We are the 99%

December 23, 2009

The Trib Pulls A Trifecta

It's Christmas time and Richard Mellon Scaife's brain-trust is loaded with gifts today.

In each of their three editorials today, they manage reference a think tank funded by their boss.

Reference one. In discussing how Mayor Luke blinked on his tuition tax plan they write:
But as the ever astute Jake Haulk of the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy again reminds, Pittsburgh's problems "stem from too much spending and irresponsible financial management. More money will not fix the city's ills."
That same Allegheny Institute has received, since 1995, about 87% of its "grant money" (the money grant to it) directly from foundations controlled by Richard Mellon Scaife.

Reference two. In discussing the national debt, they write:
Rather than pass the mounting bill to future generations, Congress must address the triple tsunamis: Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid spending. Notes Nicola Moore of The Heritage Foundation, as Social Security IOUs are redeemed and health care costs drive up expenditures for Medicare and Medicaid, publicly held debt by 2050 will exceed 320 percent of gross domestic product, based on Congressional Budget Office figures.
That same Heritage Foundation that received close to $24 million from foundations controlled by Richard Mellon Scaife.

Reference three. In discussing hunger in America, they write:
We're all hearing about hunger this Christmas. And, indeed, there is hunger in America. Thus, we must do all we can to help alleviate the problem. That said, however, The Heritage Foundation's Ed Feulner reminds that the statistics regularly are twisted. To wit, it's widely being reported, and quite incorrectly, that an Agriculture Department study finds that 1 in 6 Americans went hungry in America in 2008. Worrying that one might run out of food and actually having no food are not the same. Thus, the first way to begin addressing hunger in America is to be honest about the statistics
Again, The Heritage Foundation. Did I mention that Scaife is the Vice-Chairman of its Board of Trustees and Ed Feulner is on the board of the Sarah Scaife Foundation (one of the Foundations giving millions to Heritage)?

By the way, here's Fuelner's column on hunger. Where he says:
But for a few Americans the problem isn’t overeating -- it’s getting enough to eat in the first place. A recent study by the Agriculture Department claimed that more than 16 million U.S. households, a total of some 49.1 million people, experienced “food insecurity” in 2008.

Fortunately, “food insecurity” isn’t as dire as it sounds. USA Today made the mistake of reporting that the study found “1 in 6 went hungry in America in 2008.” That’s wrong. Most “food insecure” households merely reported they had “worried” they might run out of food, or had eaten cheaper, unbalanced meals at some point in the last year. With 15 million Americans unemployed, that response isn’t too surprising. When asked specifically about “hunger,” about 3 percent of the population, or 10 million persons, reported they’d been hungry because they didn’t have enough money for food at least one day during the prior year.
Now here's the data from the Department of Agriculture. They define "food insecure" as:
At times during the year, these households were uncertain of having, or unable to acquire, enough food to meet the needs of all their members because they had insufficient money or other resources for food. Food-insecure households include those with low food security and very low food security.
"Low Food Security" is defined as:
These food-insecure households obtained enough food to avoid substantially disrupting their eating patterns or reducing food intake by using a variety of coping strategies, such as eating less varied diets, participating in Federal food assistance programs, or getting emergency food from community food pantries.
By the way, this group has increased since 2007, from 7% to 8.9% of the population.

"Very Low Food Security" is defined as:
In these food-insecure households, normal eating patterns of one or more household members were disrupted and food intake was reduced at times during the year because they had insufficient money or other resources for food. In reports prior to 2006, these households were described as “food insecure with hunger.”
And this group has increased since 2007 as well - from 4.1% to 5.7% of the population.

Feulner's point is correct it was wrong to say that based on the above data that "1 in 6 went hungry in America in 2008" but that's not the complete story about the data. The part he omitted (and certainly the part Scaife's brain trust omitted) is that however bad things are, they're getting worse.

So in the first instance more people since 2007 have had to change their diets or get food stamps or get help from a local food pantry. In the second, more people since 2007 have actually gone without food because they couldn't afford it.

Now take a look again at how the brain trust described things:
To wit, it's widely being reported, and quite incorrectly, that an Agriculture Department study finds that 1 in 6 Americans went hungry in America in 2008. Worrying that one might run out of food and actually having no food are not the same. Thus, the first way to begin addressing hunger in America is to be honest about the statistics.
Very true. But did they realize they spun it wrong, too?

1 comment:

EdHeath said...

Health care costs drive up Medicare and Medicaid? Hunh. I wonder what the best way to address that problem is? By cutting Medicare and Medicaid benefits as the Republicans have so often sought to do in the past (Remember Reagan thought Medicare was a big step along the road towards American Communism). Or reform health care and health insurance, which the Republicans are trying to block now. Either way, perhaps the Trib should rely on a different, unaffiliated conservative think tank.