Brian Wesbury, whose previous writings have been blogged on many times by yours truly (including here, here, here, and here), is very tired of the dissing the current economy is taking, and especially how it is unfavorably compared to the economy of the 1990s:
Soon it’s going to cost you more to mow your lawn, and the Christian Science Monitor doesn’t mind because it’s all in the name of a cleaner planet.
“[H]elp is on the way. Thanks to a new rule unveiled by the Environmental Protection Agency this week, homeowners will finally be able to buy mowers that give their lawn a truly clean cut,” wrote Mark Clayton of the Monitor.
But it was not homeowners who pressured mower manufacturers to lower emissions, but a mandate from the EPA. According to the new rule, beginning in 2011 small engines like those used in lawn tractors must filter out “an additional 35 pollutants … in addition to the 60 percent reduction mandated last year.”
"There's many simple, even money-saving ways that we can actually give our little bit of help in our own lives and in our own homes and make a little bit of a difference," said weatherman Sam Champion on April 19 "Good Morning America."
But when it came to cost, the April 19 USA Today contradicted Champion:
“Products that help people use less energy – or leave a smaller ‘environmental footprint,’ as green advocates say – often are more costly than their alternatives, causing some to argue that going green is only for those who can afford it,” said USA Today.
Champion's segment focused on a special energy-efficient home built by BASF The Chemical Company that is 80 percent more energy efficient than other houses.
Average weekly earnings rose by 4.4 percent, seasonally adjusted, from March 2006 to March 2007. After deflation by the CPI-W, average weekly earnings increased by 1.6 percent.
And here's one for Paul "the rich are getting it all" Krugman of the New York Times -- Note who is being surveyed when these numbers are determined:
Earnings series from the monthly establishment series are estimated arithmetic averages (means) of the hourly and weekly earnings of all production or nonsupervisory jobs in the private nonfarm sector of the economy.
It's Joe and Josephine Sixpack whose earnings have "really" increased in the past year.
Soledad O'Brien and Miles O'Brien must be preparing for a new line of work in fortune-telling.
On the April 9 "American Morning," the CNN anchors didn't wait for someone to complain about executive pay before making it an issue.
Instead, after Soledad complained that she was "desperately" underpaid she also predicted that the AFL-CIO would gripe about Occidental Petroleum Corp. CEO Ray Irani's $400 million executive compensation package.
"You think with a number like that they will. I've got to imagine," mused Soledad to Andrew Ross Sorkin who was "Minding Your Business."
Sorkin told viewers Irani's package was "what has to be one of the largest numbers in history," but admitted it took several years to earn. "Had he not taken all these options he would have made just a paltry $55 million."
On Monday's The Situation Room, CNN's Wolf Blitzer and Jack Cafferty expressed frustration that the Democratic Congress has not yet passed a minimum wage increase, even lamenting that the increase could not be made retroactive.
After Blitzer seemed to seriously ask if the minimum wage increase could be made retroactive to November, Cafferty rhetorically exclaimed that it should be "retroactive to ten years ago."
Blitzer: "I guess they can't make the increase in the minimum wage retroactive to back November, huh, Jack?"
Cafferty: "They ought to make it retroactive to ten years ago. That's the last time anybody addressed these folks."
Blitzer: "Don't hold your breath on that one." (Transcript follows)
Another left winger appeared on "The View." This time it was Roseanne Barr who felt she knew everything because she’s "old," claimed to stump for the middle and working class while admitting she’s rich, bashed the late Ronald Reagan, praised Rosie O’Donnell, and hinted at the left wing election "fixing" conspiracy theory.
Roseanne started with her explanation on why she thinks she knows everything, then demonstrated her love for her favorite "View" co-hosts, Rosie O’Donnell and Joy Behar. She even added that Rosie made this a "very intellectual hour." The multimillionaire comedienne proceeded to bring in her class warfare pitch by bashing the late President Ronald Reagan and then discussed with four rich women the horror that "most people like to hang out with rich people. They don’t give a damn about anyone else." The four rich co-hosts agreed.
Rosie, Roseanne, and Joy agreed on some commonly held left wing conspiracy theories. Roseanne called on "people who fix elections" to "let a Democrat in the next time." Then of course, much of the media feeds us is "the art of distraction." The transcript from key points of the discussion is below.
If I were a rich man, the media would likely bash me. But if I were a female billionaire, I would become "good news" according to ABC and NBC.
While both ABC and NBC have called very successful CEOs examples of "runaway pay," there was no animosity to be found toward extremely high-earning women during the March 8 "World News with Charles Gibson" or "Nightly News."
