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Monday, June 22, 2009

The NY Times explains the impossibility of states cutting their budgets … ever!

“Reason” illustrates the way the MSM – and my local paper, the Virginian Pilot – treats the subject of budget shortfalls on the part of state and local governments. I don’t attribute it to the fact that the spouses of people in the news business typically work for the government, which would be crass. No, I attribute it to the bias in the MSM to government as the answer … to any question.

Workaday Media Bias and State Budget Crises, Example #1 shows the typical manner in which pretty much any newspaper views government spending.

The only bit in the entire 1,283-word article that even references the widespread and routine state spending increases before the crisis hit is this brief attributed paragraph, presented as if the natural order of things is government growth above and beyond that of inflation and population:

While state general fund spending typically increases by about 6 percent a year, it is expected to decline by 2.2 percent for this fiscal year, Mr. Pattison said. The last year-to-year decline was in 1983, he said, on the heels of a national banking crisis.

How is this viewed?
"These are some of the worst numbers we have ever seen," said Scott D. Pattison, executive director of the National Association of State Budget Officers[.]

And have the poor state governments have been starved all these many years so that now that revenue is down because people have been thrown out of work they are on starvation budgets? Well ....

In 2002 total combined state revenue was $1.097 trillion.... In 2007 this figure had risen to almost $2 trillion. That's an 81 percent increase, at a time when prices plus population increased 19 percent.

The money that the government spends is generally viewed in a vacuum by the MSM with not a thought for the poor saps whose hides these taxes are taken from. Government “revenue” is never viewed as money extracted, under penalty of law, from people who are working and trying to make sure they don’t run out of money before the next paycheck comes in. Government money is just “there” to be spent on all the endless “needs” of the community.

At a time when people who work in private industry are being thrown out of work or are watching their paychecks shrink, a 2.2% reduction is viewed as a catastrophe. To a worker earning $50,000 a year it represents a cut of $1,100 and may call for some adjustments in the family budget. The taxpayer who works in the dreaded "private sector" sucks it up and makes do, glad he still has a job. For the government, making this kind of an adjustment is unthinkable and calls forth histrionics that would make a ham actor blush.

Of course in good times the states and cities spent and spent more with little thought to the future, except the future of getting re-elected by showering goodies on their constituents.

Walking out of the General Assembly building one afternoon, I saw a line of people waiting to plead their case for more money from the Virginia legislature. What was depressing is that not one of those dozens of people crowded into the meeting room and even more standing in line waiting to get inside were there to speak for the taxpayer; the dumb mule who is told to shoulder the ever larger burden and just shut up and take it. Their job is to pay, and pay some more. And if they complain they are described as right-wing knuckle dragging nut jobs that probably listen to Rush Limbaugh and watch Fox News. And the department of Homeland security should watch them carefully because you never know when they can snap. The editorial writers will tell them not to get "uppity."

The Virginian Pilot typically reprints the NY Times news “analysis” a few days after is shows up in the Old Grey Whore. I'll let you know when it shows up.

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