Injustice at NPR

With reference to NPR’s David Welna (see the previous post), to paraphrase a quote attributed to Mark Twain:

It’s better to remain silent and be thought to be economically challenged, than to speak and remove all doubt.

(The original quote has “a fool” in place of economically challenged, but that’s too harsh.)

That’s what happens when straight news reporters wander into the realm of political & economic commentary. They confirm our suspicions that they’re as leftist (which is synonymous with economic illiteracy) as they come.

And that brings up another quote by Thomas Jefferson:

To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.

It truly is unjust to compel right-leaning taxpayers to furnish funds for the propagation of the unbalanced left-leaning ideas featured on NPR. Straight news reporting is deceptively subjective. The reporter and/or editor has wide discretion over the topics he or she chooses to feature, and whom he or she chooses to interview on those topics. I’m confident that an analysis would show that NPR overwhelmingly chooses left-leaning topics, left-leaning interviewees, and quotes from left-leaning people.

If NPR were funded from purely private sources, then that would be totally fine. But because it receives funds from taxpayers, and therefore from coerced funds from people who lean right, the decision-makers at NPR and PBS should feel morally compelled to hire half left-leaning and half right-leaning reporters and editors. If moral suasion doesn’t work – and it won’t because if it did they’d already be doing it – then there should be a regulation compelling them to do so (yes, some regulations are good!). Either that, or forgo the taxpayer funds.

Not to take either of those actions is sinful and tyrannical.

 

 

NPR’s Welna: Spend with Abandon … Until We’re Like Greece?

At least two things stuck out at me while listening to a portion of the Diane Rehm radio show yesterday as I drove home from a football game: the lack of economic literacy of a lot of people in America, the fact that some of those same people are reporters for taxpayer-funded National Public Radio.

(And, it’s a safe assumption that these people are good proxies for discerning the thought processes for many if not most people in the Obama administration – which explains our 9 percent unemployment and pathetic economic growth – only 1 percent currently, which is lower than our population growth, which means our per capita standard of living is declining, at least for now. Yesterday morning it was reported that no net new jobs were created for the latest quarter.)

One guest on the show in particular stands out. He’s a voice commonly heard on NPR, named David Welna. He doesn’t think that we have a deficit problem because, based on what I discern from his comments, we’re not yet facing a debt crisis like Greece. Welna seems to think that you can keep borrowing money with abandon. It’s only when the day comes when you’re so manifestly profligate that no one wants to lend to you anymore (or only lend to you at high interest rates), like what Greece is going through now, that you should think about reining in your spending.

David Welna: there (is) no deficit crisis because borrowing (is) very easy. Interest rates are extremely low. I’ve been in countries where there definitely was a debt crisis, and they couldn’t borrow any money….But that is not the case in the United States right now. …We haven’t had a recovery that’s adequate enough and that requires further government stimulus.

Diane Rehm: So you’re saying that Republicans succeeded in making the case for an artificial debt crisis?

Welna: They really set the narrative that we are broke when, in fact, right now, this is the best time the government has actually had to borrow money …

Actually the goal is to avoid a situation like what Greece is going through now, for obvious reasons (obvious to everyone except for people like Welna). We’re headed that way with current levels of spending, even without the additional trillions of dollars in additional money that Welna wants to borrow.

The federal government used to regularly borrow about 15 percent of what it spends. Now under Obama, it’s regularly borrowing about 40 percent of what it spends. Three trillion in additional debt in Obama’s first two years as president (compared with three trillion in eight years under Bush II, which was bad enough as it was). Welna, and probably Rehm, think all this is an “artificial” crisis – all a sham, and that there’s actually nothing to worry about because we’re not like Greece yet. If they had their way, we’d be borrowing 50 or 60 percent of what we spend.

While listening to the radio show, I was thinking that what if they were talking about, say, some complicated surgical procedure, even though they had no training in medicine whatsoever. They’d be laughing stocks. Well it’s the same thing – only it’s the American economy they were talking about with no training in economics whatsoever. Or, if they ever did have any training, they deserved an F.

 

NPR Should At Least Pretend To Be Impartial

You know when you and another person or persons generally agree on things and you want to test your arguments by playing devil’s advocate – i.e. pose a question that you think your opponents would ask? Stating you’re asking a devil’s advocate question almost always implies that you and the other person are in agreement.

That’s the question a National Public Radio reporter asked a New Yorker reporter. The latter, one James Surowiecki, argued that the debt ceiling should be scrapped. The NPR reporter, Mary Louise Kelly, said, “Let me play devil’s advocate….many would argue that having a sort of ceiling in place fosters accountability.”

Mary Louise, you work for a taxpayer-subsidized radio corporation that is supposed to be for all Americans, not just left-leaning ones who are sympathetic to scrapping the debt ceiling. Your taxpayer subsidies don’t just come from lefties but righties as well. You can at least try to convey the appearance that you’re speaking on behalf of Americans of all political stripes. You should have dropped the “Let me play devil’s advocate.” That implies that you’re on Surowiecki’s side in the matter and that you don’t want him to think that you aren’t.

No, a hard-nosed reporter should in no way be worried about putting the  person he or she is interviewing in a tight spot provided the question is a legitimate one. And asking about the accountability issue is very legitimate.

Meanwhile, Surowiecki at first dodged the question. So Kelly asked it again. The only thing Kelly could muster up was that because Congress has raised the debt ceiling so many times in the past without a fight, it shows that the debt ceiling is a weak way to foster accountability.

Hey James – it appears that that’s changing. Congress is now starting to take the debt ceiling issue seriously as a way to foster accountability. In fact what’s happening now in Congress – a deal to raise the ceiling in exchange for spending controls – is unprecedented as far as I know.

So finally, the debt ceiling is fostering accountability! That kind of destroys Surowiecki’s argument that the debt ceiling is unnecessary because it has never worked in fostering accountability in the past. Well now, it is! And hopefully this will start a good precedent for the future.

One other note. Surowiecki said we’re one of the only developed countries that have a debt ceiling. “And, you know, most other countries, developed countries, seem to do reasonably well in terms of keeping their books in order without one.”

Yeah. Like Greece.