Apologizing for Inequality Is a Growth Industry

Not equal sign on manhole cover (cc photo: Antony Theobald)

(cc photo: Antony Theobald)

This is the headline over a USA Today op-ed (10/7/13) by Scott Winship of the right-wing Manhattan Institute:

Income Inequality, Growth Go Together

Whereas the article says:

When research finds a connection between economic growth rates and inequality levels, as often as not higher inequality tends to correspond to higher growth.

This is a dubious claim as well. But it’s not at all the same as the sweeping assertion made in the headline. 

The text is the more sophisticated spin to persuade people who care about inequality to care about it a little less; the headline is the takeaway the public is supposed to remember next time they hear about a  proposal for cutting taxes for the wealthy. Either way, the Koch brothers and other funders of the Manhattan Institute are getting their money’s worth.

UPDATE: Scott Winship notes on Twitter (10/9/13) that he doesn’t write USA Today‘s headlines. Of course he does not. But when you write a line like “as often as not higher inequality tends to correspond to higher growth,” you are acknowledging that there is not a tendency for inequality to correspond to higher growth–otherwise the connection would appear more often than “as often as not”–while at the same time hoping that people will misread you as saying that there is such a tendency. In other words, you’re trying to get people to misunderstand you in exactly the way the headline writer did.

About Jim Naureckas

Extra! Magazine Editor Since 1990, Jim Naureckas has been the editor of Extra!, FAIR's monthly journal of media criticism. He is the co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error, and co-editor of The FAIR Reader: An Extra! Review of Press and Politics in the '90s. He is also the co-manager of FAIR's website. He has worked as an investigative reporter for the newspaper In These Times, where he covered the Iran-Contra scandal, and was managing editor of the Washington Report on the Hemisphere, a newsletter on Latin America. Jim was born in Libertyville, Illinois, in 1964, and graduated from Stanford University in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in political science. Since 1997 he has been married to Janine Jackson, FAIR's program director. You can follow Jim on Twitter at @JNaureckas.