The [Thursday] Papers
Posting throughout the site will be sporadic until January 2nd - and maybe even then!
A few items of note.
"Amid the wrangling over the so-called fiscal cliff, President Obama and congressional Republicans can agree on something: They want to lower the corporate tax rate."
We interrupt this news story to bring you this important reminder:
Now we resume our regular programming.
"The 35% corporate tax rate in the U.S. is the highest among the world's developed economies and could be cut to improve global competitiveness."
That's an "objective" statement "reported" by the Tribune-owned Times.
Seventeen paragraphs in, though, we learn this isn't quite true:
"But the rate in the tax code isn't what many companies pay because of a host of deductions and tax credits. In 2011, the effective corporate tax rate in the U.S. was 29.2%, roughly in line with the 31.9% average of the six other largest developed economies."
And with corporate profits at an all-time high - that's all-time, meaning better than at any other time in the history of the universe - is "global competitiveness" really an issue?
We interrupt this news story to tell you that some economists think the term "global competitiveness" is utter bullshit, but let's play along for a minute.
"A lack of economic stability highlighted by a soaring national debt, combined with a lack of trust in government by the business community, helped drop the U.S. two notches to seventh in a ranking of national global competitiveness," this same Tribune Company reporter wrote in September.
"For the fourth straight year, Switzerland topped the list, which was released Wednesday by the World Economic Forum. Also beating the U.S. in the 2012-13 rankings of 144 national economies were Singapore, Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands and Germany."
So to "compete" better, we're going to become even less like the countries ahead of us. Who's in charge here, Lovie Smith?
See also: The Truth About The U.S. Corporate Tax Rate.
(A note about that link: Unfortunately, the ideologically driven Media Matters, which often does fine work, doesn't care that it's not just the "right-wing media" who don't want you to know the truth; or, more likely, the rest of the media simply doesn't know any better.)
We interrupt this news commentary to provide you with another important reminder:
"Democrats seeking a deal to avert the year-end 'fiscal cliff' are trying to etch into stone the signature economic achievement of Republican President George W. Bush by permanently extending tax cuts enacted during his tenure," the Washington Post reports.
And remember all the hullabaloo when Mitt Romney seemed to define the middle-class as making $250,000? What he really said was "up to" $250,000, which for the purposes of discussing tax rates, is exactly how Barack Obama defines the middle-class.
Perhaps if Romney had been elected president, the same inflamed zombie voices arguing so vociferously against him during the campaign would have formed an opposition to him doing exactly what Obama is doing without dissent. Instead, the opposition is coming from the House Republican Tea Party caucus. Which is fascinating because the media is in another round of "The Tea Party is dead" stories even as the refusal of Tea Partiers to back down on their principles is the biggest reason we're still on that fiscal cliff.
Meet the second term, same as the first term.
Yes. And there's no excuse.
But did that deadly fire start because the kids were left home alone or because the family was using a hot plate for heat?
The second-to-last paragraph:
"[T]he sisters were forced to heat their home with a hot plate and two space heaters because their gas had been shut off."
AP reports that "The cause was also under investigation, though officials said it appeared a hot plate, possibly being used to heat the room, fell onto some clothes, and started the fire . . . Some people said there was no gas service at the house, which is why the family was using the hot plate."
The Tribune reports that "The fire broke out about 3:20 a.m. Saturday in a first-floor bedroom where the two victims were sleeping. The brothers who survived, Darnell Meakens, 7, and Marquis Meakens, 4, were in a back bedroom."
The Tribune earlier reported that "When the blaze broke out at about 3:30 a.m. in their West Englewood home, Darnell, 7, and Marquis, 4, managed to run out a back door with the help of an aunt."
Who was presumably nearby.
"Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said firefighters found no working smoke detectors in the building. Firefighters also found that there were no working smoke detectors in the building."
That's the landlord's responsibility.
But the Tribune lets you know how it feels by ending its article with this quote from a neighbor: "There's no way they should have left those kids alone."
I agree, but that's not what caused the fire.
You can almost always discern the view of a reporter or their news organization by going straight to their endquote. Its purpose is usually to reinforce the (sometimes unspoken) thesis of an article in somebody else's voice. This way, the reporter remains "objective" while not. Another neighbor - or several - might just have expressed a very different sentiment, but the reporter chooses the one that fits the tone and message that he or she sees fit, or that their editor demands. It also helps tie up a story about real humans with an aesthetically pleasing novelistic bow.
In this case, though, the story is a bit more tragically complex - whether the sisters are more or less to blame than "we" currently think. Maybe they and they alone placed those children in danger. Maybe it was their choice to heat their home with a hot plate instead of paying their gas bill. Maybe gas service shouldn't have been turned off to a home with children in it. Maybe they sought help or maybe they didn't care. At the same time, if they were home, wouldn't that fire have started anyway? Again, I'm not absolving them of responsibility at all. But what is really the X factor here? And how did it come to this? Let's find out and tell that story instead of just taking the easy, tsk-tsking route and moving on to the next tragedy.
The show takes place at Royal Pawn in the Loop.
"Welcome to Chicago's most outrageous family-owned pawn shop. Run by brothers Randy and Wayne, the odd couple is constantly at war with one another, their kids and their customers. The shop lies in a unique part of town with a local jail across the street and just blocks from Chicago's fashionable downtown. From bankers to gangbangers, on any given day, you never know whether a fight or a fortune is going to come through the door. Brimming with cash, gold, conflict and the most unusual objects ever seen, this is a family business where the tempers run high, but the money can pile higher."
"The first half of this journey was great," our very own Carl Mohrbacher writes, "but loving body language and two defensive touchdowns can't whisk away a second half of lies."
The Beachwood Tip Line: Write us sometime when you've got no class.
Posted on December 27, 2012
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