I periodically mock the New York Times when editors, reporters, and columnists engage in sloppy and biased analysis.
- Claiming Medicaid cuts in a piece that shows rising outlays for the program.
- Asserting that government schools are “starved of funding” when taxpayer subsidies actually have skyrocketed.
- Claiming that budget-cutting austerity nations are doing worse than “stimulus” nations, but getting the numbers backwards.
- Writing that the sequester will mean “deep automatic spending cuts” when the budget actually would climb by $2.4 trillion.
- Claiming that Italy is more prosperous than the United States and that there is less poverty.
- Asserting that U.S. multinationals pay little tax on foreign-source income, but forgetting to include the taxes paid to foreign governments.
- Cherry-picking income data to hide the fact that pro-market policies produce broadly shared prosperity.
- Attacking the fairness of America’s economy by using poverty data that doesn’t actually measure poverty.
- A column that blames capitalism for the shortcomings of China’s government-run health system.
Now we have another example.
Check out these excerpts from a New York Times column by Steven Greenhouse.
The United States is the only advanced industrial nation that doesn’t have national laws guaranteeing paid maternity leave. It is also the only advanced economy that doesn’t guarantee workers any vacation, paid or unpaid, and the only highly developed country (other than South Korea) that doesn’t guarantee paid sick days. …Among the three dozen industrial countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States has the lowest minimum wage as a percentage of the median wage — just 34 percent of the typical wage, compared with 62 percent in France and 54 percent in Britain. It also has the second-highest percentage of low-wage workers among that group… All this means the United States suffers from what I call “anti-worker exceptionalism.” …America’s workers have for decades been losing out: year after year of wage stagnation.
Sounds like the United States is some sort of Dystopian nightmare for workers, right?
Actual Individual Consumption
Well, if there’s oppression of labor in America, workers in other nations should hope and pray for something similar.
Here’s a chart showing per-capita “actual individual consumption” for various nations that are part of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. As you can see, people in the United States have much higher living standards.
By the way, I can’t resist pointing out another big flaw in Greenhouse’s NYT column.
He wrote that the U.S. has “the second-highest percentage of low-wage workers.” That sounds like there’s lots of poverty in America. Especially since the U.S. is being compared to a group of nations that includes decrepit economies such as Mexico, Turkey, Italy, and Greece.
Greenhouse is relying on data that deliberately confuse absolute living standards and relative living standards.
But this statement is nonsense because it is based on OECD numbers that merely measure the percent of workers in each nation that earn less than two-thirds of the national median level. Yet since median income generally is much higher in the United States, it’s absurd to use this data for international comparisons.
In other words, Greenhouse is relying on data that deliberately confuse absolute living standards and relative living standards. Why? Presumably to try to make the United States look bad and/or to advance a pro-redistribution agenda.
P.S. You can find similarly dishonest ways of measuring poverty from the United Nations, the Equal Welfare Association, Germany’s Institute of Labor Economics, the Obama Administration, and the European Commission.