Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Main Stream Media

It occurred to me recently that the main stream media tends to focus on issues they think the public will understand or comprehend. I guess the whole AIG uproar got my mental juices flowing. I totally disagree with the bonuses that were paid, but do they warrant the outrage that ensued? I don't think so.

So why does the media focus so intently on this issue? Do they not think they have enough time to educate or inform us just a little more so we can make informed decisions. Do they think we don't care? Do they think -- possibly -- that we're not sharp enough to follow? Probably a little of each.

The amount of money injected into the financial system in recent history is staggering. I have seen numbers ranging from 3 to 7 trillion dollars. I'm not even sure how many zero's I need to make the numbers work. AIG alone received 170 billion. Mind boggling numbers. So the bonuses paid represent about one tenth of one percent of the total. So why all the outrage?

There are far more egregious uses of the money than these bonuses (see USNEWS - Why Did AIG's Counterparties Get 100% Repayment?). I'm thinking the reason this has not received any airtime -- at least that I've seen -- is that I can barely understand what it means so the media would have to educate or inform me a little more. But there isn't time for that when we need to hear about the Presidents dog choice or Condoleeza Rice's favorite band or the whole Rihanna/Chris Brown train wreck.

So back to the issue. Both the media and Congress jump on the populist bandwagon and ride it until the wheels come off. The effect of this is that the populist outrage gets louder and the cycle continues until no one knows how it all got started or what it was all about. This results in additional advertising revenue or getting re-elected to congress but it really doesn't help solve the problems we are facing today.

So stop paying attention to the talking heads and find a good blog or magazine -- the Economist tends to inform on global issues without injecting any political rhetoric into the mix -- and maybe we can stop focusing on things that simply do not matter when dealing with problems of this scale and put an end to this disaster.

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