Journalism Without Limits!

Well, the title is a little misleading.  Where I wrote “without limits”, I guess I what I meant was “no bottom to the barrel”.

Because in the arc of downfall for the City Pages, from its heady days in the eighties publishing James Lileks, and its journalistic peak in the nineties, where they ran a lot of excellent reporting, the CP just keeps falling.

And every time I think “they can’t possibly get any worse as reporters?”   They somehow pull it off.

I didn’t think they could get any worse than Dan Haugen’s factual malaprops – but sure enough, Kevin Hoffman was right there with the onanistic panty-sniffing disguised as high-school-caliber schadefreud.  From thence, we’ve had a couple years of the ongoing gift of hilarity that is Corey Zurowski’s writing, which has been its own reward.

So given that the City Pages seems to have no lower limit, I’ll refrain from saying Pete Kotz’s piece about the GOP’s pushback on cities trying to jam down $15 minimum wage laws bespeaks any descent below any journalistic or factual pale.

Because there’s always more ground below the barrel.

But oh, lord – it’s getting worse.

The City Pages‘ relentlessly white, upper-middle class staff [1] invokes their Urban Liberal Privilege, which they believe insulates them from being ridiculed for whitesplaining.

As I have no Urban Liberal Privilege, I’ll mock him anyway (emphasis added):

Though Republicans’ strong showing in the November elections can’t be pinned to a single issue, one prevailing theme was the rural white man’s thirsting support for the GOP.

What in the flaming hootie-hoo does that bit of whitesplaining even mean?

Broke and left behind by the modern economy — and perhaps a tad butt-hurt by the Democrats’ fetish for identity politics

“Those who use the term “butt-hurt” in conversation (much less writing) outside junior high locker rooms can be safely ignored without fear of missing anything important” isn’t quite Berg’s Law yet – the term “butt-hurt” will vanish sooner or later, and Berg’s Laws are eternal – but it’s ever-so-close.  And, law or not, it applies in this case.

I’m going to add a little emphasis in the next graf or two:

white men in Minnesota’s countryside went overwhelmingly Republican, allowing the GOP to capture both houses of the state legislature.

Well, let’s be honest; Minnesota’s “countryside” is mostly white.  The demographics outside the 494/694 loop are pretty predictable.

As predictable as the demographics of the City Pages’ lilywhite stable of writers [1].

Here’s the howler:

Now those same voters will be repaid for their support by… having their wages capped.

So in the world of Pete Kotz, the minimum wage is a wage cap?

I know boutique “journalism” doesn’t pay well these days; it’s entirely possible that the minimum wage is Kotz’s cap.

Of course, an artificially-high minimum wage does in fact cap a lot of low-income and entry-level workers’ maximum – at zero – but that’s not what Kotz is on about.

Minneapolis and St. Paul are both considering upping their minimum wages to $15 an hour. The idea is to help the poor better afford a basic standard of living. It also pumps more loot directly into the local economy – poor people can’t afford to save – instead of beaming it to a hedge fund manager who will park it in Panama.

I’m sure it may be “the idea” among some of the Minneapolis and Saint Paul City Councils’ lower-wattage members – Alondra Cano jumps to mind for some reason.

Kotz breeziliy – and, without knowing it, aptly – refers to “pumping more loot into the economy”.  He actually made a great point there, although he really didn’t know it; even if it works as advertised, the minimum wage hike is essentially a wealth transfer – providing “loot” – from local businesses to…other businesses (which means, given the shopping patterns of low-income people, a wealth transfer to WalMart).

But it doesn’t work as advertised.  As conservatives – and anyone who had a decent Econ 101 teacher – predicted, employers, especially small ones, are reacting by laying off the more vulnerable, lower-skilled minimum-wagers.  And that’s the ones that stay in business at all; in Seattle, over 1,300 food-service workers, cooks and waitstaff, lost their jobs even before  the city’s $15/hour minimum wage went into effect.   Bigger enterprises, who can react more creatively to the hike in costs, are indeed reacting pretty creatively, automating (i.e. eliminating) many jobs, and streamlining their operations (i.e., getting rid of more low-productivity, low-wage workers and shaving benefits for those that remain) to try to forestall the inevitable result of higher prices, people staying home and not spending their money at all.

But Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington) hopes to abort the idea before birth…”The concern at the legislature is more that we live in one state, and we should have one policy for these important issues,” he told MPR. “If we start allowing every city in the state to have their own sick leave, own maternity policy, their own minimum wage, it’s just going to make it completely unworkable to do business in the state of Minnesota. And this is going to result in fewer jobs and lower pay for workers.”

The first part seems reasonable. In the best of all worlds, Minnesota would make it as easy as possible for businesses to prosper.

Well, no.  Not in the “best of all worlds”.  It should be the case in the world we live in, right now.

