Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Maybe The Media Is Just As Baffled As The Rest Of Us

It's absolutely fascinating- the quality of crap written by the mainstream media. Sometimes, I honestly don't think corporate writers have a brain in their head. Or at the very least, writers may simply be gullible since they are mostly statists and government worshippers to begin with. Quite often it appears that writers simply do not attempt to fact check anything our government excretes or at the very least- cite which massaging agency is the source of  the numbers they are using. They simply accept some BS number from some undisclosed agency and write a story.

Remember, this is the government which delivers the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports each month. Some of the most superb science fiction since Jules Verne and Kurt Vonnegut first put ink on paper.

This is an ABC news story I stumbled onto. I snipped the following quote directly from the article. "The US Treasury Department is seeking to borrow $444 billion in the current quarter. The latest estimate of borrowing plans for the January-March period would make this quarter the fifth highest for government borrowing. That's because of the very large budget deficit." Source: http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/abc-blogs/irs-delays-refunds-morning-business-memo-121816654--abc-news.html

Now here's a first paragraph snippet from Andrew Taylor of the Associated Press in a different story on the very same day. WASHINGTON (AP) — A new budget report released Tuesday predicts the U.S. government will run a $1.1 trillion deficit in the fiscal year that ends in September, a slight dip from last year but still very high by any measure.
Here is the original piece. http://news.yahoo.com/us-budget-deficit-dip-1-1t-152358458.html

So I scratched my head because a 444 billion loan translates into something more like a 1.8 trillion dollar annual deficit if extrapolated out.

Yet here is the AP piece telling us that this year's deficit for 2012 (I am assuming this is a Congressional Budget Office sourced article although most bloggers do a better job of quoting sources than Taylor does) is only going to be 1.1 trillion.

So which story numbers are bullshit? Hey wait! Didn't the government borrow money in the first quarter of the 2012 budget? How much was that? Well I'm glad you asked. From Fox News: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/01/12/federal-deficit-hits-322b-in-first-quarter-fiscal-2012-lower-than-previous-year/

So the gov borrowed 322 billion. Ok, let's see here. A paltry 322 billion + a slightly less paltry 444 billion this quarter equals 766 billion borrowed so far for the 2012 budget year. So the truth lies somewhere in between the extrapolated 1.8 trillion and Taylor's 1.1 trillion but it certainly appears that the deficit cannot be either of those two numbers.

Taylor will be correct if in fact the government- quite suddenly- only borrows 167 billion in each of the two remaining quarters of 2012. Or if bond yields stay low.

The interest on last year's (2011) debt alone was 463 billion. http://www.treasurydirect.gov/govt/reports/ir/ir_expense.htm

So people are confused by big numbers. They don't stop to think that a trillion is a thousand billion. Most folks probably think that a trillion is about how much Mitt Romney paid for one of his castles and a Range Rover. Or more accurately- they simply don't give a shit. When I see an article claiming that this year's 1.1 trillion dollar deficit is less than last year's- I get miffed. Not only is it presented like it is good news-  it is patent bullshit. You can't even get to the truth because writers don't cite specific sources and gawd knows Washington has about five different agencies spewing propaganda wildly differing numbers and projections. Then you have to try and figure out if borrowing is somehow offset by revenue or whether figures are actual or projected.

You know what? Maybe I'm too hard on writers like Taylor. Maybe he is just as confused as the rest of us. I think the government likes it that way. They'd probably hire Verne or Vonnegut and call them technical writers.


Anonymous said...

Brian, maybe it's time to give in and stop thinking. Pointing out the fact that compulsive liars are, well liars, ultimately only makes you as the expositor the one who lacks credibility.

No, I am not suggesting your credibility is anything less than 100% in absolute terms, but if you get too far ahead of the trend (by seeing the obvious) then no one will want to listen and they'll just trash your reputation to get you out of the way.

Intellect and critical thinking skills are the largest curses given to any human and I can tell you in all honesty that you are doubly cursed my friend.


Brian said...

Hmmm. That comment leaves me speechless. Good.

The suggestion I suppose, by implication, is just bend over and take it?

Never been my style.