Good News, Everyone!

by Brian K. White

Unemployment took a turn for the better, with 216,000 new jobs added to payroll last month. And while USA Today reported that 2010 saw median incomes rise 2.1%, it also reported that median CEO pay jumped 27% for the same period.

To summarize today versus last year:

  • If you didn’t have a job, there’s a 12% chance you found one, based on the reduction in unemployment rate from 10% to 8.8%.
  • If you did have a job, your income went up about 2%
  • If you are a CEO, your income went up an average of $1.9 million.

If you’ve found a job, congratulations. That is an important step towards your personal financial recovery, though it may not mean much compared with the extra $913 per hour CEOs earned (based on $1.9 million divided by 40 hours per week for 52 weeks)…in addition to the $3,413 per hour they were already earning in 2009.

It was vehemently argued that if the Bush tax cuts were left to expire, it would harm American capitalists, and thereby American capitalism. While it’s impossible to know what would have happened, let’s get down to the, ah…brass tax?

According to CNN Money, these tax cuts save the highest earners 4.6% on marginal income. Rather than boil it all the way down, let’s just say it’s a flat 4.6% (even though this is an overly generous measure, and it figures out to less than that.)

If a CEO in 2009 earned $7.1 million and paid 35%, he netted $4.6 million.
Had the same CEO in 2010 earned $9 million and paid 39.5%, he still would have netted $5.4 million.

That’s an increase in personal income of $821,000, assuming these rates of tax are actually paid; effective rates are lower. In any case, the average CEO, thanks to the extension of the Bush tax cuts, saved $87,400 in federal income tax liability for 2010.

In a time of severe budget deficits, conventional wisdom would say that such deep cuts in taxes would create serious problems in the future, assuming God lets us get that far. But maybe we should stick to common sense instead.

When we talked about the attacks on the salaries of the NPR, PBS and CPB CEOs, we didn’t hear anything from the GOP about any of the other American CEOs and their pay. We didn’t hear about the inequality of the $30 million earned by Thomas Montag at Bank of America, the $34.7 million earned by Steve Burke at the new Comcast/NBC conglomorate, or the $26.5 million paid to Alan Mulally at Ford. Nor did we hear any calls to cut the salaries of NCAA coaches, who average $1.4 million in salary each.

Nor did we hear a word about it from crusader for fiscal responsibility Rush Limbaugh. Then again, with his $50 million contract, he’s saving $2.3 million a year thanks to these tax cuts. Considering he only works 15 hours a week, that savings in unpaid taxes figures out to $2,948 per hour. That’s not his income per hour, that’s 4.6% of his income per hour.

So again, congratulations on your 12% odds of leaving the ranks of the unemployed, and your 2% raise if you already had a job. But most of all, congrats to the CEOs on your 27% raise, and the tens, if not hundreds of thousands in taxes you didn’t pay.

Seems pretty fair, right?

Brian K. White, known to 538 Refugees as 10kZebra, is a Seattle native who has worked for nine years as the editor of Glossy News, a humourous and satirical take on the news. He is a voracious consumer of news himself and splits his time between raising his clever kids and trying to find the elusive unicorn that is the honest politician.


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55 Responses to Good News, Everyone!

  1. Pete G says:

    As soon as the tax deal was announced, I too did a back of the envelope calculation, similar to that in the article but took it one step further. The right and the President made a big deal of saying that top only got 25% of the $984billion tax breaks, while the bottom were getting a whooping 75%. Seemed good, but do the math:

    That top 25% was going to the top 2% households: ($984B x .25)/(.02 x 115M households) = $106,000
    That bottom 75% was going to the botton 98% households: ($984Bx.75)/(.98 x 115M households)= $6550

    So each average top 2% household got $106,000 over two years, similar to what the article got. (Mine’s a little bigger becaue it includes the estate tax breaks for the wealthy. ) But more importantly is the comparison number: the rest of us got an average $6550 in tax breaks, unemployment, etc over the same two years.

