Why Making More Money Is Groovy, And Makes You Richer

You might think this is an Onion-style parody of a column by a right-wing think tanker:

But it’s no joke. It’s the headline of a Forbes column by Ferrara, who works for the Heartland Institute, the kind of climate-change denialist organization that argues that it isn’t happening, but even if it was, hottin’ up the planet is a good thing, and that used to feature this video on its environment home page (go ahead—click it!):

Declaring something “hip” pretty much means it is no such thing, although come to think of it, I could see “Prosperity is Hip, And Raises Living Standards” (comma included!) T-shirts selling at Brooklyn Flea or some such.

Anyway, the deeper problem is imagining that it’s a deep insight that prosperity raises living standards, which is also a by definition kind of thing. This is the kind of gaffe you make when you believe that your political opposites, Democrats, whom Ferrara calls “static thinking Marxists and their fellow travelers,” are opposed to the very idea of prosperity—a position that few politicians or their constituents actually hold.

The rest of the column isn’t much better, naturally.

Stephen Moore op-eds tend to be poorly reasoned critic bait, but seriously misquoting Stephen Moore op-eds takes the hack factor up a couple of notches: Ferrara writes this (emphasis mine):

(Moore) writes regarding the oil and gas boomtown of Williston, North Dakota, “New homes are popping up at breakneck speed. McDonald’s is offering workers $36 an hour plus a signing bonus.”

But Moore actually wrote this:

New homes are popping up at breakneck speed. McDonald’s is offering workers $18 an hour plus a “signing bonus.”

I know this only because that $36 an hour figure was ridiculous on its face, so I looked up the quote. Any half-awake editor should have caught that one. And l have caught the idea that it’s wrong to suggest that an energy boom can transform the entire 310 million-population United States like it has 700,000-population North Dakota.

Of course, Ferrara is no stranger to hacked-out Wall Street Journal op-eds. Recall the disingenuous, error-riddled column he wrote with Newt Gingrich (not coincidentally, I’m sure, praised in this Forbes piece) a year ago on Obama, the Bush tax cuts, and the economy, which I criticized here.

And there are plenty of other misleading aspects in this “Prosperity Is Hip” column.

— The old corporate income tax rates (“virtually the highest in the industrialized world”) red herring, which obscures the fact that U.S. corporate taxes as a percentage of GDP are well below the average OECD rate and that our overall tax rates are lower than China, Brazil, Germany, India, Australia, etc.—hardly a bunch of stagnating countries.

— Another GOP/Fox News talking point, trying to tie the rising price of gas to Obama’s policies, despite the fact that they’re determined almost entirely by external forces:

In fact, the price of gasoline was $1.83 when Obama entered office.

— A bogus shot at Yurp:

The living standards of the poor in America today are equivalent to the living standards of the middle class 40 years ago, if not the middle class in Europe today.

— And high-school civics paper political advice:

And this is why economic growth and prosperity for all is the most cool, hip vision possible.

If the Republican candidates can project that vision this year, they will deliver Obama and the Democrats a more sweeping, shocking, shellacking than in 2010.

Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum: Standard bearers of Cool.

This piece is quite the specimen.

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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 rc2538@columbia.edu. Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum. Tags: , , , ,