Sep
07
2009

WaPo Alarmed: Japan Health Insurance Actually Insures

A September 7 Washington Post report on Japanese healthcare claims that "more than one-third of the workers' premiums are used to transfer wealth from the young, healthy and rich to the old, unhealthy and poor." Which Dean Baker (Beat the Press, 9/7/09) understatedly calls "a striking statement": Fire insurance transfers wealth from people who don't have house fires to people who do. Car insurance transfers money from people who don't have car accidents to people who do. This is the basic concept of insurance. It protects people from bad events, transferring money from people who don't have bad events to […]

Aug
24
2009

WaPo Pundit: Mass Transit Good for Others, Not U.S.

"Robert Samuelson Doesn't Like Trains" is what Dean Baker (Beat the Press, 8/24/09) takes to be "the unifying theme from his column today, since his arguments against high-speed rail do not make a lot of sense." In his August 24 broadside against what he dubs Barack Obama's "Rail Boondoggle," Samuelson trots out the tired argument against "almost $35 billion in subsidies into Amtrak" that "the federal government has poured" in the last four decades–with the usual corporate pundit omissions, like the fact that, as long ago as 1994 it was determined that "hidden subsidies for drivers amount to well over […]

Aug
10
2009

At WaPo, 'Others Tell Readers What "Populists" Think'

Economist Dean Baker (Beat the Press, 8/9/09) sees the Washington Post as simply "keeping with its strict editorial policy of only letting others tell readers what 'populists' think," when publishing its August 9 "front-page article on setting executive compensation at banks receiving bailout money"–one which "never presented the views of an actual populist." Instead, Baker writes "readers got to see the comment of Robert Profusek, a lawyer at Jones Day who is identified as having advised major banks on compensation matters," and Linda Rappaport, "head of the executive compensation practice at the firm Shearman & Sterling"–both of whom unsurprisingly argue […]

Aug
05
2009

WaPo Argues: Censor Blog for Sending Us Readers

Quipping that "usually newspapers are big defenders of free speech, but not the Washington Post," economic reporting critic Dean Baker (Beat the Press, 8/2/09) takes down the paper's recent piece giving over "nearly 2,000 words to complain that a website had ripped off" one reporter's story. Careful to say that "the problem was not that the website had plagiarized the piece"–indeed, the "story was credited and even linked to by the website, which was a major source of readers for the original article"–Baker tells us that the Post "is upset that the website may have made money off his work, […]

Jul
23
2009

NYT's David Brooks Scares Up More False Figures

Dean Baker (Beat the Press, 7/21/09) has synopsized the latest fiasco of a David Brooks column under the headline "David Brooks Wanted Tax Increases to Pay for Stimulus"–since, Baker writes, "that is presumably the implication of his complaint that the Democrats paid for the stimulus package 'with borrowed money.'" Predictably, "this is not the only peculiar item in his column. He also claims that only 11 percent of the stimulus will be spent in the first seven months of the program." Even though, as economist Baker explains, the "Congressional Budget Office puts the figure at 20 percent, which doesn't seem […]

Jul
14
2009

Ben Stein and NYT 'Get Really Seriously Wrong'

Stating quite succinctly how "there is an ongoing issue about whether global warming deniers should be treated seriously by the media, given that they have about as much scientific support for their position as the flat-Earth crew," economist Dean Baker (Beat the Press, 7/11/09) notes how the July 11 "New York Times goes them one better in finding a global warming ignorer": Apparently, Ben Stein has never heard about global warming. How else can someone interpret this paragraph: I don't believe we need to do something radical about energy, but even assuming that we do, why do it right now? […]

Jul
09
2009

When Corporate Media Report on Corporate Medicine

Writing at his regular Beat the Press blog (7/8/09), economist Dean Baker says that the New York Times' David Leonhardt "rightly complains that President Obama's healthcare plan does nothing to change the incentives for doctors to prescribe expensive forms of care, even when there is no evidence that this care will lead to better outcomes." But "Leonhardt fails to take the extra step and ask why this care is expensive": In most cases, the care is more expensive because it involves expensive medical equipment and drugs, with a healthy dash of high doctors' fees as well. The reason that medical […]

Jun
29
2009

Climate Change Secondary to 'Free' Trade at NYT

Tying the urgent present-day topic of economic reporting in with the most pressing global emergency of climate change, Dean Baker has posted at his Beat the Press blog (6/29/09) on "What Does 'Free Trade' Have to Do With Taxing Greenhouse Gas Emissions?": That is the question that the New York Times should have been asking in an article that reported President Obama's opposition to taxing imported items from countries that have not taken steps to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The point of his cap-and-trade program is to make items that require large amounts of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions more expensive, […]

Jun
24
2009

'Ardently Protectionist' WaPo Ignores Entire World

Economist Dean Baker (Beat the Press, 6/20/09) has requested you try to "imagine a front-page Washington Post article that talked about how the United States had a shortage of small cars." He reasonable assumes such a piece would address "the limited capacity of the various small-car assembly plants" and "discuss the amount of lead time needed to build new plants. It would also talk about the need to raise small-car prices because it is so much more profitable to build big cars": Imagine that the article never once mentioned the possibility of importing small cars. That's the front-page Washington Post […]

Jun
17
2009

WaPo's Front-Page News Deficit

Dean Baker (Beat the Press, 6/14/09) has caught "Fox on 15th (a.k.a. 'The Washington Post')" once again "departing from normal news practice" with "another editorial complaining about President Obama's deficits on the front page." The piece's subhead–"Concern Mounts in White House as 2010 Elections Loom"–prompts some hard questions from Baker: "Who is concerned? The story doesn't tell us. Who says that they are concerned? The story doesn't tell us." His conclusion–"In short, it's not clear that there is any news here": But the Washington Post wants to highlight the budget deficit, so it won't let such details stand in the […]

Jun
01
2009

D.C.'s 'Fox on 15th Street' Still Hates Unions

Spotting a May 31 Washington Post column "that blamed the United Auto Workers for the bankruptcy of Chrysler and GM," Dean Baker declares (Beat the Press, 5/31/09) that the D.C. daily "showed yet again why it is known as "Fox on 15th Street": So what if Toyota has managed to profitably run a plant in California represented by the UAW for more than two decades? So what if wages of unionized autoworkers in profitable car companies in Europe and Japan are the same or higher than in the United States? So what if the proximate cause of the bankruptcy was […]

May
28
2009

NYT's Bad Stats Push for European Layoffs

Blogging (Beat the Press, 5/26/09) about how the "New York Times Cooks the Books on Europe's Auto Industry," economist Dean Baker catches the paper "touting the layoffs in the U.S. auto industry as a virtue"–since "it notes that auto industry employment in Europe is remaining steady at around 2.3 million, while it is falling to close to 700,000 in the U.S.": The article and accompanying chart imply that Europe is delaying an inevitable adjustment. The case is far from clear, in spite of the NYT's best effort to make the case. The chart shows that Europe produces about 18 million […]

May
09
2009

Employee Free Choice for 'Very Slow Reporters'

Asking "Can We Get Reporters to Stop Saying That EFCA Takes Away the Secret Ballot?" Dean Baker bluntly states (Beat the Press, 5/7/09) that "it's not true." Even though this is one of the "most often repeated lines of the opponents of the Employee Free Choice Act"–"that it will deny workers the right to vote decide on a union with a secret-ballot election"–Baker explains exactly how "that is wrong, wrong and wrong": First of all, workers do not currently enjoy that right. Maybe that should be repeated a few times in case there are any very slow reporters reading: Workers […]