    Another fun fact: In 2006 Billionaire Warren Buffett paid 11% total (federal, state, local, corporate) taxes on $8 billion annual investment gain while a single minimum wage worker pays 37% total taxes on her $14,500 annual salary.

    For much more of this and a proposal for a truly fair, economy-boosting, simple tax system that would cut taxes for the middle class and working poor while cutting the deficit, see http://fairsharetaxes.org

  2. mclever says:

    Excellent article, Brian! 🙂

    Hmm. 2%? If you’re like some upper-middle class folks in certain consulting/hi-tech industries, instead of a 2% raise, you may have taken a 15% cut in pay while watching your CEO, CFO, President, and a handful of VPs give themselves raises and bonuses just big enough to have covered that pay cut for everyone else…

    I don’t understand why more people aren’t incensed by this. Maybe their noses are so close to the grindstone that they just don’t notice? It’s as if we overvalue wealth to the point that we expect the rich to keep getting disproportionately richer at everyone else’s expense. Perhaps in a freer job market, the execs wouldn’t be able to hoard their bonuses and raises like that, because some other company would have offered a 5% pay increase instead of the 15% cut and attrition would have forced a policy change lest they go out of business. But in a tight job market where we’re all told just to be grateful that we even have a job…

    Something still doesn’t quite add up. It doesn’t add up for the upper-middle class workers, and it only gets worse as you move down the food-chain.

  3. filistro says:

    I’m too much of a lightweight to get into an argument on tax policy… but I really like that fat cat 🙂

  4. Mule Rider says:

    Such a flawed article, I’m not sure where to begin…

    “If you didn’t have a job, there’s a 12% chance you found one, based on the reduction in unemployment rate from 10% to 8.8%.”

    Wrong. This is a misleading statistic because of disaffected workers leaving the workplace altogether who no longer are counted among the unemployed. So you need to look at a metric that includes these people: either ‘unemployed + disaffected workers’, which is still well into the double-digits, or the employment rate (employment as a percent of the working-age population), which, if I’m not mistaken (saw this on Krugman’s blog but am too lazy to go find it now), was close to 68%-69% not that long ago but is still hovering around 63%-64%….so there’s an additional 5% or so that would like to work but aren’t (and they’re not counted among the unemployed).

    “If you did have a job, your income went up about 2%”

    Seriously? What’s the reference point? Over the previous month? Year?

    And what’s inflation been over that time? Which doesn’t negate that people’s average income may have technically gone up 2% over the undisclosed time period, but it’s very likely their purchasing power did not rise by a similar amount.

    “When we talked about the attacks on the salaries of the NPR, PBS and CPB CEOs, we didn’t hear anything from the GOP about any of the other American CEOs and their pay. We didn’t hear about the inequality of the $30 million earned by Thomas Montag at Bank of America, the $34.7 million earned by Steve Burke at the new Comcast/NBC conglomorate, or the $26.5 million paid to Alan Mulally at Ford. Nor did we hear any calls to cut the salaries of NCAA coaches, who average $1.4 million in salary each.”

    Seriouly? Do you not see the difference? Bank of America notwithstanding, last I checked the other two companies you mention, Comcast/NBC and Ford, were very solid companies holding their own who don’t need the government to prop them up….and while many of those coaches likely work for schools receiving government assistance, their salary is paid by a completely separate method and is self-sustaining either through the private funds of benefactors or in ticket receipts and bowl appearances, which net the school millions of dollars.

    NPR, PBS, et al are supported by the government (us, really, with our tax dollars), so you’re gosh-darn right we have the right to be more concerned with the salaries of their upper-echelon because we don’t have a choice not to pay our taxes, but I don’t have to give my business to BofA, Comcast/NBC, Ford, or any given college/university’s sports program, not that they need it anyway.

    I’ll end my rant there, but just know that this article is nothing but a bunch of weasel wording that comes off as completely uninformed or detached from reality and is not up to the standards of this site….well, MW’s standards, at least.