In fact, after CNBC's Maria Bartiromo stated that 83 women made Forbes magazine's billionaires list on NBC "Nightly News," anchor Campbell Brown chimed: "All right, that's good news."
ABC's "World News" lauded the 1 percent club: "self-made members of the fairer sex," but left out Forbes statement that 60 percent of those on the billionaires list all made their fortunes from scratch.
It's a good thing I wasn't sipping my coffee when I saw this on the front page of the Baltimore Sun in Starbucks this afternoon.
"Checks, balances rule Md. capital: Democratic leaders split on key issues, how to raise money."
Reporter Andrew Green began his March 5 article by conceding that "in ways large and small, Annapolis is showing signs of a leftward tilt" ever since Gov. Martin O'Malley took the helm on the second floor of the State House. But relax, Green continued, competing egos in the state government ensure that the legislative track isn't laden with runaway trains.
Maybe so, but all the freight the Maryland General Assembly is steaming into the station is filled with liberal goodies:
Ripping a line straight from a TV infomercial, CBS reporter Kelly Wallace downplayed the true cost of "emergency elder home care" provided by Freddie Mac with one little phrase:
"Just $15 a day."
But wait a minute ... that comes out to $5,475 a year for the employee who needs this benefit for an aging parent. The 'Evening News' segment from February 21 blatantly advocated for companies to provide elder care assistance to employees, scolded those that do not and urged workers to ask for these programs. Read the full Business & Media Institute article here.
On Monday’s "Evening News" on CBS, anchor Katie Couric asserted a common talking point among feminists and that is that women make 76 cents for every dollar a man does, which is a misleading statistic. In a series entitled "The American Spirit," Couric profiled Janet Hanson, the founder of a women’s networking group called 85 Broads, which is dedicated to helping women get ahead, as Hanson doesn't seem to believe a woman can make it on her own:
Katie Couric: "Women earn only 76 cents for every dollar a man earns, and that really hasn’t changed much over the last 30 years. Why?"
Janet Hanson: "Women have to learn how to become better negotiators for themselves, which is hard to do. So they need to see other women doing that successfully, and the whole mission behind this network is that women cannot succeed if they don’t leverage each other’s intellectual firepower."
Yet, an article on CNN Money, written by a woman, argues why the 76 cent statistic is misleading:
A few days old but a goodie. I've seen in this one report something that's often missing from network treatment of the minimum wage issue: a quantification of how much the government wage mandate affects the bottom line for small businesses, and ends up screwing over the little guy.
Mark Messner, owner of Pepi's Pizza in south Phoenix, estimates he has
employed more than 2,000 high school students since 1990. But he plans
to lay off three teenage workers and decrease hours worked by others.
Of his 25-person workforce, roughly 75 percent are in high school.
"I've had to go to some of my kids and say, 'Look, my payroll just
increased 13 percent,' " he said. " 'Sorry, I don't have any hours for
Messner's monthly cost to train an employee has jumped from $440 to $580 as the turnover rate remains high.
"We go to great lengths to hang on to our high school workers, but
there are a lot of kids who come in and get one check in their pocket
and feel like they're living large and out the door they go," he said.
"We never get our return on investment when that happens."
While the media fawn over despots like Syria’s Bashar al-Assad and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, they rarely report on the horrors of life for most under such rule. With that in mind, it seems safe to assume that a current meat and sugar shortage in Venezuela that appears to be caused by government price controls is likely to go mostly unnoticed.
As reported by the Associated Press (emphasis mine throughout):
President Hugo Chavez's administration blames the food supply problems on unscrupulous speculators, but industry officials say government price controls that strangle profits are responsible. Authorities on Wednesday raided a warehouse in Caracas and seized seven tons of sugar hoarded by vendors unwilling to market the inventory at the official price.
Hmmm. Price controls and government intervention in the free market causes shortages and hyperinflation. You don’t expect to see that reported on the broadcast network news programs tonight, do you? Regardless, the article continued:
On Sunday’s "Late Edition," CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer conducted a syrupy interview with consumer advocate and frequent presidential candidate Ralph Nader. Blitzer allowed the former Green Party standard-bearer to once again promote left-wing PBS host Bill Moyers for President in 2008. The CNN anchor also gushed over Nader’s new work of non-fiction, "The 17 Traditions," a liberal tome about rasing families. Blitzer described it as a "beautiful book with a lot of emotion." But first, he prompted Nader to plug the Moyers for President campaign:
Wolf Blitzer: "Here's what you wrote back in October on Bill Moyers, the PBS commentator: ‘Moyers brings impressive credentials beyond his knowledge of the White House, congressional complexes. As millions of viewers and readers over the decades know, Bill Moyers is unusually articulate and authentic in evaluating the unmet necessities and framing the ignored solutions in our country.’ You'd like him to run for president?"
