The fact checkers:
Warren Fiske: writer, researcher
Daniel Finnegan: editor
PolitiFact rated Cantor "Barely True" on this item. As to the why of it ...
Did you know that 90% of the Politifact Pants-on-Fire and False statements come from the Right. It’s true, count them!Pilkington's other comments discourage offering him the charitable interpretation that he feels he has discovered an indication of PolitiFact's selection bias.
The [Korean] crisis also underscores the need for Senate Republicans to support ratification of the new START arms control treaty with Russia. Placing further limits on strategic nuclear warheads and reinstating mutual inspection regimens would have a trickle-down effect by inducing smaller and less stable states such as North Korea to redefine what it takes to have global influence.Um--by making it easier for North Korea to quickly build the world's largest nuclear arsenal? That redefinition? The North Koreans are supposed to reason that if the U.S. and Russia weaken themselves then it is in their best interest to likewise weaken themselves? Otherwise, I don't get it. Maybe there's more of an explanation in there someplace. Let's finish the paragraph:
Stronger ties with Russia also would further build international support for immediate action to forestall North Korea's nuclear ambitions. Sanctions have not worked. Neither has the routine of paying North Korea a bounty every time it backs down from a belligerent threat.Good grief. Russia is hardly the ringleader of a group of nations whose help is required for "international support." Russia can be trusted to act in Russia's self-interest and that's pretty much it. A good number of Russia's neighbors keep hoping for an international coalition to confront Russia.
This study finds that North Korea's nuclear test and the imposition of UN Security Council sanctions have had no perceptible effect on trade with its two largest partners, China and South Korea.I can't think of a truly effective UN sanctions regime. Maybe the informal one against South Africa should count.
The Obama administration may not have many good options, but it needs to press forward on a broad political front. This week's crisis underscores the dangerous thinking by many conservatives who in the recent election cycle called on the United States to withdraw from the United Nations. As long as North Korea remains a threat, America must remain engaged. Its diplomatic partners have an essential role to play, and the United States should be reminding them of it.So let's get this straight. According to the Times:
Dear Mr. Selby,One would think me an errant second-grader based on Mr. Selby's reply:
First, Social Security is a Ponzi scheme (or game) as the term is used by economists. That fact should not be overlooked in a fact check of this type at the very least for purposes of informing readers, though it also probably should affect the "Truth-O-Meter" rating.
Second, it's "Mitchell" Zuckoff, not "Michell."
A Ponzi scheme is a strategy of rolling over a debt forever and thereby never paying it back.
To Kindelberger and other writers on financial scams, the essential feature of Ponzi's activities was 'misrepresentation or the violation of an implicit or explicit trust' (1978: 79-80). In economic theory, however, the label 'Ponzi' survives largely stripped of its connotation of fraud.
It simply isn't proper to ignore a large body of work in the professional literature recognizing Social Security-style financing as a Ponzi game without taking appropriate note of that fact.
If it was a game, no one would play, no? It's not a game. It's a government program. If it was a Ponzi scheme, someone might be in jail by now. Ponzi schemes are illegal.Dang it, why didn't I think of that? If it's a game then no one would play!
I'm startled at your complete success in ignoring the unequivocal evidence I provided that you are wrong. That evidence contradicts your reply.I flubbed up and referred to Selby as "Mr. Gardner" in the salutation. I hope that doesn't impact the chances of obtaining another response.
"PolitiFact blew it again!"PolitiFact's sift through its mailbag is true to type. Publish a few praises, publish a few brickbats.
"PolitiFact blew it again with the Social Security/Ponzi comparison. Many (most?) of Social Security's participants do not know how the program operates, and economists do not consider fraud a necessary component of Ponzi-style financing."Hmmm. I wrote "PolitiFact blew it again." Did somebody else make the same criticism, that it appeared as the title with an exclamation point grafted on at the end?
The strategies we investigate are perfect foresight versions of the "Ponzi schemes" discussed by Minsky (1982) and Kindleberger (1978), where individuals or companies pay out funds to some parties by borrowing funds from others. Since the perfect foresight assumption rules out schemes based on imperfect information (e.g., swindles), or irrationality of lenders (e.g., fallacies of composition), we are asking under what circumstances these Ponzi games can continue indefinitely. When, in other words, is it feasible for a government to incur debt and never pay back any principal or interest? We call such a policy, where all principal repayments and interest are forever "rolled over," i.e., financed by issuing new debt, a "rational Ponzi game."The quotation, from the International Economic Review journal, unequivocally illustrates the use of the term "Ponzi" to describe systems like Social Security without any necessary reference to fraud or inevitable collapse.