  5. drfunguy says:

    Thanks for the comments Mule
    I too wondered about the omission of disaffected workers.
    However on the issue of CEO salaries, while I agree it is not fair to compare private companies to publically funded ones, I don’t see how the private ones can be said to earn, in any realistic sense of the word earn, those sorts of wages.

  6. dcpetterson says:

    Mule, you make good points about unemployment and the real change in salaries. Which makes the contrast between us “normal” people and the super-rich that much more stark. We continue to be in dire straights, while the wealthy continue to profit ever more from highly skewed tax changes. The burden of this economic crisis is faling on us, while the elite class makes out like bandits.

    Thanks for admitting also that “NPR, PBS, et al are supported by the government.” On another thread, a conservative tried to argue that the Republicans aren’t trying to kill Big Bird, because NPR can get along just fine without government subsidy. You’re right however — “NPR, PBS, et al” exist because we, as a nation, view them as valuable.

    And why should we not complain that the upper crust gets all the frosting, even taking away most of our crumbs? If there are to be sacrifices, why should we heap them on “NPR, PBS, et al” — who provide valuable services to the nation at an absurdly cheap rate — when the people who caused the crash, and who refuse to re-hire the American workers they laid off, are getting rewarded merely for their wealth? At our expense?

  7. GROG says:

    DC,

    My argument was that Big Bird doesn’t need our tax payer money to survive. Sesame Street makes over $50 million per year on toys and consumer products and CEO Gary Knell makes over $1 million per year.

    The talking point that Republicans want to kill Big Bird is nonsense.

  8. shortchain says:

    Of course Republicans don’t want to kill Big Bird. They merely want to take away the ability for Big Bird to gain new viewers, so that, in the future, Big Bird starves to death.

    And they don’t want any other characters to replace Big Bird. Those they want to prevent from hatching.

  9. Mule Rider says:

    @dc & drfunguy,

    Great comments guys, and thanks for your responses. I actually agree with a lot of what you two said, and I don’t mean to dismiss the egregiousness of those bloated salaries and the inequality it perpetuates. That’s why my answer is to simplify the tax code into fewer brackets but include a “millionaire’s bracket” and tax the uber-high portion of those people’s salary at 50%, 60%, 70%, or whatever it takes. Rather than get hung up on these pissing matches over the semantics of the whole thing, we just need to make the tax code more equitable/fair, and we need to do it NOW.

    And, for the record, I like public broadcasting and don’t mind that some of our tax dollars go to support things like PBS, NPR, etc. But they shouldn’t be immune from scrutiny nor should they be exempt from making wise/honest/efficient use of those funds.

  10. GROG says:

    SC,

    I’m sure that Disney or Nickelodeon would be more than happy to take Big Bird and Elmo under their wing.

  11. Whatevs says:

    GROG

    Either you missed this the other day or you’re ignoring it. suspect the latter. Big Bird doesn’t need the money. Rural stations do.

    The money the government provides for PBS, NPR doesn’t defund Big Bird per se. It’s used to subsidize stations that carry PBS in rural areas so cutting that funding would cause some stations to go out of business and deny residents in those areas access to Big Bird. Translation: job loss and denial of access to public programming.

  12. Whatevs says:

    And let’s cut the bullshit. Republicans are holding up defunding PBS and NPR as a social agenda, not a budget agenda item. They think Public broadcasting is some sort of liberally biased propaganda machine. Yeah like the News Hour is liberal or Bert and Ernie are some sort of communist agents training your children to goose step down the street and overthrow the capitalist pigs. Whatev.

  13. shortchain says:

    GROG,

    Just as every successful drug could easily find a home with some pharmaceutical company, or any proven successful product could find a company to make it.

    So let’s, by your logic, cease spending any federal money on Cancer research, fundamental physics research, etc, etc.

