Objectivity is Dead. Journalism Must Live.

Megyn Kelly probably thought she had a blockbuster for her new Sunday night interview show on NBC. By sitting down with Alex Jones she clearly planned to use her considerable skill as a no-nonsense interviewer to show the world just who this guy is. It probably never occurred to her that by giving him a platform she was promoting his horrifically unreal nonsense and bringing it to a wider world.

It’s the kind of hubris that Shakespeare made a career out of portraying.

The backlash is massive and there is little doubt it was a mistake. But shouldn’t we shine light on these princes of darkness, the purveyors of a land a few hours past the Twilight Zone? Yes, perhaps, but it takes a certain standard of journalism to do so. The sad thing is that journalism, personified by objectivity, is quite dead. Kelly can’t revive it, either. For better or worse, this is the time for the new daughter of objectivity to take charge of the family treasure, truth, for a new age.

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Is Objectivity Dead?

Once you let the monster out of its cage, how do you get it back in?

This may well be the question haunting serious journalists through and after this election. The gold standard of a reliable news media, objectivity, is at the very least being seriously tested. It may even be completely gone – replaced with instant fact-checking and even personal animosity directly primarily at Donald Trump.

It’s not as though his combative and free-flowing BS style doesn’t deserve a hard-hitting dose of reality at every turn. Democrats, like me, practically demand reporting like this. But we have to ask ourselves, “Is journalism as we know it dead, or simply doing what it has to for us to get through this election?”

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Demographics is Still Destiny

Just about 12 hours after this post goes up, the world will see the ADP Employment Report for July. We can expect it to show a net gain of about 240k jobs, about the same as the 237k gained in June. It’s a decent number, higher than the 220k or so averaged last year at this time, but what does it really mean?

Context is the key to understanding the data that drives our world, so let’s get going with some solid background on what these figures mean. It’s time for a few charts and graphs once again to demonstrate just how strong things really are going into the magic period where Baby Boomers start to retire in droves – sometime after 2017.

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Fight for $15

The fight for a $15 per hour minimum wage is the hottest issue among progressive Democrats today. There has been a lot of progress as cities including Seattle and Los Angeles have passed this as their minimum wage, as has the entire state of New York (but only for “fast food” workers, strangely). It would be a big hike from today’s $7.25 per hour, a 106% increase that swamps any previous jump. President Obama, and many Democrats, favor a smaller $12 per hour rate as something of a compromise.

But where did these numbers come from? Why are they important? What effects would a minimum wage rise have on the economy? It’s worth spending some time looking at the postwar history of the minimum wage, from 1947 to 2015, to see where we are today and what it means.

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Fear Doesn’t Glitter

“All money is a matter of belief.”
– Adam Smith

Gold is taking a solid beating these days. It’s been slipping for a while, but when China revealed that it’s reserves were less than believed it really fell – quickly slipping below $1,100 per ounce when one mysterious trader dumped everything. It’s now more than a third off its 2010 peak and nearly everyone believes that it’s doomed to slip below $1,000 per ounce by the end of the year.

What happened? Isn’t gold the ultimate money in an unstable world? The short answer is no, and this has as much to do with the rise of the US Dollar as anything. But in the end gold is not as much a form of money as it is a barometer of fear – a commodity that appears to be in much shorter supply today than it was just a few years ago.

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Tax Profits, Not Labor!

Are you properly compensated for your work? As we discussed previously, between 1947 and 1973 worker’s salaries accounted for half of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). There was a solid if unspoken agreement that labor and capital split the spoils of the free market equally between them.

But what of output per worker? Is it possible that workers are slacking off and don’t deserve the same arrangement they had in the immediate Post WWII era? An analysis of productivity, or output per worker, shows some interesting trends that may point to more unspoken agreements that the various markets for capital and labor expect. These trends follow business cycles, and as such point to some important changes that are necessary as we move ahead into the next cycle in the next few years.

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Broken Social Contract

Are you better off now than you were so many years ago? It was a question first raised in the 1980 campaign, a motto used to defeat President Carter. The answer then was a rather sure “No!” and the voters responded, blaming the man in charge. But are you better off now than then? And was it fair to blame Carter or any President for the state of the economy?

A few graphs showing the state of workers in the Postwar Era (1947-today) shows how the problem persists. Sen Sanders has often said that the last 40 years have been a slow retreat for workers, and he has a point. But who is to blame?

Let’s leave blame aside for a moment and check out the numbers first.

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