The Real Driver

April 7th, 2014 · 5 Comments · inequality, journalism, tax policy

By Arthur Alpert

 There can be no doubt the Albuquerque Journal is a broadsheet of political advocacy rather than a conventional, old-fashioned, story-driven newspaper. And the strongest evidence for that proposition lies in what it won’t cover. 

The daily ignores broad swaths of American (and New Mexican) life, but for neatness sake, let’s confine ourselves today to the political economy.

The Journal won’t report on what’s dysfunctional in our economic system.

Nor will it abide coverage of Corporate America’s political power over that system.

Journal business pages, it’s true, record instances of individual and corporate law breaking, but they never, ever tell us about corporate law making.

For the past 35 years, business has used both political parties to discard rules and practices prevailing in that terrible period between 1945 and, say, 1980. As a result, major businesses have profited mightily while the rest of us experienced only minor downsides.

Minor downsides like a massive redistribution of wealth upward and the Lesser Depression of 2008-9. 

The Journal not only ignores what transpired, but takes a daily pass on how the system works now; an example is its blackout of news on Washington’s subsidization of corporate America, including hedge funds and private equity.

How many Journal readers know many high earners don’t pay taxes the way, say, cops and firemen and teachers do? How many know the affluent enjoy lower capital gains rates?

Celebrated lefty Ronald Reagan believed that this “carried interest” provision was unfair, but it remains on the books and the Journal doesn’t find it newsworthy.

Nor does the Journal worry that our banks are still too big to fail or wonder why the credit agencies got off scot-free; those were the guys, remember, who kept the getaway car running while Wall Street banks robbed us five, six years ago.

There’s been nothing in the Journal on how the very same banks we rescued now employ lobbyists to stalemate Dodd-Frank’s limits on their freedom to repeat their folly at our expense.

Believe it or not, they’ve even blocked a provision requiring US companies to disclose the ratio between the CEO’s paycheck and median earnings of the firm’s employees.

In the 19th century, J. Pierpoint Morgan endorsed a 20-to-one ratio. In the 20th, the 1970s, management sage Peter Drucker agreed. Yet in 2012, “the compensation received by chief executives of companies in the S. &P. 500 index was 354 times that of rank-and-file staff.”

The Journal couldn’t care less, of course, about the ratio or what it means; I borrowed the information from an essay in the March 29 N.Y. Times by Deborah Hargreaves.

Speaking of the Times, back on Dec. 2, 2012, reporter Louise Story tallied up what states and counties provide in business welfare. $80 billion. Annually.

Can you imagine the Journal ever assigning a reporter to do the arithmetic on corporate subsidies in New Mexico and its counties?  

The Journal declines to cover our economic system because (I surmise after reading the paper closely for a few years) its narrative is we’d all be rolling in dough if not for bad people (government regulators, organized labor, the unemployed and other freeloaders) throwing monkey wrenches into the gears.

Further, somebody at the Journal believes it’s proper that management’s political convictions should determine what the Journal covers and publishes and what it will not.

There’s a lot more the Journal won’t touch, in and outside of the political economy, but as William F. Buckley used to say, you catch my drift.

Journalism doesn’t drive the Albuquerque Journal, politics does.

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5 Comments so far ↓

  • Emanuele Corso

    One further subsidy close to home is how society assists McDonalds by providing food stamps to their underpaid workers. People need to know about these insidious examples of corporate welfare. The right snivels about welfare for the poor and working poor but not a word about these subsidies and tax breaks for the wealthy. Wake up!

  • Tom Baca

    Right again Art.

  • Cheryl Everett

    As Al Rollins wrote in his weekly financial column: “What happened in 2008 wasn’t a financial crisis. It was a leveraged buyout of the United States of America.”

  • cres cendo

    Good column! It is not only the Journal, but most of our mass media that have strong bias–a CORPORATE bias. After all, what are they if not large, profit-making corporations.

  • Elizabeth Nguyen

    Hi Arthur, good to see you’re still fighting the good fight!

    I personally think a lot of news is watered down on cable, network and most newspapers. The only two places I trust for news is via public radio and public tv. Colbert Report is also a fun and easy way to digest news. 🙂

    Take care,
    Elizabeth

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