Michell (sic) Zuckoff, a Boston University journalism professor who has written a book on Ponzi, noted critical dissimilarities between Social Security and a Ponzi scheme, which by definition is both fraudulent and unsustainable.The problem for Zuckoff and PolitiFact is that economists don't see it that way:
"First, in the case of Social Security, no one is being misled," Zuckoff's January 2009 article in Fortune magazine says. "...Social Security is exactly what it claims to be: A mandatory transfer payment system under which current workers are taxed on their incomes to pay benefits, with no promises of huge returns."
(bold emphasis added)
A Ponzi scheme is a strategy of rolling over a debt forever and thereby never paying it back.Kevin X. Huang and Jan Werner are not alone:
What gives Mitchell Zuckoff (and PolitiFact) the right to discount the definition of "Ponzi scheme" as understood by economists?To Kindelberger and other writers on financial scams, the essential feature of Ponzi's activities was 'misrepresentation or the violation of an implicit or explicit trust' (1978: 79-80). In economic theory, however, the label 'Ponzi' survives largely stripped of its connotation of fraud.(The New Palgrave Dictionary of Money & Finance)
Social Security is structured from the point of view of the recipients as if it were an ordinary retirement plan: what you get out depends on what you put in. So it does not look like a redistributionist scheme. In practice it has turned out to be strongly redistributionist, but only because of its Ponzi game aspect, in which each generation takes more out than it put in. Well, the Ponzi game will soon be over, thanks to changing demographics, so that the typical recipient henceforth will get only about as much as he or she put in (and today's young may well get less than they put in).
(W)hat I said is that the eventual resolution of the deficit problem both will and should rely on “death panels and sales taxes”. What I meant is thatWhen Medicare and Medicaid "decide what they're willing to pay for"--including "how much we're willing to pay for extreme care," that's exactly what Sarah Palin was talking about when she applied the label "death panel." It is, after all, the making life-or-death decisions based on economics.
(a) health care costs will have to be controlled, which will surely require having Medicare and Medicaid decide what they’re willing to pay for — not really death panels, of course, but consideration of medical effectiveness and, at some point, how much we’re willing to spend for extreme care
(b) we’ll need more revenue — several percent of GDP — which might most plausibly come from a value-added tax
PolitiFact:PAUL: My -- my hope now -- my hope is to be on the Budget Committee and to go through all of these numbers and, by January, to have a balanced budget that I will introduce. I want there to be a Republican alternative -- whether it wins or not, I want the Republican message to be one of balanced budgets. If they won't do it in a year, we'll say, how about two years? If they won't do it in two years, how about three years? But someone has to believe it.AMANPOUR: Give me one specific cut, Senator-elect.PAUL: All across the board.AMANPOUR: One significant one. No, but you can't just keep saying all across the board.PAUL: Well, no, I can, because I'm going to look at every program, every program. But I would freeze federal hiring. I would maybe reduce federal employees by 10 percent. I'd probably reduce their wages by 10 percent. The average federal employee makes $120,000 a year. The average private employee makes $60,000 a year. Let's get them more in line, and let's find savings. Let's hire no new federal workers.(yellow emphasis added)
We investigated this question 10 months ago, when we looked at a statement by Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., that "federal employees are making twice as much as their private counterparts." At the time, we ruled it False. But we're taking a fresh look.PolitiFact also investigated a similar question three months ago, finding it "Half True" that the average federal worker makes more than $100,000 while the average private worker makes less than $70,000. A fresh look seems like a fine idea. Perhaps PolitiFact will reconcile the apparent discrepancies in its reporting.
According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, a federal statistics-gathering agency, federal worker compensation in 2009 averaged $123,049, which was double the private-sector average of $61,051. That's a gap of almost $62,000 -- and is pretty close to what Paul said on This Week.In fact, Rand's numbers are perfectly accurate when rounded to the nearest 10,000. Rounding to the nearest 5,000 Rand could have accurately said $125,000 and $60,000, respectively.
Despite Paul's exaggeration of the numbers, critics of federal compensation patterns do have some valid points.Despite indulging in an comparison that is arguably apples-to-oranges, then, Rand is literally accurate and has a valid underlying argument touching the disparity between federal and private compensation. "Half True," then, like PolitiFact's ruling on Mike Keown's similar claim?
For instance, Chris Edwards, an economist at the libertarian Cato Institute, notes that federal pay has risen faster than private-sector pay in recent years, despite the recession. "BEA data show that average federal salaries rose 58 percent between 2000 and 2009, which was much faster than the 30 percent increase in the private sector," he writes.
