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The Dynamic Household

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Economist Mark Perry writes in his blog, Carpe Diem, US middle class has disappeared into higher-income groups; recent stagnation explained by changing household demographics?

Excerpts:

 Here’s another way to understand the dynamic income shift over the last half century that elevated millions of American households into a higher income category. Whereas “middle class” US households were so numerous in 1967 that they outnumbered “upper class” US households by a ratio of almost 7-to-1, so many American “middle class” households had moved to the “upper class” by 2013 that the ratio of middle-income to upper-income households had fallen to less than 2-to-1. Stated differently, in 1969 there were almost 700 “middle class” US households to every 100 “upper-income” household; but by 2013 there were fewer than 200 “middle class” households per 100 “upper-income” households reflecting the movement of millions of US households who had climbed up the economic ladder to a higher income group. It was an amazing period of increased prosperity, upward mobility and an unprecedented increase in the number and share of American households going from “middle class” to “upper class.” The NY Times does acknowledge that many Americans were rising into higher income brackets through the last part of the last century, but focuses mostly on the recent stall in that rise since the turn of the century.

In other words, important demographic changes that have taken place over the last decade or longer might account for stagnating household income because the average US household today, compared to a household even a decade ago, is: a) smaller, b) has fewer earners on average and is more likely to have no earners, c) is more likely to be a retiree household on a fixed income, d) contributes fewer average weekly work hours, and e) receives a greater share of their compensation in the form of non-taxable fringe benefits.

Therefore, isn’t is possible that the “social upheaval” that has taken place over the last decade is really an “upheaval” in the size, composition and characteristics of a typical US “household” and not necessarily an era of reduced economic opportunities and less upward mobility for the middle class? At the very least, in any discussion about the “middle class” and “household income” we have to recognize that an “American household” is a dynamic concept that is constantly evolving and changing over time, and therefore distorts any comparisons between household incomes today to those of a decade or a generation ago.

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Conformative News

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Daniel Greenfield writes in his blog The Sultan Knish, The Rise of the Mediacracy.

Excerpts:

The media is no longer informative, it is conformative. It is not interested in broadcasting events unless it can also script them. It does not want to know what you think, it wants to tell you what to think. The consensus is the voice of the people and the Mediacrats are cutting its throat, dumping its body in a back alley and turning democracy into their own puppet show.

Media bias was over decades ago. The media isn’t biased anymore, it’s a player, its goal is turn its Fourth Estate into a fourth branch of government, the one that squats below the three branches and blocks their access to the people and blocks the people’s access to them. Under the Mediacracy there will still be elections, they will even be mostly free, they just won’t matter so long as its upper ranks determine the dialogue on both sides of the media wall.

The real crime of FOX News is not that it’s especially right-wing, it isn’t. It is far less conservative than CNN is liberal. But FOX News’ existence, its patriotic color scheme and attempts at appealing to the heartland while putting a conservative spin on issues, forces viewers to notice how conformist and identical the rest of the media landscape. And that is what makes FOX News truly dangerous. Like a goat among the sheep, it makes you realize the sameness of their generic competitors who all cheer for the same team, shop at the same stores and dream of the day when everyone thinks like them.

A free society does not only become unfree at the point of a gun. It becomes unfree when its mechanisms of freedom are jammed, when the institutions that are meant to provide power to the people are taken over by unelected forces and twisted into the apparatus of a new tyranny. When undemocratic institutions seize control of democratic institutions then democracy dies, strangled by men and women who keep on smiling while they tighten their grip.

HKO

Interesting thought: Fox News’ biggest contribution may be the illustration that the rest of the Media Complex lacks any diversity of ideas.

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The Abdication of Credibility

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Victor Davis Hanson writes 2017 and the End of Ethics in National Review Online:

Excerpts:

During the next presidency, will the filibuster still be bad, or will it suddenly be good again? Will there be a nuclear option again? Recess appointments? Executive orders? Signing statements? Votes against extending the debt ceiling? Are these again to be excesses, or is it a case of “It depends”?

What will the media do if the next president hires lobbyists, ignores the revolving door, or wins record donations from Goldman Sachs — while promising to run the most transparent administration in history? Will minority activists hound the next president should their constituents’ employment rate and income nosedive? Or is the answer to be, “It depends on the president’s race”?