    Did you hear about the new drug that helps prevent premature births, which was proven successful using federal funds, then given to a private company, who immediately raised the price from 10 bucks a shot to 1500 bucks a shot?

  14. dcpetterson says:

    Mule, I think we’re very close. Way cool.

    Whatevs, great points regarding PBS and NPR. Yes, it has nothing to do with the economy or the deficit. It’s a social agenda thing. Plus, the idea of government doing something that people like and find valuable is utterly offensive to some conservatives (not all). So since some aspects of PBS and NPR are actually quite popular, it’s necessary to get the government out of doing them, so as to keep the meme pure that gubmint is bad.

  15. filistro says:

    I just realized who the fat cat reminds me of. It’s THIS GUY!

  16. Mule Rider says:

    “Bert and Ernie are some sort of communist agents training your children to goose step down the street and overthrow the capitalist pigs.”

    Not at all! The problem with Bert and Ernie is that they put a pro-homosexual mindset into the impressionable youth of this country.

  17. filistro says:

    @Muley.. The problem with Bert and Ernie is that they put a pro-homosexual mindset into the impressionable youth of this country.

    Oh, c’mon, Muley… that was Tinky Winky, the teletubby who carried the purse. And he was British.

  18. GROG says:

    DC, SC, whateves,

    In a world of $14 trillion debt and $1.5 trillion deficits, why is NPR and PBS absolutely essential for America?

    It was one thing in the 60’s when we had 3 networks on TV. Now there are hundreds of profitable stations available that broadcast literally everything imagineable. Stations like Nick, Disney, and ABC Family have excellent educational programming for children.

    Public broadcasting gets only 15% of it’s revenue from the government. Businesses have to deal with revenue loss like that all the time. Stick with popular programming and get red of the stuff no one watches, do more to get local sponsors, do some belt tightening. If PB has outstanding programming, it will have no trouble surving on it’s own.

    We don’t have a government run national newspaper. Why is it absolutely necessary to have government run TV and radio?

    They think Public broadcasting is some sort of liberally biased propaganda machine.

    Do you honestly think public broadcasting doesn’t have a liberal bias?

  19. dcpetterson says:

    In a world of $14 trillion debt and $1.5 trillion deficits, why is NPR and PBS absolutely essential for America?

    In a world of 14 trillion debt and $1.5 trillion deficits, what possible difference is made by the pittance that NPR and PBS cost?

    As for their value, there are few other sources of unbiased news and quality educational programming available for free. Nick, Disney, and ABC Family don’t come into homes that don’t have cable.

    Why is it absolutely necessary to have government run TV and radio?

    Because it is valuable to have government support for the arts and sciences. Our current budget crisis is temporary. It pays to think longer than the length of one’s nose.

  20. Justsayin' says:

    Grog, if you are inclusive of gay people, minorities, the poor does that automatically make you a liberal? What is a liberal agenda? If being inclusive means being liberal we as a nation better hurry up and shut down all the pre-schools.

  21. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    “Because it is valuable to have government support for the arts and sciences.”

    Athens
    Rome
    Florence

    Seems all great civilizations had the same idea.

  22. filistro says:

    Hey GROG… did you notice that I defended your position on Rand Paul in the “shutdown” thread?

    It’s not often you and I get to be on the same side in an argument. I’d hate for you to miss it 😉

  23. TMS says:

    Max,
    You do realize, of course, that the Greek and Roman empires didn’t survive. That might not be a good model to emulate.

  24. Mule Rider says:

    “In a world of 14 trillion debt and $1.5 trillion deficits, what possible difference is made by the pittance that NPR and PBS cost?”

    The problem is, and liberals seem to be much quicker to make this argument, you could literally make the “what difference does it make?” argument about nearly every line item in the budget….and so there’s this fallacy of looking at something at the individual level and forgetting its macro impact when everything is aggregated together.

    Yes, NPR, PBS, et al make up a fairly small portion of the budget. And so do hundreds of other things where it is easily arguable that spending in that area should be either reduced or axed completely, and as one BIG GROUP, those cuts actually make a difference.

