Staff Editorial by the Rockland County Times

Major news organizations have been dishing misleading headlines and poorly constructed storylines to the public more than ever these days.

Let’s start with some light fare; the mainstream global Indian newspaper and website www.hindustantimes.com which serves hundreds of thousands of Indian-Americans as well as other around the world, hit pay-dirt with their most clicked headline of the week “Daniel Radcliffe enjoys one-night stands.” Meanwhile, the actual text of the article stated almost word for word that he does not enjoy one-night stands and avoids them. Radcliffe, in case you don’t know, is the actor who portrays Harry Potter in the movies.

Now let’s switch to conservative talk radio. As stimulating as talk radio can be, it kind of ruins it when all the major hosts get the story wrong. Last week most or all of the nationally syndicated conservative talk show hosts lambasted a new ordinance in L.A. County as an example of big brother gone out of control. The ordinance supposedly said that frisbee and football play was banned on the beach during peak season, at risk of a $1,000 fine.

Problem is, the news story was the exact opposite. The heavy-handed and spiritually oppressive ordinance was being repealed! And the fines for breaking the remaining, much laxer, regulations would not reach $1,000 until the fourth offense. Considering nobody was ever ticketed under the miserable ordinance in the first place (apparently it was not enforced), it would seem unlikely $1,000 would ever be reached.

And yet from noon until 9 p.m., not one of the radio hosts received the correct information from an intern or staffer. The story continued to circulate into the next day, when people finally decided to read the article, instead of just the misleading headline. If multi-million dollar shows owned by multi-billion dollar companies cannot get simple facts straight, maybe it’s time for you the readers to keep it local, wink, wink.

And these are not uncommon types of errors, if we paid it mind, we could probably write this same column every week of the year.

Now for content a bit more subjective, but perhaps you will agree, also an example of misleading reporting by the mainstream media.

A meme* circulating through the media and political diasophere is that taxes need to be raised on the “1%” so that everybody pays their fair share. This meme is a result of the 1% vs. 99% narrative that the Occupy movement succeeded in spreading into the national consciousness. This has led President Obama to focus a lot of energy on raising taxes on the 1% and his pushing of the meme “everyone pays their fair share.”

However you feel about that, and you are entitled to your opinion whatever it may be, a simple fact is being left out of the whole conversation. A fib by omission.

The fact is if the United States went so far as to double taxes on the “1%” it still wouldn’t account for half the immense deficit the nation faces in the next decade, let alone the enormous debt pile already sitting there causing us hundreds of billions in interest per year. Barring a new revolution in economic efficiency, like the Internet in the 1990s, that causes immense growth, we are going to be struggling with this behemoth of debt for generations.

So the “pay your fair share” mantra actually is something of a red herring.

The question should be, is the deficit a concern to you or not? If it is, a small, moderate or even a large increase in taxes on the wealthy is not going to do much to help when spending is outpacing revenue by so much. Only if you taxed the entire economy to death would you be able to make up the difference and then you’d end up cutting off your nose to spite your face!

Of course, there are probably economists who have different outlooks, but the outlooks should be debated, not assumed by the mainstream media. Apparently all these sophisticated journalists fall easily for nice sounding cliches.

* – a meme is a contagious idea or concept

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