Plus: Is it reform -- or R & R?
Nor was this just an earnest bit of reporting by Hernandez and Bernstein that proved to be misguided. It was something worse than that. Even at the time, back in January, a close reading of Hernandez and Bernstein's article (by, for example, their editors) would have indicated it was bogus. Their lede was based on a mild welfare increase "of 5,000, or about 1 percent, in October and November, to 469,000." But, buried skillfully in the seventh paragraph, was the news that
the caseload increases in October and November were followed by a drop to 462,595 in December.
In other words, the caseloads rose by 5,000 over two months, then they dropped by 6,400. The NYT billed this as "Welfare Rolls Grew"! After all, they grew for two months! The "shift" was "abrupt"! ...
P.S.: Kaufman's story, cleaning up the Hernandez/Bernstein mess, gives fair play to the claim, by the left, that the rolls are so low because New York is discouraging those who really can't find jobs from applying. But it might also be that welfare reform has changed the expectations of single mothers at the low-end of the labor market, so that now when they lose a job the first thing they do is go out and get a new one (since they know the welfare office is just going to make them look for work anyway, and they only have so many years of federal welfare benefits to draw on). And because the recession has hit low-end jobs in New York (and some other cities) less severely than it's hit better-paid jobs, it's still possible for many potential welfare recipients to find work. P.P.S.: Isn't it also possible that at least some quondam welfare recipients, who went to work in the late 90s, now qualify for unemployment compensation, and thus don't need welfare? ... Caveat: I'm assuming that Kaufman's numbers, showing a continuing national welfare decline, include recipients who have been transferred to various special state-funded welfare programs that states have created as a "safety net" for those who don't qualify for the main federal welfare program.. If not, all bets are off. ... 12:23 P.M.
Wednesday, August 28, 2002
Sustainable hackery: Paul Krugman's most recent column ends with this paragraph:
A final thought: Wouldn't it be nice if just once, on some issue, the Bush administration came up with a plan that didn't involve weakened environmental protection, financial breaks for wealthy individuals and corporations and reduced public oversight?
What about EPA administrator Christie Whitman's decision to go ahead and get pollutants out of diesel fuel and engines, which most of the oil industry lobbied against? Is Whitman somehow not part of the "Bush administration"? ... P.S.: When President Clinton's EPA first approved those diesel rules in the closing days of his administration, the NYT ran the story as its front page lead. (""In terms of the environment,it just doesn't get any bigger than these smudge pots on wheels," was the unnamed-EPA-official's quote in the third paragraph.) But when Bush resisted explicit industry lobbying and affirmed the rules -- he could have rescinded them, since they hadn't taken effect when he took office -- the NYT ran the story on page A-19. ... P.P.S.: Bush ultimately approved the full-strength anti-arsenic rules also. ... P.P.S.: Whitman also ordered General Electric to spend $480 million to clean toxins from the Hudson. ... P.P.P.S.: Does Krugman make any effort these days to get a full picture? ... Update: Some readers suggest that Bush shouldn't get credit for plans the Clinton EPA "came up with" and that Bush only affirmed -- even though in the case of diesel fuel Bush was the one who took the brunt of the oil lobbyists' heat (Clinton conveniently having waited until the 2000 election was over and he had a few weeks left in office). But if you want a plan the Bushies "came up with," there's his "Blue Skies" plan to require a two-thirds cut in most power plant emissions. You can say this plan doesn't go far enough -- it cuts sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and mercury, but not carbon dioxide -- but it's hard to argue, as Krugman does, that it means "weakened environmental protection." ... Link: For a clear-headed and highly-readable discussion of how Bush's enivronmental record has been unfairly portrayed by, yes, the media, see Gregg Easterbrook's "Everything You Know About the Bush Environmental Record is Wrong." ... 12:59 A.M.
Media Whores Online denies, somewhat unconvincingly, that it has become responsible. (MWO claims: "[I]n this issue, we count 22 instances of namecalling ...") ... 12:13 A.M.
Tuesday, August 27, 2002