It must be nice to blithely talk about how you would spend somebody else's money without thinking through the consequences.
Kendall Fells, the organizing director of Fast Food Forward in New York, told Yahoo Finance's Bernice Napatch at its Daily Ticker site that "McDonald’s made $5.5 billion in profits and there’s plenty of money to pay the workers who work there and new hires without firing anyone.” As was the case with a Detroit protester's claim that "McDonald’s made like $500 billion last year" noted earlier today, Napatch did not challenge Fells's fallacy. After the jump, we'll come up with a better estimate showing that the company and its franchisees couldn't pay their employees $15 an hour even if they burned through all of their current restaurant operating income in trying.
Vickie Thomas and the news department at Detroit TV station WWJ really ought to be ashamed of themselves. The open question is whether they even know enough to be ashamed.
In reporting on a Motor City McDonald's store which was forced to close — whether it was for a few hours or all day and night isn't disclosed — Thomas quoted a "protester" claiming that "McDonald’s made like $500 billion last year." Most readers would interpret "made" as the company's annual profit. The company's worldwide net income in 2012 was $5.5 billion, barely 1 percent of the protester's completely unchallenged figure. The "like $500 billion" cited and allowed to stand is also 14 times larger than the $35.6 billion in gross sales at all of McDonald's U.S. franchised and company-owned stores.
At Slate, Mark Lynas tells the story of activist-orchestrated media deception — although one sometimes wonders whether the press even minds being deceived in these instances, and in certain cases whether some journalists are in on the scam.
The deception involves activists who are against any form of biotechnology advances laying waste to a field of genetically modified "golden rice" in the Philippines (bolds are mine; links are in original):
There are two key words missing from the report Bloomberg's Kasia Klimasinska & Shobhana Chandra published Tuesday morning — a writeup that is so incredibly sunny and over-the-top that is probably would have embarrassed the Old Soviet Union's Pravda in its heyday.
One is "income." The reason is obvious. Real median household income is still way below where it was when the recession ended four long years ago. The other absent word is "deficit." This enables Bloomberg's pathetic pair to glide though a discussion of the national debt-ceiling situation and make Republicans look like the heavies. The final problem is that they act as if we're in the fifth year of unbroken expansion, when we're not. Excerpts follow the jump.
Two such instances occurred in one speech on Friday in Binghamton, New York, where Obama told the audience at a "town hall" meeting that "we don't have an urgent deficit crisis," and that the deficit has "now dropped at the fastest rate in 60 years." Neither statement made it into Julie Pace's onsite coverage of Obama's visit. Later that day back in Washington, the AP's Jim Kuhnhenn was still running cover for Obama (bolds are mine):
Anyone remember all the huffing and puffing from the establishment press about how third-quarter economic growth was going to be great — so please stop worrying about how weak the past three quarters (annualized rates of 0.1%, 1.1%, and 1.7%, respectively) have been?
Oops. On Friday, the Census Bureau reported that new-home sales dropped over 20% in July to an annual rate of 394,000 from June's original reading of 497,000, which was itself revised down to 455,000. Today, the bureau revealed that durable goods orders fell sharply in July, bringing about yet another appearance at Bloomberg News of its favorite word during the past five years about the economy, and yet another instance of the stock market's apparent pleasure with bad news for the rest of us:
It seems that beat reporters need to be constantly reminded that they have their hands full just discerning the facts, relaying them coherently, and leaving the "analysis" to others (while presenting alternative analytical takes when necessary).
The nagging is really for their own good. If they would stick to their jobs instead of "analyzing," which often is a cover for getting out their own opinions, they wouldn't be suffering the feelings of embarrassment Christopher Rugaber at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, should be feeling right now (I'm not saying he is; I'm saying he should be). You see, yesterday he said that a best-in-years report on existing-home sales meant one thing. Today, thanks to the Census Bureau's disastrous July new-home sales release, he said it meant quite another.
After a two-year hiatus, the Associated Press has apparently decided that Americans need a weekly reminder of how bad weekly layoffs were during the recession.
In June 2011, possibly as a result of some hectoring by yours truly, the wire service totally or almost totally stopped reminding readers that "(unemployment) claims applications peaked at 659,000 during the recession." That tired figure was already over two years old, and isn't even an all-time record (several weeks during the 1980s were higher, even with a much smaller workforce). So who cares? But in each of the past three weeks, AP has resurrected that tired number (since revised slightly upward because of changes to seasonal adjustment factors), as if a one-week stat from almost 4-1/2 years ago means anything to anybody right now:
Maybe we should cue up the old classic "High Hopes," especially given its ironic title, every time one of these "unintended consequence of Obamacare" stories comes along. Instead of singing "Oops, there goes another rubber tree plant," we can all sing, "Oops, there goes another Obamacare 'quirk.'"
