“Are Americans Better Off Today Than They Were Four Years Ago” Is A Dumb Question
Dean Baker exposes the stupidity below the ‘better off today’ question that so many are asking, implying that Obama hasn’t done enough for the economy:
Dean Baker, “Are Americans Better Off Today Than They Were Four Years Ago?” The Question That Exposes Incompetent Reporters
Suppose your house is on fire and the firefighters race to the scene. They set up their hoses and start spraying water on the blaze as quickly as possible. After the fire is put out, the courageous news reporter on the scene asks the chief firefighter, “is the house in better shape than when you got here?”
Yes, that would be a really ridiculous question. Hence George Stephanopoulos was being absurd when he posed this question to David Plouffe, a top political adviser to President Obama on ABC’s This Week. Bob Schieffer was being equally silly when he asked Martin O’Malley, the Chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, the same question on CBS’s Face the Nation.
A serious reporter asks the fire chief if he had brought a large enough crew, if they had enough hoses, if the water pressure was sufficient. That might require some minimal knowledge of how to put out fires.
Similarly, serious reporters would ask whether the stimulus was large enough, was it well-designed, and were there other measures that could have been taken like promoting shorter workweeks, as Germany has done. That would of course require some knowledge of economics, but it sure makes more sense than asking if a house is better off after it was nearly burnt to the ground.
(h/t Paul Krugman, who said, ‘Obama came to office in the midst of the worst economic crisis since the 1930s. The question should be how well he dealt with that crisis — and in particular whether the man seeking to replace him would have done better.’)
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