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A Particularly Bad Paper

It's a disappointing issue of the New York Times today for those who appreciate the occasions when the paper strays outside its usual ideological rut.


Porter's VAT

A friend recently suggested that the Times could increase its revenues by offering readers an option: "you can pay more not to get articles by certain writers."

Under that plan, Eduardo Porter might be a real money maker for the Times. Today his column begins:


Private Sector Oil Spills

A column by Eduardo Porter in the Business section of the New York Times blames capitalism for the BP oil spill: "While in government hands, British Petroleum paid too little attention to profitability, constrained by its need to please elected officials who often cared more about keeping energy cheap and employment high. But in private hands, it may have cared about profits far too much, at the expense of other objectives."

The logic here struck me as suspicious, because there are plenty of other privately owned oil companies that don't have big spills, and there are plenty of government-owned oil companies that do have big spills.


Health Care and Profits

"Health Care and Profits, a Poor Mix" is the headline on a column by Eduardo Porter, which argues that "improving the delivery of social services like heath care and pensions may be possible without increasing the burden on American families, simply by removing the profit motive from the equation."

He writes that "handing over responsibility for social goals to private enterprise is providing us with social goods of lower quality, distributed more inequitably and at a higher cost than if government delivered or paid for them directly."


NYT Income Inequality Extravaganza

There must have been some kind of memo at the New York Times — not that one was needed — to gin up a Christmas-weekend campaign about income inequality.

Example No. 1. is a Frank Rich column yearning for 1956: "economic equality seemed within reach in 1956, at least for the vast middle class."

Or, if not 1956, then at least sometime before "the 1970s": "How many middle-class Americans now believe that the sky is the limit if they work hard enough? How many trust capitalism to give them a fair shake? Middle-class income started to flatten in the 1970s and has stagnated ever since."

Or, if not sometime before the 1970s, maybe 1982?: "nearly a quarter of the 400 wealthiest people in America on this year's Forbes list make their fortunes from financial services, more than three times as many as in the first Forbes 400 in 1982."


Budgets and Generosity

An "editorial observer" column in today's New York Times claims: "The budgetary policy of the United States has been the least generous in the industrial world for a very long time....our government spending on social programs is equally puny. In 2007 Britain spent 25 percent more, as a share of its economy. Germany spent almost 60 percent more."


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Eduardo Porter


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