(Update) Please, just stop the ridiculous point/counterpoint opinions in the Star

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

Back in September 2011, I posted this piece, Please, just stop the ridiculous point/counterpoint opinions in the Star:

ScreenshotIn recent weeks the Arizona Daily Star has taken to publishing a
point/counterpoint series of opinions on Monday from McClatchy News.
These opinions are invariably written by think tanks or politicians with
an agenda and a partisan axe to grind. There is very little factual
content and even less credible analysis. This is supposed to inform
readers how exactly?

* * *

Please, just stop the ridiculous point/counterpoint opinions. They are as useless and uninformative as the old 60 Minutes
point/counterpoint segment back in the 1970s with James Kilpatrick and
Shana Alexander spewing partisan invectives at one another. The media
villagers find this entertaining, but it is not informative.

Almost two years later, the lazy editors of the Arizona Daily Star are still running the ridiculous point/counterpoint opinions from McClatchy on Monday. The editors are doing a great disservice to readers when they publish propagandistic misinformation and disinformation from partisan think tanks masquearading as "opinion" on its editorial page.

Today's example is from Amy Ridenour, chairman of the National Center for Public Policy Research. No: Scrap it and start over (regarding "ObamaCare"). The lazy editors of the Arizona Daily Star should check SourceWatch before they publish such propaganda:

NCPPR has been criticized for bombarding senior citizens with "fright
mail." According to an article by Diane Walsh of the San Francisco
Examiner, NCPPR contracts out its mailing of repetitive and frightening
letters to the right-wing direct mail mill, Response Dynamics.

And about the author:

According to a U.S. Senate investigation of the financial dealings and influence peddling of disgraced right-wing lobbyist Jack Abramoff, NCPPR's Amy Ridenour
directed money received from tribes and others, at Abramoff's
direction, and distributed it to other "charities," again at his
direction.

Does this sound like a reputable and credible organization to the Star? Is this responsible journalism?

It is an exhausting effort to have to counter the misinformation and disinformation that fequently appears in the pages of the Arizona Daily Star. I will address two points made by Ridenour in her "Obama-Scare" piece:

The Affordable Care Act also kills jobs. According to a recent Gallup
survey, the effects on employment have been nothing short of horrendous.

The obvious credibility problem with Gallup opinion polls in recent years is well known. Secondly, hiring decisions are based upon consumer demand, and there is currently not enough consumer demand in the economy to require employers to hire more employees. This has more to do with conservative austerity economics and the GOP sequester taking money out of the economy, reducing the expendable income of consumers to spend money, and thus reducing consumer demand. This has nothing to do with "uncertainty" or the cost of the Affordable Care Act.

This talking point is a variation on the "Obama-Scare" talking point of recent weeks that the ACA will lead employers to reduce hours of workers to part-time status to evade the law. Derek Thompson at The Atlantic looked at the facts in Two Graphs Showing, Decisively, That Obamacare Is Not Creating a Permanent Part-Time America:

The popular conservative take, reinforced somewhat by anecdotal
evidence, is that the law is causing full-time workers to disappear,
already. "Us and other people are hiring part-time because we don't know
what the costs are going to be to hire full-time," said Steven Raz, founder of New Jersey staffing firm.

But
despite Raz's warnings, the dramatic rise in part-time work hasn't been
so dramatic. Since Obamacare was signed, part-time workers have
increased by just 2 percent. Full-time workers have increased by 5
percent. From Kevin Drum:

Blog_full_time_part_time

So where did this meme about Part-Time America come from? It came from
2008, a year and a half before the Affordable Care Act was passed
.
Here's another graph offering some valuable perspective on the rise in
part-time work, via Jim Pethokoukis and Goldman Sachs:

Part-Time

Look closely. The share of part-time workers in America shot up after
the Great Recession, and it has *declined* since the passage of the
Affordable Care Act. It has, however, been a rather jagged decline.

This is intuitive. When the economy stinks, employers want to keep some
workers around but pay them less and have the option to fire them. It
stinks. A lot. But you don't need the Obamacare Boogieman to explain it.

Barbara Garson, author of the new book Down the Up Escalator: How the 99% Live in the Great Recession (Doubleday), has a piece at Salon examining how employers have turned many jobs into part-time or contract work since the Great Recession. Freelance nation: When good jobs turn to bad (How corporate America used the recession to cut employee wages, benefits, and long-term security and no-one noticed):

Here’s the truly mysterious aspect of this “recovery”: 21% of the
jobs lost during the Great Recession were low wage, meaning they paid
$13.83 an hour or less.  But 58% of the jobs regained fall into that
category. A common explanation for that startling statistic is that the bad jobs are coming back first and the good jobs will follow.

