Watch out, Grey Lady! We’re watching you….

Maybe I should just do the right thing and swear off reading The New York Times. 

I’ve been reading The Times more or less every day since the time I could read–going on forty years now, give or take.

Never have I felt less confident that I can rely on the editors there for solid, unbiased information.  Never has it been more obvious to me that The Times represents the viewpoint of the 1%.  The liberal 1%, perhaps, but the 1% after all.

Why am I ranting about this today?  I just got around to reading a piece from the Sunday Magazine section, “It’s Not Just About the Millionaires,” in which author Adam Davidson, co-founder of NPR’s Planet Money show, argues that to solve our financial crisis in this country, “we have to go to where the money is — the middle class.”

Davidson constructs a cockamamie story about how it makes more financial sense to raise taxes on the middle class–families earning less than $68,000 a year–as well as close “despised loopholes (or beloved incentives)” for these middle class folks (we’re talking about the mortgage interest deduction, for example) than to raise taxes and close loopholes for corporations and those making more than $1 million a year.

Excuse me?

Has Mr. Davidson and his family ever tried to live on $68,000 a year?

As someone who is struggling as a single mom in this tax bracket right now myself–in a home that is now worth less than its mortgage–I can say with personal conviction that raising my taxes would have a huge impact on my life.  For most people in my position, it would mean the difference between starting a life of permanent credit card debt bondage, or staying very precariously in the black.

But that’s not all.  Mr. Davidson proposes that the middle class should also “give up some benefits (Social Security, Medicare).”

So not only are you proposing to raise my taxes, Mr. Planet Money, you’re also going to shrink the paltry benefits I may receive when I’m old and worn out and expecting at least some support from the society to which I’ve given all the best years of my life?

What’s wrong with this picture?

In Mr. Davidson’s scenario, a middle-class worker like me works hard every day, both in the public arena and at home (and remember, no benefits accrue for the years and years of unpaid home labor I’ve put in since I married and had children), and because of a downturn that I had nothing to do with, I am now going to be squeezed harder through taxes, and then hung out to dry in my old age with reduced Social Security and Medicare benefits.

This kind of attitude is EXACTLY what the Occupy America movements are protesting.

Hell no, we are not going to take this kind of B.S. anymore.

If you want to raise taxes, Mr. Planet Money, it will have to be on the wealthy and the corporations who are making out like bandits while the rest of us tighten our belts and do the best we can.

If that’s not enough money to make our national ends meet, then how about reducing the military budget?  How about reducing the billions we spent on the nuclear arms program?  How about directing more taxpayer funds into programs that actually benefit taxpayers?

I am beyond frustrated with the one-sided reporting of The New York Times.

I know statistics can be manipulated to support any side of an argument.  But I expect the most respected source of news on the planet to do a better job at being truly even-handed.  Sure, give Mr. Davidson and his monied folks some space.  But his should not be the only voice we hear.

Fortunately, in the internet age, there are plenty of alternatives to The New York Times.  

Watch out, Grey Lady, or even longterm devoted readers like me may be simply switching the channel.

Can’t you just play nice?

It’s one of the most popular NY Times articles on Facebook this morning.  Yes, a bonafide Times columnist, Nick Kristof, finally went down to Liberty Plaza to interview the Occupy Wall Street protesters.

But what does he come back with?  A strong personal defense of capitalism as a philosophy (“I don’t share the antimarket sentiments of many of the protesters”), and a condescending pat on the head for the demonstrators, who, he says, don’t really know why they’re there (“Where the movement falters is in its demands: It doesn’t really have any”).

Let me help, Kristof suggests.  His advice, listed in neat bullet points in his column today, is nothing you haven’t heard before from various left-of-center sources.  Tax financial transactions, close tax loopholes, regulate banks more carefully.  Nothing wrong with these ideas for reform–though they’re not exactly galvanizing.

But what’s infuriating is the way the establishment, from reporters to editors to cops & the Mayor, is treating the protests as child’s play: a source of amused wink-winks, not to be taken too seriously.  Give them some finger-wags, accompanied if necessary by some wrist-slaps (or pepper-spray, or tricky mass-arrest scenarios), and they’ll go home.  Let’s all just play nice.

Well, was it playing nice to “allow” hundreds of protesters to gain access to the Brooklyn Bridge roadway, and then round them up like cattle and haul them off to jail?

Is it nice to continuously infantilize the movement by pretending that the people in Liberty Square don’t know why they’re there or what they stand for?

Why are they there? The 99% says it all. To protest the ever-widening income disparity in this country, and the lack of political or ideological support for change.

A protest song from the 1960s has been running around in my brain this week.  It’s called “It isn’t nice,” and it goes like this:

It isn’t nice to block the doorways/It isn’t nice to go to jail/There are nicer ways to do it/But the nice ways always fail/It isn’t nice, it isn’t nice/Well thank you buddy for your advice/But if that’s freedom’s price/We don’t mind, no no no, we don’t mind!

Give it a listen, and pass it along.

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