Eclectic commentary from a progressive voice in the red state

Friday, August 19, 2016

'Opinion' without facts is blather - thanks AGN

Anyone who knows me knows I love the adage often attributed to the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan, but certainly used by others before him: Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.

I’ve often stated that a journalist’s stocks in trade are research and facts. Even opinion writers should base their conclusions on research and facts. Once again, however, the Amarillo Globe-News — or as a friend of mine puts it, “The Amarillo Daily Disappointment,” publishes an editorialwithout any regard for facts. Essentially, the city’s “newspaper” of record claims that the federal government’s decision to stop using private prisons is based on flawed information. And, that the government can’t do a credible job of making such an assessment. That kind of writing is right out of the Rush Limbaugh playbook.

By focusing on the money, which of course the editorialist really doesn’t understand anyway, he not only diverts attention away from the issues of prisoner and staff safety and conflates saving money with a general cost-benefit analysis. He also fails to understand the public finance concept of externalities, which posits that there are collateral costs to be considered. Those would include but not be limited to adding in the profit motive for private prison companies. What’s wrong with profit?

In this case, it leads to cost-cutting that can result in medical costs for injured inmates and guards, the cost of turnover in staff because of poor wages and working conditions and societal costs of incarceration without rehabilitation. All the Globe-News needed to do was a little further research to find the Mother Jones article about how a private prison in Louisiana functions. Of course, in our American exceptionalism-driven harshness, some would say the inmates get what they deserve and deserve what they get. And those are likely the people who also claim the United States is a “Christian” nation but forget what Christ taught.

Of course, additional facts that wouldn’t fit in with the Morris Communications and Globe-News corporatist agenda never stop propagandists from pushing their Goebbels-like wares. I hope others are more thoughtful about issues than the Amarillo Globe-News. We deserve better.