Bogus Eco News: NYT’s misleading poverty coverage

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Sunday’s rosy economic story in the The New York Times was the worst kind of poisonous economic propaganda because it was virtually bereft of the historical context readers need to determine what’s really happening.
 
Instead of news you can use, it’s more along the lines of news that abuses. 

This type of inexcusable economic cheerleading has become the norm in recent years for news organizations like the Times, where elitist scribes routinely craft articles which inform the financially literate while misleading the rest of the nation. They don’t understand that their fellow Americans gauge their self worth against such stories and those who are struggling take their lives in greater numbers when they think they’re falling behind the proverbial Joneses.

Basically, what really happened in 2015 is that two measures of the labor market got a little better after many years of decline. The number of American families living in poverty shrank 1.2 percent last year and the median household income expanded 5.2 percent, according to The U.S. Census Bureau. Both data points represent rebounds from horrendous extremes.

However, anyone reading the Times article titled “Millions in U.S. Climbtimes Out of Poverty, at Long Last” who is not at home with economic statistics would think the labor market and the economy had turned some kind of economic corner. Just in time for the debate between political hooker Hillary Clinton – who The Times has endorsed – and racist political hooker Donald Trump.

No corners have been turned.

These modest upticks, sometimes referred to as “dead cat bounces” in the economics world, are perfectly normal when data reaches extremes on either end of The Bell Curve. However, they’re absolutely meaningless within the larger economic framework of predatory globalization, debt slavery, automation, increased productivity, and forever corporate profit growth now roiling the orb.

If you’re suffering financially you’re doing just fine relative to your fellow members of the shrinking middle class right now. Don’t despair. You are not alone and you’re neither a loser nor a failure. Just about everyone with a shred of personal integrity has lost a job in one fashion or another in these hard times.

Household income is actually lower now than it was in 2007, when the Great Recession officially kicked off. That means things still suck for beleaguered workers and their families. They just zig-zagged for a change in 2015 instead of going straight down.

The best analogy for the true significance of this brief uptick for the faltering middle class is the way blows seem to hurt less in a fight or car wreck just before you lose consciousness. That numbness doesn’t mean you’re no longer absorbing damage, and it doesn’t mean you turned into Superman. 

The painfatlanticul truth is that middle class balance sheets are in a desperate state right now for many families, after seven years of draining finite savings and tapping finite credit for basic survival. It’s also why we’re seeing a boatload of new studies which show working class whites literally have been killing themselves in despair.

Unintentional accidents or poisonings increased by a staggering 73.5 percent from 2000 to 2014 for whites between the ages of 45 and 54, and suicide death rates surged 57.5 percent, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This study was accurately reported by The Atlantic’s Olga Khazan in an article titled “Middle-Aged White Americans Are Dying of Despair” and by its Victor Tan Chen in an equally awesome article titled “All Hollowed Out … The lonely poverty of America’s white working class.”

A report by Princeton University researchers Angus Deaton and Anne Case found that mortality rates for less-educated, middle-aged whites surged 22 percent between 1999 and 2013. This occurred as U.S. factories were off-shored and older workers were forced out in huge numbers by companies seeking to trim employee health insurance costs. 

That means “half a million people are dead who should not be dead,” Deaton, the 2015 Nobel laureate in economics told The Washington Post

Don’t add yourself to the pile.
home4
Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Defense is telling us that 22 military veterans killed themselves every day from 1999 to 2010. That compares with a rate of just under one combat-related death per day in Iraq and Afghanistan since Oct. 7, 2001.

Why?

You don’t have to be a friggin genius to tell when you’re excess population in the eyes of the self described “Masters of the Universe” on Wall Street. Our society now routinely treats males – particularly white males – as the default buffoons and villains for films and TV commercials. This stereotypical villification is radicalizing a population that once supported the Civil Rights Movement, the Antiwar Movement, and The Sexual Revolution.

That context is important, too. Especially if you’re one of the displaced American workers struggling to find a job which will allow you to retain a shred of human dignity and personal honor. Our service members are indoctrinated with those qualities in the military, which is why they’re dismayed by the rampant backstabbing of the modern private-sector workplace.

home11If you’re a decent person struggling to make ends meet in our society’s increasingly ruthless workplaces you need to know that you’re not alone. No matter what The Fucking New York Times tells you. 

The Pew Research Center released a study in December reporting that the middle class share of the U.S. population shrank from 61 percent of the U.S. population in 1970 to just 50 percent in 2014. The poverty report the Times lauded Sunday just means a few percentage points of those pushed into poverty rejoined the middle class last year.