One of the latest "quirks," also described as a "weird" result of the progressive movement's March 2010 legislative handiwork gleefully signed by President Obama, arrived via CNBC Health Care Reporter Dan Mangan on Tuesday. As predicted by many center-right analysts several years ago, it will make financial sense for quite a few employees to turn down their employers' health care coverage and move to the subsidized, government-run Obamacare exchanges. If enough employees start doing that — given the financial consequences, thousands if not millions will — many employers will have even more incentive than they already have to jettison their plans completely. Imagine that (bolds are mine):
Maybe because it's a UFO, we're not supposed to be able to explain it.
No, I'm not talking about unidentified flying objects at the recently acknowledged Area 51. I'm talking about an unexplained financial observation, the one made by the Associated Press's Christopher Rugaber on Monday after the release of the July Regional and State Employment and Unemployment report Monday morning. Rugaber observed that the unemployment rate rose in the majority of states and fell in a relative few, while July's national unemployment rate reported two weeks ago fell from 7.6% to 7.4%:
A November 15, 2010 blog post by Michael S. Derby at the Wall Street Journal ("San Francisco Fed Official Says QE2 Is Working") told us that "The Federal Reserve‘s recently announced plan to buy $600 billion in Treasury securities to improve economic growth is having a positive effect on growth." The Fed official involved also predicted "the U.S. gross domestic product to come in at 2.5% this year (2010), and at 3.5% next year and 4.5% the year after that."
Uh, not exactly. Actual GDP results: 2.5% in 2010 (that was a gimme), followed by 1.8% and 2.8% in 2011 and 2012, respectively. Almost three years letter, the San Fran Fed's acknowledged result of that effort at "quantitative easing" — it "added about 0.13 percentage point to real GDP growth in late 2010" — is starkly different, and is only "positive" if you think a football team managing one field goal in four quarters is "positive." Of course, though it should be, the news is getting very little coverage.
What do you do when you're the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, and you're trying to do your level best to described a floundering economy without incurring the wrath of the Obama administration? You search for positive-sounding words to describe what is in reality a marginal situation.
The AP seems to have settled on "steady" and "steadily."
At the conclusion of his report on the federal government's July Monthly Treasury Statement, the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger wrote that federal spending through the first ten months of the current fiscal year is "down 2.9 percent from a year ago," and that the decline "reflects, in part, automatic government spending cuts that began taking effect March 1."
Those "automatic cuts" represent only a very small part of the decline, as will be seen after the jump.
It's fair to say that about the only holdouts against the idea that part-time work is up and that employee hours are being reduced around the economy are the Obama White House and a few Obama White House alumni. It's also fair to say that there are very few holdouts against the idea that the cause for this is Obamacare's 30-hours-per-week definition of a full-time employee, which is causing far more businesses than usual to cut existing workers' hours and to limit their hiring to part-timers. Even Obama-sympathetic NBC did a report on Obamacare's impact earlier this week. The White House dismissed what NBC found as "merely anecdotal."
All along, everyone — yes, this includes yours truly — has been concentrating on overall changes in the average work week, which have been very minimal. But Jed Graham at Investor's Business Daily, doing work which apparently no one else in the business press has been willing or discerning enough to do for all these months as the issue has raged, identified four industry sectors where average weekly hours have dropped significantly, and where it's hard to claim that anything except Obamacare could be the culprit.
Economists, business owners and employees are worried that the Affordable Care Act is resulting in fewer hours for workers.
The networks had been ignoring this shift toward part-time work and its relationship to Obamacare earlier this year, but NBC has let the cat out of the bag. On the Aug. 13, “Nightly News” Lisa Myers reported on an NBC News investigation into the issue.
On Friday, Eric Holder's Department of Justice gave the memory-hole treatment to wildly inflated statistics released last October about the number of cases and the amount of money involved in DOJ's mortgage fraud enforcement efforts.
Bloomberg News reporters who had discovered that the original numbers were suspect had been getting stonewalled for months in their efforts to get answers to their queries, and finally got them through the document-dump route. The differences are stark.
On Thursday, the Department of Labor announced that initial unemployment claims during the week ended August 3 rose to a seasonally adjusted 333,000, up from a revised 328,000 the previous week.
A "breaking" tweet from the Associated Press issued just a few minutes after the report's 8:30 a.m. (5:30 PT) release read as follows: "U.S. unemployment aid applications up only 5,000 to 333,000 - a level that signals steady job gains." The folks at Twitchy.com properly wondered how rising jobless claims can lead to more jobs. The wire service abandoned the tweet's claim only 19 minutes after its release, and went as far as admitting that "hiring lags" in a longer, late afternoon item.