    I’m reminded very clearly of this ongoing discussion we had in my agency when I was a government employee, and based on those discussions, it’s no wonder the government is in the mess it’s in. There would be something overtly wasteful or inefficient, and people would say, “If we could just tweak/eliminate X, Y, and/or Z, we could save the agency $500/$1,000/$5,000.” And the response was always akin to “Change sucks. Tweaking/eliminating that stuff would just be a hassle (more work for me!) in the short-term and would only save the agency peanuts overall since our annual budget is XXX,XXX,XXX (some 9-digit figure, if I remember).” But the problem was that there were scores, if not hundreds, of “small cuts” that could have been made that done collectively would have made a REAL DIFFERENCE. And the people of that agency really should have been putting a higher priority on eliminating waste/inefficiency rather than cowering from ruffled feathers and extra work. Just like we should put a higher priority on cutting spending on things that don’t seem like that big a deal rather than retreat and/or kick the can down the road because some of these cuts will be uncomfortable for some.

  25. drfunguy says:

    @ Grog
    “Do you honestly think public broadcasting doesn’t have a liberal bias?”
    While I don’t watch a lot of TV, yes, I absolutely believe that PBS and NPR do not have a liberal bias.
    I would be interested if you can define media bias in a way that is measureable so that it could be objectively assessed.
    p.s. Do you remember the McLaughlin group? Many conservatives, one middle of the road liberal in a roundtable political discussion. How about Wall Street Week? How about Coakie Roberts’ snarky comments during the Obama (or was it Clinton) inauguration?
    p.p.s for help on the assignment try whatliberalmedia.com or fair.org

  26. drfunguy says:

    oops whatliberalmedia.com apparently no longer exists
    but the book is still available
    http://www.powells.com/biblio/17-9780465001774-1

  27. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    TMS, I assume you are taking on my usual role as the contrarian in your question.

    “You do realize, of course, that the Greek and Roman empires didn’t survive. That might not be a good model to emulate.”

    Since we trace our democratic roots to Athens, yes, I do consider them to be a good model.

    Since Rome, as a republic and empire lasted 500 – 100 years, depending on how you count, yes, I would say they are a good model.

    Since Florence contributed significantly to the Renaissance, yes, I do consider them to be a good model.

    Since, given enough of a time frame, NONE of the institutions of humankind will survive, you really do not have a point with your argument.

  28. WA7th says:

    I think NPR is simply being used as a red herring on both sides of the funding argument.

    I like Big Bird, and I like NPR, but I don’t buy that the arguments for or against federal funding for PBS or NPR ever had anything anything to do with the communication needs of rural areas.

    In the old days it was a national security issue that rural areas needed to be able to receive at least one AM radio station, without interference with from radio stations south of the border blasting at extremely high power. For that reason, there was one AM station in each region allowed to broadcast all night at 50,000 watts while other stations were required to cut their power or sign-off at night. By doing that the rural communities could be warned of emergencies such as incoming Japanese bombers. Problem solved.

    Regulating AM stations in that way ended, what, about about 20 years ago? It ended because communicating with rural areas is no longer perceived as a problem. They have cell phones, and they have internet. The Emergency Broadcast system no longer even uses AM or FM signals to test or broadcast, and a large portion of the big market stations are now broadcasting digitally waiting for the day when they can shut-off their AM/FM signals entirely. Big Bird never had anything to do with any of that.

    Making sure that broadcast stations are using the public airwaves appropriately by being fair and balanced is a separate regulatory question. I miss the days when radio stations had to pretend to present both sides of an editorial issue, not because they did it fairly, but because the mere act of their having to go through the motions made it necessary to leave the editorial opinions out of the news stories. All editorials were obviously editorials, opinions were clearly labeled as opinions, and all stations had to pretend to serve the public once in a while. I wish we would go back to that. I was never permanently scarred by having to listen to a round-table discussion of social issues by the DJ’s on my favorite rock station on one Sunday morning each month; in fact, it was refreshingly entertaining at times.

