Monday, January 16, 2006

Top 10 Economic Myths of 2005

The Free Market Project has published their list of the media's top 10 economic myths for the last year. Details are here.

The Gallup Poll reported in September that “half of Americans say they trust the mass media to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly.” Those three words – fully, accurately, fairly – each communicate different ways the media can distort the news. They can leave out pertinent information; they can report false information; and they can tilt coverage toward one side or the other. Coverage of Hurricane Katrina’s death toll on the Gulf Coast, now proven to have been exaggerated and in some cases fabricated from hearsay, was one grave example of the media’s failure in 2005.

The Media Research Center’s Free Market Project spent 2005 tracking news reporting on business and economic issues and compiled a list of the most common and most egregious errors. They ran the gamut from omissions to exaggerations and plain misinformation. We have visions of better coverage dancing in our heads for 2006.

10. America should follow French fashion in business
Media Myth: France’s short work week, benefits and loads of vacation time made it a workers’ paradise.

9. We must raise taxes to cope with ballooning deficits
Media Myth: Spending for hurricane recovery and Iraq is driving the U.S. deficit out of control. The only answer is to raise taxes to pay for it all.

8. Global warming is causing stronger hurricanes
Media Myth: Thanks to the U.S. rejection of the Kyoto treaty, global warming is on the rise and warmer oceans are spawning deadlier hurricanes than ever.

7. America is cheap with its foreign aid
Media Myth: At least our good-hearted celebrities understand that compared to other nations, America doesn’t give much to help the world’s poor.

6. Hurricane Katrina will send the economy into a tailspin
Media Myth: With homes and businesses destroyed and the nation’s oil supply hit, the United States will surely hemorrhage jobs and head toward a huge downturn in Katrina’s wake.

5. The housing bubble is about to burst
Media Myth: The housing market, white-hot for so long, is about to go bust and take you and your home’s value with it.

4. Americans are dying to be fat
Media Myth: America is suffering from an obesity epidemic, so we’ve got to keep everyone away from foods and beverages with calories. This has become the nation’s No. 1 health problem and we’re dying at the rate of 400,000 a year.

3. Consumers are choosing between food and fuel
Media Myth: Rising energy prices mean there won’t be much in little Timmy’s stocking this Christmas. Mom and dad can’t heat their home and buy food, so other business sectors are going to get Scrooged.

2. Big, profitable companies are up to no good
Media Myth: Big money-makers like the oil and drug industries should be sharing the wealth. Oil companies were profiting off others’ misfortunes – laughing all the way to the bank while you got squeezed at the pump. And Wal-Mart’s business practices were just as bad.

1. The U.S. economy is hopeless
Media Myth: There are plenty of reasons to doubt the economy. Gas prices; housing bubble; auto workers losing jobs… the evidence is everywhere.


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