Ralph Nader: "Very much. I got a great response to that column."
Blitzer: "What -- What response did you get from Bill Moyers?"
The nation’s gross domestic product grew at a much faster than expected rate in the fourth quarter as wages increased and inflationary pressures decreased. Will the media care, or figure out a way to tie consumer enthusiasm to the Democrats taking back Congress?
Before you place your bets, let’s look at the facts as reported by Bloomberg (emphasis mine throughout):
The U.S. economy grew at a faster- than-forecast annual pace of 3.5 percent last quarter, propelled by a rebound in consumer spending as gasoline prices fell and wages grew.
The growth rate was the strongest since the first three months of 2006 and followed a 2 percent third-quarter pace, the Commerce Department reported today in Washington. A measure of inflation watched by the Federal Reserve rose at a slower pace.
Hmmm. Strong growth. Lower inflation. Strong wages. Doesn’t sound like what the media have been reporting, does it? Well, the details are even better:
CNN anchor Lou Dobbs appeared with the ladies on ABC's The View to deliver some rather liberal opinions. He stumped for a minimum wage increase, railed against the influence big corporations have on politics, and pushed for universal healthcare. Interestingly, Dobbs was not grilled the way Bill O’Reilly was on the same show several months ago. Also of note, the co-hosts did not even touch illegal immigration, the one issue where Lou Dobbs is famously conservative.
Rosie O’Donnell asked the question she has been obsessing on lately.
O’Donnell: "Mr Dobbs, do you think that some Senator for principle, if not for follow through, should call for the impeachment of George Bush?"
Dobbs did not answer the question, perhaps because he does not want to upset his CNN colleague Jack Cafferty. Instead, Dobbs sighed and exclaimed "boy" before listing his complaints about Bush administration failings. ABC went to a hard break before O'Donnell and Joy Behar could get a definitive yes or no out of him.
Video clip of Dobbs failing to reject the idea of impeaching President Bush, ending with ABC's hard ad break (56 seconds): Real (1.7 MB) or Windows Media (1.9 MB), plus MP3 audio (400 KB)
On the bright side, during MSNBC's State of the Union Coverage, correspondent David Shuster pointed out a couple of "misleading" claims made by Senator Jim Webb in the Democratic Response. After critiquing some of President Bush's statements, Shuster moved on to focus on Webb's speech. In response to Webb's complaint that wages "are at all-time lows as a percentage of national wealth," Shuster countered that "when you compare wages and salaries to cost of living," as economists normally do, "the sky is not falling in the way that Jim Webb suggested." And in response to Webb's complaint about manufacturing jobs being transferred overseas, Shuster pointed out that "high-tech jobs are coming to America." (Transcript follows)
The Bureau of Labor Statistics released what it calls its Usual Weekly Earnings Report for the Fourth Quarter of 2006 on Friday.
This is one of the more important reports the BLS releases because:
It looks at the earnings of full-time wage and salary workers, excluding part-timers, business owners, and the self-employed.
It looks at individuals, not households or families.
Unlike most reports, it tells us median earnings, the point at which half of workers are earning more and half earning less. Other reports covering "average" results may be distorted by the impact of high earners bringing up the reported average while a "typical" person at the median might not be making any progress.
It specifically compares nominal earnings increases at the median (i.e., before inflation) to inflation that occurred during the same time period. It therefore tells us whether the "typical" (as opposed to "average") worker has gotten ahead or has fallen behind during the period covered.
So it was very heartening to read the first paragraph from Friday's Usual Weekly Earnings report:
Median weekly earnings of the nation’s 106.9 million full-time wage and salary workers were $682 in the fourth quarter of 2006, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today. This was 3.5 percent higher than a year earlier, compared with a gain of 1.9 percent in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) over the same period.
Exactly two weeks after ABC anchor Charles Gibson trumpeted how video of Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the House floor holding a baby while she talked to colleagues demonstrated “the ultimate in multitasking: Taking care of the children and the country” (my NewsBusters item with video of his January 4 oozing), he celebrated how House Democrats “completed their scheduled hundred hours of work in just about 42 hours, so they can put the other 58 in the bank.” In stark contrast to how ABC's evening newscast scrutinized the Republican agenda in 1995, on Thursday's World News Gibson triumphantly listed the liberal policy accomplishments, naturally without any such ideological label, and didn't paint any as controversial or cite any criticisms of them.