    I think that NPR could survive without federal funding, and I think they would probably be better-off without it. I think they should shed that albatross and go about being as biased as they want, if that’s where their best interest is.

    I’m not sure how it works now, I would propose that the FCC receive a cut of ad revenues from commercial broadcasters broadcasting under an FCC license on the PUBLIC’s airwaves, and that stations contributing to solving a true public need be given a discount on their license fee. The profit stations would pay more for the privilege, and the non-profits would pay much less. Let the nationally syndicated talk radio networks go non-profit if they feel it would enhance their “freedom”, or let NPR go commercial if they feel it would enhance their bank balance.

  29. shortchain says:

    WA7th,

    When you say “They have cell phones, and they have internet. ” — you do understand that cell phone usage in the hinterlands is hardly assured, and as for the internet, well, you’ll probably get better throughput by driving 500 miles, downloading what you need, and then driving back.

  30. dcpetterson says:

    TMS
    You do realize, of course, that the Greek and Roman empires didn’t survive. That might not be a good model to emulate.

    But they did last for a while, much longer than we have so far. We might want to look into the reasons for their success for so long.

  31. mclever says:

    WA7th,

    Lemme guess that you do not currently live in a rural location?

  32. WA7th says:

    Shortchain, yes that’s true. I believe the need still exists for rural areas to have 24-hour access to at least one broadcast station of some type, and what little I know about the new emergency alert system leads me to believe that rural areas could be just as screwed in an emergency under this new system as they would have been under the old EBS system if they couldn’t get any radio signals. In my view the EAS doesn’t give any access to those without it, it merely adds weak redundancy to those who already have options.

    I was sloppy to imply that cell phones and computers solved that problem, when all I really meant to say was that the technology ostensibly contributed to the death of the rules, but not the need for them. I edited out much of my post because is was geting long-winded, and should have edited that out sentence as well.

    The more I read about the new Emergency Alert System the less confidence I have in it, starting with the fact that FEMA is in charge of it.

  33. Monotreme says:

    My favorite depiction of CONELRAD was in Panic in Year Zero. A fine Ray Milland movie.

  34. WA7th says:

    Yes, very sloppy. The point was, though, that the old regulations pertaining to access for rural areas are now gone, and never had a Big Bird connection.

  35. mclever says:

    @WA7th

    Sloppiness is forgiven. We’re all sloppy sometimes, except maybe Michael. 😉

  36. Whatevs says:

    Do you honestly think public broadcasting doesn’t have a liberal bias?

    Do I honestly need to answer this? No they don’t have a liberal bias. If anything I’ve noticed some of the local programming on PBS stations here in the south are conservative leaning (and terrible to boot).

    The whole point of public broadcasting is that the lack of commercials is designed to eliminate bias.

    Have you ever considered that you might be an ultra-right Tea Partier?

  37. Mule Rider says:

    “Do I honestly need to answer this? No they don’t have a liberal bias. If anything I’ve noticed some of the local programming on PBS stations here in the south are conservative leaning (and terrible to boot).”

    I see it a little both ways. I’d have to agree with Whatevs that I haven’t really picked up much of a ‘liberal bias’ in the local PBS stations I’ve been exposed to (in the South or elsewhere); however, I have picked up the slightest of liberal leanings in some of the NPR programming I’ve listened to….no, it’s not MSNBC, but it’s not hard to figure out which way some of their commentators lean.

  38. Mule Rider says:

    I guess Air America would have been a more apropos comparison than MSNBC.

    Whatevs 🙂

  39. We’re all sloppy sometimes, except maybe Michael.

    Oh, I’m sloppy too…I just try hard to hide it.

  40. GROG says:

    Just for the record, I never said either way whether I think PBS has a liberal bias. I simply posed the question. I would hope they don’t considering the fact that they are federally subsidized.

