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Do We Know What's Going On?


When I was growing up (this was the 1960’s) I assumed that if you read The New York Times every morning and watched Walter Cronkite at night, you knew what was going on. My belief in the sanctity and honesty of the news was first called into question when it turned out that the attack on the Destroyer Maddox in the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964 didn’t actually happen, but this misreporting wasn’t the fault of the news media because nobody in those days imagined that a President could get up in front of the American people and just lie.

We were all very innocent in those days, by the way. That was then, this is now.

Now we assume that everything the government tells us is a lie. Or at least it probably or maybe isn’t true.

Except the problem is that the government isn’t doing the lying unless you want to believe that every, single number that the government generates to measure how we live our lives are numbers that are concocted out of what Grandpa used to call ‘bupkis’ (read: nonsense.)

Ever hear of an organization called the OECD? It’s a Paris-based group of 38 countriesOrganization of Economic Cooperation and Development whose members publish and share socio-economic data which they claim to be accurate and true, so that we can have a better and more comprehensive understanding of how the world’s economy changes over time.

A country can’t join the OECD unless it collects and publishes relevant data on a regular basis. So, for example, there are currently 193 countries in the United Nations, but most are too undeveloped to even have the ability to collect data about their respective economies, never mind publish such data for the rest of the world to see.

In other words, the OECD represents what we call the ‘advanced’ countries, even though many of my compassionate friends believe that using such a term is not politically correct.

Right now, inflation in the OECD countries is running at 9.6%. Food price inflation in the overall OECD is 12.6%, in the United States the rate is 10%. Why are food prices higher than they were a year ago? Because – ready? – the increase in labor costs for getting food from the farm to the dinner table.

Yesterday we took a drive on Route 22, which runs north-south alongside the upper Hudson River in New York State. We drove through towns like New Lebanon, Cherry Plain and Berlin which are basically farm communities with some light industry mixed in. In other words, nice, little, crummy towns.

Every town had retail stores and manufacturing companies with ‘help wanted’ signs out front. One of the small factories was offering – ready? - $21 an hour to start. Do you have any idea what $21 an hour means in a town like Petersburg, NY?

Where I live in Western Massachusetts, the local convenience-store chain is looking for drivers who can deliver gasoline from the wholesale depot to each of their retail stores. They are offering $105,000 to start plus bennies and a sign-up bonus of a thousand bucks. In my neighborhood you can rent a nice, two-bedroom apartment with off-street parking in a good school district for under a thousand bucks a month.

As Bill Clinton would say, do the math.

I don’t remember the last time the Fake News explained to me how come we have a recession with an unemployment rate of 3.6%. Know why I can’t remember such a report? Because the Fake News hasn’t even attempted to figure it out.

Want to know what passes for news these days? Take a look at the digital edition of The New York Times. Notice as you scroll down that op-eds consume half the front page. Now take a look at today’s print edition. No op-eds.

But nobody reads the print edition. It’s the clicks that count. And if you want people to read your content and make a comment, the content better be what someone else is saying, not what happened somewhere else.

Here’s how the click-rate has been moving at the newspaper which I used to read because I wanted to know what was going on:



Know what? Fake News has become No News.

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