« Why Should Government Grow at the Same Rate as GDP? | Main | FOMC Press Release: No Changes of Note »

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

'A False Equivalence Classic'

News organizations should listen to James Fallows. It's soooo frustrating to see reporting like this:

A False Equivalence Classic, by James Fallows: A reader sent in the paragraph below as another classic in the false-equivalence chronicles. It comes from a bigtime news organization... I'm intentionally leaving out the details, because what makes the story significant is not that it's exceptional but that it's representative.

The article is about the risk that the economy will be disrupted yet again, by yet another showdown over raising the federal debt ceiling...:

With investors already nervous about the Federal Reserve's plan to start scaling back its stimulus program, another fiscal policy standoff could be more disruptive this time around.
In recent days, both Democrats and Republicans have been digging in their heels, setting up another possible nerve-wracking battle over the debt ceiling, which the Treasury expects to hit by November.
"Hearing Washington banter back and forth over this again was like a recurring bad dream," said [I'll leave out this guy's name too]...

That's one way to describe what's going on: Another damned partisan flap! Can't these politicians grow up and stop squabbling? ... This is of course the tone that runs through most gridlock/ dysfunction stories...

If you describe the "disagreement" [this] ... way, no one's really to blame. It's just politics, a sign of the symmetrical dysfunction that plagues us all.

If you describe it [a] second way, then one side is sticking to historic norms and practices -- and the other is deliberately bringing on a showdown, with the all consequent risks for the domestic and international economies, via demands and threats out of scale with what previous Congresses have done. This second version is what's happening. ...

What's going on now is ... like the 1970s-era hijackers Brendan Koerner describes in his recent book, who would threaten to blow up the plane unless they got the ride to Cuba they wanted. Or, if you want a less violent analogy, it's like me walking into a restaurant, ordering and enjoying a meal, and then when I finished just tearing up the check and saying that I was "digging in my heels" about whether I should pay. ...

Decent reporting on these issues that places the blame where it belongs would help immensely, but I probably shouldn't hold my breath waiting for this to change.

    Posted by on Wednesday, July 31, 2013 at 09:45 AM in Economics, Press | Permalink  Comments (62)


    Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.