Subeditors not at work

by Chris Bertram on January 16, 2006

“Mad” Melanie Phillips continues to be a source of amusement. Since she’s never slow to lecture her readers on the evils of ganja, I guess it can’t be anything she’s smoking, but last week she treated us all to “a stern lecture”:http://www.melaniephillips.com/articles/archives/001557.html on the “tree-hugging” scientists behind the global-warming “scam” (as she calls it). It is worth reading right down to the end where the on-line text carries a correction:

bq. The version of this article published in The Daily Mail said in error that water vapour formed most of the atmosphere.

It reminded me a little of “Mr Pooter”:http://www.authorama.com/diary-of-a-nobody-13.html :

bq. I left the room with silent dignity, but caught my foot in the mat.

Subeditors at work ?

by John Quiggin on January 16, 2006

The NYT reports the victory of Socialist Michelle Bachelet (briefly a refugee in Australia) in the Chilean presidential election under the headline “What Is Missing in This Woman’s Victory? Coattails”

I would take this to mean that there were also Parliamentary/Congressional elections at the same time, and that Ms Bachelet’s party had lost, but the body of the report implies the opposite saying her win “assured another four years in power for the [centre-left] coalition, which has governed Chile without interruption since Gen. Augusto Pinochet was forced to step down in 1990. ” Has anyone got any idea what the NYT sub-editor who chose this headline was thinking? As pointed out by Jon in comments, this is a reference to the point made about halfway through that other female elected presidents in the region have been the widows of political leaders this seems a strange choice of emphasis to me.

In other news from the Chilean campaign, the much-vaunted privatised pension scheme introduced under Pinochet is in serious trouble. Even conservative candidate Sebastián Piñera, brother of José Pinera who introduced the scheme, described it as being in crisis.

The success of the Chilean scheme was always illusory. It was introduced not long after mismanagement of the exchange rate had generated an economic crisis and stockmarket crash. So early investors got the benefits of above-average returns as the market recovered. These were enough to hide the high administrative costs (between a quarter and a third of contributions) and poor design of the scheme. Once returns fell back to normal the problems became apparent. The government is still footing a huge ‘transitional’ bill, and coverage is patchy at best.