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Archive for May, 2010

      Recently, I listened to Larry Kudlow on MSNBC TV publicly lambaste and assail public employees in California because they were alleged to have an augmented rich tax-supported retirement system. His comments were made despite the fact that nationwide government employees, not just in California, make their own substantial contributions into retirement systems, and pay taxes like anyone else. California state employees also pay state income taxes into the very same taxpayer system Larry believed was giving them a free ride.

     He gave the impression that the only valuable employees in our society can only be found in the “private sector.” This was not tongue-in-cheek; he was serious in his comments.

     Larry’s comments struck me as funny in two ways. First, in lambasting California state employees, he said nothing about the mind-boggling bailouts (billions of dollars) to private sector banks and corporations and investment firms and giant AIG whom, despite being bailed out with taxpayer funds, nevertheless went on to use some of the TARP tax money to give astronomical bonuses to their employees. And second, let’s not get started on discussing the moral and ethical compass of Goldman Sach’s executives. They give absolute new meaning to the term, “Flagrant Greed.”

      As a retired state employee of the great state of California I take umbrage at Larry’s assumptions about state employees for one good reason—his comments bear little resemblance to reality. We all must remember what Presidents Kennedy and Roosevelt said of public service. That is, “public service is the most noble of professions.” And salaries of government employees always seem to lag behind those in the private sector, despite the fact that state and local government employees are often more experienced and qualified than employees found in the private sector. For example, The Center for State and Local Government Excellence and the National Institute on Retirement Security jointly released a study last month comparing what state and local government employees earned compared with private sector workers. Among the findings researchers noted:

 Jobs in the public sector typically require more education than private sector positions. State and local employees are twice as likely to hold a college degree or higher as compared to private sector employees. Only 23 percent of private sector employees have completed college, as compared to about 48 percent in the public sector.

 Wages and salaries of state and local employees are lower than those for private sector employees with comparable earnings determinants, such as education and work experience. State employees typically earn 11 percent less and local workers 12 percent less.

 During the last 15 years, the pay gap has grown: Earnings for state and local workers have generally declined relative to comparable private sector employees.

 The pattern of declining relative earnings remains true in most of the large states examined in the study, although there does exist some state level variation.

 Benefits make up a slightly larger share of compensation for the state and local sector. But even after accounting for the value of retirement, healthcare, and other benefits, state and local employees earn less than private sector counterparts. On average, total compensation is 6.8 percent lower for state employees and 7.4 percent lower for local employees than for comparable private sector employees.  To Review this article click on:  http://www.sacbee.com/static/weblogs/the_state_worker/2010/04/study-state-and-local-governme.html

THE TELEVISION MEDIA IN AMERICA

      The Financial TV Network media is no different than other media venues. Some of the very best TV media in this country are, in fact, your local media who provide news, weather, and sports. They serve a very useful purpose and possess value for the viewing public. However, at the national level, the rules seem to change from a “fact-based” programming style, to an “opinion-based” programming style. This has many shortfalls for the viewing public.   

     It is perhaps ironic that Larry missed the fact that his very own profession (Media TV Journalism) produces very little. Why do they produce so little of value? Because, media types in general often give uninformed opinions (remember what Inspector ‘Dirty’ Harry Callahan said in the movie, The Dead Pool—“Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one.”). In addition, the media will lie when they see the need to be expedient, often make wild speculations unsupported by data, and care more about their own public image than producing anything valuable (other than amusement and inflated hyperbole) for the public. And, most everything is presented in sound bites, not coherent presentation of information. These media occupational shortcomings often make it difficult for the general public to “get the facts.” Long gone are national quality journalists like media giant Walter Cronkite who really did earn his reputation as “the most trusted man in America.” Although no one can replace Walter Cronkite, there are some current day TV journalists who have earned respect for their work. These individuals are mentioned in the section ahead on Conclusions.

  MEDIA STORIES AS INFORMATION

     Media stories today, whether at the national or local level often appear to be incomplete and often lack any coherence. They incessantly use the term, “breaking news” to the point where the expression loses all meaning—and is rather boring. And, like humpty-dumpy on the wall, they hurry to piece the breaking news bites together, while often leaving out crucial parts of the information. Or, sometimes they raise a question yet fail to provide an answer by the end of the program. A lot broadcast today is for effect (such as teasing the viewer) rather than substance.

      But the problem with the media doesn’t end there. For example, media TV journalists engage in biased reporting, often mistreat their invited guests, ask questions without waiting to hear or understand the answers, embarrass their guests, use leading questions in an effort to put “words” in the mouth of guests in order to control the message or control the guest, and become irritated or frightened when guests turn the tables and ask them questions. This potpourri of shortcomings is often what makes national TV journalists “second rate professionals” in a “third rate” profession.

      In addition media TV journalists seem to have an inflated opinion of themselves, and strut their pompass demeanor most of the time. They also manipulate and toy with the viewer by giving tidbits of news so as to entice the viewer to keep watching their channel. This is the “The world is coming to an end at ten p.m.—news at eleven” approach to coaxing viewers to stay tuned.  The media’s greatest shortcoming, that strays from giving valuable information, is their use of what I call, “toxic vituperate rhetoric with Ad Hominem argumentation (they play the blame game and attack the arguer rather than the substance of the argument itself).”

 CONCLUSIONS

      You probably think I have it in for all national journalists. That is not the case. One simply has to be very discriminating even when watching a flawed profession reveal its weaknesses.

      There are four TV journalists that I like very much. Who is the best? I feel it is Christine Amapour. She deals with facts of importance and very little, if any, rhetoric. She is engaging and smart, and I come away as a viewer having learned quite a lot. Next there is Rachel Maddow on the liberal side, and Greta Van Sustern on the conservative side. Of course these two engage in partisan viewpoints, but often it is accompanied by valuable and insightful analysis of the stories they are covering. They both get high marks from me. Then there is Don Cherry who always gives a sensitive and respectful, yet insightful look at the stories he is covering. Kudos to all of these, “Cream of the Crop” national TV journalists.” Unfortunately, Larry Kudlow isn’t among this group of distinguished TV journalists. Maybe next time, Larry. Yeah! Right!

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