Friday, January 18, 2008

The Rest Of Us


One thing that doesn't get talked about enough is that people in Washington are pretty out of touch with the basic economic picture in the United States. Not in the usual, pat, pseudo-populist "oh you're out of touch" sense but in a pretty literal one -- the DC metro area is both quite affluent and economically unusual; much of our region is experiencing a war-driven boom that doesn't have much to do with the experience of other areas (though parts of the southwest are, I believe, the same way).

This true, but it's even worse than this. Aside from general cluelessness about those lovable "heartland"* voters they claim to speak for, part of the long-running conservative campaign to trumpet the myth of the liberal media has been to go on the attack every time a news outlet actually writes about poor people or economic misfortune. Economic difficulty just isn't covered in a comprehensive sense.

*I use the term heartland not in its geographic sense but in the amorphous "real Americans who live somewhere outside the Beltway but probably not NYC or California" sense that reporters mean when they throw it around.

... CNN just now: "It's not the people in autos and steel like past recessions. We've got financial services people being laid off, people in the retailing sector and everything that flows out of housing...

...this is a time when there are still jobs, so even though you're a young executive, you might want to go out and get a weekend job as a waitress, in the evening, something like that..."