Monday, August 2, 2010

Brief Hiatus

Had to take a couple of days off. Between the radio show and the blogging I got a bit burnt. Not so's you'd notice just enough for me to. I'm going on vacation next week and will spend the entire week doing research of a different kind. This morning's radio show was a mixed bag beginning with the hate-spewing monsters of talk radio in the US. Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh.

When discussing the crazy propaganda the aforementioned hate-meisters spew, what's important to remember is no matter how crazy or untrue it may sound to you, it's effective if it's heard often enough and it will be believed. The right-wing media absolutely relies on that to be true. The conservative media dreamland, for instance, ensconces its audience in an impregnable bubble -- you eat breakfast with the Wall Street Journal's editorial page, you drive to the office with right-wing radio, you flit between Breitbart and Drudge at work, you come home to Fox News. The ideas bouncing around in this world -- say, ideas about the Obama administration allegedly favoring blacks -- don't seem like propaganda to those inside the bubble.

This holds true for the so-called debate about anthropogenic global warming. There is little debate about the science within the scientific community - 97% of scientists believe it is settled science. You can debate the models and the minutiae but global warming has a human footprint. To the public at large, it's not so cut and dried where only 26% are convinced and as you can see in the chart the media coverage mirrors public perception.

For those who don't have time to read the science or vet all the claims, you can understand their confusion. In the same day you can have an excellent must-read article about climate change, cause and effects published in the Washington Post, and something completely moronic printed in the former paper of record, The New York Times. The reverse could also happen. The MSM are driving people's understanding of the issue (or lack thereof) and as such are responsible for the lack of action taken thus far to stem the worst effects.

Of course they couldn't do it alone, there are organizations like the US Chamber of Commerce to help spread the disinformation. Increasingly there are signs that some within the Chamber want to distance themselves from their policies:  a breakaway group of local chambers is getting ready to publicly split with the business lobby's hardline stance against climate legislation. The new climate coalition, known as the Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy (CICE), will press Congress to take stronger action on climate and energy issues. It has already signed up about a dozen chambers and will officially launch later this year. Hooray for a little sanity!

In economic news I went back down the memory hole to have another look at Robert Reich's Nation article  about how the wealthy are raking in an absurd portion of the wealth -- Median wages are continuing their downward slide, and those at the top continue to rake in the lion's share of income. That's why the middle class still doesn't have the purchasing power it needs to reboot the economy, and why the so-called recovery will be so tepid—maybe even leading to a double dip. It's also why America will be vulnerable to even larger speculative booms and deeper busts in the years to come.

About economists, Dean Baker over at Truthout writes:  It is amazing that angry mobs have not risen up and chased all the economists out of the country. While the greed of the Wall Street gang provided the fuel for the bubble, the economists played an essential role as enablers. This was most directly true for economists in policymaking positions, like Alan Greenspan at the Fed.

It's hard to summarize what's been going on in the Gulf this past week (Truthout gives it a good go) but the oil has been dispersed by toxic chemicals and everyone's trying to pretend that's a good thing. Recall that dispersant and oil are more lethal to the environment than just plain oil. So now as they get ready to kill the spill once and for all there are reports that there is a dead zone in the Gulf the size of Massachusetts.

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