But
let me suggest another explanation: the good jobs are here among us
right now — it’s just their wages, their benefits, and the long-term
security that have vanished.

* * *

In other words, under the shadow of the recession, the company hadn’t
sent jobs offshore or eliminated them.  It had simply replaced decently
paying full-time employment, including benefits, with low-wage,
contingent employment without benefits.  It had, that is, pulled the old
switcheroo, turning good jobs into bad ones on premises.

* * *

Good jobs disappeared into bad jobs so deftly that hardly anyone has
noticed the switcheroo.  Soon enough the zombie jobs that replace the
real ones will move among us as if they were normal.  If you sense that
there’s something missing, there must be something wrong with you.  Get
with the program.  We’re becoming a freelance nation.

Again, this phenomenon has nothing to do with "uncertainty" or the cost of the Affordable Care Act.

The second "Obama-Scare" talking point of Ridenour with which I take exception is this:

Don’t expect privacy when you buy health insurance on one of the health
law’s exchanges, either, because the administration is late in employing
security systems to keep your medical and financial information
private, although this violates federal law.

The first obvious point is who has any expectation of security online in the wake of numerous reports over the years of banks, retailers and even the Pentagon having their computers hacked? Then of course, there are the revelations about NSA spying. Sarah Kliff at Ezra Klein's Wonkblog recently addressed this "Obama-Scare" talking point in Inside the last-minute scramble to stand-up Obamacare:

I’ve spent the past few days talking with state marketplace
directors, alongside a few Medicaid officials, about what they expect to
happen when the marketplaces go live.

What I heard back was this: We’ll be ready to launch, and good chunks
of our technology testing are done. But there’s a lot of work left
until we flip the switch – and the product we launch won’t be what was
initially envisioned.

“The IT folks are doing nights and weekends right now,” says Jon
Hager, executive director of the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange
in Nevada. “They’re working seven days a week and getting very little
sleep.”

One area where states have made significant progress is testing with
the federal data hub, the massive repository of consumer information
that will help the marketplaces determine who qualifies for benefits.
One recent report warned that, due to federal testing delays, the
marketplace could be at risk of falling behind schedule.

Five of the six state marketplaces (about a third of all the
state-run marketplaces total) I spoke with said they had finished waves
of testing with the federal government. Idaho is relying on the federal
government to run its technology backend so did not go through this
testing.

“There were 36 test scenarios that we had to go back and forth with
the federal hub on,” Mila Kofman, executive director of the District of
Columbia Health Benefits Exchange, says of her testing experience. “That
tests different aspects of how the data flows. For us, there was one
case [out of the 36] that we couldn’t get the flow to work. So we have
to fix that.”

There were some bumps for some states,but nothing that derailed testing from completion, the exchange officials say.

“There were times when the hub had to be taken offline…,” Hager, of
Nevada, says. “So we couldn’t test until they got it back online. But I
think the end result, and everything I’ve seen, says it will be ready.”

* * *

Nearly everyone involved in building the marketplaces expect that, like
any new venture, they will not work perfectly on day one.

* * *

Hitting the Oct. 1 deadline has involved trade-offs. Kofman decided a
few weeks ago that her team didn’t have bandwidth to get a
Spanish-language marketplace site up and running by then and that it
will wait until later this year. Spanish speakers will still have access
to bilingual call center agents and Health Link Assisters.

* * *

Out in Oregon, officials have decided to use Oct. 1 as a “soft launch,”
allowing only brokers and community agents to use the Web site. The
general public will gain access a few weeks later.

* * *

“When Google launched Gmail, you had to be invited, and that was their
Beta launch,” Fauver says. “That was the way that they identified bugs.
Our benefit is that our initial users will be community partners who
will be already trained on these systems.”

There will be glitches in the system that have to be worked out. But anyone who has ever used a Microsoft product on their computer fully expects this; it is the way of computing.

Over the years I have come to believe that the Arizona Daily Star is not even trying anymore. They are just phoning it in. If the Star is not going to make a serious effort to inform its readers, then it should close up shop and go out of business. Thanks for destroying a once great local newspaper.

One response to “(Update) Please, just stop the ridiculous point/counterpoint opinions in the Star

  1. The absolute worst was Monday, Aug. 12. They ran dueling editorials on the question: Is Common Core Likely to Succeed ? The Yes position was argued by two Big Business hacks, one from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and one from the Business Roundtable. The No position was argued by a Big Business hack from the AEI. Two different flavors of Big Biz propaganda, no educators, good job Star.