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NPR Blames Borrowers for the Recession

Mytwords's picture

[cross-posted at NPR Check]

How would you complete the following sentence:

For nearly two years the US economy has been battered by a recession brought on by _________________.

I would guess most semi-informed people would mention the housing bubble and mortgage backed securities (unless you are so completely incompetent as to not know about the $8 trillion dollar housing bubble!). Somewhere in the discussion one would hope to hear about the sub-prime lending spree that hugely profited unscrupulous mortgage brokers and victimized many borrowers. Right?

Not if you're Liane Hansen chatting with Marilyn Geewax (get out the Q Tips!); according to Hansen the recession was brought on by "excessive borrowing - millions of people took on far too much mortgage debt or maxed out their credit cards." Yep, it was all those foolish Americans frivolously maxing out their credit cards and buying houses willy-nilly. At this point you hopefully gave NPR one of its well deserved Dial-away™ moments and switched to some other station, otherwise you were subjected to even more astute economic insights about Americans and their savings.

After Geewax explains that a study found that "about half of all Americans said they couldn't scrounge up $2000 even if they turned to their relatives for help," Hansen asks, "Why do so many people live on the financial edge?" A reasonable question. You might expect to hear something about depressed wages, exhorbitant health insurance fees, predatory lending, skyrocketing college expenses, union busting, etc. or as one of the commenters on the NPR site writes,

"This was a very poor presentation of the issue by NPR. Despite an introduction, followed by an interview, not a thing was said about American wages. They mention how generations ago, we had a greater savings rate, never mind that back then, families could live well on one income."

Geewax is not about to answer the question, but continues on with scolding the current generation of Americans,

"We've just sort of step by step, generation by generation, gotten more accustomed to this idea of easy credit...has lead to a kind of financial illiteracy, we don't read the fine print, we don't really think about compounding interest and so people kind of lost track of the financial risks..."

If all this weren't bad enough, Geewax and Hansen then turn the whole story into a condescending commercial for NPR. Geewax explains that to save up $2000, all a couple has to do is each "put $20 in a cookie jar every time they listen to Lianne Hansen on Sunday mornings, by the end of the year that couple would have $2000." Wow why didn't I think of that? Better yet, if everyone put a dollar in the cookie jar every time they heard something stupid on NPR news, we'd all be millionaires by years end!

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madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

happened in a vacuum. Didn't you get your post-partisan Reaganite talking points today? Nothing is the government's responsibility, and everything is the people's fault.

Apply to any situation, repeat ad nauseum.

Roman Berry's picture
Submitted by Roman Berry on

"put $20 in a cookie jar every time they listen to Lianne Hansen on Sunday mornings, by the end of the year that couple would have $2000."

Well...no. How can people be expected to take financial advice from someone who can't do simple math? 20 bucks a week. 52 weeks a year. $1040 bucks (if you use the cookie jar) or maybe $1050-1060 bucks (if you head down to the local bank and draw a whopping 1 percent interest compounded quarterly.)

EZ Credit is what our overlords substituted for wages. EZ credit is what allowed people to go on living a middle class lifestyle (mortgaging their future) as middle class wages disappeared.

People know about risks. But people also know that when the car has to be fixed, or you have to buy fuel oil to heat the house, or a medical emergency or even minor illness takes you away from work, you do what you have to do...until you can't do it any more.

It's incredibly easy for people who are comfortable to look down and sneer at the great unwashed masses. From their perch, it all looks so simple. It just can't happen to them. Until it does.

Submitted by jawbone on

Yeah, that's the ticket....

NPR's content and, now, presentation style as well, is becoming ever so forgettable and missable. I remember when I hated missing anything on NPR's news. Now? Friday night football, anyone?

Sometimes I'm just aghast at what they're covering as "important" and "news." And the new chattier style is extremely off putting.

Oh, the NPR ombudsperson was on WNYC radio recently and said that NPR is Mainstream Media. It used to provide an alternative, she said, but now it's part of the Mainstream Media. Or, in my more accurate description, Mainstream Corporate Media (MCM).

Submitted by regulararmyfool on

NPR and PBS are right wing fronts. You will never hear anything of any importance on these propaganda organizations. Anyone who accepts a penny from Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Cargill, and Bunge, is automatically owned by the oligarchy.

If you didn't notice it in the 1970s, then you are too ignorant of the real world to properly appreciate that there is no reliable "news" organization in the united states.
All, repeat all, radio, TV, papers, magazines, and an astounding amount of the internet are controlled by the oligarchy's toadies. This is not a democracy, this is a plutocracy.

All "news" is controlled by the oligarchy, they only demand that the propaganda be organized to increase their insanely greed hoards. King Midas was a piker.

Think I'm wrong? Check LexisNexis for "single payer" articles or broadcasts. Then check for "monopoly insurance corporations." Then check for articles with "Wall Street fraud convictions."

Submitted by lambert on

You've got a LexisNexis account? Those numbers would be nice to have....

Submitted by jawbone on

hears contrary ideas, all ideas. That they would benefit from hearing many different views, etc.

This "little single payer activist" stifled a cynical response to the radio, realizing he hears just about as much of my contributions as he does from single payer supporters he wouldn't allow to speak at his health care launch and follow on presentations.

Damn, those "bleeding liberal hearts"...just too dangerous to allow them to speak and be heard!

Oh, I'm sure he meant his fine words to the Chinese. But, he also meant his condescending and belittling words to people like me.

Arise, unterbussen!