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Business Press Gets Nasty as Economy Worsens

Business Press Gets Nasty as Economy Worsens

The economy is terrible. Jobs are nowhere to be found. Wall Street bonuses are through the roof. But mainstream business journalism is still praising the con-men who created this mess, yet attacking anybody who takes real solutions—like government spending to create jobs—seriously.

Whatever corporate journalists say, the American economy will not recover until policymakers and the media acknowledge the mistakes of the past and move forward with a new economic agenda focused on middle-class prosperity, rather than financial evisceration by elites.

Creating jobs is key

As Annie Lowrey notes for The Washington Independent, while President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus package has dramatically slowed the pace of job losses, it hasn’t been enough to make a serious dent in the unemployment rate, which currently stands at 9.6 percent. Without a serious new set of stimulus measures, we’ll see that rate stay near double-digits for years to come.

But the stimulus package is not the only policy relevant to the economic recovery. The financial excess that sparked the Great Recession was not an accident, and much of it was straightforwardly illegal—even by the remarkably weak regulatory standards of the past decade.

As I emphasize for AlterNet, under President George W. Bush, bankers got away with all kinds of frauds. They’re continuing to get away with them under Obama. The allegations of wrongdoing range from cooking the books to the outright laundering of hundreds of billions of dollars in drug money.

Crime always pays

But you wouldn’t know it from reading a recent Washington Post op-ed by Reuters’ business editor Chrystia Freeland, which defines Wall Street problems exclusively as the product of government inadequacies, not deregulation. And of course, bank regulations were wholly inadequate in recent decades. Bankers lobbied hard for those rules, and pounced on the middle class once they were enacted. But Wall Street didn’t just win weak rules, they routinely violated rules that crimped profits. Crime always pays until you get caught. If bankers know they can caught and avoid punishment, they have no incentive to obey the law when doing so would crimp their bonuses.

And those bonuses are still wild and wonderful for corporate elites. As Sam Pizzigati emphasizes for Yes! Magazine, CEO pay last year was an astonishing four times higher than during the years of elite dominance shepherded by President Ronald Reagan. This kind of pay isn’t good for the economy. It’s a waste of resources that could be going to rank-and-file workers.

Business journalists skewing facts

The editorial pages of major newspapers aren’t the only places where preposterous business journalism pops up. As Kevin Drum notes, you can also read it on the pages of major mainstream business magazines.

In a blog post for Mother Jones, Drum takes down one of the worst articles on both Obama and business that has yet been written. It’s by right-wing writer Dinesh D’Souza, and it reads like a combination between a Birther conspiracy theory, a coded racist rant and a completely incoherent assault on reasonable economic policy.

Without citing any evidence, D’Souza calls Obama, “the most antibusiness president in a generation, perhaps in American history,” and goes on to blame this attitude on the “anticolonialist” views of Obama’s Kenyan father. One might expect this kind of garbage to be running in white nationalist newsletters, but as Drum highlights, the article was published in Forbes magazine, a thoroughly mainstream conservative business rag (don’t confuse Forbes with Fortune, which uncovered the Enron scam).

Obama’s baby steps

Obama could make outrageous attacks like D’Souza’s easier to defend if he proposed a set of bold, new policies to combat the recession. Instead, as William Greider highlights for The Nation, Obama is going for half-measures that will make things a little less worse, but won’t really put the economy back on track. His recently proposed tax cuts for small businesses and $50 billion in infrastructure spending will indeed create jobs– just not enough of them.

We need a robust government plan to create jobs, which means lots of spending for government hiring, expanded benefits for the unemployed, and robust government investments in the national infrastructure. All of these things will cost money, but if we don’t put people back to work, the resulting lack of economic growth will make the federal budget deficit far worse than the jobs spending will.