    I think PBS and NPR have some great programming. There’s no doubt about that. But it is not the role of the federal government to subsidize them.

    Call me an “ultra right wing tea partier” if you like, but I don’t buy the fact that PBS is a national necessity because people who don’t have cable need to be exposed to programs that public broadcasting has to offer.

  41. dcpetterson says:

    Grog my friend, we’ll have to disagree on the importance of government support for public radio and public TV. I feel it’s a bargain at the price, and since it’s not going to have a significant influence on the debt, there isn’t a good reason to forgo the benefit. I recognize that you feel differently. If we both were in Congress, we’d vote in opposite directions on this topic, and find other places to work together 🙂

  42. GROG says:

    Fair enough DC. I do feel that PBS and NPR are strong enough brands that they would flourish even without government subsidies.

  43. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    And on PBS:

    My local PBS station, KLRN, is replaying Burn’s Civil War. Don’t know if it’s nationwide.

    Just to see and hear Shelby Foote again is a real treat!

  44. shortchain says:

    GROG,

    If the kind of programming that PBS and NPR provide can flourish without PBS and NPR, then where is that programming in the rest of cable? I observe that the Discovery Channel has devolved into reality TV (deadliest catch, mythbusters, etc) — not that this isn’t worthwhile, but Nova and Masterpiece Theater it ain’t. And even the Science Channel is showing reruns of Firefly, which is fine — but it’s not science, now, is it? I’ve also seen the Science Channel run crap like “biblical mysteries explained” which is simply garbage. As for radio, the kind of crap that is on the for-profit stations (Rush, Glenn Beck, and the like, plus a few local shock jocks) isn’t even in the same universe as NPR.

    So tell me: where is the quality of programming found on PBS except on PBS? (For the record, as federal subsidies have declined, so has the amount of quality programming on PBS, which rather undercuts your assertion.)

  45. Whatevs says:

    GROG

    See that letter ‘P’ in NPR and PBS? You understand what that stands for, right?

    If both these entities privatized they would cease to be public broadcasting and open to bias of whatever shareholders happened to own them at the time. You are completely missing the point.

  46. GROG says:

    Whatevs,

    Your and shortchain’s point is that without federal funding, PBS would not be able to produce quality programming like Nova and Masterpiece Theater.

    My point is that it is not the job of the federal government to make sure citizens are exposed to programs like Nova and Masterpiece Theater.

    DC’s point is that at such a bargain price, it’s well worth the price tag.

    I respect everyone’s opinion on the matter.

  47. shortchain,
    Slate had a good article yesterday about where the quality programming on TV is…and how it’s less frequently on PBS these days.

  48. 10kzebra says:

    @mclever – “Hmm. 2%? If you’re like some upper-middle class folks in certain consulting/hi-tech industries, instead of a 2% raise, you may have taken a 15% cut in pay while watching your CEO, CFO, President, and a handful of VPs give themselves raises and bonuses just big enough to have covered that pay cut for everyone else…”
    Say, you know what… that 2% increase actually INCLUDES the CEO compensation, doesn’t it? So that means it’s actually less than 2%.

    @Mule Rider – Nice to see you again. I haven’t said hello since the ol’ 538 days. To answer your question of what the timer period in question is, it’s the second link in the article (USA Today). I agree that the TRUE unemployment number is not reflected by the official unemployment rate, but it’s the only real metric we have, and it’s the same calculation used last year. Unemployment has come down. Companies have (slowly) begun hiring.

    As for the “weasel wording” comment, well, it’s just nice to know you haven’t lost your wonderfully serrated edge. I also agree with you on the “millionaire bracket”. It’s strange that we don’t currently have one.

    I won’t repeat my stand on the funding of public broadcast, since I already wrote a story on it.

    @GROG- “Do you honestly think public broadcasting doesn’t have a liberal bias?”
    Correct. If there was evidence of liberal or conservative bias, their charter would be revoked. (Did nobody read my Sesame Street article?)

