Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.
--Daniel Patrick Moynihan

July 29, 2012

The Amorality of the Market

By David K. Shipler

The lobstermen on the Maine island where I spend summers stayed home yesterday. They did not leave port to haul traps in the season that is usually the busiest and most lucrative of the year. It wasn’t the weather. The windless sea was as calm as gray glass, and the patchy fog burned off soon after sunrise—not that fog ever stops these guys anyway.

The reason they left their boats on their moorings, as many of their colleagues on the Maine coast have done from time to time this summer, was the ruthless market. Their co-op told them it wouldn’t be buying yesterday, because the price has fallen to the lowest since the 2008 economic collapse—at this moment, just $2.05 a pound “at the boat,” as they say. It’s slipped below $2.00 on other parts of the coast.

July 18, 2012

Money is Speech, Poverty is Silence

By David K. Shipler

As billionaires exercise their First Amendment right to freedom of speech by assaulting the country with propaganda, the poor remain quiet. Even as half a dozen Republican governors insist that they will not accept a penny of the federal government’s money to provide expanded Medicaid health insurance to the nearly poor, those citizens do not raise a voice.

The reason is obvious, but sometimes the obvious needs to be stated. The poor cannot afford to buy TV ads, produce slick Internet messages, or hire fancy public relations pros to manipulate vocabulary and insinuate their versions of reality into daily news coverage, talk-show babble, and political agendas.

This is the other side of the coin of freedom that the Supreme Court struck in its Citizens United decision overturning federal limits on campaign spending by corporations, unions, and other groups.