“A short while ago, the Democratic-led House passed the final measure of its self-declared first one hundred hours in office,” Gibson touted as he listed how the energy bill “would encourage investment in alternative energy sources and lower oil industry subsidies.” Gibson listed how the House passed “an increase in the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour, a bill that would expand stem cell research and overturn President Bush's restrictions, a measure requiring the government to negotiate lower prescription drug prices on behalf of Medicare patients. And they agreed to cut interest rates on student loans.”
James Carroll, whose Boston Globe columns might be viewed less as reasoned discourse and more as auto-therapy for his famous rift with his father, predictably turns his MLK, Jr. Day piece into a condemnation of all things American.
Vietnam was at the root of his split with his father, as Carroll documented in God, My Father, and the War That Came Between Us. So Carroll naturally drags a Vietnam/Iraq analogy into his piece: "like Bush, Johnson was presiding over a lost war." Of course, if there was a lesson of Vietnam it's that we lost it because we lost the political will to win it.
Fishing around in the now widely-known Samoan exception to the recently passed Minimum Wage bill (where tuna industry workers there are apparently being paid $3.26 an hour), Andy's Angle cast a wide net and hauled in the following:
The interesting thing, however, is that the largest employer in American Samoa is Del Monte Foods' StarKist Tuna, home to over 75% of the island's workforce. Del Monte Foods, as it turns out, is headquartered in the District of the new Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Smelling a whiff of impropriety, House Republicans have thrown up some serious questions about the exemption and who inserted it into the bill.
NewsBusters points out that few in the Mainstream Media will cover this story given their breathless love for the new Speaker. FoxNews has picked up the story, questioning the potential influence Del Monte may have as a major player in the Speaker's District. Doing my own research, however, I've discovered that the impropriety is much deeper. Speaker Pelosi's husband Paul, it turns out, owns something to the order of $17 million in Del Monte stock!
(Editor's Note -- The previous sentence is noted in Wikipedia and has not otherwise been verified.
Commenter #3 at the related BizzyBlog post, claiming to be Tom Elliott of FunkyPundit, says he was told that no one holds more than $14 mil worth of DLM stock [except Heinz]. BizzyBlog Commenter #4 Kevin says that this item was entered into Wiki at 3:04 PM Jan. 12 [GMT, it is believed]; that link is here. The link claiming $17 mil in Del Monte ownership by Paul Pelosi goes to Nancy Pelosi's Wiki page. The Del Monte ownership interest is not claimed at that page. Thus, there is reason to believe that the claim of such ownership interest on the part of Paul Pelosi is suspect.)
I wonder if he stands to benefit should StarKist avoid an additional $2 hike in hourly wages... (actually, for the Samoans, it would be a $3.99 hike from $3.26 to $7.25 -- Ed.)
Over at The Corner, Kathryn Jean Lopez reported GOP Reps. Eric Cantor and Patrick McHenry have found there's a loophole in the new minimum-wage increase: no hike for American Samoa. Why? Star-Kist Tuna is a major employer there, with its headquarters in Speaker Nancy Pelosi's district.
Will the media notice? FNC did. But so far, the rest of the political media have treated the minimum-wage as about as controversial as a post-office naming bill. But in 2005, we reported the media's Tom DeLay bashers had a fit about DeLay's Abramoff-lobbied coziness with low wages on the Northern Mariana Islands in the Pacific. PBS's Bill Moyers show "Now" (handed off to the suitably smarmy David Brancaccio) devoted a show to how DeLay was supporting "virtual slavery" in the Pacific. The slavery charge came not only from Brancaccio, but from liberal Rep. George Miller -- Pelosi's across-the-bay neighbor. Where's the media asking: what about the children of Samoa? Will PBS and George Miller throw a fit about the "virtual slavery" left untouched in Tuna Land?
Chances are if you hate what you make at your job, you either ask the boss for a raise or seek a job that pays more. Chances are you don't wait 10 years for your pay to increase. But ABC's Charles Gibson apparently thinks millions of Americans are mired in a decade-long drought of minimum wage pay.
"After years of waiting, millions of Americans have reason tonight to plan on a pay raise. The House overwhelmingly voted late today to raise the minimum wage in stages from $5.15 an hour to $7.25," Gibson informed viewers as he introduced a story by reporter Dean Reynolds on the January 10 program.
Only thing is, it's just not true. I explain why here.
It also appears CNN's Miles O'Brien got his econ degree from the Charlie Gibson Correspondence School of Economics.
In an article Wednesday about organized labor's legislative goals for the 110th Congress, USA Today's Sue Kirchoff mischaracterizes a law that would move the union organizing process away from secret-ballot elections, and makes it sound like an improvement in representative government (bold is mine):
The AFL-CIO ..... is looking ahead to a second bill that sponsors call the "Employee Free Choice Act."