But let's return to Paul's assertion. Paul said that the "average federal employee makes $120,000 a year. The average private employee makes $60,000 a year." Most people hearing that would assume he was talking about salary alone, but he was talking about total compensation, including benefits such as retirement pay and paid holidays. Although studies show federal employees typically earn more than their private-sector counterparts, the difference is nowhere near as much as the doubling Paul says. So we rate his statement False.Rand's supposedly "problematic" phrasing is actually in line with Keown's. Brown's choice of words was only marginally more misleading since his use of the term "counterparts" might move listeners to infer a strict apples-to-apples comparison. And the latter probably cannot justify the "False" rating given to Brown.
Terry Kinder AlersBut PolitiFact, suppose Rand Paul had clearly stated that these numbers INCLUDED BENEFITS? Would the result still be false?
I'm worried that your group is beginning to slant your findings. I want to "like" the results, because I myself lean left - but I don't want any of my opposers to be able to find fault in your analyses.
Saying there's "no end to the reach of Washington," Perry writes that Washington is "even telling us what kind of light bulb we can use."The quotation is pulled from page 37 of Perry's book, "Fed Up":
Perry, then, provides little context for the remark. It is simply a statement intended to illustrate the broad reach of the federal government.But the problem goes far deeper than that. Prohibition on school prayer, the redefinition of marriage, the nationalization of health care, the proliferation of federal criminal laws, interference with local education, the increased regulation of food--even telling us what kind of lightbulb we can use--there is seemingly no end to the reach of Washington.(Yellow emphasis added)
We asked Perry for backup on that claim and didn't hear back. Then we launched a search for "use-this-bulb" regulations.PolitiFact appropriately looked for and found the obvious bill from 2007 signed by President George W. Bush. That legislation phases out traditional incandescent bulbs (with apparently some exceptions) starting in 2012.
Jen Stutsman, spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Energy, told us that conventional incandescent bulbs are not expected to meet the efficiency standards Congress set, though the government expects manufacturers to improve incandescent technologies to meet the higher standards or consumers will move to compact fluorescent light bulbs, LED technologies or halogens. She said new standards for 100-watt bulbs take effect in January 2012. New standards for 75-watt bulbs start in 2013 and standards for 60- and 40-watt bulbs start in 2014.Did it occur to PolitiFact that Stutsman is simply wrong?
Stutsman said the expected shifts aren't equivalent to the government telling Americans which light bulbs to use. "Under no circumstances does it say that a consumer must purchase a specific type of light bulb," Stutsman said.
So, is Washington telling us what kind of bulb to use?Good grief. Washington told us in 2007 that we would not be able to replace our typical incandescent bulbs with similar bulbs, with the phase-out starting in 2012. It takes uncharitable interpretation to rate Perry's claim below "Mostly True." The typical reader knows exactly what Perry was talking about. Rather than making an attempt to inform readers about surprising government intrusion, Perry was illustrating the intrusion with an example likely present in the reader's knowledge base.
Not yet, though the 2007 law steps up efficiency requirements and that's expected to result in consumers purchasing and using different bulbs. These factors give Perry's statement an element of truth. We rate it Barely True.
PolitiFact shows in this story how the Death Panel lie started and how it spread like wildfire via all forms of media; how it became part of the congressional record on 40 occassions.Reviewers have the option of providing material that contradicts the finding of a story. The reviewer in this case found nothing so objectionable about the story and the information she fed the system resulted in a 4.1 rating for the story.
Rail service may have to evolve in Florida, especially amid this down economy. But it presents a tremendous opportunity for the state to grow, ease congestion, link the major cities and tourist destinations and put people to work. Florida rarely gets its fare share of federal dollars, and the state's new Republican leaders should not throw up roadblocks to high-speed rail because of partisan politics.Isn't that kind of like asking Congress not to renew the Bush tax cuts because of partisan politics? How ridiculous.
WISN 12 News obtained a copy of the Wisconsin DOT federal grant application. The DOT estimated one-way tickets to Madison would range from $22 to $33. But, the conservative Cato Institute calculated the cost to taxpayers would be much higher with a $68 per ticket subsidy, bringing the real cost of a one-way high-speed ticket to nearly a $100.Not in Wisconsin, evidently.
Florida Democratic gubernatorial nominee Alex Sink pointed an accusatory finger Friday at what she called a “tone-deaf” Obama White House to explain why she narrowly lost her campaign.Hot Air's Ed Morrissey expressed amusement at Sink's complaint, given the extensive aid Sink's campaign received from Washington.
