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You know what the great thing about a newspaper editorial is?  They're usually unsigned.  You can tell the most bold-faced lies in them and no one can point the finger.  Maybe your friends will ask why your newspaper says such things and you can shrug it off.  That's how what I call the "non-lies" of the New York Post get published.  Nobody has to take responsibility -- a common theme of the last eight years.

If you look at yesterday's anti-worker editorial in the New York Post, you might be horrified by how the unions are taking advantage of General Motors.  In fact, reading that those workers make twice as much as everyone else around them might, just might, distract from the alleged multi-billion Bernard Madoff fraud, the alleged multi-billion R. Allen Stanford fraud, the garden-variety multi-million stockbroker fraud or the general corruption on Wall Street because now we can blame the workers!  Many politicians seem to be paradoxically happy about our auto-makers struggles because it gives them a chance to bash someone other than the politicians donors for a change and ohhhhhhhhh how they are relishing it.

Getting back to the New York Post, owned by Rupert Murdoch and long recognized for their conservative bias, we find this gem in the aforementioned editorial:

The overall per-worker burden at the Big Three is upward of $70 an hour - compared to the $27.34 an hour earned by the average private-sector worker in the Upper Midwest states.

What?  What?!  WHAT???!!!

Those evil, socialist union members are earning well over twice what everyone else in the area are earning?  I'm apoplectic (whatever that means)!  That's robbery!  That's greed.  Sure, they're skilled workers doing a tough job, but over twice as much?  How dare they?  Poor, poor abused General Motors.  How I feel sorry for them.

But you know, the author of that editorial doesn't seem to be a great writer.  I mean, I'm hardly Faulkner myself, but I do know that when I want a greater impact on something, giving it a rhythm often helps it to stick in people's minds.  So let's give that a shot.

Work outside GM, earn $27 an hour.  Work inside GM, earn $70 an hour.

You see how that works?  You see the greater impact the phrasing has?  Now it could be that the cowardly anonymous author liked the stumbling choice of words "overall per-worker burden", but it could be that the cowardly anonymous author didn't want you to know that they were comparing "$70 and hour wage and benefits" to "$27.34 an hour wage".

That's right.  To boost the anti-worker propaganda, they compared "wages and benefits" to "wages" and hope their loyal readers would be too stupid to notice (no comment).  You see, the New York Post didn't quite lie to you.  They just deliberately worded something poorly to hide the fact that they were lying to you.  Or something like that.

As it turns out, the average hourly wage of GM workers is around $28 to $29 an hour.[1]

In short, these skilled workers who support one of our core industries, the same workers who are getting excoriated by politicians and the media, are earning only one or two dollars more an hour than their next door neighbors.

Once again, I have to give full credit to New York Post for a masterful non-lie.  It was well-crafted enough that Fox News is repeating it in hopes of furthering the lie.  I don't wish to sound nationalist (which would sound even more weird since I'm an American in the UK), but I really wish Rupert Murdoch had stayed the heck out of my country.


1.  I've linked to Google search results for GM workers wages instead of specific articles because if you care about this issue, it's worth reading a variety of viewpoints.  It's actually far more complicated than any side seems to be interested in explaining.

Originally posted to Ovid on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 01:51 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (11+ / 0-)

    I wonder if other UK readers grasp the concept of "tip jar".  Tipping is not terribly popular over here.  One of the many cultural changes I'm adjusting to.

    Though a BBC employee, any views expressed here are strictly my own and are not endorsed by the BBC.

    by Ovid on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 01:54:59 AM PST

  •  Anti-Union movement is on the (3+ / 0-)

    offensive not just at the Post.  

    The NY Times reported:

    Group Starts Anti-Union Campaign

    A new business-backed group is mounting a highly visible attack against organized labor, just as unions are trying to pick themselves up after suffering a schism and years of decline.

    The group, the Center for Union Facts, ran full-page advertisements in national newspapers yesterday and started a Web site,, asserting that many unions are corrupt and have hurt airlines, steel makers and automakers.

    "Obviously I'm putting out information that's not very flattering," said Richard Berman, a longtime lobbyist for the restaurant and beverage industry who is executive director of the Center for Union Facts. "The average person today, including the average union member, doesn't have any idea how unions operate and what the realities are. Everybody knows what unions are good at, but not what they're bad at."

    The Center for Union Facts shot onto the public stage yesterday by running full-page ads in The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. The ads, which cost a total of $240,000, say "The New Union Label," and then show a sign with the word "Closed" in capital letters hanging from a plant gate. Then it adds, "Brought to you by the union 'leaders' who helped bankrupt steel, auto and airline companies."

    See how they are now distorting the word "facts".

    "If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition" Bernice Johnson Reagon

    by Denise Oliver Velez on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 02:06:20 AM PST

    •  The greatest Union is the Consumer who rejects (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Eiron, Dirtandiron

      "made by semi-slave" products from overseas, and tries to Buy Locally whenever possible.  

      The more demand for products made at least in this hemisphere, the quicker the "boat raising tide" will occur.  Unions have half a chance in Latin America, none in Red China.