All of this is taking place in a U.S. labor market which has been making up for the sins of the past by providing preferential hiring for every group but white males. At the same time, the children of the wealthy continue to claim the same number of jobs off the top as they always have and the financial benefits of automation and productivity growth are going solely to their parents as the poor and middle class absorb the attendant job destruction.

home33What’s next?

Self-driving vehicles that will idle millions of truck drivers, bus drivers and cabbies while trimming labor costs for the 1 Percent. Ain’t technology that ruins lives great?

The painful truth is that we are living through the most dismal labor market of the past 50 years for working class people of all types – but especially men – and it’s only going to get worse. Because today’s employers prize docile workers they can degrade without consequences.

How much is too much?

We passed too much years and years ago.

That’s why so many struggling Americans are willing to vote for anyone but machine politicians this year.

They know something the beneficiaries of the status quo have yet to figure out. Which is that the two political machines ceased advancing the greater good decades ago. They serve only themselves now and are auctioning off America to the highest bidder.

The percentage of the U.S. population with an actual jobby-job is among the lowest recorded since women entered the workplace in large numbers in 1970s and 80s. The employment-to-population ratio (chart below left) – the most reliable measure of joblessness in the U.S. labor market – was a dismal 59.6 percent in August 2016. That compares with 62.7 percent at the start of The Great Recession. 

The ratio dates back to 1948. Its all-time high was 64.7 percent in April 2000. It’s all-time low since women entered the workplace in significant numbers in the 1970s and 80s was 58.2 in November 2010.

Meaning that we are in no way back to where we were before The Great Recession started in December 2007. Those were not the best of times by any measure, but they were a helluva lot better than today.

 ratio
The Times article barely touches on that historical context and buries it when it does.

What really happened in 2015 is that the mutlinational corporations who have been hollowing us out brought some jobs back from China because the Chinese Oligarchy stopped looking like a good investment to them. Which is also why The Fortune 500 is now pushing the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.
 
Today’s robber barons play nations off against one another in much the same way they once played the states. Once the TPP is signed our Oligarchy will shunt the U.S. jobs and factories they relocated to China to more docile low-wage Pacific Rim nations like Vietnam.

Look for TPP to be passed by our treasonous Congress regardless of whether we have a multi-millionaire or a billionaire in The White House next year. Same goes for the Keystone Pipeline.

Why?home26

Because the faltering middle class counts for nothing in this nation anymore. Our society is no longer a functioning democracy, as former U.S. President Jimmy Carter has pointed out. Its morphed into a corporate profit growth machine gone mad.

 
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the real median household income rose 5.2 percent to a $56,516 in 2015. That compares with a median net worth of $1.01 million for members of the 113th Congress, which produced some of the lowest approval ratings in U.S. history.
 
It was the first annual increase in median household income for family households since 2007, when The Great Recession began.
 
However, “real median household income in 2015 was still 1.6 percent lower than in 2007, and 2.4 percent lower than the median household income peak that occurred in 1999” per Census.

The Tihomemes neglected to mention that the true cost of living is much higher in many ways since 1999 than most people realize. This is due to surging healthcare costs and the practice of substitution embraced by the government agencies which compile our economic data.

That means when you switch from having T-Bone steak once a month to hamburger it’s just another kind of beef as far as the well paid government data folks are concerned who track inflation. Same thing happens when you switch from name brand consumer goods like Pepperidge Farms to store brands like Wal-Mart’s “Great Value” label.

It also means that one of the reasons workers in other nations compare so favorably with our own is because their employers don’t have to pay for their healthcare insurance. They have national health care systems. The added cost of health insurance here makes older workers more expensive and less competitive in the labor market.

For older workers who need a job, relocation overseas may now be the most efficient way to secure one.

 
Best part of the Times’ Sunday story for me was the paltry salary home31of its posterchild. The fast-food restaurant manager in Gaithersburg, Md. – one of the most expensive places to live in America – makes just $40,000 a year.

When I worked at McDonalds in my youth in 1982 my manager in the Bronx made $55,000. Those like him routinely pulled down $50,000 or more.
 
In legitimate dollars.
 
Not today’s diminished dollar, which has been hollowed out by inflation to such a pronounced degree that its buying power is equivalent to just 40 cents of the 1982 dollar. By that measure the Times poster child for good times is pulling down the equivalent of $16,000 in 1982, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator.

What’home34s it all mean?

It means the economic journalism team at the Times had to be friggin high when they wrote this piece of garbage. They’re members of the same crack news organization which slow-played their coverage of Occupy Wall Street in 2011, dismissing the movement for a more equitable distribution of societal burdens and benefits as a social grievance carnival. It was an epic example of bad news judgment, which cost the Gray Lady a shot at another Pulitzer Prize in their backyard.

