Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Perusing the Post...

First, imagine my surprise to see reliably liberal business columnist Steven Pearlstein write in today's Washington Post that "It is more than a bit disingenuous for liberals to push for worthwhile programs like food stamps, housing vouchers, child tax credits and the earned income tax credit -- and then to constantly cite official income and poverty statistics that do not include the impact of food stamps, housing vouchers, child tax credits and the earned income tax credit".

Wow, a liberal coming out and saying what conservatives have been saying for years. Not the part about food stamps and the like, which is certainly true, but the part about liberals distorting facts and figures in order to make partisan attacks on Republicans.

But, I no sooner had time to savor that when I was jolted back to reality in pretty much the next paragraph where he claims that such programs "put the lie to the right-wing conceit that government tax and transfer policies only make poverty worse".

And on what does he base this assertion? A study by the Census Bureau that computes "an alternative after-tax measure of disposable income that includes these various tax and transfer programs" that showed in 2005, factoring in these programs "dropped the poverty rate from 12.6 percent to 10.3 percent".

Well, duh, nobody is arguing that giving someone money, or items with a monetary value, won't make them less poor than if you don't. If the poverty line was at $10,000 and you gave $1,000 of stuff to someone making $9,500, of course you'd have fewer people under the poverty line.

Conservatives argue, and what Pearlstein is doing, as any good liberal does, is distorting our arguments to make a partisan point, is not that giving money to someone doesn't help that person, but giving away billions and billions of dollars in welfare transfer payments has an overall negative effect on the country as a whole.

To illustrate, after the 1996 welfare reform went into effect, there were people who lost their benefits who were certainly worse off than before. But the country as a whole was far better off by the combination of lower overall welfare payments and previously unemployed and underemployed people getting jobs and becoming contributing members of society.

Just as a criminal might be individually better off as a result of his efforts while society as a whole is worse off, so too is it with welfare programs. Some people have more money and stuff than if they didn't get the handouts but society as a whole is far worse off for it.

That is our argument and Pearlstein is too smart to not know that. He is simply, as good liberals do, intentionally distorting our arguments in order to make a partisan attack.... the very same thing he say is disingenuous. Well, at least he knows how to describe what he is doing.

Moving along, a little over a week ago, I wrote how the Post, as good liberals do, was distorting the news in order to score points when they wrote that the Bush Administration was 'against investors' when it opposed plaintiff's attorneys in a matter before the Supreme Court. Carrie Johnson, the Post reporter, emailed me to say that she did understand that 'investors' were on both sides of the issue and that any distortion was the work of the headline writers. Well, it seems as if the headline writers are back to their tricks (as well as appearing that Ms. Johnson sure didn't try very hard to educate the headline writers) in an article Ms. Johnson wrote for today's Post , where plaintiff's attorney (and, in my mind, probable criminal) Bill Lerach was described in a sub-head (not visible on the website) as being an "Investor Advocate". Sure, Lerach was an advocate for 'some' investors, but he was also an adversary of the investors who held positions in the companies that he was (again, in my mind) extorting money from, and whose nest eggs were diminished by the loss in stock value resulting from those companies having to pay off the likes of Lerach.

And finally, although I am sure this is nothing more than a momentary glimmer of hope, the Post writes that extending the DC Metro to Dulles Airport may be in danger as a result of both cost overruns and time delays. Given that this project has no value* other than giving the bureaucrats who work on the Metro system something to do with their time, I would shed no tears if the project was to be canceled. Of course, this will never happen, as I'm sure nominal-GOP Congressman Tom Davis, looking to bolster his chances of replacing probably-retiring Senator John Warner, will push through rule changes in order to allow this project to move forward, just as he did when he pushed through one of the largest earmarks in American history, a $1.5 BILLION in federal money to help pay for the Metro expansion.

* We don't need a rail extension to Dulles. There is already a dedicated highway to Dulles, meaning that the trip by car takes no more time (and perhaps less) than going by subway. * People living near Dulles don't work in DC, so they're not going to take the subway into DC. * People living in DC don't work out near Dulles, and even if they did, they have a very nice reverse commute, so they're not going to take the subway. * Office buildings along the proposed route are not easy walks from the subway stations so workers are not going to drive to a subway station, pay for parking , pay for the subway ride, take the train for a bit, then get out and have to walk to their offices; they'll simply drive from door to door. * An awful lot of office buildings in the area don't have anyplace to eat, so unless someone wants to commit themselves to brownbagging it or relying on co-workers for rides to area restaurants for lunch, they're not going to take the subway. Other than that, spending billions of dollars to extend the subway is a great idea.