Conservatives often accuse liberals in the media of having a bias and promoting their left-wing agenda. In some cases, this is probably true. However, what is much more common is that people in the media, which is almost 90 percent liberal by most estimates, are immersed in groupthink.
They’re not able to step outside of the accepted liberal conventional wisdom to analyze the story properly. A couple of recent examples clearly illustrate this problem.
One recent story focused on how sad it is that the recession and the weak economy and lack of job growth are causing people on food stamps to run out of food before the end of the month. The story showed food stamp recipients desperately lingering around Wal-Mart hours before they would receive additional funds direct deposited onto their food stamp cards by the government. Reporters wrote the story to give readers the impression that the bad economy is the cause of their misery.
However, if you read the entire story, pay attention, and have a brain there should be a totally different conclusion. The people receiving government assistance who were interviewed for this story have four and five children each. They are also unskilled workers who would always be near the bottom of the income distribution even in a good economy.
With this set of facts relating to the examples chosen by the reporters to illustrate their story, any reasonable person would conclude that the problems faced by these people are not caused by the economy. The problems are caused by a combination of lack of earning potential regardless of the economy, financial illiteracy, and an aversion to using birth control.
In other words, these people probably won’t be helped very much by a better economy. For their financial situation to substantially improve, they would either need to acquire some much more valuable skills or reduce the number of dependent children that they have. Yet, for whatever reasons, reporters spin their situation as being caused by a bad economy.
Is this characterization political? Some of it may be. Liberals enjoy making it seem like a bad economy victimizes poor people. They enjoy making it seem like rich people victimize poor people. They enjoy making it seem like employers victimize poor people. In general, they enjoy depicting poor people as victims of society, rather than having any responsibility for their own bad situation.
However, some of it may also be ignorance. Liberal reporters and editors are notoriously unaware of basic economics. They may not even understand the connection between having no marketable skills, having a large number of children, and guaranteed poverty.
Further, they may believe that society is to blame for not doing a better job of educating poor people, giving them more skills, teaching them to have fewer children, teaching them to use birth control, or providing free abortions on demand in every state. This is how most liberals think. So it could just as much be their ignorance as their politics that leads them to get this story so horribly wrong.
Another story that has been around a while but is recently at the top of the news again focuses on how we need to stop foreclosures to support the housing market. The typical story line is that foreclosures are the cause of the decline in housing prices. The solution to prevent further declines in housing prices is to stop foreclosures.
Usually the proposed method of stopping foreclosures is a combination of lenders halting foreclosure proceedings, lenders improving loan terms to help borrowers afford the loan payments, and the government helping to subsidize both of these activities. The economic logic, if there is any behind this approach to supporting the housing market by stopping foreclosures, is circular at best and totally fabricated at worst. Is this nonsense being promoted by the liberal media driven by their politics or their ignorance? It is definitely some both.
Liberal politics require people to believe that borrowers are not to blame for facing foreclosure. It’s not the borrower’s fault that they can’t afford the loan. The lender tricked them into borrowing the money. So of course liberals believe that foreclosures are unfair and should be stopped.
They also believe it is fair for the lenders or the taxpayers, rather than borrowers, to cover the costs of stopping foreclosures and reducing loan payments. Liberals are required to think that all of the borrowers facing foreclosure are unsuspecting victims of predatory lenders or reeling from the bad luck of losing their job or getting sick.
The liberal worldview does not allow people to recognize the obvious facts involved in these foreclosure situations. Most people are in foreclosure either because they knowingly borrowed way too much money to buy a house, refinanced their house and pulled out way too much money because they wanted to spend it, or because they were speculating on house appreciation and strategically decided to stop making the loan payments once they realized that they had no equity in the house.
Of course there are some people who were duped by evil lenders, or got sick, or lost their job. However, even in these situations the borrower is usually better off giving the house back to the lender or doing a short sale than going through a foreclosure process.
Here’s where the liberal ignorance starts to be a factor in their reporting. A foreclosure is much worse on a borrower’s credit report than giving back the keys or a short sale. It can also trigger additional liability for the borrower in some states. Most lenders don’t want to foreclose. It’s an expensive process. They would usually prefer getting title to the property or get it sold for market value, even if it is lower than the loan amount, before they want to spend a ton of money and time on foreclosure.
Foreclosures usually happen because borrowers either refuse to work with lenders or fail to respond to lenders. The only situations in which a borrower is typically financially better off going through a foreclosure rather than just giving the keys back to the lender or a short sale involve borrower fraud, malingering to live rent free as long as possible, or trying to find some excuse to sue the lender on technical grounds. All of these situations involve a dishonest borrower who doesn’t deserve any help.
The ignorance gets even worse. Although foreclosures do temporarily depress local home prices, they are an essential part of clearing the market and setting the stage for legitimate rebound in the housing market. By preventing foreclosures and keeping people in homes they can’t afford and probably will never be able to afford, you prevent the housing market from ever correcting itself. Also, by forcing banks to hold these bad loans, you make it even harder for banks to ever start making good loans again. Overall, the only people who typically win by forcing lenders to stop foreclosures are dishonest borrowers, their sleazy lawyers, and the government bureaucrats who administer these foreclosure prevention programs.
Once again, all of the rest of us will have to pay for the ignorant agenda of the liberals and their friends in media. Maybe one day they’ll finally get the story right.