TPM Café (Talking Points Memo), December 21, 2008
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Imagine a major national newspaper that never saw an $8 trillion dollar housing bubble. Suppose its most often cited expert on the housing market was the chief economist of the National Association of Realtors, who also authored the 2006 bestseller "Why the Housing Boom Will Not Bust and How You Can Profit From It."
Yes, I'm talking about the Washington Post, which had the gall today to run a column by Jim Hoagland complaining about how "we" are passing on a bad world to our children. The "we" in the column is meant to refer to the generations currently in their 40s, 50s, and 60s, who he claims are leaving huge problems to our children.
He's right about the problems, but he's wrong about the "we."
The reality is that the Washington Post and the elite clique for which it is a mouth piece have badly failed us and our children. The housing bubble was easily recognizable. The economic disaster that we are now facing could have been easily avoided if the Washington Post and its elite friends (e.g. Alan Greenspan, Robert Rubin, and Henry Paulson) were not too incompetent or corrupt to see the evidence of problems everywhere. Needless to say, those of us who did try to issue warnings were ignored by this elite crew.
The Washington Post has whined endlessly about the long-term deficit problems facing the country. But how often has it told its readers that the long-term deficit problem is almost entirely the result of the broken U.S. health care system: a system that costs more than twice as much per person as the health care system in most of the countries who enjoy longer life expectancies than we do?
Perhaps the Post does not choose to share this information because it identifies with the wealthy people who run the insurance companies, the pharmaceutical companies, and the highly paid medical specialists, all of whom get rich off the waste in our health care system. (Perhaps the fact that these industries advertise heavily in the Post also affects its willingness to print pieces exposing the enormous waste in the U.S. health care system.)
The Post also has been a big proponent of a trade policy that is based on selective protectionism. The Post's trade policy subjects less educated workers (those without college degrees) to competition with low-paid workers in the developing world, while leaving the most highly educated workers largely protected from such competition.
Since the vast majority of the workforce falls into this unprotected category, most of our children will see lower standards of living because of the Post's trade policy as it redistributes income to its elite friends. The Post even applies the euphemism "free trade" to its policy of selective protectionism to make it more palatable.
I could go on at considerable length. The list of the failings of the Post and its elite friends is long - lying to get us into the war in Iraq would be the next obvious item on the list.
The point is that the Post and it crew of cronies have badly failed the world in a large number of ways and continue to do so. The Post and Hoagland's efforts to attribute the blame to the rest of us for the trouble caused by the greed and incompetence of their elite clique deserve nothing but contempt and ridicule.
Dean Baker is the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR). He is the author of The Conservative Nanny State: How the Wealthy Use the Government to Stay Rich and Get Richer. He also has a blog on the American Prospect, "Beat the Press," where he discusses the media's coverage of economic issues.