Myths, Lies and Propaganda

Dr. Thomas Sowell's new book The Vision of the Anointed has numerous tidbits that are helpful in the understanding of the political demagoguery and deliberate media lies about budgets and other social issues.

Take the charges of Republican tax cuts for the "rich." Is a person rich if his income puts him in the top 20 percent of income earners or is it the top 5 percent? That's for you to answer, but here are the facts: in 1992, a $60,000 a year salary qualified you for the top 20 percent of income­earners, and $100,000 a year qualified you for the top 5 percent. There are truly rich people in our country but ask a person earning $100,000 a year, with two children in college, a mortgage and almost half his income taken in taxes, whether he feels rich like ABC's Peter Jennings or Senator Ted Kennedy. But according to the political rhetoric, and media lies, a tax cut for such a person is equated with undeserved tax cuts for the rich. Clinton and his media allies deliberately mislead us about richness in order to foment class envy as a means to greater power and control.

How about the "glass ceiling" lies where occupational and income disparities between college­educated women and blacks, on the one hand, and white men on the other, are portrayed as a crisis requiring government intervention. Sowell points out that men with master's degrees outnumber women with master's degrees two to one. Men with Ph.D.s outnumber women by 59 percent. Although women earn 37 percent of Ph.D.s, they earn almost half of them in social sciences and more than half in education. Men earn more than 80 percent of natural sciences Ph.D.s and 90 percent of engineering Ph.D.s. Black Ph.D.s earned exhibit a pattern similar pattern to women. Should anybody be surprised by people holding more advanced degrees, and in the hard sciences, earning more than those with touchy­feely degrees?

What about media stories charging banks with mortgage discrimination against blacks? The media presented the Boston Federal Reserve study as controlled and definitive. A followup study took into account significant differences in black/white net worth, credit histories, existing debts and the size of the loan sought as a percentage of the value of the property. When these factors were taken into consideration the racial difference in mortgage approvals virtually disappeared. When Alicia Munnell, author of the flawed, media­hyped story, was approach by a Forbes magazine writer, and confronted with her study's deficiencies, she responded, "I do not have evidence [of mortgage lending discrimination] . . . No one has evidence." Did you hear the media report that?

Washington Post writer Haynes Johnson is just one of those to spread the claim that half of all marriages end in divorce. That's unforgivable ignorance. Sowell says that in a particular year the number of divorces may well be half the number of marriages; however, the marriages counted took place that year while divorces being counted are from marriages that took place over decades. If the same reasoning was applied to deaths and births, and if deaths were half the number of births in a given year, Haynes Johnson might report that half the population died that year. The fact of business is only 11 percent of all adults who were ever married are now in divorced status. Married couples outnumber unmarried by 54 million to 3 million.

Sowell's The Vision of the Anointed exposes one media lie and invented crisis after another. It's a book well worth its price for some informative Christmas reading.

Walter E. Williams
December 4, 1995
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