This name-tag should be on a different table ….

by Chris Bertram on August 4, 2010

Can someone _please_ persuade Airmiles to line up with evil and bigotry? Or maybe just to support a good cause and spare us his reasons.

Covering the Great Recession

by Henry on August 4, 2010

One of the major arguments of the Hacker-Pierson “piece”:http://pas.sagepub.com/content/38/2/152.full.pdf (and, I presume, forthcoming book) that I’ve been blogging about is that weak unions are a key cause of US inequality. The argument goes that weak unions have little political presence in policy debates, which tend to be dominated by business. The result is that policy debates in the US are systematically skewed in favor of business (which tends to favor policies that advantage, or at least do not hurt) rich people, with little in the way of countervailing voice, let alone power. I’ve just read this report (powered in part by Jure Leskovec et al.’s spiffy “MemeTracker”:http://www.memetracker.org technology), which provides some significant supporting evidence. Looking at media coverage of the Great Recession, it finds that:

bq. If story triggers tell us who generated the economic news that the media covered, the sources cited in stories provide insight into the angles and perspectives journalists highlighted. President Obama may have been uniquely positioned to drive the narrative by proposing federal initiatives and implementing policy. But a far more diverse group of people could comment and react to the implications and wisdom of those actions. In analyzing sources in stories, however, the fundamental pattern is the same. Those in government, and especially Obama administration staffers, dominated the conversation. Representatives of business and industry came next, followed by academics and independent observers. … fully 61% of stories included a government representative of some kind, including those from state and local government. … Representatives of business, those identified as clearly speaking on behalf of the company or corporation, were the next most prominent sources, figuring in about 40% of the stories. … ordinary citizens and workers were well down the rung of sources. … One subset of the American workforce was virtually shut out of the coverage entirely. … Representatives of organized labor unions were sources in a mere 2% of all the economy stories studied.

This measure is not the only index of strength in policy debate, obviously, but it is an important one. And on it, business representatives were _twenty times_ as visible in public debate as union representatives. That’s a whopping disparity.

Maybe this could be an ongoing series

by Kieran Healy on August 4, 2010

Last month, you may recall, the fascist octopus made a real-life appearance during the world cup. And this month, Ayatollah Ali Khameni says more or less directly that if you want to dance, you can’t be part of their revolution.