You may only read this site if you've purchased Our Kampf from Amazon or Powell's or me
• • •
"Mike and Jon, Jon and Mike—I've known them both for years, and, clearly, one of them is very funny. As for the other: truly one of the great hangers-on of our time."—Steve Bodow, head writer, The Daily Show

"Who can really judge what's funny? If humor is a subjective medium, then can there be something that is really and truly hilarious? Me. This book."—Daniel Handler, author, Adverbs, and personal representative of Lemony Snicket

"The good news: I thought Our Kampf was consistently hilarious. The bad news: I’m the guy who wrote Monkeybone."—Sam Hamm, screenwriter, Batman, Batman Returns, and Homecoming

May 25, 2006

Dear Washington Post: I Hope Someday You Can Come Visit Us Here In Reality

I think the Washington Post should change its name, from the Washington Post to the Daily Example of Why Dean Baker Was Forced to Write "The Conservative Nanny State."

Here's today's example, from a story about the three year-old Bolivarian University of Venezuela:

Venezuela's people are already thoroughly politicized; even the university's physical structures are potent political symbols. Most of the buildings, including those on the main Caracas campus, once served as headquarters for the state petroleum company, an institution purged of many anti-Chavez employees after a crippling strike against the government in 2002. Offices once reserved for executives who favored free-market economics are now decorated with posters of the socialist icon Che Guevara.

The thought process of the reporter here is clear:

(1) The former executives at PDVSA, Venezuela's state-owned oil company, favored policies supported by conservatives, both in Venezuela and abroad.
(2) Conservatives support free market policies.
(3) Therefore, the former executives at PDVSA favored free market policies.

And indeed this would be sound reasoning, if we lived on some other plane of existence than this one.

Here in this world, though, the executives at Venezuela's state-owned oil company did not favor free-market economics. One indication they did not is that THE OIL COMPANY WAS STATE-OWNED. What the executives actually favored was massive state intervention that made them, a thin strata of Venezuelan society, and foreign companies extremely rich.

In other words, as The Conservative Nanny State says, there's really no one anywhere who favors genuine free market policies. There are people who want state action that helps regular people, and those who want state action that makes the richest even richer.

What's particularly impressive in this Post story is the reporter went from "state petroleum company" to "free-market economics" in just one sentence. This ability to write self-contradictory gibberish while sincerely believing it makes sense is really the core competency for a Post writer.

TO BE FAIR: The rest of the article isn't that bad. And I see the reporter, Monte Reel, can write some pretty good pieces.

Posted at May 25, 2006 05:56 AM | TrackBack

i guess they're outsourcing the editing to india too?

Posted by: almostinfamous at May 25, 2006 07:15 AM

He is right: the fact that offices once reserved for executives now belong to university campus is a potent political symbol.

Posted by: abb1 at May 25, 2006 07:44 AM

"There are people who want state action that helps regular people, and those who want state action that makes the richest even richer."

Well said.

Any Deadwood fans here? Last season, Wolcott, the psycho Hearst flunkie, sitting at a table with a couple others, conspiring to take claims for Hearst in any way possible, said with the slightest attempt at sincerety: "it's always best to let the market work unimpeded."

That was also well said.

Posted by: Lame Man at May 25, 2006 09:37 AM

Wow -

Does this web site give degrees? I've certainly learned more critical thinking skills here than I ever did at Stutts.

Stutts! Stutts! Stutts!

Posted by: Aaron Datesman at May 25, 2006 10:28 AM

This baker analogy should be the core play book of any modern American opposition party. A PAC is needed to counter the DLC and get more discussion started.

Posted by: patience at May 25, 2006 11:23 AM

I've got a highschool diploma, yet I still know better than to believe ANYTHING in The Washington Post.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at May 25, 2006 10:11 PM

In this instance I think Reel has uncritically repeated a line of chavista rhetoric—that the previously PDVSA management sought the complete privatization of the Venezuelan oil industry. This was one of the argumentative tools used to carry out the recent overhaul of the company's directorate.

Posted by: Jeremías at May 26, 2006 12:05 PM