Yet Garofalo’s Businessman Always Drinks First theology has been crushing the middle class since the Reagan Years.

I’m going to hazard a guess right here that Pete Kotz couldn’t say why he wrote that – and if he tried, in a face to face debate, he’d get through one round of refried “Media Matters” factoids before he started whitesplaining.

And his comment about “fewer jobs and lower pay” is telling. It’s clear his proposal isn’t about raising wages statewide; it’s about keeping the cities from leading the way.

And finally, one hopes, Kotz may be right.

The Saint Paul, Minneapolis and especially Duluth are a huge dead weight on Minnesota’s economy already.  If the Legislature manages to keep that from getting worse than it is, that’s a net good.

[1] Are the City Pages’ staffers almost uniformly white, middle-to-upper-middle-class, disproportionally from Saint Olaf, Macalester or Carlton, and every other stereotype that applies to the left’s alt-media?   Put it this way – any exceptions are vanishingly rare, become rarer as one moves “up” hierarchy, and essentially prove the rule that the Twin Cities’ “liberal” alt-media is as lilywhite as an East Hampton PTA meeting.

12 thoughts on “Journalism Without Limits!

  1. Gotta disagree with Garofalo on this one. The citizens of Minneapolis and St. Paul know exactly what they want and I don’t think that the GOP Legislature should keep them from getting it “Good and Hard.” Let the idiot councilmen make liberal utopian islands of their cities.

  2. Ah, but liberal utopian islands don’t depend for their revenue on taxes generated within their boundaries. If they did, then they’d reap what they sow. Instead, they’ve convinced the legislature to force the rest of the state to raise taxes so the legislature can subsidize the follies in the liberal utopian islands under a fancy name. Check out Mitch’s history of posts about LGA for the scoop.

  3. What Joe says. I remember figuring out that Chicago was a huge leech on the legislature in Springfield….when I was still in elementary school. There is also the problem that a lot of business must be transacted in the big and capital cities by geography and law… we cannot totally let them go to Hell. We must rein them in first for our own good, but more importantly for theirs.

  4. I agree with Smityst…… let the liberal cities make their laws and implode. I think it is a mistake to try to save a lefty city from itself.

    Here’s an example where a high minimum wage hurts those who need that job the most. Off and on during my professional life I’ve picked up a 2nd part time job for extra cash and exercise (sitting at a desk all day is rather unhealthy when you eat like I do). So right now a retail type employer is paying $10 an hour to someone who has very few jobs skills, or maybe its an African American from North Mpls who works pretty hard but misses work on occasion. But if they have to pay $15 an hour, they may hire me over those two as I am a hard worker, have fun at work, show up every day I am scheduled, and have retail experience going back to when I was 16 years old. Or for full time positions, that art major whose reasonable smart and a good worker, but just isn’t very ambitious. Someone willing to work for $15 an hour and do a good job.

  5. Speaking of goofy media. The St Paul PP had another bizarrely worded AP news item. This time I had no f*cking clue what the story was about due to the goofy-ass terminology they used. Just like in stories on abortion where they won’t print the words “admittance privileges”, this one talked about “a Republican judge removing protections for transgenders”. Putting the story into my moonbat to English translator, it comes back as the Obama administration trying to force doctors and private hospitals to perform elective sex change operations.

  6. As to LGA, I’d like to see the GOP eliminate it (opening bid) or reduce it (compromise final offer). It’s not like they’ve got any seats in the Mpls/StP and Duluth areas to lose. It’s better to cure the problem than treat the system.

  7. Early on in this whole $15 minimum wage debacle, I recall seeing reports from employers that employees, getting their new minimum wage, were now making too much money to qualify for welfare. Consequently, these moochers were asking to have their hours reduced so they could keep the welfare! You just can’t make this shit up!

    I would say to the GOP, that anyone on welfare that finds themselves unable to meet the income requirements because of their raise, should be told to pound sand, as it were!

  8. LGA’s a big one. The one I’d go for first would be to get rid of the annual bonding bill–it’s always a popularity contest, and you can make the additional argument that a state that’s been in the union since before the Civil War, and isn’t growing quickly, ought to be able to operate without incurring additional debt.

  9. Chuck on January 3, 2017 at 2:23 pm said:
    . . . Someone willing to work for $15 an hour and do a good job.

    You got it, Chuck. The worker who is worth $10/hr (but not $15/hr) will suffer. All change happens on the margins, which is something that Kotz either does not understand or does not believe is worth mentioning.
    A Big Mac costs $4.00. So MacDonalds is selling Big Macs to everyone who thinks a Big Mac is worth at least $4.00, which is a larger group than the people who think that a Big Mac is worth $4.01 or more. MacDonalds could make a really, really good burger for $12.00, like the one I had at Kaleo’s Bistro in Pahoa yesterday (Swiftee might know that place), but that’s not what MacDonald’s does.
    Raise the price of a Big Mac to $4.01, and profit per burger increases, but the number of burgers sold goes down. Lower the price to $3.99, and the profit per burger drops, but the number of burgers sold increases. The business geniuses at McDonald’s have (in theory) it the sweet spot, and maximized revenue and profits by selling the cheapest, most appealing burger they could make for $4.00.