Sink also neglects to mention that she had leads in polls in the final days of the election until she got caught cheating in a debate — and then lied about it. That didn’t do anything for her relationship to Florida voters, either.I remain unsure about the impact of the cheating incident. The Miami Herald and St. Petersburg Times supported Sink's story that she did nothing wrong--that campaign staffer Brian May deserved the blame and was appropriately terminated as a result.
"The makeup artist held up her phone and said 'I just got this message. I don't know who it's from,'" Sink said on MSNBC Tuesday, adding she thought it might be a family emergency. "I glanced at it. I didn't really know what it was, and I ignored it."The Sentinel may have buried the above story (I don't know one way or the other), but at least the story came out as something other than a blog post under the Sentinel's masthead.
However, CNN's John King, a moderator of the debate, questioned that on his show Tuesday night. "[W]e listened very closely to the audio, and the makeup artist, when she approached Alex Sink, said, 'I have a message from the staff,'" King said.
"One vote makes a difference," the narrator says. "Michael Bennet cast the deciding vote for Obama's stimulus that wasted billions, added to the debt and didn't create the jobs they promised. Bennet cast the deciding vote to allow passage of the trillion-dollar health care bill that slashed Medicare, hurting seniors. Bennet's vote was the key to billions in job-killing taxes, too. Michael Bennet: He's been their vote, not Colorado's."PolitiFact looks at whether it's fair to call Bennet the deciding vote on those bills. In the three paragraphs following the quoted portion above, PolitiFact notes that the bills were passed by a single vote in each case and in the next paragraph presents a fair summary of the NRSC ad's argument:
We won't tackle the ad's description of the substance of the two bills. (We've addressed some of those points in the past.) Instead, we'll look at whether it's fair to call Bennet the deciding vote on those bills.
The idea that the Democrats couldn't spare even a single vote is the crux of the NRSC's argument.Now we can narrow the question a tad. Is it fair a vote "the deciding vote" if it is simply one vote among many on a measure that succeeded by a single vote?
We ran the issue by a variety of congressional scholars, and most agreed that it was a stretch for the NRSC to label Bennet's vote "the deciding vote."Was the vote in which most agree that it was a stretch close? Was Thurber (who gave to Charles Schumer's election campaign in the past) the deciding vote?
"That statement is misleading and a distortion of fact," said James Thurber, a political scientist at American University.
The NRSC ad would have been quite justified in describing Bennet's vote for either bill as "crucial" or "necessary" to passage of either bill, or even as "a deciding vote." But we can't find any rationale for singling BennetI was poised to give both PolitiFacters "D" grades for at least getting in the ballpark with the "Barely True" rating and recognizing the basic legitimacy of the ad's argument. But the logical jumble of the concluding paragraph makes that impossible. Jacobson identified the message of the ad ("Democrats couldn't spare even a single vote") and then finds that argument out of agreement with other senators playing a key role.
In February 1968, a U.S. soldier was court-martialed simply for holding down a Vietnamese man while two Vietnamese soldiers waterboarded him, according to Guenter Lewy's America in Vietnam. (329)Ricks' reference leads to a single paragraph in Lewy's book. Lewy's account describes the case as resulting in a "special court-martial." A "special" court martial is "often characterized as a misdemeanor court." If Ricks' account conjured images of prolonged imprisonment or of execution then it succeeded in misleading readers. More importantly, the Lewy's book recounted the court-martial incident by citing an announced U.S. policy of encouraging South Vietnamese forces to hew to compliance with the Geneva Conventions. Thus any finding of the court with respect to the so-called "waterboarding" incident would likely take into account whether the victim was entitled to Geneva protections. In short, the incident contributes virtually nothing (if anything) to our knowledge of the legal status of CIA waterboarding.
I mention this because both George W. Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney now have publicly admitted they were approving of waterboarding, a form of torture that once was a crime in the eyes of the U.S. government -- and still is under international laws.Ricks appears to follow in the footsteps of Evan Wallach and others who use an equivocal definition of "waterboarding" along with spurious arguments to the effect that U.S. law forbids the practice.
Scott, spending $73 million on his campaign and promising to bring new jobs to the state, capitalized on the economic anxiety and anti-incumbent sentiment embodied by the tea party, a movement he once helped finance with a campaign-style group that fought President Barack Obama's health care changes.The tea party embodies the sentiments of economic anxiety (fear) and anti-incumbent sentiment (anger). Objective fact! The tea party folks are angry and scared. The Times has measured it and dutifully reported its objective findings to its "in the know" readers, who can add it to their store of knowledge if they didn't get the message already.