Pope Francis, in his apostolic exhortation, levied charges against free market capitalism, denying that "economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world" and concluding that "this opinion ... has never been confirmed by the facts." He went on to label unfettered capitalism as "a new tyranny." Let's look at the pope's tragic vision.
First, I acknowledge that capitalism fails miserably when compared with heaven or a utopia. Any earthly system is going to come up short in such a comparison. However, mankind must make choices among alternative economic systems that actually exist on earth. For the common man, capitalism is superior to any system yet devised to deal with his everyday needs and desires.
On the Friday, December 13, PoliticsNation, the Washington Post's Dana Milbank joined host Al Sharpton in complaining that conservatives "demonize" people who receive welfare benefits as the two discussed efforts to restrain welfare spending.
Print, broadcast or web, the media sure aren’t Nostradamus. In spite of their best attempts, the news media have gotten it wrong prediction after prediction on a wide range of business and economic issues in 2013.
Just in the past year, reporters warned of “economic doomsday,” thought Healthcare.gov was going to be “easy” just like Amazon.com, and warned of melting polar ice, even as a new record was set for ice mass.
ABC This Week viewers were treated to a classic conservative versus liberal debate Sunday.
When former Clinton labor secretary Robert Reich tried to blame the increase in poverty in the past five years on Republicans, former Speaker of the House and current CNN host Newt Gingrich called it "baloney" firing back, "Every major city which is a center of poverty is run by Democrats" (video follows with transcript and absolutely no need for additional commentary):
The nation's press has long since stopped paying any attention to what has actually happened in the wake of the outrageous Kelo vs. New London Supreme Court ruling in June 2005.
The court's majority wrote that "The city has carefully formulated a development plan that it believes will provide appreciable benefits to the community, including, but not limited to, new jobs and increased tax revenue." The quite newsworthy but virtually ignored fact flying in the face of the Supremes' certitude is that nothing has happened in the affected area for 8-1/2 years. The latest idea for removing the "stain" of Kelo proposed by New London, Connecticut Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio is to place a "green" parking garage and "micro lots" (with micro homes) in the affected Fort Trumbull neighborhood where perfectly acceptable century-old housing used to stand. Excerpts from a New London Day editorial reporting on that paper's meeting with the mayor follow the jump.
In mid-November, Americans for Tax Reform compiled a list of federal spending on state Obamacare exchanges totaling a breathtaking $4.5 billion.
One number on the list stands out from the rest — and it's not California's, though its $910 million amout is awful, disproportionate, and surely highly wasteful (before considering scalability concerns, the fixed costs of building a web site should be close to the same regardless of a state's population). The big eye-catcher is tiny Vermont's staggering $208 million. The nation's second-least populous state (626,000 as of 2012) has 0.2 percent of the U.S. population, but has received 4.6 percent of grants from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Though the Green Mountain State's enrollment numbers have been among the country's least embarrassing on percentage of the population, its exchange's rollout has in many ways been as bad, if not worse, than HealthCare.gov's, according to a December 10 Vermont Public Radio report which has garnered very little attention (HT Megan McArdle at Bloomberg News; bolds are mine):
On Tuesday's All In on MSNBC, during a discussion of the federal budget and spending on poverty programs, host Chris Hayes suggesting reducing unemployment by having the government hire workers as he jokingly suggested having another census because unemployment dropped the last time census workers were hired.
After guest Tom Colocchio of Food Policy Action called for more "job training programs so they can actually get back to work," Hayes jumped in:
It’s typical of MSNBC weekend anchor Alex Witt to invite guests on her show who only reinforce her opinions, and that is exactly what happened on Sunday’s Weekends with Alex Witt. For a discussion of Democratic efforts to increase the minimum wage, Witt brought on frequent contributor Jared Bernstein, Vice President Joe Biden’s former chief economist.
But that’s not all he is. Witt added these modifications to Bernstein’s introduction: [Video embedded below the break.]
To do so, she reinvented what it is to be "rich" or "affluent." It apparently has nothing to do with how it is normally defined, i.e., based on current net worth (assets owned minus debts owed). Ms. Yen's and AP's yearning is apparently to base it on whether you're in a household which has had annual earnings above $250,000 — ever. Really. The purpose of the piece appears to be to go after this segment of the population, such as it is, because they aren't knee-jerk supporters of limitless government spending, and won't spend money on consumption to improve the economy like Keynesians think they're supposed to. Be on the lookout for a clearly misused word (HT to emailer Alfred Lemire; bolds are mine throughout this post):
This month, the Boston Globe and the New York Times have published items on the growth of homelessness in the state of Massachusetts and New York City, respectively. Based on the content of each, it's clear that the topic was ripe for coverage in 2012, but received little if any. I wonder why? (/sarcasm)
The Globe's regular-length news story by Megan Woolhouse and David Abel cited the state's "record numbers of homeless families" as "another example of an uneven recovery" from a recession which officially ended almost 4-1/2 years ago. The Times published the first of what will ultimately five parts on the plight of one homeless family, with special emphasis on Dasani, their 11 year-old daughter. The Globe cites "federal budget cuts" and "a legacy of the Great Recession" as negative factors. The Times's Andrea Elliott needlessly marred her otherwise compelling profile by hyping newly elected Mayor Bill de Blasio while taking swipes at "the wealthy" and "Reagan-era cutbacks," as excerpts after the jump will demonstrate (bolds and italicized comments are mine):
A liberal radio host raved over CNN's completely one-sided report on striking fast food workers, and CNN anchor Chris Cuomo acknowledged his praise on Twitter on Thursday.
