We should maintain that if an interpretation of any word in any religion leads to disharmony and does not positively further the welfare of the many, then such an interpretation is to be regarded as wrong; that is, against the will of God, or as the working of Satan or Mara.

Buddhadasa Bikkhu, a Thai Buddhist Monk

Monday, June 18, 2012

Undocumented Political Rhetoric

A recent study by Drs. Peter Dreier of Occidental College and Christopher R. Martin of the University of Northern Iowa is entitled, "“Job Killers in the News: Allegations without Verification”. According to their report on their research findings, this study "analyzes the frequency of the term "job killer" in four mainstream news media since 1984." How was the term "job killer" used by the Associated Press, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post? Did these four media outlets verify claims that certain programs or policies would "kill jobs"?  Dreier and Martin found that the charge "job killer" is used largely for political purposes.  Its use has nothing to do with whether the economy is in decline or not.  The conservative Wall Street Journal "was the most likely of the four news organizations to deploy 'job killer' as conventional wisdom, with no attribution."

Most often, the term "job killer" was used by Republicans and business against governmental measures to regulate business.  And, "in 91.6% of the stories alleging that a government policy was or would be a 'job killer,' the media failed to cite any evidence for this claim or to quote an authoritative source with any evidence for these claims."  Some "job killing" news articles posted by these news agencies spread rapidly across the Internet.  The authors concluded that these four news agencies were actually promoting a Republican and business political agenda in their use of the term "job killer" without verifying or documenting the truth of their political allegations.

Nine times out of ten the charge that a bill, law, or policy "kills jobs' there is no substantiation to back up the claim—no data, no facts, and no authoritative sources are cited.  It is enough for political pranksters to shout, "job killer" in the crowded room of American politics to send the media, at least, stampeding for the doors.  Perhaps we should focus less on the supposed dangers of undocumented workers to our economy and give more attention on the very real danger of undocumented political rhetoric to our politics.