    @Max aka Birdpilot – “Seems all great civilizations had the same idea.
    THAT is why Rome fell??? Ya sure it didn’t have anything to do with overreaching, unsustainable imperialism? (Or was it partly Christianity to blame. Tell you what, let’s get rid of those two things and I’ll support the de-funding of NPR.

    @WA7th – “The more I read about the new Emergency Alert System the less confidence I have in it, starting with the fact that FEMA is in charge of it.
    It’s kind of a joke, IMHO. When 9/11 happened it was on EVERY station, TV & radio. Most people don’t watch live TV or listen to live radio anymore. My MP3 player won’t break in with emergency information no matter how many buttons I push.

    @Michael Weiss – “Oh, I’m sloppy too…I just try hard to hide it.”
    First, I’m careful… then I’m sloppy seconds.

    @Grog – “Just for the record, I never said either way whether I think PBS has a liberal bias. I simply posed the question.”
    You didn’t? Your phrasing certainly convinced me otherwise. If I want to ask you if it’s raining where you live today, I wouldn’t ask “Are you honestly trying to tell me that it’s sunny where you are?” (original joke was about your mom, but I don’t know you well enough and I only have one good foot to put forward.)

    @Whavevs – “See that letter ‘P’ in NPR and PBS? You understand what that stands for, right?”
    Proletariat? Placebo? Puboidal? (they all have a nice ring.)

  49. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Actually 19k, I was using those examples showing instances OF and FOR gov’t support for the Arts.

    Mule disagrees.

  50. shortchain says:

    Michael,

    I saw the Slate article, and, while I agree with a fair bit of it, may I point out that a heck of a lot of us don’t pay for HBO or Showtime. And never will.

    The degradation we’ve seen in PBS, in my opinion, is a direct result of their need to go scrounging for dollars, which is in complete contradiction to what GROG is telling us.

    I have to also say that, contrary to what GROG asserts I believe (with DC) that it is a worthwhile public expenditure to raise the level of broadcasting above the sewer of cable television. I’m not saying it’s up there with public transportation and meat inspection, but it’s something that should be done.

  51. shortchain,

    may I point out that a heck of a lot of us don’t pay for HBO or Showtime. And never will.

    No doubt. But they’re turning a handsome profit, and putting those profits into quality television.

    The degradation we’ve seen in PBS, in my opinion, is a direct result of their need to go scrounging for dollars

    I think that’s an oversimplification, but certainly a reduction in public funding has made it harder for them. But, as the article points out, NPR is doing very well with the same public funding reductions. So your simplified argument doesn’t pass a pretty simple test.

  52. shortchain says:

    Michael,

    I’m sorry, but, according our local NPR affiliate, they are not “doing very well”.

    So you cheer the proposal to reserve quality television for those who have the disposable money to pay for it? OK.

  53. shortchain says:

    MW,

    Addendum: I’m sorry to disagree with you about that Slate article, but I don’t regard “Sex in the City” and its ilk on HBO and Showtime to be the equivalent of Nova, or even Masterpiece Theater, even if the former were freely available. While the former may be “quality programming”, and, certainly, “educational”, it’s not quite the same, somehow…

    YMMV, but I go my own way.

  54. shortchain,

    So you cheer the proposal to reserve quality television for those who have the disposable money to pay for it?

    Not cheering it. Just acknowledging that maintaining or even slightly increasing the funding for PBS won’t be likely to have much of an impact on the quality of its programming.

  55. mclever says:

    Interesting link with “20 Facts About U.S. Inequality that Everyone Should Know” from Stanford:

    http://www.stanford.edu/group/scspi/cgi-bin/facts.php

    The first graph is interesting, showing that it’s really the middle that’s getting squeezed the most right now. Income for the middle quintile rose relative to the bottom up through the 80s but has dropped off significantly since then, while income for the the top continues to rise and rise and…

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