The Times is by no means alone in their penchant for economic propaganda. This kind of reflexive market cheerleading has become commonplace in our nation’s neutered newsrooms, which lost a third of their people from 2000 to 2012. 

Bloomberg News has the best economic journalism team on the planet. but still managed to crank out its own example of eco-propganda last week with a fatally flawed story about the drop in new claims for unemployment benefits. The gutless Bloomberg reporter and her gutless editor told readers the report indicated the labor market was healthy.

What bullshit. home2

The truth is just the opposite. Fewer people are filing claims for unemployment benefits because there are fewer people with jobs to lose. Executives at publicly traded companies have been firing workers to manufacture the artificial impression of profit growth for decades.

That corporate body English doesn’t work quite as well now that they’re past the fat in their workforces and into the bone.

It’s no different than birthdays in a big family. If you have five kids you’re probably going to have more opportunities for birthdays than if you have two. Complex math like that is apparently too much for the geniuses at Bloomberg.

Second best part of the Times story was the inclusion of a quote from Diana Swonk (left) – one of my favorite national economists back in the day when I covered the economy for Bloomberg in Washington, DC. This daughter of a U.S autoworker led a team of economists just two years ago at a prestigious place called Mesirow Financial.

 
However, they must have gotten pushed out when Mesirow sold off its insurance operations. Cause they’re gone now.

It’s a safe bet Mesirow didn’t sell off insurance assets employing a third of their staff  because they were balling.
swonk
Diane Swonk (below left) now works for DS Economics and is listed as an”independent economist” by the Times. 

There’s nothing wrong with quoting the super-talented Swonk (left), who could easily lead The Federal Reserve someday. However, you have to be willfully blind to the world around you not to get the hint that times are hard when even your lead economic source loses their corporate gig.

How fucking stupid are the rich fools at The New York Times these days?

No one knows. Not even them.

 
When revenues don’t go up for a big publicly traded company the only way they can sustain their stock price is via the fiction of sustained profit growth. They do that by cutting costs, which is what big banks like Wells Fargo have essentially been doing since they imploded the global economy in 2008.
 
Revenue minus costs equal profit. Revenue is a term for everything coming into a business money wise.
 
So, you folks in the privilege bubbles go ahead and celebrate this misleading news. You have no idea what’s going on in your world, which is why you can be lied to this easily.
 
This Times story is meant for you. So, lap it up like the fools you are.home99

But try to keep in mind something U.S. Army veteran Shamar Thomas (right) said during Occupy Wall Street in 2012.

“The 1 Percent kicks the bottom of the barrel until it falls out, then they move up,” said the former U.S. Army sergeant, who served two tours in Iraq.

That means the private equity predators and hedge fund predators of Wall Street will eventually get around to us all. The modern dictates of forever profit growth on Wall Street require no less.

Wall Street’s pirates must keep finding new pots of gold to raid, whether they be middle class homes or financial aid. They’re now going after the assets of the insurance industry with the active assistance of many of the same political hookers who helped them launch the payday lending, for-profit college and Rent-a-Center industries.

 
home35As for me, I will continue to mourn the death of a democratic America where workers had dignity in the workplace, job security, pensions instead of 401k accounts, a voice in our national affairs,  representative leadership in Washington, D.C., and physicians who made house calls. Our business leaders considered themselves U.S. citizens back then, rather than citizens of the world.

If you want to know what really lies ahead for working Americans as our unhinged elites continue to chart a course toward a global economy with no regulation and no labor protections, I suggest you listen to Economist Clubber Lang of CL Economics (click pic below for video).

His one-word prediction is a fairly accurate summary of what lies ahead for American workers and their families. Regardless of which political hooker prevails in November’s Kabuki Theater election.

The word is “Pain.” And anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is full of shit.

The economy still sucks for the vast majority of us, wipainth the benefits of American exceptionalism being gobbled up by the Predatory 1 Percent and the burdens trickling down upon everyone else. It’s going to suck a lot more very soon, as we complete the evolution into a global village run by the village idiots.

The $78 trillion global economy is coming apart at the seams thanks to the $230 trillion in debt created by the big banks. They’re printing money now just like the former Weimar Republic, but using synthetic investment vehicles instead of the printing presses of old.

Every time they summon up a unit of currency from thin air, via bullshit like collateralized debt obligations and credit default swaps, the planet’s real units of currency are diminished by them. Just as they would be if the currency were printed out as greenbacks.

Nobody knows how it’s going to end. However, I can assure you that you will not read about it in the economic stories being published by the news organizations the 1 Percent controls, such as the diminished incarnation of The New York Times.

Like the dollars in your billfold, they’re not worth much any more.


Victor Epstein is a former staff writer for Bloomberg News, who covered the U.S. economy, U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve.

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