If ever a story had the earmarks of being agenda-driven from the get-go, Mackenzie Weinger's writeup at the Politico on Glenn Beck published Saturday morning fits the bill.
Weinger's premise is that Beck will never be as influential as he once was as long as he doesn't have a cable news program and continues to branch into entertainment-related ventures consistent with his beliefs. Excerpts, evidence which easily refutes Weinger's wishful thinking, and further commentary from yours truly follow the jump.
In this case, the old saying, "Better late than never" really shouldn't apply. In June, when the government's Household Survey used to determine the unemployment rate reported that there were 240,000 fewer full-time workers and 360,000 more part-time workers than there were in May, the establishment press, particularly the Associated Press, largely ignored or downplayed the result.
The AP's Christopher Rugaber broke the ice a bit in early July after June's jobs report, and the wire service has finally gone full-bore into noting the trend towards part-time work in the past two days. But while the press slept for months, center-right bloggers and many others have been chronicling the trend anecdotally since late last year, and gradually with solid numbers from the government's own reports as the year has worn on.
During the Obama administration's 4-1/2 year track record of economic underachievement, establishment press business reporters have usually waited until the bad news actually comes out before working on convincing readers that future news will be better.
Not this time, at least at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press. Christopher "Gone are the fears that the economy could fall into a recession" Rugaber didn't bother to wait for tomorrow's report on Gross Domestic Product to tell readers that the rest of the year will be fine. The fact that these rosy forecasts have rarely come to pass during the past 17 quarters didn't seem to faze him a bit.
Organizing For Action claims that its mission is to "support President Obama in achieving enactment of the national agenda Americans voted for on Election Day 2012." Presumably, on a day-to-day and month-to-month basis, that means it's able to divine the President's priorities and follow them (you see, OFA is "independent," so there can't pooooossibly be any communication between its officials and the White House, cough, cough).
Well, if OFA really is following the President's priorities, one of those priorities is decidedly not the economy, despite Obama's promise in his weekly address on Saturday to "spend every minute of every day doing everything in my power to make this economy work for working Americans again." And yes, I would expect a vigilant establishment press, which we definitely don't have, to notice, and of course they haven't. Edward-Isaac Dovere at the Politico has a list of OFA's "Action August" key event days, which follows the jump:
If the employment numbers seem better than one might have expected during the next few months, it may have nothing to do with private companies hiring people to provide goods and services people actually want. It may instead relate to the army of paper-pushers who are being hired to help individuals and families apply for ObamaCare subsidies starting on October 1.
If California's situation is typical of what will be happening nationwide, the total number of "enrollment counselors," also known as "navigators," hired for this supposedly short-term task will be huge. In the tarnished Golden State alone, according to Judy Lin at the Associated Press, 21,000 counselors will be hired from among "an estimated 3,600 community organizations ranging from Native American tribes and chambers of commerce to labor unions and faith-based organizations that will be authorized to help people buy insurance." Project that to the entire country, and we're talking about roughly 175,000 counselors.
I was going to leave this alone because the original item involved goes back to last week. But Christopher Rugaber at the Associated Press brought it up again in his report today on existing home sales, so it's fair game again.
The final sentence of his dispatch refers to last week's Census Bureau data in the new home market, and claims that "In June, they (builders) applied for permits to build single-family homes at the fastest pace in five years." Not really -- in fact, not at all -- as will be seen after the jump.
Earlier today (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted that MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry blamed Detroit's bankruptcy on "government (that) is small enough to drown in your bathtub," and claimed that it reflects “exactly the kind of thing that many Republicans would impose on us.”
Nothing can top that, right? Wrong. MSNBC's Ed Schultz did, by more directly blaming Republicans. With an accompanying graphic containing photos of current Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, former President Ronald Reagan, and 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney above the words "Conservative Utopia," Schultz claimed that the city's failure is "thanks to a lot of Republican policies" and "is exactly what the Republicans want." The relevant transcript follows the jump (video is at RealClearPolitics; HT Hot Air; bolds are mine):
Melissa Harris-Perry, one of the panel guests on MSNBC's "Now" program on Friday, managed to tie Detroit's bankruptcy to small government, i.e., "when government is small enough to drown in your bathtub," and to analogize it to "exactly the kind of thing that many Republicans would impose on us." Really.
Today, as the wire service AFP reported in a story carried at Yahoo.com, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, in the question and answer exchange after his prepared testimony, told the House Financial Services Committee that "If we were to tighten (monetary) policy, the economy would tank."
That assessment of the economy's fragility qualifies as news, especially given the Obama administration's continued claim that the economy is "continuing to recover at a promising rate." Outlets besides AFP virtually ignored Bernanke's soundbite, which should be considered scary to anyone who realizes that Big Ben can't go on "stimulating" at his current rate forever.