The bill would make it easier for unions to gain representation through an open process in which workers sign cards, in addition to secret ballot elections. Currently, the National Labor Relations Board oversees a secret ballot after a union or employer meets requirements to seek one. An employer can also recognize a union if a majority of workers sign authorizing cards.
Geraldo Rivera had it in for both businesses big and small as he attacked them and conservatives over minimum wage and compensation packages on last night's Geraldo At Large. During his final commentary, on the Fox News syndicated program, Rivera found conservatives' resistance to a minimum wage increase, "deeply troubling," and claimed it exposed "a cancer at the very heart of capitalism," compared to the "obscene fortunes" made by "mediocre business executives." Rivera then proclaimed his "belief in free enterprise," but invited on Rep. Barney Frank to spew this socialistic propaganda: "We are talking about a very real inequity in our society where a very small number of people are monopolizing almost all the increased wealth and most people are getting none of it." To expose inflated compensation packages Rivera singled out former Home Depot exec Robert L. Nardelli, calling him a "loser," but perhaps Rivera shouldn't be so quick to attack the overpaid given that his own employer, Fox News, just axed his show.
And my colleague Julia Seymour has the proof right here.
As the new majority of Democrats takes over the House of Representatives January 4, they have big plans – plans the media have supported.
Journalists have called arguments against a minimum wage hike “a lot of bull” and even came out in blatant endorsement of socialized medicine.
"The only answer is going to be, eventually, some kind of national, universal coverage. A guaranteed system that everybody regardless of income will have at least basic health care," said ABC medical correspondent Dr. Timothy Johnson on the Oct. 16, 2006, "Good Morning America."
Liberal activists and Democratic spokesmen are quick to argue that the minimum wage is too low and unfair. But on the January 2 “American Morning,” that argument came from a CNN business reporter.
While CNN’s Ali Velshi did note that “a lot of small businesses oppose” the new Democratic majority’s proposed wage hike, he insisted “the bottom line is it’s simply not fair that there has been a federal minimum wage of $5.15 an hour” or “about $900 a week.”
His math was way off – $5.15 an hour comes to $206 per week. Velshi probably meant that a minimum wage earner would pull down close to $900 a month, given a 40-hour work week. Pay at $900 a week translates to $46,800 a year, a few hundred dollars more than the U.S. median income in 2005. Of course if pay “fairness” could be legislated by Congress as Velshi advocated, that would be a minor detail.
A December 26 AP story tried to make people feel bad for Ford auto workers stuck between staying with the struggling company and possibly losing their jobs in the future, or choosing up to a six-figure buyout. Workers like this man:
Scott Swiercz, chose to stay at a job he knows he could lose rather than take any of eight buyout options, one of which is a $100,000 lump sum. Swiercz said it feels “100 percent” like a gamble, wrote AP business writer Ellen Simon.
This isn’t exactly Vegas. Most Americans would love to have a chance to get twice the median household income for working at a place for about 11 years.
Despite all the proof, Paul Krugman and most of Old Media will probably never let go of the "stagnant wages" meme to describe the Bush 43 prosperity. Their failure to acknowledge the obvious becomes clearer with nearly each passing day.
Tuesday's OpinionJournal.com feature editorial (may require free e-mail registration) doesn't merely show that the favorite meme of Krugman and his economic brothers and sisters is a folk tale. It also reveals a completely unreported item about this prosperity compared to the 1990s that even yours truly was not prepared for -- a truth (in the third excerpted paragraph) that needs to be trotted out on a weekly basis for about the next year -- or ten (bolds are mine):
A rather extraordinary conclusion was reached by members of the panel on Sunday’s “The Chris Matthews Show” – the economy is strong. What makes this so earth shattering? Well, because the host prior to the elections – which, by the way, were only about seven weeks ago – regularly talked about how badly the economy was doing, and didn’t challenge those espousing similarly bearish viewpoints.
Yet, now that the elections are over, it’s okay for Democrat pols like Matthews to admit that which was clearly verboten prior to November 7. And, in this instance, not only did the host speak bullishly for a change, so did Dan Rather and Norah O’Donnell.
Matthews opened the show asking his guests what the best news for President Bush was in 2006. Rather amazingly answered: “The Dow and the economy. I’m not saying it will last, but the longer it lasts, the better it is for him, and I think it was the highlight of the year.”
The Dow and the economy were the highlight of the year? Really? Wouldn’t it have been nice if you folks recognized this before Election Day? Yet, Rather wasn’t the only one having such an astounding epiphany, as Norah O’Donnell agreed: