URLs du Jour

2019-01-25

[Amazon Link]

  • The WaPo fact checker, Glenn Kessler, awards three Pinocchios to: Ocasio-Cortez’s misfired facts on living wage and minimum wage. At issue is AOC's claim in an interview with Ta-Nehisi Coates:

    “I think it’s wrong that a vast majority of the country doesn’t make a living wage, I think it’s wrong that you can work 100 hours and not feed your kids. I think it’s wrong that corporations like Walmart and Amazon can get paid by the government, essentially experience a wealth transfer from the public, for paying people less than a minimum wage.”

    I drop off at the first clause. Most English-speakers would conclude that a country where a "vast majority" aren't getting a "living wage" would very soon have a lot of dead people on its hands.

    But "living wage" is a term of art in Progressiveville, so Kessler runs with that. And (guess what) it's still untrue.

    The living wage is not really a measure of income but of living costs, before taxes, such as food, child care, housing, transportation and other basic necessities; it does not include meals in restaurants, entertainment or vacations. It is often misreported as an income figure, but it cannot be easily compared to income such as a minimum wage — even though it is.

    There are several versions of the Living Wage calculator, which all focus on the costs in a particular locality. There are wide variations, and so a nationwide average does not really capture that.

    The MIT Living Wage calculator, run by Amy Glasmeier, a professor of economic geography and regional planning, says the living wage in the United States was $16.07 per hour in 2017, before taxes, for a family of four (two working adults, two children). That means both adults together would need to make at least $32.14 before taxes to cover basic necessities.

    So Kessler really tried to take AOC's claim seriously, but still couldn't get it anywhere close to resembling reality.


  • But AOC didn't take kindly to Kessler's nitpicking about "facts": Ocasio-Cortez Attacks WaPo Fact Checker After Receiving 'Three Pinocchios'. Via her tweet:

    One problem: the quoted study (from 2005) was by Jason Furman, hardly a Republican toady: he was chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under Obama. And even though the link Kessler provided to Furman's paper was at the Mackinac Center (which bills itself as "a nonprofit institute that advances the principles of free markets and limited government", red flags to Correct Thinkers), Furman's paper wasn't funded by either Walmart or Mackinac.

    So, yes, AOC's attempted rebuttal to a fact-check was itself reality-challenged.


  • At AEI, James Pethokoukis also responds to AOC's last bit, the thing about a "wealth transfer" for Amazon and Walmart: Why America needs more billionaires.

    This is a moldy argument also used by writer Annie Lowrey in a much-cited article in The Atlantic last year titled “Jeff Bezos’ $150 billion fortune is a policy failure.” Lowrey argued that Amazon is able to succeed because the government “ameliorates the effects of poverty wages with policies like the Earned Income Tax Credit, Medicaid, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.” But this reasoning ignores the economic and business reality that if you are going to have a private sector, then private firms simply aren’t going to hire workers at a wage more than they are worth to the firm. It also ignores the fact that the Earned Income Tax Credit is a government benefit that promotes work and boosts living standards. And if Medicaid benefits corporations at the taxpayer’s expense, then it’s strange that leftists like Ocasio-Cortez don’t view Medicare-for-all — which would let employers completely off the hook for health coverage — as a massive subsidy to business.

    Note that "if you are going to have a private sector"? That's really the issue for AOC and her fellow progressives. Although I suspect they know (deep down) that the private sector is what drives growth and prosperity. They simply view it as a useful punching bag, something they can demonize for their bubbas, in order to enhance their own power and prestige.


  • OK, enough AOC for today. In an NRPlus article (sorry), Kevin D. Williamson writes on the Covington Kerfuffle: Covington Smear Job Exposes Crisis of Citizenship.

    Let me be direct about this: You people are a bunch of hysterical ninnies, and it is time for you to grow the hell up.

    You know who you are.

    The Covington fiasco has proved to be a clarifying moment. And here is what has been made clear: Much of the American media is no longer engaged in journalism. It is engaged in opposition research and in what is sometimes known among political operatives as “black p.r.”—the sinister twin of ordinary public relations. As Joy Behar, as profoundly dim and tedious a person as American public life has to offer, forthrightly confessed: The hysteria and outright dishonesty surrounding the Covington students had nothing to do with them. It has to do with narrowly partisan, selfish, deeply stupid, entirely unpatriotic, childish, foot-stamping, fingers-in-the-ears, weeping, cooties-loathing, teary-eyed, tremulous, quavering, pansified, gormless, deceitful, dishonorable, and cynical politics of the lowest kind — the politics of Us and Them.

    It's a gem, even by KDW standards, which are high.


  • At the Atlantic, Caitlin Flanagan says The Media Must Learn From the Covington Catholic Story. (But I bet they will not.) She traces the trajectory of the story, does the painstaking work of watching videos, and if you're unclear on any of it, it's worthwhile reading. Her bottom line:

    How could the elite media—The New York Times, let’s say—have protected themselves from this event, which has served to reinforce millions of Americans’ belief that traditional journalistic outlets are purveyors of “fake news”? They might have hewed to a concept that once went by the quaint term “journalistic ethics.” Among other things, journalistic ethics held that if you didn’t have the reporting to support a story, and if that story had the potential to hurt its subjects, and if those subjects were private citizens, and if they were moreover minors, you didn’t run the story. You kept reporting it; you let yourself get scooped; and you accepted that speed is not the highest value. Otherwise, you were the trash press.

    At 8:30 yesterday morning, as I was typing this essay, The New York Times emailed me. The subject line was “Ethics Reminders for Freelance Journalists.” (I have occasionally published essays and reviews in the Times). It informed me, inter alia, that the Times expected all of its journalists, both freelance and staff, “to protect the integrity and credibility of Times journalism.” This meant, in part, safeguarding the Times’ “reputation for fairness and impartiality.”

    I am prompted to issue my own ethics reminders for The New York Times. Here they are: You were partly responsible for the election of Trump because you are the most influential newspaper in the country, and you are not fair or impartial. Millions of Americans believe you hate them and that you will casually harm them. Two years ago, they fought back against you, and they won. If Trump wins again, you will once again have played a small but important role in that victory.

    Fact check: true.


Last Modified 2019-01-25 10:32 AM EDT