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March 14, 2011


The Columbia Journalism Review claims to have debunked the assertion that "Government social welfare programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and unemployment insurance made up 35% of all public and private wages and salaries last year." In fact, they actually proved that the statement is correct.

CJR correctly points out that, "So-called personal current transfer receipts like Social Security payments, Medicare, and unemployment benefits are not included in the Bureau of Economic Analysis’s wages and salaries numbers, which totaled $6.4 trillion last year." And, of course, that treatment is correct. These are transfer payments, not wages.

CJR also points out that these transfer payments total $2.2 trillion. And, 2.2/6.4 is about 35%, as asserted.

So, why does CJR claim that the assertion is a lie? Their "proof" consists of the bald claim that "you can't do that". That is, CJR says you can't show the ratio of federal transfer payments to total wages. I don't see why you can't show that ratio, particularly when that's precisely the ratio you claim to be showing.

I will acknowledge that someone might mistake the meaning of the ratio, as CJR did. However, the assertion is correct if it's read correctly. Chalk this up as another incorrect, biased "fact check".

Liberals complain that Obama hasn't provided leadership on Federal Reserve nominees and judicial nominees. Conservatives complain that he hasn't provided leadership on Libya, and that he let Congress pretty much control the spending under the "stimulus". Conservatives and even some liberals complain that he hasn't provided leadership on fixing entitlement spending.

I'm not puzzled by Obama's lack of executive leadership. Obama had virtually no experience in an executive position before becoming President. We had to hope he would rapidly develop the leadership skills appropriate to the job of President. But, IMHO this was always a long shot.

We have elected a President who needs an huge amount of on-the-job training. The Democratic Party, the country and the world are paying the penalty for his lack of experience.

RE: "Elite backlash grows"

Not quite sure why you would highlight this trite article as it has been apparent "elite" Republican's have never cared much for Palin from the moment she was nominated as VP.

I guess the idea that she is somehow equivilent to Sharpton (as preposterous as that suggestion is) was just too good to pass up, eh?

Why was Brendan fooled by CJR's bogus correction of the story about transfer payments to wages? One clue ought to have been that the Wall St. Journal and Investers Business Daily have more finance expertise than some journalist who writes for CJR. Brendan might have been alerted by the many other organs that reported the story. Even one who distrusts conservative sources might have noted that this story was reported by non-conservatives like Atlantic and CNN. Also, following the links to Ryan Chittum's blog, the 2nd comment points out Chittum's error. And, a little thought would have shown that the "correction" was baseless.

Perhaps Brendan's credulousness was influenced by the fact that Chittum's list of those reporting the story included the WSJ, IBD, Rush Limbaugh, "and, of course, Fox News." Maybe the ability to criticize these bugbears made the story too good to check. CJR and Brendan ought to apologize to these organizations and the others that they wrongly criticized, but I don't expect them to.

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