By Arthur Alpert
It may not be much of a newspaper but – credit where credit is due – in its marketing of plutocracy, the Albuquerque Journal is single-minded.
Today, Monday, Feb. 1, there’s Page One box headlined “Bad news for NM permanent funds”. It refers readers to a story in the Business Outlook section, which inspires the lead editorial on A6. They add up to an argument against using public funds to better fund the public schools for fear the state’s permanent funds will be depleted.
The editorial sits next to a Robert Samuelson column chastising the leading candidates for playing “Russian roulette” by ignoring the “economic dangers of excessive debt.”
This, two days after George Will’s latest foray into economics, wherein he urges tax reforms (breaks for corporations) to jump start economic growth by a full percentage point.
And there you have the Journal’s total marketing message. Spending is very bad. Deficits are evil. Economic revival depends on making the rich richer.
This is the plutocrats’ story, with a few caveats. Spending is not bad when it subsidizes mega-enterprises or transfers public money into private hands. Deficits are not evil when they result from gifts to the One Percent, including tax transfers.
The Journal can and should make those arguments in its editorials. Journalism, however, rests on fairness and requires that newspapers present a range of opinion. And it most definitely precludes campaigns like the one I’m describing where the editors deceptively spin news stories, opinion and editorials to promote an agenda.
And spin it is.
Look at that headline on the front-page box. How bad is the news? Well, as I read Kevin Robinson-Avila’s story, not very.
Yes, the funds were down 1.2 percent in 2015 and things could get worse if the economy weakens. But, he writes in paragraph nine, “On the plus side the permanent funds are coming off a prolonged run up in value from the oil boom and from previously robust stock markets that helped drive /up total assets to all-time records.”
This was in his 10th graph:
“Today, the permanent funds are 24 percent higher than before the recession.”
The front-page rubric wasn’t quite right.
As for the editorial, once again the Journal rested its case on the back of John Arthur Smith, the conservative Democrat from Deming. It’s a favorite ploy, using Smith to suggest something’s wise because, look, both parties agree.
The Journal never reports that New Mexico has two conservative political parties. Instead, management promotes the fiction that we can grasp New Mexico politics through the party prism.