Friday, July 8, 2011

Debt Limit Debate on Networks a Joke

I was in the gym on Wednesday and someone had turned on one of the television news channels. I usually watch Turner Classic Movies when on the treadmill; TCM is more informative.  The news story of the hour is the debt limit debate. The Democrats want to raise taxes so that they can pay more interest to bondholders, and the Republicans say that they don't want to raise taxes but that just enough of them are planning to vote for higher taxes that, well, they might as well be Democrats.  The network reporters don't know about government operations so that their reporting is uninformed.

When I worked in Albany, the Democratic speaker of the assembly, Mell Miller, who was later indicted, said in an assembly ways and means committee meeting that I attended that there was no fat.  Even some of the extreme left wingers with whom I worked on the Democratic WAM staff laughed privately.   The government of New York State was and is pure fat. There is nothing but fat. Even my friend, a Maoist working full time as a Democratic staffer, showed me a fictional line item that had been charged by the Department of Social Services simply to provide itself with some additional fat when Mario Cuomo had transferred a block grant program to it.  Experienced in state government, it took him two minutes to identify the increase in spending; to an outsider, it would have been next to impossible to identify it.  Another friend, also a left-winger, laughed uncontrollably when I told him that Miller had said that there was no fat.

The incompetent television coverage of the debt limit debate is grounded on the claim that government operations are efficient.  They are efficient at one thing: waste.  Even private firms waste money. Government is amateurish and deliberately wasteful. It would not hard to reduce spending by 30% for someone interested in efficiency. 

Watching news about the debt limit should make you certain of one thing: watching television news is a waste of time.

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