Yet, I am not so sure that it will be quite that simple for a decade or so. We have become inured to the press as an adjunct Ministry of Truth and to the notion that the president feels that he can do whatever he wishes without much worry over public audit. Such obsequiousness and exemption are now institutionalized, just as, after the divine Emperor Augustus, there was little accountability for the emperors or free speech allowed in criticizing them. So we are entering a new period in presidential history, and it may be difficult to go back to the status quo ante 2009, when reporters were not state megaphones and the president paid a price for not telling the truth.

Nor have we fully appreciated that a president who has supposedly taught constitutional law has done more to damage the Constitution than did Richard Nixon — and, so far, without consequences of any sort. The next president in theory can tap the communications of his opponents, pick and choose which laws are to be enforced and which are mere suggestions, and use federal agencies to monitor the politically suspect. He can go to, ignore, undermine, or praise the U.N. as he sees fit. He can bypass Congress to bomb a foreign country, and give pressure groups amnesty from any federal law he chooses. If the next president’s chief adviser claims that liberal Democrats are analogous to the mass-murdering Jonestown cult, would it really matter?

We have three years before January 2017. If we are to have any credible press left at all, it has just 36 months to rediscover its ethics and professionalism — or more or less forfeit its integrity for a generation. The president too must either start respecting the Constitution or expect that his successors will follow in his footsteps in pressing their agendas by any means necessary — while always citing the Obama example. Will the next president simply drop the employer-mandate portion of Obamacare? And if he did, would the media point out that he was not faithfully executing the laws that had been enacted?

Because we are now right in the middle of this conundrum, Americans often fail to appreciate how low we’ve sunk — and how little time our president and press have to restore the institutions that they have so undermined for such paltry political advantage.

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An Illusion of Understanding

“There is so much noise coming from the media’s glorification of the anecdote. Thanks to this, we are living more and more in virtual reality, separated from the real world, a little bit more every day while realizing it less and less. Consider that every day, 6,200 persons die in the United States, many of preventable causes. But the media only report the most anecdotal and sensational cases (hurricanes, freak accidents, small plane crashes), giving us a more and more distorted map of real risks. In an ancestral environment, the anecdote, the “interesting,” is information; today, no longer. Likewise, by presenting us with explanations and theories, the media induce an illusion of understanding the world.”

Excerpt From: Nassim Nicholas Taleb. “Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder.” Random House, 2012-11-27. iBooks.

This material may be protected by copyright.

Check out this book on the iBookstore: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/antifragile-things-that-gain/id522380506?mt=11

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The Illegitimate Truth

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Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Michael Walsh writes in The National Review There Ought to Be No Law:

The Senate bill has nothing to do with protecting journalists, and everything to do with the Government Class protecting itself from those who would expose its activities. Having successfully co-opted what used to be the national media — so much so that there is now a veritable revolving door between Washington and old-media institutions — Congress now seeks to shut down via exclusion all those who do not toe the party line.

Feinstein introduced an amendment that defines a “covered journalist” as someone who gathers and reports news for “an entity or service that disseminates news and information.” The definition includes freelancers, part-timers and student journalists, and it permits a judge to go further and extend the protections to any “legitimate news-gathering activities.”

The weasel word is, of course, “legitimate,” so that would leave out Tom Paine and the other illegitimate rabble-rousers who fomented the American Revolution. But it doesn’t matter whether Feinstein wants to “go there” — the Framers have already been and gone; as the feminists like to say, “What part of ‘no’ don’t you understand?” A federal license, no matter what its guise, is simply a license to smooch, and any journalist who would trust Chuck Schumer’s good intentions shouldn’t be allowed to cover the local sewer board meeting.

From Glenn Harlan Reynolds in The USA Today, IS DOJ licensing or unleashing the press?:

But even if the guidelines extend to everyone who draws a paycheck as a reporter or pundit — hey, I guess that would include me — that’s still not enough. In this era of blogging, social media and independent journalism, there are an awful lot of people doing serious journalism who aren’t drawing a paycheck from a media organization. They deserve protection, too. Journalism is an activity, not a profession.

HKO

A government that has lied about Benghazi, lied about IRS political harassment, lied about harassing the press from the DOJ now wants to define who is allowed to tell the truth.

Feinstein should worry about how her worst nightmare in office would handle this power.  I cannot imagine this passing the House or The Supreme Court.

A true liberal should be outraged.