Wednesday, 15 June 2011

The Blinders of the (New York) Times

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Give syndicated columnist Cal Thomas credit for coming up with apt description of the New York Times. Thomas, a serious Christian, worried that he might be getting a one-sided view of the world by reading the Bible every day. So he made sure he got the opposing viewpoint by daily reading the New York Times. Or, as he put, "Every day I read the Bible and the New York Times, so I'll know what both sides are saying." 

That's clever, but not entirely true. While the Bible is reliably the word of God, the New York Times is not reliably the word of Satan. Sometimes, the Times comes down on the side of the angels, especially when Catholic priests are found to have been sinning like the devil. I recall finding in a Times editorial several years ago a phrase I had not heard since my days in the Catholic Youth Organization. Imagine finding in the Times a warning about the "near occasion of sin." That was when the big news of the day was priests involved in sexual activities with young, mostly adolescent males. When priests are not involved, the Times does not regard that activity as sin, but rather a lifestyle choice, equally valid, healthy and natural as heterosexual relationships among consenting adults. None dare call it "homosexuality" anymore. Still fewer call it sin. Some even call it marriage.

Generally, though, the Times manages to get everything so backwards that it is useful as a reverse compass. Unless you are part of the intelligentsia. In that case, if the Times says some shopworn, threadbare idea is discredited, well, that should pretty much end the discussion. If the Times scoffs at the idea that America's economy can be rejuvenated by cutting taxes and drilling for oil, well intelligent people will naturally look for other, less "simplistic" answers.

Thus, the Times in its lead editorial Wednesday scoffed all the more at former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, who in Monday's night's primetime gathering of Republican presidential hopefuls "actually said" (note that "actually"-it's another way of saying, "Can you believe someone really said this?") that he would let "the wealth really trickle down." I guess that puts Santorum in the Neanderthal class.

He has some pretty good classmates, however. Remember the people who sold us "Reaganomics"? Jack Kemp and Arthur Laffer and Reagan himself? They were derided as snake oil salesmen, selling the old discredited "trickle down" theory of economics. It led to the longest peacetime economic expansion up to that time in our nation's history. But never mind. The New York Times says it's spinach and to hell with it.

It also worked under John F. Kennedy, before the tax cuts were called "supply side" or the economic theory was called "trickle down." Kennedy said, "A rising tide lifts all boats." The New York Times should have listened to the P.T. skipper. Perhaps then, it did. It may well be that the vaunted Times has simply forgotten more economics than the rest of us will ever learn. Forgetting appears to be an important skill at America's "newspaper of record."

One could cite other instances in American history when tax cutting led to economic recovery and tax increases killed it. But you need not be an historian or an economist or a Democrat or a Republican. "Trickle down economics" is common sense. Can anyone of any party or persuasion name a single instance of a company increasing its wealth, its sales, its production and its customer base without hiring more people and giving raises? Can you think of a company that has done any of that without buying more materials, investing in more machinery, and perhaps even increasing its advertising in newspapers, possibly even in the anti-wealth accumulation, anti-enterprise New York Times? Is that not wealth "trickling down"?

But the Times appears not interested in creating wealth. The Times seems to think we have enough of it, though perhaps not enough of it has been accumulated yet at the New York Times editorial offices on Eighth Avenue. The same editorial takes issue with former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney for saying President Obama made the recession "worse and longer." He did not say, the Times informs the reader, that "the recession ended in June, 2009."

Oh, my! Break out the champagne. Bring on Barbra Streisand to sing, "Happy Days Are Here Again." Roll out the barrel, too. The President called "the One" ended the recession in little more than his first Hundred Days. My, what Rooseveltian splendor! Franklin Delano Roosevelt, recall, took office on March 4, 1933. Later someone in a bureau that keeps statistics reported that the economy bottomed out and began to recover sometime in 1932, when Mr. Hoover was still President. There quickly followed an executive order from the Great Man himself: "Change the dates."

Some people only began to be out of work in June, 2009. For them, "Happy Days" are still a distant dream. But don't worry. They probably are not reading the editorials of the New York Times. Perhaps they can still find some comfort from reading the Bible.

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