A word about the media…

As Digby as often pointed out, when the talking heads on TV talk about ‘sacrifice’ and ‘cutbacks’ they’re talking about us, not themselves. They make about ten times the median income, close to $400k per year.

It’s not that journo’s are corrupt or that there is some kind of conspiracy… they just have more in common with the rich than the other 95% of their fellow Americans. That makes them sympathetic to the economic quackery of people like Veronique de Rugy, Niall Ferguson (more on him later) and the ever delusional Stephen Moore who can honestly, with a straight face, tell you that tax cuts pay for themselves even though we have 30 years of empirical evidence that they, well, don’t.

They’re also woefully uneducated on economic and business issues which means that when they speak, you shouldn’t listen. In fact, the only people less knowledgeable about economics and business are politicians, especially the Republicans who are actually more dangerous because they think they know what they’re talking about… Democrats just shrug and stupidly go along with ‘what Larry Summers told them’. What the journos often do is completely disregard whether an economic issue is actually right or wrong and instead look exclusively at it from a political angle. Take the subject of Digby’s post, Gloria Borger, a CNN commentator:

Let’s give them [budget cutters] credit Brooke, because they really came to Washington and came to their state houses that they can change the way an inefficient government operates. I think they have to be applauded for that. In theory it’s a very good idea.

But they have to be careful, and those of us who’ve covered politics for a while know this. Where they have to be careful is in the overreach and thee arrogance of power, if you will.

Inefficient government? Nah, that wasn’t what it was about… this election was about showing ‘That Damn Obama (or, if you were in the south, ‘That Damn Nig*er’) what for’ and ‘taking back our country’ and ‘stopping socialism’ for the voters who put these clowns in office. Government inefficiency wasn’t even in the top 10 concerns. The candidates talked about ending deficits and cutting spending and the people ate it up because the cuts were ‘going to effect someone other than them’. Now that it’s clear the cuts will hit them, in many cases, hardest they’re pissed.

However, that’s not the real issue in what Borger says… it’s the fact that she tacitly accepts the premise that the deficit needs to be cut RIGHT NOW, which is absolutely wrong.

Just thought it worth mentioning.

In other news, I just sat through what had to be the most irritating segment EVER on Bloomberg TV during which some clearly uneducated fool from the Heritage Foundation explained that ‘government spending and deficits’ were causing the bad economy. In his words, when government taxes or borrows $100 billion, it pulls that money out of the private sector. Nevermind that it ENTIRELY goes back to the private sector in the form of federal spending and employee salaries. Money doesn’t get created or destroyed in the process. Oh, and there’s no perpetual motion, either.

At one point he did bring up a good point… that Reagan and Clinton both cut federal employment without deleterious effects on the economy. Now, the first part is a lie; Reagan didn’t cut federal spending but it did reduce as a percentage of GDP. CLINTON was the only President since World War 2 to cut federal spending in terms of GDP and on an absolute basis.

However, it brings up a very good point… tax rates were far higher during the 80s and 90s than they are now and the economic environment was different (for one thing, we still had a strong manufacturing base). We also had infrastructure that wasn’t decaying rapidly.

So, yeah, NOW isn’t the 90’s. I sure as hell wish it was, but folks like the Heritage Foundation kinda messed all that up when they elected a compassionate conservative in 2000 because the former President (who had overseen the largest US expansion in decades) had received a hummer.

If Bush hadn’t been elected we’d be talking about what to do now that we’ve paid off the federal debt.

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