EppsNet Archive: Wall Street Journal

Spot the Fake News: Obamacare Subsidies

16 Oct 2017 /

I read four news stories on the same topic — the end of Obamacare subsidies to insurance companies.

The Wall Street Journal plays it straight down the middle:

President Donald Trump’s executive order on health care issued Thursday marks the first major salvo in what the White House promises will be an extensive, targeted campaign to unravel the Affordable Care Act administratively.

As does Bloomberg:

President Donald Trump said he is moving “step by step” on his own to remake the U.S. health care system because Congress won’t act on his demand to repeal Obamacare.

The Trump administration took its most drastic measure yet to roll back the Affordable Care Act Thursday evening, announcing it would cut off a subsidy to insurers hours after issuing an executive order designed to draw people away from the health law’s markets.

See if you can spot the fake news in the Politico version:

President Donald Trump plans to cut off subsidy payments to insurers selling Obamacare coverage in his most aggressive move yet to undermine his predecessor’s health care law.

Politico imputes an ulterior motive, i.e., Trump is not trying to make life better for anyone, he just wants to undermine Obama. That is fake. You can’t know why someone did something. I don’t even know why I do half the things I do.

Surprisingly to me, CNBC, which I expected would have an impartial, businesslike report, went completely off the rails:

Obamacare bombshell: Trump kills key payments to health insurers

The Trump administration will immediately stop making critically important payments to insurers who sell Obamacare health plans, a bombshell move that is expected to spike premium prices and potentially lead many insurers to exit the marketplace.

Where to start on this . . .?

1. The word “bombshell” doesn’t belong in a news story. Even to call something a “surprise” or an “unforeseen event” raises the question of who exactly was surprised by it.

In this case, nobody was surprised. Everyone knew that there was no appropriation for the subsidies, meaning that they are not accounted for in the federal budget.

When Obama was president, he didn’t care that the payments were off budget, but when Trump was elected, everyone had an inkling that the payments would stop.

2. What’s the difference between a payment, an important payment and a critically important payment? “Critically important payment” is not a fact, it’s an opinion. It’s fake news.

If you want to make a case for critical importance, lay out the facts and let the reader decide.

3. “Increase” is a better word than “spike” in a news story. Using words like “spike,” “bombshell” and “kills,” especially in a story about healthcare, creates a manufactured sense of danger, fear and imminent fatality.

Also: premium prices have already gone up. Insurance companies raised the premiums in anticipation of the subsidies being stopped, despite CNBC’s characterization of the stoppage as a “bombshell” (see #1 above).

4. There’s no information in saying that something will “potentially” transpire. How many insurers did you talk to? None? One? More than one? How many said they would exit the marketplace?

Every major insurer has already partially or completely left the Obamacare marketplace.

 

There’s a taxonomy of fake news. It’s not (necessarily) fabricated. It’s more often misleading content or false context, as seen above.


Identity Politics = Liberal Suicide?

13 Aug 2017 /

Mark Lilla is professor of the humanities at Columbia University. He’s got a book coming out, The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics.

As you might have surmised from his job title, Lilla is a liberal himself. His concern is “the divisive, zero-sum world of identity politics” and its negative effect on liberalism in America.

Here’s an excerpt of an excerpt published in the Wall Street Journal:

As a teacher, I am increasingly struck by a difference between my conservative and progressive students. Contrary to the stereotype, the conservatives are far more likely to connect their engagements to a set of political ideas and principles. Young people on the left are much more inclined to say that they are engaged in politics as an X, concerned about other Xs and those issues touching on X-ness. And they are less and less comfortable with debate.

Over the past decade a new, and very revealing, locution has drifted from our universities into the media mainstream: Speaking as an X… This is not an anodyne phrase. It sets up a wall against any questions that come from a non-X perspective. Classroom conversations that once might have begun, I think A, and here is my argument, now take the form, Speaking as an X, I am offended that you claim B. What replaces argument, then, are taboos against unfamiliar ideas and contrary opinions. . . .

The politics of identity has done nothing but strengthen the grip of the American right on our institutions. It is the gift that keeps on taking. Now is the time for liberals to do an immediate about-face and return to articulating their core principles of solidarity and equal protection for all. Never has the country needed it more.


Why You Should Never Tell Someone to Relax

20 Aug 2016 /

The one that really gets me is being told to “calm down” by someone angrier than I am . . .


Ted Cruz: Lucifer in the Flesh?

29 Apr 2016 /

I think this comparison is terribly unfair — to Lucifer.


Why Don’t Asians Care About the Oscars?

19 Jan 2016 /
Academy Award

From the Washington Post:

Very white Oscar nominations leave Academy president ‘heartbroken and frustrated’

From the Los Angeles Times:

Oscars 2016: It’s time for Hollywood to stop defining great drama as white men battling adversity

From the Wall Street Journal:

Black Actors and Directors Shut Out of 2016 Oscar Race

Why don’t Asians seem to care about the Oscar whiteness crisis that continues to rage unabated? Maybe they’re too busy with jobs and school . . .


We Have Entered a New Screwball Phase

30 Oct 2015 /

Peggy Noonan had a good article in the Wall Street Journal this week about, among other things, two departures: Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper, and Joe Biden as a presidential candidate.

