CNNs Christine Romans began her October 28 report: Lou, while policy makers wring their hands over this latest Washington scandal, as important as it is, the truth is there are fundamental problems in this country that are eating away the foundations of America and the numbers don't lie. Policy makers, this is what you've achieved.
Romans sweeping attack on the nation, called Americas Negative Numbers, cited a variety of national problems, and literally blamed them all on policy makers. And though she claimed, the numbers dont lie -- her data was at times faulty, incomplete or misleading -- Romans and the experts she interviewed never indicated what government policies were specifically the cause of such societal ills, or offered any policy suggestions to correct them.
She concluded with an even more dire summary:
It is harder and harder to live the American dream in this country. Wages are stagnant, mortgage defaults are rising now, 47 million Americans are without health insurance. This is what America's policy makers have achieved.
Romans listed a number of Americas problems, including poverty, out-of-wedlock births, and low high school graduation rates among minorities. After that, she brought in former Clinton Secretary of Labor Robert Reich to spread even more gloom without mentioning that Reich was one of those same policy makers she was criticizing. Reich took no responsibility for his own actions or the Clinton administrations. Instead, he passed the buck:
Our children are not going to do as well as we are doing. And that's for the first time in many, many years, since the Depression. And, in fact if you extend backward in American society there's always been an optimism. There's always been a sense of progress. And I'm afraid we're going to lose that because all of the economic indicators, all of the social indicators suggest that we are sliding backward.
All of the economic indicators suggest we are sliding backward? Reich must have missed Fridays report on the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growing by 3.8 percent in the 3rd quarter, marking the tenth straight quarter the economy has grown by 3 percent or more a feat that the Clinton administration never achieved, including when Reich was Secretary of Labor.
Yet, nowhere in her report did Romans address how Americas per capita income compared to the rest of the industrialized world, or its per capita GDP and standard of living. Also absent was the fact that American homeownership is at an all-time high of almost 70 percent, and that American per capita net wealth is also at an all-time high.
Most importantly, neither Romans nor any of those she interviewed for this piece offered an opinion regarding what policies are actually causing the problems addressed, or the possibility that programs which began during the Depression, and were expanded during the mid-60s, could actually be the root cause of much of these ills.
Though she pointed out that some of these problems have a racial component, nowhere in her report did Romans or any of those interviewed address why this might be, or what mistakes minority and civil rights leaders might have made that have exacerbated the deficiencies.
For example, the white poverty rate in America not including Hispanics is only 8.6 percent, and is 9.8 percent among Asians. By contrast, the black poverty rate is 24.7 percent, and 21.9 percent among Hispanics. Regardless of the huge statistical disparities in these demographic groups, Romans and her guests didnt bother to address why this might be, or what policies instituted by the American government might be responsible for the poverty rates of Asians and whites being 55 to 65 percent lower than those of blacks and Hispanics.
The poverty rate of those living in a female head-of-household family unit without a husband present is 30.5 percent, or roughly four times the rate of poverty when a husband is either present and/or the father is the head of the household (7 percent). And, almost 35 percent of those living in poverty in America are in a family unit where no husband is present. Yet, although Romans addressed the increasing number of out-of-wedlock births, neither she nor her guests identified what policies of the federal government encourage divorce and/or single women to have children.
Romans data on black and Hispanic high school dropout rates was also curious. She claimed, 50 percent of black and Hispanic teenagers will never graduate from high school. Yet, the census data dont support this. The current dropout rates for these respective populations over the age of 15 are 26.5 percent for blacks, and 45.1 percent for Hispanics. The percentage of high school dropouts in the last five years (population between 20 and 24 years of age) is only 17.5 percent for blacks, and 33.2 percent for Hispanics. As such, the statement that 50 percent of these minority groups wont graduate high school is currently not supported by the most recent census data.
The dropout rate of those above 15 years of age is 15.2 percent for whites excluding Hispanics, and 17.6 percent for Asians. Again, neither Romans nor any of her guests identified what policies of the federal government are causing dropout rates in blacks and Hispanics to be so much higher than for whites and Asians.
Finally, Romans and her guests chose not to address the relationship between poverty and education, or that almost 28 percent of those currently living in poverty never graduated high school. This report also ignored the nations various teachers unions such as the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, or what role they might play in Americas education woes. For example, how their positions against school vouchers and minimum standards for teachers impacted the problems addressed in this piece were curiously absent.
As a result, this segment was long on accusations supported by faulty, incomplete or misleading data, and short on a serious, comprehensive discussion of the issues at hand as well as solutions for the problems facing the nation.
Noel Sheppard is an economist, business owner, and contributing writer to the Business & Media Institute. He is also contributing editor for the Media Research Centers NewsBusters.org. Noel welcomes feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.