  10. Back in August, New York Times reporter James Ruten famously made this statement, regarding journalists’ coverage of Trump:

    If you’re a working journalist and you believe that Donald J. Trump is a demagogue playing to the nation’s worst racist and nationalistic tendencies, that he cozies up to anti-American dictators and that he would be dangerous with control of the United States nuclear codes, how the heck are you supposed to cover him?

    Because if you believe all of those things, you have to throw out the textbook American journalism has been using for the better part of the past half-century, if not longer, and approach it in a way you’ve never approached anything in your career. If you view a Trump presidency as something that’s potentially dangerous, then your reporting is going to reflect that. You would move closer than you’ve ever been to being oppositional. That’s uncomfortable and uncharted territory for every mainstream, nonopinion journalist I’ve ever known, and by normal standards, untenable.

    I urge you to read the entire article. Ruten backtracks a bit by wondering if focusing on attacking Trump in a partisan manner will result in Hillary getting coverage that is too uncritical, but eventually Ruten returns to urging journalists to engage in partisan, unfair attacks on Trump, the candidate:

    It may not always seem fair to Mr. Trump or his supporters. But journalism shouldn’t measure itself against any one campaign’s definition of fairness. It is journalism’s job to be true to the readers and viewers, and true to the facts, in a way that will stand up to history’s judgment. To do anything less would be untenable.

    So, big deal, Ruten is one reporter, right?

    Here is Dean Baquet, current chief editor — not opinion editor, general editor — of the NY Times, in an interview with Ken Doctor in October of this year:

    DOCTOR: Let me ask you about Trump. I have a nice big iPhone, and I do screenshots ever once in a while to remind me of what I’m seeing. There was one evening when I opened up the Times home page and there were five Trump stories, rat-a-tat-tat, one following the other. None of us has ever covered a story like this, and I’m wondering what kinds of challenges the conundrum Donald Trump has caused. It’s so far beyond normal fact-checking. How have you come to peace with how you cover Donald Trump?
    BAQUET: I thought Jim Rutenberg’s column nailed it, about the struggle over how to cover. I think that everybody went in a little bit shell-shocked in the beginning, about how you cover a guy who makes news constantly. It’s not just his outrageous stuff…he says things that are just demonstrably false.
    I think that he’s challenged our language. He will have changed journalism, he really will have. I was either editor or managing editor of the L.A. Times during the Swift Boat incident. Newspapers did not know — we did not quite know how to do it. I remember struggling with the reporter, Jim Rainey, who covers the media now, trying to get him to write the paragraph that laid out why the Swift Boat allegation was false…We didn’t know how to write the paragraph that said, “This is just false.”

    DOCTOR: We struggle with that.
    BAQUET: We struggle with that. I think that Trump has ended that struggle. I think we now say stuff. We fact-check him. We write it more powerfully that it’s false.

    Emphasis mine, there is a link in the bold sentence that goes to Ruten’s column saying that “history” demands unfair, biased coverage of Trump.
    BTW, the fetish about “fact checks” is a disguise for bias. Facts aren’t biased, right?
    But choosing whose statements you subject to fact checks is as biased as any other editorial decision, as are the standards you use when “fact checking.” The Washington Post‘s fact check column is headed by Glenn Kessler, journalist, and Michelle Ye Hee Lee, who is only identified as a “reporter.”
    There is no reason to believe that Kessler and Lee are more accurate and unbiased “fact checkers” than any other pair of journalists.

  11. The results of the NY Time’s Dean Baquet approved, fact-free criticism of Trump is apparent in Krugman’s latest column:
    “But let’s get real. Everything we know suggests that we’re entering an era of epic corruption and contempt for the rule of law, with no restraint whatsoever.”
    Look at the absolute terms: “Everything we know”, “epic”, “no restraint.” This embarrassing, even for what the NY Times will insist, over and over, is an “opinion” column (that’s why they never correct Krugman’s columns).

    And later in the same column we get “Remember, the Clinton administration was besieged by constant accusations of corruption, dutifully hyped as major stories by the news media; not one of these alleged scandals turned out to involve any actual wrongdoing.”
    Clinton was impeached in 1998 by the people’s congress. The articles of impeachment found Clinton guilty of perjury, obstruction of justice, and abuse of office.

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