So, a few more issues with that TNY piece about teachers, both from the final paragraph.

(As context, the piece is deeply pro-union. And that's fine, so far as it goes. I'm pro-union in some contexts, and TNY is a left-leaning outlet speaking to left-leaning readers. I don't think anyone would reasonably assume that they're getting a rounded story here. But as the old saw goes: you're entitled to your politics; just not your own facts.)

Here's the concerning bit:

"Amazon and Whole Foods workers strike for clean work sites, gloves, and hazard pay—and why wouldn’t they? They’re risking their lives while their employer, Jeff Bezos, has made twenty-five billion dollars since January. Tenants across the country have collectively withheld rent payments on the first of the month, standing up to private-equity firms that hold trillions of dollars in assets."

So, two things:

1. That Bezos bit is pretty misleading. It's not that he took $25bn in comp from the company. The value of his Amazon shares increased by something like that amount, sure. But shares can go down as well as up. And anyway many people own Amazon shares, including many Amazon employees. If you have an insurance policy or index shares or a retirement fund then you're likely benefiting from that lift too. Bezos benefits more based on the size of his holdings, sure. That's how founding a company works. But it's not like he extracted this value at the expense of workers that he left shafted. A rising tide lifts all boats, and negative costs of anti-worker decisions will end up coming out of that pot in the long run anyway.

2. As for the rent thing, it's entirely possible that PE firms make for bad landlords. Many certainly seem to believe that (and I think the evidence is there in some cases, if less in others). But the idea that not paying rent is some way of sticking it to them is deeply misguided. PE firms own a fractional amount of US rental stock (see link below; seems it's something like 2% depending how you define PE). Plus those assets don't necessarily belong to the PE firms. In many cases they belong to us (via insurance / pension / endowment / mutual funds). So not paying your rent may hurt the PE "bad guys" a little. But it's going to hurt regular folks a whole lot more.

These are the sorts of characterizations I'd expect from a progressive pundit or whatever. They're rooted in class-based perceptions and ideological talking points that most never really think that carefully about. But the whole point of TNY is that they claim to think carefully about these things and to only publish what can be supported by the evidence. That this article sailed through is kinda nuts to me, as is the fact they fixed the one problem without looking carefully to see if they'd missed other points too.

Link: https://ourfinancialsecurity.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Private-Equity-Apartment-Bldng-Owners-4-19.pdf

(I'd have to do a deep dive here to get a clearer sense of the numbers. But from a few minutes of cross-checking the 2% estimate seems reasonable. The US has something like 50m rental units, and if you combine PE and private real estate funds they seem to own something like 1m. Even if that latter number is missing a bunch, we're still talking low single digits.)

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Feb 8, 2021Liked by Jeremy Arnold

A tiny correction: you can have 2/3rds be security forces victims, and 2/3rds be motor vehicle injuries, by simply having police drive cars into pedestrians for more than 1/3rd of all injuries. Not substantial error in this case, and no bounty needed :)

Anyway, all percentages and ratios are always a play on data (one is 50% more expensive, the other is only 33% cheaper mean exactly the same thing) and should be taken with a grain of salt.

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The NYT paragraph regarding the largest spike in decades is still misleading to me. When I ran into that headline on their app I was fooled (and had a thought that is very unlikely to be true but then let it slide).

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"How often is this happening?" The answer is quite often (every 15 minutes or so): https://twitter.com/nyt_diff

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Fake news is fake news. Every media company does it for ratings.

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The point with NYT, WaPo, CNN and other mainstream media is not that they make "mistakes", it is that they give prominence to news that favors their "side" of the story and ignore the other "side". For example, if you look at the behavior of FBI agents before the 2016 elections, it was scandalous. The fact that agents of the domestic intelligence agency aggressively chose sides in the elections and discussed strategies to help one side indicates the downward spiral of democracy. Media which is committed to democracy should have hammered the FBI. Instead the actions of the agents were largely left unreported, or "mitigating circumstances" prominently published.

Media is quite able to tell a big lie without lying, by simply skewing what they publish and what they choose to dismiss as "unimportant".

Another example was the behavior of Lois Lerner at another government agency, the IRS. She admitted that she had given a list to her subordinates asking that they delay approving the tax exempt status of conservative nonprofits. Is this a big scandal? Many would think so. An agency of the government is taking sides in politics. Others can say it wasn't a big deal. Next her laptop allegedly "crashed", so that it could not be known who she was emailing and what was in those emails. IRS followed up by saying it had erased the email backups. It was important to know who Lerner was emailing, specifically if she was communicating with someone in the Obama Admin. This will not be known because the emails went missing.

An unbiased media would have thought of this as a scandal and pursued it, but NYT, WaPo, New Yorker or whatever showed little interest. This is an acceptance of creeping corruption in the government that the media is supposed to fight in a democracy, but matters are so polarized now that it is all about supporting their own "side".

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It is fascinating to me that "Making note of every change is unrealistic and would not serve the reader." is true considering for example computer programmers have systems that automatically track any changes to code; error or not. Mind you this works automatically over 100 lines of code or 10 million.

I also worked at a newspaper on the IT side and most CMS (Content Management Systems) are flexible enough to add in something as simple as an error correction option and automatically push that correction to both the article online and an corrections log... Surely NYT has the budget for that.

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