Helping the middle class isn’t “antibusiness,” it’s common-sense economics. If all of our economic policies are geared toward throwing money at the rich, we’ll just watch rich people hoard most of that money. Repairing our economy requires repairing the middle class. That means lots of jobs—and in a deep recession, only the government can provide those jobs.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the economy by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint.  This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

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by AFL-CIO via Creative Commons/Flicker

by Zach Carter, Media Consortium blogger

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28 comments

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8:38AM PDT on Oct 13, 2010

From the 1700's when politicians really cared.Read below. Obama cares as much as any other Repub. Come on his grandma was a bankster.
“Presidents"
" If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks...will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.... The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs. "
... The modern theory of the perpetuation of debt has drenched the earth with blood, and crushed its inhabitants under burdens ever accumulating". -Thomas Jefferson

"History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling money and its issuance". -James Madison

5:01AM PDT on Sep 20, 2010

Simple: our problem is theft of labor is not only tolerated, but encouraged. Legislate corporate responsibility.

Change the way businesses are taxed and regulated to make the net cost less for paying somebody 50K to do the work here than to pay a slave nothing and the problem will be solved very quickly.

The ironic thing is that so much more money and value would go into the economy, and unproductive drains on the economy, such as crime and its associated costs (prisons, law enforcement, etc.) would be so greatly reduced that the wealthiest might find themselves doing even better, too, as the return on their investment in labor exceeds the cost.

Some business people thought Henry Ford crazy to pay his workers so well. "They need the money to buy the cars," he responded. He demanded quality, paid people well, and got plenty rich, too. Whatever happened to that sort of reasoning?

10:49AM PDT on Sep 19, 2010

I watch BBC for true news!

1:48PM PDT on Sep 16, 2010

Our Fiat currency is going to tank thanks to the Federal Reserve but why does anyone want a job, start your own business.

9:06AM PDT on Sep 16, 2010

we already know that the power elite orchestrated everything from day one whenever that was, divide and destroy is the game and the new world order is the name,whatever happens people must get together and form their own community police and defend themselves,and not become apathetic because if you do they win,it is your pain and suffering that they feed off.

2:53PM PDT on Sep 15, 2010

It is corporations/business working along with their friendly Republicans that are keeping the jobs at bay.

I know that sounds a little extreme but think about it. Banks have money but they are not lending. Businesses have jobs, but they rather work with a smaller work force demanding that each individual do more and wear more hats, hense more profit. They get to pay less wages and less benefits. Oh and please don't forget the jobs businesses are sending overseas.

Business have worked with Republicans to try and stop new bills for regulations, for losing tax incentives while sending jobs oversea, they try to stop the healthcare bill and before you say WHAT, let me gently remind you that insurances, pharmaceuticals, hosptials and other healthcare business are just that corporations/business and the list goes on.

It is pure and simple greed and profits. If you ever worked for a corporation, like I have, you know what I'm saying is true.

1:48PM PDT on Sep 15, 2010

Not just the business press, I don't trust any press!

1:45PM PDT on Sep 15, 2010

We The People are very much Under The Thumb of Big Business. They really Don't Care whether we Live or Die, as long as they can collect a million dollars or 2 every month in the blessed year. It's way past time. We have to stand up for our Rights as Equal Citizens of this Nation, and Demand Our Fair Share of the HUGE PROFITS they make every day. Good Grief !!!

1:09PM PDT on Sep 15, 2010

They have been getting away with that for years by blaming the disenfranchised but this time, it might not work. Because the millions of out of work people are more well read and will not let these politicians and publishers get away with that this next election. They want results, not inaction.

9:26AM PDT on Sep 15, 2010

Truly it is amazing that we allow them to do this, our congress, senate, reps the pres, and all the folks it includes, should be taking cuts, The workers of our country deserve to live a full and happy life, the CEO's and exec. of our nations companies, should never be allowed to benefit at these levels. It is a crime, it is morally wrong, and shame on them. But, they don't care, they will do anything to profit. Our oil and gas industry is a perfect example of this. They are making Billion dollar profits, per quarter, and yet this is a commodity that runs the world. Why should they be able to do this to us? Why should we have to decide between gas money, food money or insurance? Why should the working americans be subjected to this? Are we pesants? No, I do believe, last I looked we were Free! But when your govt works against you in greed, it will bring with it sad results. You and I both know the people will only take so much! History, does indeed repeat itself. They greedy always fall..... Faith, and doing the right thing and encourage others to follow basic moral values. Christian or not, you cannot argue with the 10 Commandments. Truly, living a full life, it is simple, it is 10 simple rules to happiness!

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