Cuomo constantly rails against partisanship on Capitol Hill, so it's surprising that a news anchor who wishes to appear above the fray would publish some love from an unabashedly left-wing source. And why did the radio host praise Alison Kosik's report on the fast food strikes that aired on Thursday's New Day? It was barren of any conservative talking points.
Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan made some rather ominous economic observations Sunday.
Appearing on CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS, Greenspan said, “[T]he level of uncertainty about the very long-term future is far greater than at any time I particularly remember.” He blamed it on “government intervention [that] has been so horrendous that businesses cannot basically decide what to do about the future” (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Filling in for host Chuck Todd on Thursday's MSNBC Daily Rundown, Luke Russert suggested liberal calls for a hike in the minimum wage had created a "tough issue for Republicans" and that by opposing the idea, the GOP would "risk looking like Grinches over the holiday season." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Republican pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson pushed back: "In a way, but remember, who was president last time a minimum wage increase was signed into law? It was President Bush. And the way they got their was by saying, 'You need to have some tax cuts for small businesses embedded in this law in order to get it through because there are going to be some businesses that if these cuts aren't included are gonna switch to not hiring these folks.'"
On Thursday, ABC, CBS, and NBC's morning newscasts all spotlighted how "fast food workers across the country are holding strikes to demand higher wages", but failed to point out the involvement of left-leaning groups in organizing the protests. ABC's Good Morning America and CBS This Morning featured spokesmen from the "Fast Food Forward" movement, but didn't include their respective involvement in the SEIU and a successor organization to ACORN.
The ABC and CBS morning shows also slanted towards the protesters by a two-to-one margin in the number of soundbites from the protesters and liberal supporters, versus opponents of raising the minimum wage. While NBC's Today didn't feature any of the protest organizers, the show played three clips from a fast food employee and a protest supporter, versus two from opponents. [MP3 audio available here; video clips below the jump]
"If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there'd be peace." -- John Lennon
"Black Friday" was a metaphor beyond the merchants' bottom line. Headlines on last Friday's Drudge Report reflect a culture that is being trampled by the greed and me-only attitude of a growing number of us:
Newsmax had an interesting item this evening about a CNN/Opinion Research poll released Friday. The poll shows that "Americans views on the state of the nation are turning increasingly sour." Specifically, "Fifty-nine percent say things are going badly, up nine points from April." The inverse of that, i.e., the 41% who feel that things are going well, is "the lowest that number has been in CNN polling since February 2012."
One would think that this news would be prominently displayed at CNN's U.S. home page, given that as of 10 p.m. the related story was less than 12 hours old. Well, it isn't.
On October 3, the National Retail Federation projected that "sales in the months of November and December" will "marginally increase 3.9 percent to $602.1 billion, over 2012’s actual 3.5 percent holiday season sales growth." But on October 16, it warned that "the average holiday shopper will spend $737.95 on gifts, décor, greeting cards and more, two percent less than the $752.24 they actually spent last year."
Anne D'Innocenzio at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, in a report on the upcoming Christmas shopping season, chose to report the NRF's overall November-December increase, and ignored the obviously more relevant and more recent individual spending expectations. She also held off mentioning the elephant in the room — sharply reduced spending by Obamacare "sticker shock" victims and those who anticipate more of the same during 2014 — until the 19th of her 21 paragraphs (bolds are mine):
On Sunday's 60 Minutes, CBS's Steve Kroft boosted the agenda of Senator Bernie Sanders, a self-identified socialist, by granting him 30 seconds of air time to attack billionaire Pete Peterson, who was featured on the November 17, 2013 edition of the news program. However, this half-minute block was 2.5 times the amount that Peterson got during Charlie Rose's report [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
Rose merely played a 12-second soundbite of Peterson during the segment, and mentioned the former Nixon Cabinet official's involvement with a group of philanthropists, who are donating at least 50 percent of their wealth to charity:
HealthCare.gov is so insecure that IT experts say they wouldn't use it themselves. The supposedly firm November 30 deadline for the web site's repair and recovery really isn't. Back-end problems abound. Earlier this week, Henry Chao told a congressional committee that "the back-office systems, the accounting systems, the payment systems, they still need be built." That is, they apparently haven't been started.
This is the time the New Yorker Magazine has chosen to publish a column (HT James Taranto at the Wall Street Journal's Best of the Web) by former Bill Clinton speechwriter Jeff Shesol officially entitled "The Republican War on Competence." The browser window title is even funnier: "Obamacare and the Republican War on Competence." You can't make this up. Shesol's content is just as hysterical.
