Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Rep's columnists show their colors

The AZ chapter of the right-wing blogosphere loves to claim that the Arizona Republic is a 'liberal' newspaper. They're wrong.

It's not a 'conservative' paper, either.

It's a 'corporate' paper. They support profits, and the highest profits always seem to be available with the social and political status quo.

Don't believe that? Google their endorsements in the 2006 general elections - the only significant non-incumbent endorsements were Tammie Pursley over Russell Pearce in the LD18 AZ House race and Harry Mitchell over JD Hayworth in the CD5 U.S. House race.

Those two (Pearce and Hayworth) were/are too extreme for even the Rep to endorse. Something of an accomplishment that ('too extreme') - the Rep is so status quo-oriented that they even endorsed the wholly corrupt incumbent Rick Renzi in the CD1 U.S. House race that year.

Overall, while these days the news sections are pretty much puff pieces, press releases, or, in the case of most non-Phoenix based community stories, wire service reports, such as those codged from the East Valley Tribune, the editorial page *is* predominantly conservative (with an eye toward keeping advertisers happy).

That's OK; the editorial pages are intended to express opinions, even (or especially) opinions that generate disagreement and discussion.

On Sunday, two of the Rep's columnists showed their true conservative colors. That fact alone wouldn't normally rate a post, but the fact that they did such a poor job of it does.

In Doug MacEachern's case it wasn't much of a surprise - readers can always count on him to be anti-Democrat, anti-worker, anti-public education, anti-etc.

In Sunday's column he went a little farther out on the fringe than he normally does.

In a column supporting the Colombia Free Trade Agreement and lamenting Congress' delay in approving it [let's face it - it is *only* a delay; the agreement will be approved...the only question is whether it will be approved before or after the November elections], MacEachern used most of his column to blame unions for economic protectionism in particular and for all that ails the American economy in general.

From the column -

...but the fact is unions never have been especially keen on the subject of free trade, a facet of their job-protectionism mentality that may have done more to bring about their private-industry demise than anything else.

This graph from MSN Encarta on rate of union membership illustrates how well labor unions can influence public policy these days -

If that isn't enough to give lie to MacEachern's position about how union influence is hurting America's economy, this Harris poll from 1994 regarding people's opinion of unions after the passage of NAFTA should get the job done.

Perhaps more accurately, he should say the *waning* of union influence has hurt the American economy; it's certainly hurt the American worker.

MacEachern's canard about unions was annoying, but not too surprising. It's a rather well-used one in the right-wing echo chamber

Sunday's column from his editorial page-mate Robert Robb *was* a major surprise.

Don't misunderstand - he is normally a totally pro-corporation, laissez-faire libertarian sort of writer, and Sunday's column was no different in that regard.

He is also normally a very good writer - clear and logical in the structuring of his arguments, and temperate in his choice of language.

He's always readable, just usually wrong. :))

On Sunday, though, he dropped this whopper in a column about the comparative merits of the lege's plan to repeal the equalization property tax (cutting a source of revenue dedicated to education funding to the tune of a quarter billion dollars) versus a $1.4 billion university construction program -
...[The idea behind spending on public education and infrastructure is that] College graduates make more money than non-graduates, so the state's economy will be larger.

College graduates, however, are mobile, so the economic benefits of their higher productivity don't necessary accrue to the state that subsidized their education.

Yup, he just argued against spending money on public universities because educated people might leave Arizona.

I'm not sure which he has a lower opinion of -

Arizona, or the people who call it home.

Either way, it's rather ironic that he is one of the lead opinion columnists for a newspaper named the Arizona Republic.

And the cons of AZ used to complain about Jon Talton badmouthing Phoenix...wonder if they have anything to say about Robb's insult?

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