      When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race. - H.G. Wells

      by bamabikeguy on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 03:17:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's even worse that the diarist describes (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eiron, Dirtandiron

    The Post didn't merely include wages AND benefits for workers, it included the benefits of every retired GM worker who is still alive and collecting benefits.  When you consider that the GM workforce is less than half of what it was 20 years ago, and therefore that there are more retired workers than current workers, you understand how big a scam the "$70 an hour" lie is.  Our auto workers now earn less than their Japanese and German counterparts.

    •  Health Benefits (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      And since we're the only major industrialized nation to not offer some form of universal health care), GM picked up the slack by offering it to the their retired employees -- but only because the union forced that issue.

      If our government would institute said health care, the reported costs of those employees would go down even more.

      Though a BBC employee, any views expressed here are strictly my own and are not endorsed by the BBC.

      by Ovid on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 03:42:27 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Another case of winnng the battle, losing the war (0+ / 0-)

        It's amazing how few people understand the pressure these companies are under to foot health care (in total) for employees AND retirees.  

        There aren't enough customers around for the products they produce, and the products they DO produce are now inflated in price compared to other auto companies' offerings because of these benefit obligations.

        Here's an article from 2005 USA Today that outlines just how much this taxes GM:

        I work in the private sector.  I contribute to my health care coverage, and it's still a great deal compared to what I get out of it.  But it does cost money, and it does require me to evaluate whether I should run to a clinic for every sniffle, or be more responsible about utilizing the benefits.  Having totally free care with no limits encourages overtaxing the system.  Everyone knows that.  It's disingenous to suggest otherwise.  There's no disincentive not to, save for long waits in a waiting room.  

        In the world of "fairness", it's time for everyone to pay his fair share, not expect the population at large to underwrite a privileged class of workers' coverage via price increases and/or tax policy (such as guaranteed taxpayer-funded teachers pension funds here in NY when everyone else in the country has to weather the stock market ups and downs).

        I'm tired of the "free lunch" mantra.  I'm not getting it, and I don't want to pay for anyone else's.  What's fair is fair.  

        •  2005 article? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          How relevant is that to 2009?

          I'm not an anarchist, but it would be good if people started realizing the difference between political propaganda and the truth. --John Lennon

          by o the umanity on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 05:17:34 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Wrong. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Please, do your homework. Every country which has universal health care has lower health costs as a percent of GDP than does the US. Heck, just compare us to Europe. Europeans have longer life expectancies, lower infant mortality rates and generally rate their quality of life higher than do people in the USA. You have an interesting theory, but reality says otherwise.

          If universal health care won't work in the USA, that says a lot more about Americans than about universal health care.

          Though a BBC employee, any views expressed here are strictly my own and are not endorsed by the BBC.

          by Ovid on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 07:22:44 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  asdf (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dirtandiron, 2questions

    I clicked through and read the Post editorial. Would it be asking too much for them to publish editorials with paragraphs longer than a single sentence each?

    A gin and orange, a lemon squash and a Scotch and water, PLEASE! -6.75, -4.36

    by zkg on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 04:01:35 AM PST

  •  This lie has been making the rounds for weeks (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It was spawned by a flawed "study" from some right-wing "think-tank" - it's disgusting to see it paraded yet again on the pages of the Post.  Mark Twain put it best:

    The difference between a cat and a lie is that a cat only has nine lives...

  •  Time Magazine Did the Same Thing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Thank you for posting this information.

    Sadly it's not just the New York Post. Yesterday we saw an article in Time magazine that deliberately obfuscated the results of the USA/Gallup poll to give readers the false impression that there were more people who favored an independent panel to investigate Bush crimes than there were who favored criminal investigations. The fact is the results of the poll showed just the opposite.

    Leahy's Plan to Probe Bush-Era Wrongdoings
    By BOBBY GHOSH / WASHINGTON Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2009

    Perhaps surprisingly, a majority of Americans polled recently by Gallup expressed their support for some kind of investigation into Bush-era wrongdoing such as the politicization of the Justice Department or torture, though much of the backing was for an independent panel, not a criminal probe.

    We also know that this sleight of hand writing by Time was not the first time that the poll had been misrepresented. Last week Joe Conason at wrote a piece where he blatantly reversed the poll results to also convey that there were more people who favored an independent panel over criminal investigations. Conason didn't use the more subtle (sneakier) obfuscation method like Time he was much more clumsy in his distortion of the poll results. He finally corrected his piece at the repeated request of readers but the wrong information sat on the website for several days before the correction was made.

    All of these corrupt attempts to deliberately disseminate false information need to be challenged whenever we find them. I don't know about you but I'm sick of remaining silent in the face of such obvious distortion by the media and they need to be put on notice that we aren't going to just ignore this anymore. They need to be held accountable for what they do just like the Bush criminals need to be held accountable for what they did. The free rides are over!

    Note: Yesterday I sent an email to Bobby Ghosh at Time alerting asking him to correct the distortion in his Leahy article. So far the piece has not been changed.

    "The liberty of speaking and writing guards our other liberties." - Thomas Jefferson

    by pmorlan on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 05:56:12 AM PST

  •  Let me count the ways (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Too bad such a shit paper has such a good sports section.

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