Audit Notes: Ginger Baker, $15 minimum wage, fisking Niall

The Cream legend just can't stomach insipid questions from the press

Ginger Baker, the former Cream drummer, gives the interview of the month to Rolling Stone. Baker is simply not having any of it:

Why is Alec your favorite bass player?

Because of the way he plays!…

Are you living in England now? 

 Yes. That’s where I am right now. You just phoned me so you know that this is an English phone number.

I know, I just wanted to ask. Well why ask me questions if you know the answer?…

What was the last record that excited you? God knows. I don’t know. I don’t listen to music.

Why? Because I don’t!

It’s what you do, though. Yeah. So when you’re talking about a bus driver, his holiday is driving?…

But it was only six shows. You wouldn’t want to do anymore? Well, it was actually seven shows, but never mind. You guys always get everything wrong. This sort of rubbish that people publish about news is quite extraordinary.

It’s always worth remembering what it’s like to be on the other side of the notebook. Read the whole thing.

Also on that note, recall this montage Nirvana put together for its “Live! Tonight! Sold Out!” documentary that captures how surreal, ridiculous, and insidious the media circus can be:

The New York Times has a good report from SeaTac, the small Seattle suburb that houses Sea-Tac airport, and which is preparing to vote on a measure that would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Opponents assert that if higher wages drive up prices for airport food, people will vote with their feet.

“If you’re going to have a 30 percent increase in food prices, it will mean a lot of people will eat outside the airport,” said Bob Donegan, the president of Ivar’s, a seafood company based in Seattle with a restaurant at the airport. “That’s not a good thing for the airport or its workers.”

Supporters, citing a report by the liberal research group Puget Sound Sage, said that travelers accounted for more than two-thirds of airport commerce, and that increasing pay to $15 an hour would inject $54 million into the local economy.

Of all the places to try the immediate jump to $15 an hour, an airport is it. Contrary to Donegan’s claim, airports have a captive audience, most of whom can’t really eat outside the airport. This is going to be a fascinating case study of the minimum-wage economy if SeaTacians vote “yes.”

— Matthew O’Brien of The Atlantic fisks the almost always wrong Harvard historian Niall Ferguson, who’s been in a public spat with the almost always right (at least in the last five years) Paul Krugman lately.

Here are three facts about how the 10-year budget outlook has changed in the past year: 1) the fiscal cliff deal raised $600 billion in new revenue; 2) the sequester, if left in place, cut spending by $1.2 trillion; 3) the CBO revised its projection for federal healthcare spending down by $600 billion.

Harvard historian Niall Ferguson has a counterfactual take. Here’s how he described how our debt trajectory changed the past year:

A very striking feature of the latest CBO report is how much worse it is than last year’s. A year ago, the CBO’s extended baseline series for the federal debt in public hands projected a figure of 52% of GDP by 2038. That figure has very nearly doubled to 100%. A year ago the debt was supposed to glide down to zero by the 2070s. This year’s long-run projection for 2076 is above 200%. In this devastating reassessment, a crucial role is played here by the more realistic growth assumptions used this year.

This isn’t a difference of opinion. It’s incorrect. But it’s incorrect for reasons that will escape casual readers.

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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 Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum. Tags: , , , ,