I knew it! Fairleigh Dickinson University just did a study showing that people who watch Fox News (a.k.a. "Faux News") are stupider than people who watch no news at all. This held true even after controlling for the fact that more Republicans watch Faux News. These results jibed with those of a study at the University of Maryland last year that found that Fox viewers were more likely to believe false information about American politics. Fox, you may be unsurprised to learn, responded to the report in typical Republican fashion, by disparaging the University of Maryland, quoting the Princeton Review as saying that it was "among the top schools for having 'Students Who Study The Least' and being the 'Best Party School.' " Fact check: At number 19, UMd didn't even make it into the top 10 of "party schools." Snap to you, Fox News!
Of course, is it any wonder Fox viewers have trouble keeping their facts straight when Fox tells them pepper spray is a vegetable? Now I'm really worried that the dittoheads are going to start using the stuff to add some "bam!" to their Thanksgiving dishes.
By Linda Felaco
Speaking of disinformation … Remind me again how stricter pollution controls are supposed to destroy the economy? Because according to the September Harper's Index, the Environmental Protection Agency has calculated that every dollar spent on pollution control produces $30 in public health benefits. Yes, that's a benefit-cost ratio of 30 to 1. Think how much we could save on Medicare with that kind of improvement in public health. The expression "penny-wise and pound-foolish" leaps to mind.
Then again, we could always solve our budget woes by <gasp!> taxing the rich. Paul Krugman wrote on Tuesday about a paper by Peter Diamond and Emmanuel Saez that shows that the "optimal" marginal tax rate on the rich (i.e., the tax rate that raises the most money) is about 70%. Note that contrary to popular misconception, this doesn't mean that rich people would pay 70% in tax on all their income, just the income in the highest bracket. As this chart from the Center for American Progress shows, between 1950 and 2010, we had the highest growth rate in gross domestic product when the top tax rate was between 75% and 80%. Meanwhile, Obama is fighting tooth and nail to raise the top marginal rate from 35%, which produces the lowest GDP growth of all, to 39.6%, which according to historical trends would nearly double the growth rate in GDP. Remind me again about that "job creator" stuff?
Speaking of cuts that end up costing money … Will has written about how our state's pension crisis was triggered in part by a mass exodus of state workers when former governor Donald Carcieri announced cuts in future health benefits in retirement, which resulted in the state having to spend more on contractors to make sure vital government services were still carried out than was "saved" by the cuts. This same type of fiasco is being played out all over the country. Last week, AlterNet published a fascinating piece on "5 Public Services That Should Never Be Handed Over to Greedy Corporations," and one of the five has special relevance here in Charlestown. Did you guess red-light cameras? Yep, according to AlterNet, "Profit incentives … threaten public safety, when companies set yellow-light duration times too low. Some localities even allow these companies to write low yellow-light duration into the contracts, trading public safety for private profit!" Let's hope our public officials are scrutinizing the fine print very closely.
Looks like I was right to worry about pepper spray becoming a condiment. Even Martha Stewart is getting in on the act. Don't try this at home, folks: