Eurozone unemployment is 9.9 percent. Unemployment in “socialist” Germany is 7.3 percent. In the UK, it’s 7.9 percent. And check out this chart that shows the folks in Europe, like France, Germany, and the UK, who wait less for doctors than we do.)

The kooky Investors Business Daily put down the Ayn Rand long enough to type up an editorial leading off with this falsehood:

More than one-third of all wages and salaries in this country are actually government handouts. We should be alarmed that we’ve become a nation of dependents.

That led further down into this truly amazing claim about how the “truly privileged class” in America is the bottom 50 percent:

Today, more than 97% of federal income tax receipts are paid by the top 50% of income earners.

The bottom 50%? They pay less than 3% of the taxes, making it a truly privileged class because many of its members get to live at the expense of others.

Left unsaid, of course, is that the bottom 50 percent makes just 13 percent of total income.

The Journal’s James Taranto even understands that the report is misleading, but apparently figures it’s still worth pushing. Note the euphemism here:

This doesn’t give a full picture, since it omits income from saving and investment. But it does give a sense of why Americans are increasingly nervous about the growth in government spending, which has only accelerated since Barack Obama became president.

Taranto doesn’t give a full picture, either, since he lets them include Social Security et al in wages and salaries. But at least he pointed out that there are problems with this study.

Las Vegas Review-Journal senior opinion editor Thomas Mitchell wrote:

The road to serfdom is paved with government checks

The Atlantic’s Daniel Indiviglio couldn’t pass up on it to get that classic annoying Atlantic headline in the form of a question: “Is the U.S. Becoming a Welfare State?”

Uncle Sam has been aggressively increasing Americans’ allowance recently. Government entitlement programs have grown to account for 35% of wages, according to a new analysis by Madeline Schnapp, director of macroeconomic research at investment research firm TrimTabs.

What would a zombie lie be without Fox News amplifying it? Steve Doocy and Eric Bolling got into the act, Media Matters reports:

DOOCY: I saw this statistic, couldn’t believe it: a third of the people in this country are winding up with a handout from the government?

BOLLING: The government payouts account now for 35 — see that? — 35 percent of total wages in America right now. And that’s up from 21 percent in 2000 and you can see 1960 is only 10 percent. At this rate, in four years, the government will account for more than 50 percent of total wages in America. As baby boomers are retiring, they’re getting a lot of Social Security benefits, unemployment benefits. It’s a bad, bad scary trend.

Hey, Doocy, if something strikes you as unbelievable, there’s probably a good reason for that.

Of all these, only Jackie Headapohl, a blogger with Michigan Live, which is one of those newspaper co-op websites, has updated with a correction.

Applause to her. Tomatoes for everyone else.

It’ll be interesting to watch this zombie lie progress over the next days and months, and it will be fascinating to see how many of these outlets correct their errors. Help me keep an eye out for all that, will you?

(h/t to Thimbles for the Cafferty video link)


Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at rc2538@columbia.edu.