Quote of the Day 7/20/11

“No power but Congress can declare war, but what is the value of this constitutional provision, if the President of his own authority may make such military movements as must bring on war?” – Daniel Webster (1782-1852), US Senator 1846

MediaMatters Takes another Shot at Stirring Up Anti-Truth Outrage By Selwyn Duke

It really is a shame when a media watchdog has a twisted nose that mistakes putrescence for floral aroma – and vice versa. In a piece published Monday, self-proclaimed media watcher MediaMatters (MM) criticizes Fox News for running the supposedly “misleading headline”: “Cambridge, MA set to Pay Gay Employees More Than Straight.” MediaMatters takes issue with Fox because the headline doesn’t explain that the reason for the measure is to compensate homosexuals for a tax that married couples don’t have to pay.

Of course, a headline is a hook, designed to draw readers in, not an explanation. But Fox offered no such explanation – at least that’s what MM leads its readers to believe. The attack dog writes that Fox “excerpted an article from The Daily Mail, which has a similarly misleading headline. However, the Daily Mail article clearly explains that the city is offering gay employees a stipend to offset a federal tax that does not apply to straight employees.” The Daily Mail “clearly explains” this, so, obviously, Fox doesn’t.

Notice that MM is smart enough to not actually lie, instead relying on implication. It juxtaposes two media outlets, Fox and The Daily Mail, without mentioning that they offered the same exact presentation (headline serving as introduction followed by elaboration). Then, by mentioning that the Mail has “a similarly misleading headline” while crediting the paper for “clearly” explaining the policy, it leads the reader to think that Fox does not. It’s the Big Lie technique.

In contrast, Fox’s headline is wholly accurate. In journalism, there is that old guide stating that you should explain the who, what, where, when, why and how of a story. Well, Cambridge will be paying its homosexual employees more, and the higher pay scale is the “what.” And whether or not the “why” justifies the “what” is secondary.

And it works. Many readers will be so appalled at Fox’s supposed deception that they’ll never bother to click through to the news outlet’s article and learn that it is their trusted (mainstream) media lap dog, with its title “Fox Nation Takes Another [sic] Shot At Stirring Up Anti-Gay Outrage,” that is peddling propaganda.

Except that it does.

Fox’s very first sentence is, “A Massachusetts city will start paying its gay employees a stipend so it can offset an unequal federal tax.” In fact, Fox devotes five of the six sentences in its piece to this explanation.

Yet leftists often confuse – and want to confuse others about – the “what” when it makes them uncomfortable or is contrary to their agenda. For example, I once was talking to a very liberal woman (a mistake, I know) and the topic of discussion brought us to a point at which it was necessary for me to cite the higher crime rate in minority neighborhoods. As soon as I did this, the woman shifted her lips into high gear and peppered me with reasons for it; it was “social causes” this and “environment” that. And there might even have been some truth to her explanation, but it was nevertheless off-topic. The woman was obviously so uncomfortable with the truth in question that she instinctively wanted to run over the “what” with the “why.” But the “why” should never obscure the “what.” And if you won’t meet the “what” face-to-face, there’s no reason to believe you can reliably diagnose it.

As for leftist “watchdogs” such as MM, there’s a good reason why they lie:

Because the right generally doesn’t.

While there are exceptions, the right is more likely to seek Truth and be accurate in its reportage and commentary. Thus, the left can’t demonize the right without using deception.

And the left does this without batting an eye. As I often point out, leftists are relativists, meaning that they don’t believe in Absolute Truth. Because of this, the Truth means nothing to them, and they lie like they breathe. And the more relativism has imbued them on a visceral level, the more they’ll be able to lie without compunction, without reservation, without guilt.

This mindset is hard for many people to grasp. After all, the average person isn’t a moral philosopher; he may not even be able to define moral relativism. But the Truth likely occupies a special place in his mind. Oh, he may sometimes lie, but he nevertheless senses that Truth possesses special value.

To a hard-core relativistic leftist, there is no Truth, only “truths.” And a person’s “truth” is just his own perspective. It thus possesses no special status. This failure to recognize transcendent Truth – that great author of morality – causes the leftist to become his own source of right and wrong. His desires then take on the character of Truth in his own mind, and, consequently, whatever contradicts them takes on the character of a lie. This is what enables a leftist to condemn those who speak the Truth as liars. They have contradicted the only god the leftist knows – himself.

Contact Selwyn Duke

Keynes vs. Reality-2 by Russ Roberts

In this earlier post, I noted this 1943 Paul Samuelson prediction:

    When this war comes to an end, more than one out of every two workers will depend directly or indirectly upon military orders. We shall have some 10 million service men to throw on the labor market. We shall have to face a difficult reconversion period during which current goods cannot be produced and layoffs may be great. Nor will the technical necessity for reconversion necessarily generate much investment outlay in the critical period under discussion whatever its later potentialities. The final conclusion to be drawn from our experience at the end of the last war is inescapable–were the war to end suddenly within the next 6 months, were we again planning to wind up our war effort in the greatest haste, to demobilize our armed forces, to liquidate price controls, to shift from astronomical deficits to even the large deficits of the thirties–then there would be ushered in the greatest period of unemployment and industrial dislocation which any economy has ever faced.

    From Paul Samuelson, “Full Employment after the War,” in S.E. Harris, ed., Postwar Economic Problems, 1943.

Samuelson was wrong. When the war ended, there was massive demobilization of the armed forces and a large reduction in government spending. Yet the economy thrived, unemployment remained very low and there was a huge expansion of private sector employment.