On Harper’s successor:

[Incoming Canadian prime minister] Justin Trudeau has been a snowboard instructor, schoolteacher, bartender, bouncer, speaker on environmental and youth issues, and advocate for avalanche safety. Sensing “generational change” and gravitating toward “a life of advocacy,” he entered politics and served two terms in Parliament. He has been head of the Liberal Party two years. He is handsome, has a winning personality, exhibited message discipline during the campaign, and is a talented dancer. There’s a sense we in the West have entered a new screwball phase.

On Biden and old-school Democrats:

Joe Biden’s decision not to run for president left me sad. He would have enlivened things. He has always reminded me of what Democrats were like when I was a kid—kind of normal and earthy and fun. They did not spend their time endlessly accusing people of being sexist-racist-homophobic-gender-biased persons of unchecked privilege. They would have thought that impolite.


This Photo of A Guy Tap Dancing in a Pink Floyd Shirt Explains a Lot

20 Mar 2015 /

A Wall Street Journal article on college students, the weak job market and high debt loads is illustrated by this photo of a guy in a Pink Floyd t-shirt taking a tap dancing class.

The crazy thing is that not only are these kids running up debt and killing their job prospects, they don’t even appear to be having a good time doing it . . .

Tap dancing


Climate Change is Making People More Stupid

11 Jul 2014 /

(HealthDay News) — Add another possible woe to the growing list of consequences of climate change: Kidney stones.

A new study of American cities suggests that rising temperatures may increase the number of people who develop the painful urinary obstructions.

You have to read all the way down to the second-to-last sentence of the article to find this:

The study uncovered a connection between higher temperatures and risk of kidney stones, but didn’t prove cause-and-effect.

The article implies cause and effect only to fess up right at the end and admit that there is no cause and effect. In the absence of cause and effect, what exactly is the point?

In the epilogue of War and Peace, a peasant notices a “connection” between smoke and locomotives and infers cause and effect: the smoke causes the locomotive to move. The point being that it’s easy to infer causality from “connections” in ways that have no grounding in reality.

In other climate news, the Wall Street Journal reports that researchers have, for the first time, counted all the world’s Adélie penguins — a sprightly seabird considered a bellwether of climate change — and discovered that millions of them are thriving in and around Antarctica.

Rather than declining as feared due to warming temperatures that altered their habitats in some areas, the Adélie population generally is on the rise.

Adelie penguins


British Healthcare Fact of the Day

2 May 2014 /

In Britain, even though they’re already paying for the National Health Service, six million Brits — two-thirds of citizens earning more than $78,700 — now buy private health insurance. Meanwhile, more than 50,000 travel out of the U.K. annually, spending more than $250 million, to receive treatment more readily than they can at home.

WSJ.com

Making Life Look Good

13 Dec 2013 /
Multitaskabulous

Do we try to make our life exciting so it looks good for our friends or do we really get to live our life?

— Fred Ritchin, a photography professor at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, in response to a growing obsession over taking and sharing camera-phone images

Why Aren’t Women Interested in Computer Science?

30 Nov 2013 /
The Big Bang Theory

According to this recently published research paper, women aren’t interested in computer science because of media portrayals like “The Big Bang Theory,” in which technologists are depicted as socially awkward, interested in science fiction and video games and physically unattractive.

If that seems like a compelling line of reasoning, you can read a more complete write-up in this WSJ.com article.

What I’ve never been able to figure out is why people are so interested in why women aren’t interested in computer science . . .


Indian Givers

29 Nov 2013 /

Via Best of the Web Today:

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304747004579228190122617098


World Ends: Women, Minorities Hardest Hit

22 Nov 2013 /
http://blogs.wsj.com/searealtime/2013/11/20/baby-girls-at-increased-risk-of-death-following-typhoons-says-study/

Willing to Try Anything

7 May 2013 /

To Be Safe, Never Say Anything to Anyone

29 Jan 2013 /

Via Best of the Web Today:

To Be Safe, Never Say Anything to Anyone


Scott Adams on the Benefits of Boredom – WSJ.com

Posted by on 7 Aug 2011

The Price of Taxing the Rich

30 Mar 2011 /

Nearly half of California’s income taxes before the recession came from the top 1% of earners: households that took in more than $490,000 a year. High earners, it turns out, have especially volatile incomes—their earnings fell by more than twice as much as the rest of the population’s during the recession. When they crashed, they took California’s finances down with them.


Twitter: 2009-10-01

1 Oct 2009 /

We’ve Fallen Behind France in Moral Fortitude

18 Jun 2009 /

The President yesterday denounced the “extent of the fraud” and the “shocking” and “brutal” response of the Iranian regime to public demonstrations in Tehran these past four days.

“These elections are an atrocity,” he said. “If [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad had made such progress since the last elections, if he won two-thirds of the vote, why such violence?” The statement named the regime as the cause of the outrage in Iran and, without meddling or picking favorites, stood up for Iranian democracy.

The President who spoke those words was France’s Nicolas Sarkozy.

WSJ.com

Where is the Change?

26 Jan 2009 /

More than 144 hours into Barack Obama’s presidency, the economy is still in recession, the country is still at war, and in many parts of the country it’s still cold outside. Citizens are growing impatient: Wasn’t President Obama supposed to bring change?


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