Let’s Look at a Fox News Article and Sweep Up the Untruths, Shall We?

First, here’s the Fox News Article: “The Recession Is A Media Myth” by John Lott Jr., an author of the book “Freakonomics.”

This is actually a good place to do a deconstruction of Fox News and figure out what’s true and what’s disinformation (quotations in bold):

  • “The average unemployment rate during President Clinton was 5.2 percent. The average under President George W. Bush is just slightly below 5.2. The current unemployment rate is 4.8 percent, almost half a percentage point lower than these averages.” Of course, the question becomes “what do you mean by unemployment?” Lots of people are off the rolls because they’ve given up, and unemployment is defined as “still looking via specific channels.” And of course, someone working part-time jobs isn’t counted as unemployed. Used to be there was a term called “Overqualified” which was used for college graduates looking for work “beneath their dignity.” You don’t hear that term anymore, do you?
  • “The average inflation rate under Clinton was 2.6 percent, under Bush it is 2.7 percent. Indeed, one has to go back to the Kennedy administration to find a lower average rate.” Yes, but what rate are you talking about. They’ve changed the inflation rate, amongst other things to throw in items made to shove the rate lower. Like changing steak to hamburger when steak seems to rise too fast in price.
    This, of course, leads to the question of whether inflation numbers during the Clinton Era were fixed to be lower than they were. I would say “yes” to that question.
  • Gas prices are indeed up 33 percent over the last year, but to get an average of 4 percent means that lots of other prices must have stayed the same or gone down.” Or the inflation numbers were set up to ignore certain items, like fuel and food prices. They now have a fiction called the “Core Inflation Rate” which is more along the lines of what I’d call the “Corporate Inflation Rate.” The fact is, food and fuel have more of an immediate impact on people than metal prices or “Car Prices.” Gas prices affect vacations, food prices affect what people buy; between the two there’s a lot less stuff being bought.
  • “Yet, as any economist knows, a recession is two consecutive quarters of negative growth, and we haven’t even had one single quarter of negative growth reported.” Well, economists are the stupidest people in the world. The people on the block can tell when their world is being messed with, and it has nothing to do with what a bunch of talking heads sucking up to the rich (Let’s not forget: the rich favor abortion. So do the authors of Freakonomics. Their research may be true and honest, but let’s not forget the bias.). It comes from watching SUVs turn into Crossovers and Cars, and watching Mopeds and bikes show up on the anti-pedestrian road-grid of Northwest Indiana, from watching art galleries close up due to lack of business, from news that our savings rate has been negative for a while (and that we’re trying to save and become positive), from people in my generation and below cutting back on their dreams. You can pile on extra income to the rich and have them able to absorb 15% inflation rates with aplomb, but when you have a year when milk prices went up 25% and your wages stayed the same YOU’RE NOT ABLE TO SPEND ALL YOUR MONEY ON DOODADS ANYMORE. And we know (of course) that no news outlet’s going to talk about that nowadays.
  • “Housing has obviously been a big drag on the economy, but many other sectors of the economy, such as exports, have been doing well, some extremely well. For example, aerospace exports increased by over 13 percent last year.” Aerospace exports? Heck, how about our nation being able to make its own clothes, its own cars, its own computers, its own food? Britain was able to export entertainment to us over the past 40-plus years; I can tell you it wasn’t the music industry that brought it out of its slump (my hint: try north sea). And trust me, Housing isn’t as bad as it’s going to be, watch what happens when many people start GIVING THEIR KEYS TO THE BANK ON THEIR OWN.
  • For example, Obama’s promises last week “to amend our bankruptcy laws so families aren’t forced to stick to the terms of a home loan” will only further drive down the value of mortgage-backed securities, making any unstable financial institutions that hold them even more likely to fail.” You mean to tell me that corporations that told their customers “Don’t worry’ we’ll refinance you when your ARM is about to ratchet up” and then disappear in time for that arm to ratchet up should be able to follow their customers to the ends of the earth and extract money from them and their children?
  • “Ben Stein has a point when he says “The actual economic conditions are not that bad. I think if we have a recession, if we have a serious recession, a great deal will lie at the media’s feet.”” Do these stupid economists believe that people are stupid heads who can only follow orders from their chosen “Betters?” Trust me, people tend to act on their own more than your average Fox fan believes.
    Also, consider that your average economist whines about people threatening to cause a recession when the recession has already affected people’s buying habits and declares that a recession has started when the recession has in fact ended and people are buying stuff again, I would trust the people over what some Economist says.

Finally, consider that economists are generally used in the service of the Status Quo. That means a bunch of Rich People and Corporations which want us to defer to their their judgments, buy their products, give up our rights when it interferes with their perogatives, and generally worship at their feet (minus the folded hands and references to “God,” the better to hide the truth). Marx is still villified because he refused to become the Rich’s tool.

Enough ranting for today.

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One thought on “Let’s Look at a Fox News Article and Sweep Up the Untruths, Shall We?

  1. sorry for the re-post, I botched the HTML trying to mark/quote your text…

    ““Yet, as any economist knows, a recession is two consecutive quarters of negative growth, and we haven’t even had one single quarter of negative growth reported.” Well, economists are the stupidest people in the world.”

    or, economists stick to objective measurable definitions*, and in this case the conditions for a recession have not been met, so it’s not a recession. it’s just not, not yet anyhow… part of the problem is that you can’t measure a quarter until it’s over, and you have to wait at least 6 months to measure two quarters, so you only know you’ve been in a recession months later. so we may be in a recession right now, and when the numbers are reported in 6 months you can say “I told you so”. but it doesn’t validate your reasoning…

    I don’t think anyone would argue that economic growth has slowed, so call it a slowdown, but don’t hijack and redefine the word ‘recession’. it seems that everyone across the political spectrum does this — the right tries to redefine Liberty to mean “Free from Fear” and therefore subject to more restrictions; Hillary tried to redefine Change to mean “same old Clinton politics”… it’s all doublespeak. yes Fox is often guilty of it; but you’re perpetuating it too.

    “The people on the block can tell when their world is being messed with,”

    if they can tell, why wouldn’t they do something about it? and who, specifically, are these ‘people on the block’ — I’d like to tap their knowledge and foresight to let me know when my world is being messed with, since I’m clearly in the dark.

    (* except when they’re messing with calculations over time, as you correctly noted they have done with inflation..)

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