In a mild surprise, the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, hasn't totally ignored John Crudele's Monday evening blockbuster story at the New York Post about how fabricated Census Bureau information fed a pretty clearly cooked September 2012 Employment Situation report. But the wire service's Sam Hananel ruined the surprise by spending five terse paragraphs making sure that relatively disengaged readers would learn as little as possible.
Most crucially, Hananel never told readers that the alleged manipulation may have been the main reason why the reported September 2012 unemployment rate fell below 8 percent for the first time since President Barack Obama took office in January 2009. At the time, former GE CEO Jack Welch was among those who strongly questioned the rate drop.
On CNN’s The Lead with Jake Tapper today, Tapper reported on a woman who’s very happy with the way ObamaCare is working:
TAPPER: That's not a yes. Park is still working on fixes, but Tony Trenkle, the chief information officer for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, which is running the site, resigned. The Web site does have some satisfied customers out there, such as Flora Brewer of Fort Worth, Texas, who says she found coverage similar to what she has now, but for a lower price.
FLORA BREWER, SATISFIED WITH OBAMACARE: Well, I'm very happy with this coverage. They said, oh, yes, we have got your application. We have got you. You're -- you're enrolled.
The news media worried a lot about how awful the government shutdown would be and estimated it would take a huge toll on the economy as well. Now it looks like they were wrong about the size of the damage.
The networks touted a recent Standard & Poor’s (S&P) estimate that the shutdown would cost $24 billion. That figure was mentioned on the networks five times from Oct. 17 to Oct. 24. But according to new figures from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the economic toll was one-fourth that size or less: between $2 billion and $6 billion. The OMB estimate was only mentioned in one Nov. 8 story on CBS, according to a Nexis search from Nov. 7 through Nov. 10.
Even though government operational outlays didn't really go down at all in fiscal 2013 compared to fiscal 2012, several government agencies ended up raiding slush funds (my term) to get through sequestration, the tiny reductions in previously increased projected spending which took effect during the second half of the fiscal year.
This evening at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, Andrew Taylor identified some of those slush funds, and dutifully warned the nation about how rough the next round of sequestration will allegedly be during fiscal 2014 (bolds are mine):
Sam Stein, who poses as a journalist while toiling at the Huffington Post (he lost any legitimate claim to the title when he wouldn't back away when caught red-handed pretending to know something he couldn't possibly know about John McCain's vetting or lack thereof of Sarah Palin in September 2008), wrote on Thursday (HT Hot Air) that "The Obama administration is considering a fix to the president’s health care law that would expand the universe of individuals who receive tax subsidies to help buy insurance."
Of course, Stein didn't look into how much this "fix," better described as a "huge spending increase," might cost, and "somehow" forgot that any such "fix" substantially increasing tax subsidies would destroy President Obama's unqualified 2009 pledge that "I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits — either now or in the future. I will not sign it if it adds one dime to the deficit, now or in the future, period." Neither did the Associated Press's Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar in a Friday evening writeup. Philip Klein at the Washington Examiner did remember Obama's pledge. He also engaged in genuine journalism by looking at what kind of cost might be involved in the "fix" (bolds are mine):
Women's participation in the workforce is at a new Obama-term low -- 56.9 percent -- according to the October unemployment report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) today. What's more, Ali Meyer of NewsBusters sister site CNSNews.com noted today, "the number of women holding jobs declined by 357,000 from September to October, and the unemployment rate increased for women from 6.7 percent to 6.9 percent."
But over on msnbc.com, it was all happy talk and partisan spin about the October jobs report. Yes, the network that consistently grouses about an alleged Republican "war on women" had nothing to say about how more and more women are dropping OUT of the workforce thanks to the weak Obama economy. Instead, writer Suzy Khimm spun the results as generally positive for the Obama White House, made sure she quoted a pro-Obama economist, and closed her story by insisting job growth would be even better if not for those rascally congressional Republicans who shut down the government (emphasis mine):
You would think that economic forecasters, who have been obsessing over the impact on economic growth of October's 17 percent partial government shutdown might have noticed that a lot of people have all of a sudden learned that they're about to experience a major cut in their take-home pay. You would be wrong.
Hundreds of thousands of Americans had received health insurance cancellation notices by September 30, and had also learned that they will be on the hook starting next year for hundreds of dollars in premium increases on the Obamacare exchanges. It should be obvious that most affected people would have started spending less on other items virtually immediately, and that they will continue to be in major cutback mode indefinitely. But I didn't find anyone in the establishment press who mentioned it. Nor did I find anyone who noted that the millions of Americans facing higher health insurance premiums are also going to materially impact fourth quarter growth and Christmas shopping season results.
The New York Times has been notoriously biased and wrong for a long, long time. On things large and small. The Old Shady Lady is at least consistent - if they want to advance Leftism, no facts shall impede them.
Their Ron Nixon is part of a century-plus-old pathetic tradition.