One reason Americans don’t trust the media is that politically biased reporters routinely adulterate the news with tendentious language and prepackaged opinions. The result is crude propaganda—lousy opinion writing and unreliable information rolled into one and deceptively packaged as straight news.
Here’s an example from CNN (emphasis mine): “Justice Clarence Thomasdisclosed Thursday that Republican megadonor Harlan Crow paid for private jet trips for Thomas in 2022 to attend a speech in Texas and a vacation at Crow’s luxurious New York estate, as ethics questions continue to rock the Supreme Court.”
What actually happened is too mundane to rock anything: The Judicial Conference of the U.S., which regulates judges’ financial disclosures, changed its rules regarding “transportation that substitutes for commercial transportation.” A private plane trip is now considered a gift, which is subject to disclosure, rather than “personal hospitality,” which isn’t. The rule took effect in March, and Justice Thomas complied with it for his 2022 form.
This week’s coverage is another demonstration that disclosure is a mug’s game. If you follow the rules perfectly, “ethics experts” will fault you for failing to disclose when it isn’t required and for what you disclose when it is.
A heuristic device that I have found rarely misleads is to take a politician’s statement that begins “I am humbled and honored” to mean its opposite. Coolidge’s life bespoke not false modesty but an authentic humility, the virtue that enhances wisdom through the recognition of how much one does not know, and protects liberty by reminding its possessors that they should be careful before ordering others about how to live their lives. Coolidge’s funeral in 1933—a modest affair, as requested by his wife, reflecting how he had lived—consisted of two hymns, zero speeches or eulogies, and lasted 22 minutes.
Government-imposed price controls on goods and services always lead to shortages. For example, economic research has consistently shown that rent control results in less new housing construction. The Biden administration’s imposition of price caps on prescription drugs under the provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) will result in much the same thing: fewer new cures developed.
The IRA gives the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) the authority to negotiate prices on select prescription drugs covered under Part B and Part D of Medicare. The government’s “negotiated” prices actually amount to little more than extortion. If a pharmaceutical manufacturer does not comply with the government’s negotiated price, it faces a choice between an excise tax that eventually rises to 95 percent of its product’s sales in the U.S. or the withdrawal of all of its drugs from Medicare coverage.
The upshot: While the new price controls will make some drugs cheaper in the short run, Americans will be sicker and deader in the long run than they otherwise would have been.
Such fearmongering was routine for the types of teachers unions that First Lady Jill Biden belongs to. Union demonstrations against reopening in the fall of 2020, usually in Democratic-dominated cities, featured such subtle props as coffins, body bags, and gravestones; an American Federation for Teachers (AFT) anti-Trump ad that August claimed that “our kids are being used as guinea pigs.” The states that closed their schools most—Hawaii, Maryland, Washington, California, Oregon, New Jersey, Massachusetts—did not have in common levels of infection, or hospital capacity, or mortality; but rather that they each voted for Biden over Trump by double-digit margins.
Dr. Marty Makary writing in the Wall Street Journal: “The novel Covid booster shot may be warranted for some high-risk patients. But pushing it hard for young and old alike without human-outcomes data makes a mockery of the scientific method and our regulatory process.”