Read more from Cafe Hayek

Paul Ryan’s Big Economy Vs. President’s Big Gov’t By ERNEST S. CHRISTIAN

Republicans and independents who are serious about getting America out of debt and people back to work will do their best to convince Paul Ryan to run for president — and defeat Barack Obama.

Ryan is the genuine article, a 21st century leader with the moral strength and intellect of a true American statesman in the making. He is already the shadow president. It is he, not Barack Obama, who is providing intelligent policy initiatives and solutions for America.

He and other 21st century Republicans in the House are moving America away from the old-fashioned, big-spending government model that has so thoroughly failed — and forward toward a new model based on honest financial stewardship in Washington and a reinvigorated private-enterprise system.

Ryan and Obama are polar opposites; so are their policies. Ryan will reform and preserve Medicare, instead of imposing ObamaCare and rationing. Ryan will cut spending, instead of raising taxes. He will let the economy grow and create jobs, instead of making government bigger and the economy smaller.

The historic 2012 election will be about Obama’s big-spending big government versus Ryan’s job-creating big economy. Obama the politician will insult the voters’ intelligence by telling them his historically high levels of deficit spending are “stimulating” the economy and creating jobs.

Ryan the statesman will respectfully tell the voters the truth — that the presently high levels of government debt and spending are poisoning the economy and, if left unchecked, will ultimately destroy both it and the government.

Read more from IBD Editorials

Persuading Politicians to Do Your Price Fixing By Michael R. Shannon

Aaron Duncan probably won’t be the guest of honor at the Virginia Bail Agents Assn. Christmas party. In fact, he might not get an invitation. That’s because Duncan — a stranger to political spin — told the truth regarding a new law regulating bail bondsmen.

According to Duncan’s interview in The News & Messenger, here’s how bail bonds worked before the Commonwealth took an interest, … bondsmen charged competitive rates before the July 1 regulation was adopted. This made it difficult for clients to know what to pay beforehand since each bondsman had his own rate, according to Duncan.

Due to the aggressive pricing, it was also difficult, at times, for bondsmen to secure a customer and ensure that the bond agreement would be fully completed, Duncan said. He said that it was not uncommon to lose a customer at the last minute after another bondsman offered a lower premium.

“All bondsmen were getting into a bidding war at one point [over customers],” Duncan said.

Customers can’t predict the final bill? Clearly, this is a situation crying out for government intervention. Wait, on second thought this sounds a lot like buying a car, buying Farmer’s Market tomatoes or shopping at an outlet mall.

Yet average citizens daily endure this crippling uncertainty and wade through pricing variables in route to underwear ownership.

Duncan’s explanation sounds like a textbook description of how a free market works: many businesses competing to offer the best deal to the customer.

Bondsmen, understandably, were less enthusiastic. Sure customers liked competition because it saved them money, but competition shrinks profits. On the other hand, meeting secretly to solve the problem by conspiring to have everyone charge the same bond fees would expose conspirators to charges of price fixing.

So bondsmen solved the problem by persuading the Virginia General Assembly to fix prices for them!

The new law requires bail bondsmen to charge a minimum 10 percent of the bond, effectively ending price competition. Bondsmen now have a guaranteed profit and they can blame the Commonwealth if anyone complains.

For those who have not enjoyed the tender mercies of the criminal justice system, the new law means if the judge sets a bond of $10,000 you will owe the bail bondsman at least $1,000, regardless of whether or not you are found guilty. Try to negotiate a lower price and you’ll be asking the bondsman to break the law.

Or as the priceless Duncan put it, “The new law makes it an even playing field for both customers and bail bondsmen. It makes it less confusing.” Proving once again that anytime government makes a product or service “less confusing” it’s going to cost you more.

And how did the legislature arrive at a 10 percent minimum? Personal experience? No, that can’t be because Democrat Jim Moran serves in Congress, not the General Assembly.

And where’s the overriding public interest that justifies this gross intrusion into a functioning marketplace with government–approved price fixing?

I realize I’m getting wound up here but this boggles the mind. A Republican–controlled House votes unanimously to pass this travesty. It goes to the Senate — which under Democrat leadership is capable of anything — and passes. Then the governor, allegedly another conservative, signs off on the scam!

The criminal element is not a community that generates much sympathy, but many times it’s the family that totes the note on the bond. You’d think Democrats who were up in arms over “payday lenders” and want to issue voter registration cards to ex–cons as they exit the Big House would not want to inflict higher costs on part of their base. But you would be wrong. A Democrat introduced the bill.

You can’t even blame passage on campaign contributions. A VPAP.org search shows the entire bail bond industry contributed zero during the last election cycle, which obviously won’t buy a bowl of pottage, much less encourage anyone to sell out for it.

There is no rational explanation. Passage appears to be an outbreak of free market bi–ignorance.

But since the precedent is now established, I could use some government confusion reduction in my industry. Right now any yahoo with a cell phone and a laptop can claim to be a political media consultant. What’s more, they work cheap.

Many of them discount the standard media commission. It’s time the General Assembly reforms political consulting and makes the 15 percent media commission fixed and immutable, like they did for the bail bondsmen’s markup.

That will take the uncertainly out of pricing for politicians, plus they won’t have to worry about their opponent getting a better deal from some sleazy, discount, competitive media consultant.

Of course this will never happen, because then politicians would be paying the price and not the public.