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Liberal Myths: Holiday Edition

December 12, 2012 By: Scott Spiegel Category: Economy

three donkeys copyHow many liberal myths can a mainstream news announcer cram into one innocent, 90-second, top-of-the-hour news briefing?  On WABC’s New York affiliate one recent December evening, I counted eight.

First the news reader (as they more appropriately call them in Japan) cheerfully announced that seasonal hiring—inventory control agents, sales clerks, deliverymen—was way up this year compared to last year; that increased holiday spending was a sign the economy was improving; and that goods being purchased in the U.S. are unfortunately being made more often overseas.

There’s three myths right there: (1) elevated part-time hiring reflects economic health; (2) consumer spending drives growth; and (3) trade imbalances are harmful.

(1) That retailers are hiring more temporary help isn’t a sign the economy is thriving; it’s a sign there are more underemployed workers taking part-time work below their skill level.  If permanent, full-time employment were stable, we wouldn’t see such a leap in short-term hiring during peak economic season.  Increased part-time hiring also reflects employers’ reluctance to take on “full-time,” 30-hour-a-week employees whom they must soon provide health insurance per Obamacare.

(2) Consumer spending does not drive economic growth; investment and production do.  There’s nothing to consume if manufacturers don’t have the capital and the optimism that investing in productive enterprise will be worth it.  And manufacturers don’t think production will be worth it if they’re saddled with confiscatory tax rates, burdensome regulations, and long-term uncertainty.  Consumer spending is the last step in the economic chain of production, not the first.

(3) Trade imbalances reflect the fact that some countries have more stable economies and reliable currencies than others, the latter of whom must depend more on tangible production efforts to demonstrate they have something of value to trade.  Trade imbalances also signal advanced nations’ capacity to provide high-tech, intangible services and sophisticated knowledge transfer that aren’t as concrete or visible as shiploads of dry goods.

After this trio of falsehoods, the announcer chirped that gas prices were lower than they’d been in months—a boon for the economy—but higher than this time last year, which could reflect rising wages.

There’s two more myths: (4) seasonal fluctuations in gas prices reflect economic growth; and (5) high gas prices reflect improving wages.

(4) Gas prices are always higher in the summer; this is a reliable, cyclical variation, and gas prices declining from June to December say nothing about comparative economic performance at the end of the year.

(5) Our current high gas prices are less likely a reflection of increasing income—which we know is at historically low levels—and more likely the result of instability in the Middle East (due to our President’s weak foreign policy), forecast scarcity of oil (due to drilling restrictions), and looming inflation (due to the Federal Reserve’s currency devaluation).

After a commercial break, the reporter referenced the recent renewal of the Kyoto Protocol and uncritically repeated the news that (6) scientists are alarmed because 2012 is on track to be one of the hottest years on record.

(6) The Met Office in Great Britain recently released a report showing global temperature the same in 2012 as it was in 1996.  The period over which no global warming has been taking place (1996-2012) is thus the same length as the period over which it was supposedly taking place (1980-1996).  But never mind: news outlets such as The New York Times inveigle us to “Bundle Up: It’s Global Warming.”

The announcer then mentioned Obama’s recent trip to Michigan to grandstand on the end-of-the-year fiscal showdown, and parroted his claim that (7) spending cuts must be balanced with tax increases to balance our budget.  The announcer concluded that (8) the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up slightly due to optimism over progress in the fiscal cliff talks.

(7) Liberals refuse to understand that revenue increases are not the same as tax increases.  One means more money going to the government; the other means a higher percentage of people’s income being taken from them.  Paradoxically, lowering marginal tax rates on high-income earners increases revenue, because then they don’t scale back their investment and hiring to avoid being gouged.  Cutting taxes increased revenue under JFK, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton.  Yet liberals forever believe Republicans want the government to run with no revenue.

(8) No one can say on any given day why the Dow is up or down, and analysts frequently project their prejudices onto such causal pronouncements.  It’s equally possible that the DJI is up because investors believe little progress is being made as the end of the year approaches, automatic budget cuts are going to kick in, and we’re finally going to start reining in spending.

At this rate, the mainstream media will soon be reporting flying reindeer sightings.

(For more liberal howlers, see Liberal Myths: Tax Day Edition!)

Previously published in modified form at Red Alert Politics


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