Seventy-five percent of Republicans and conservatives say the media are too liberal. Democrats and liberals lean more toward saying the media are "just about right," at 57% and 42%, respectively. Moderates and independents diverge, however, with 50% of independents saying the media are too liberal and 50% of moderates saying they are just about right.
Interesting that those who see no bias but see it “just about right” are on the left. Look up the term “confirmation bias”. Notice there isn’t a category saying the media is “too conservative”?
What should the media as a whole take away from such a poll?
That they’ve lost the trust of the majority of America in their ability to report the news in a factual, complete and unbiased manner.
That’s a very difficult perception to reverse. Trust is not something given lightly by most people. And once violated, very difficult to win back. The media has become it’s own worst enemy. It refuses to acknowledge this perception of the public and thus makes no effort to self-correct. And because of that the perception is constantly revalidated and the erosion of the trust factor continues.
Without the ability to self-correct, the media will continue with its business as usual. And, as it has seen, on-line competition will continue to grow and prosper. I’m biased and you know it. You can filter that out. But I make no pretense or claim to the contrary.
Perhaps full disclosure by the media would be the way to change the trust factor. It certainly would be refreshing. But, as I note, they don’t believe it of themselves, so why would they change?
And its not just Gallup finding these things:
In a report released Thursday, the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found record-high negativity toward the media on 9 of 12 core measures it tracks.
Hope they enjoy their earned reputation.
President Obama has claimed that the “rich” aren’t paying “their fair share” and he likes to use Warren Buffet’s claim that Buffet pays less in income taxes than his secretary to infer that Buffet’s situation is the norm among our wealthier citizens.
Well it isn’t. And, in fact, any number of news organizations have pointed that out today.
President Barack Obama makes it sound as if there are millionaires all over America paying taxes at lower rates than their secretaries. . . . The data tell a different story. On average, the wealthiest people in America pay a lot more taxes than the middle class or the poor, according to private and government data. They pay at a higher rate, and as a group, they contribute a much larger share of the overall taxes collected by the federal government.
Treasury Secretary Geithner yesterday declined to answer a key question about the president’s proposed ‘Buffett Rule’: How many millionaires and billionaires pay lower tax rates than middle-income families? The answer appears to be this: not many. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has crunched the numbers and found that Warren Buffett and his secretary are the exception to the rule. For the most part, the wealthy pay a significantly higher percentage of their income in taxes than middle-income workers.
There’s one small problem: The entire Buffett Rule premise is false . . . . [N]early all millionaires still paid a rate that is more than twice the 8.9% average rate paid by those earning between $50,000 and $100,000, and more than three times the 7.2% average rate paid by those earning less than $50,000. The larger point is that the claim that CEOs are routinely paying lower tax rates than their secretaries is Omaha hokum.
And the WSJ calls it what it really is:
We rehearse all of this because it shows that the real point of Mr. Obama’s Buffett Rule and his latest deficit proposal isn’t tax justice or good tax policy. It is all about re-election politics.
[W]ith some 14 months until Election Day 2012, Obama’s speech yesterday essentially marked the end of the governing season and the beginning of the campaign. White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer admitted as much to the New York Times. ‘The popular narrative is that we sought compromise in a quixotic quest for independent votes. We sought out compromise because a failure to get funding of the government last spring and then an extension of the debt ceiling in August would have been very bad for the economy and for the country.’ Pfeiffer added, ‘We were in a position of legislative compromise by necessity. That phase is behind us.
If there is any transparency at all to this administration, it is this – their every move is obvious and it is clear this is being pushed out there for political reasons, not reasons having to do with what is best for the country.
Rex Murphy, in Canada’s National Post, says something out loud in a major media publication that many of us have been saying since before the last presidential election:
As the bad economic news continues to emanate from the United States — with a double-dip recession now all but certain — a reckoning is overdue. American journalism will have to look back at the period starting with Barrack Obama’s rise, his assumption of the presidency and his conduct in it to the present, and ask itself how it came to cast aside so many of its vital functions. In the main, the establishment American media abandoned its critical faculties during the Obama campaign — and it hasn’t reclaimed them since.
Much of the Obama coverage was orchestrated sychophancy. They glided past his pretensions — when did a presidential candidate before “address the world” from the Brandenberg Gate in Berlin? They ignored his arrogance — “You’re likeable enough, Hillary.” And they averted their eyes from his every gaffe — such as the admission that he didn’t speak “Austrian.”
The media walked right past the decades-long association of Obama with the weird and racist pastor Jermiah Wright. In the midst of the brief stormlet over the issue, one CNN host — inexplicably — decided that CNN was going to be a “Wright-free zone.” He could have hung out a sign: “No bad news about Obama here.”
The media trashed Hillary. They burned Republicans. They ransacked Sarah Palin and her family. But Obama, the cool, the detached, the oracular Obama — he strolled to the presidency.
Note the point here. It isn’t that they didn’t do their job on everyone, it’s that they essentially abrogated their responsibility for only one. His point about Palin, regardless of how you feel about her, is dead on. The difference between the treatment of the two is what proves Murphy’s point and validates what many of us have complained about since then.
Murphy spends some time on the Palin/Obama comparison and clearly he’s hitting the crux of the problem with that comparison. We went from the one side where detrimental news was ignored with Obama to a veritable media feeding frenzy where rumor was as good as fact and everything that might possibly hurt a candidate was published.
As a result, the press gave the great American republic an untried, unknown and, it is becoming more and more frighteningly clear, incompetent figure as President. Under Obama, America’s foreign policies are a mixture of confusion and costly impotence. It is increasingly bypassed or derided; the great approach to the Muslim world, symbolized by the Cairo speech, is in tatters. Its debt and deficits are a weight on the entire global economy. And the office of presidency is less and less a symbol of strength.
To the degree the press neglected its function as watchdog and turned cupbearer to a styrofoam demigod, it is a partner in the flaws and failures of what is turning out to be one of the most miserable performances in the modern history of the American presidency.
Irresponsibility has consequences, and I agree with Murphy, the press shares a great deal of responsibility for the election of Barack Obama and the resulting disaster he is as a president.
The media destroyed itself in that election cycle and has really done nothing to regain what shred of credibility it had previous to that time. It still, in many ways, aids and abets this administration’s incompetence.
I’m not sure how they can win back their tattered credibility and the media certainly has no claim to objectivity after that performance. I have to agree, in terms of the media, that it has to be in at least the top 3 “ most miserable performances” … not of the presidency, this one is in the top spot for miserable performances … but of the media in a campaign. And I’m having trouble thinking of the other two that might outrank the disgraceful 2008 media performance.
Who has decided to politicize the day of remembrance that 9/11 has become? Why none other than the crass and classless Paul Krugman, of course:
What happened after 9/11 — and I think even people on the right know this, whether they admit it or not — was deeply shameful. Te [sic] atrocity should have been a unifying event, but instead it became a wedge issue. Fake heroes like Bernie Kerik, Rudy Giuliani, and, yes, George W. Bush raced to cash in on the horror. And then the attack was used to justify an unrelated war the neocons wanted to fight, for all the wrong reasons.
Rewriting history so he can attack political strawmen on a day the rest of America has put aside its politics to remember the victims of that day.
What a piece of garbage.
Oh, and gutless too:
I’m not going to allow comments on this post, for obvious reasons.
Yup, pretty obvious.