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The Balance Sheet

The Media Research Center

Free Market Project - Auditing the media's coverage of the free enterprise system

Volume 2 Issue 1 January 4, 2006

In this issue:  Bah, Humbug • Be Afraid • New Year's Outlook • Good, Bad & Ugly
  Tax Cuts • Wal-Mart • Education • Energy • Gov’t Waste • Health Care • Events

New from the Free Market Project

Media Mantra: Unhappy Holidays
The media declared shoppers Scrooges this Christmas season, but early numbers indicate the retail holidays were merry. Online sales alone were up an estimated 30 percent from last year. The Free Market Project takes journalists to task for sticking to the lumps-of-coal theory.

Commentary: Fear and Loathing in Business News
Thanks to news reports, Americans are suffering from the fear of everything. Pick any letter of the alphabet and you’ll find something to make you run and hide – from avian flu to a bust in housing or cloning. This anxious hype is an avoidable man-made disaster.

CBS Conjures Recession Specter in New Year’s Newscast
Economic forecasts for 2006 are looking bright, but that didn’t stop the “CBS Evening News” from warning that recession might be in store.

The Good, the Bad & the Ugly
The Good, the Bad & the Ugly tracks the best and worst media coverage of business and economics. Readers are invited to submit suggestions or news tips to staff writer Ken Shepherd.
This week:  Strong U.S. economy; ABC weighed and found lacking on calorie-counting; IBD joins other media in snowing public on housing news.

Also from FMP:

Post Calls Left-Wing Organization a ‘Consumer Group’

ABC Portrays Union as Victim, Delphi as Villain

143 Million Cheeseburgers Short of Paradise

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Research, News & Commentary

Tax Cuts

Research: Middle-class retirees would benefit from tax cuts on dividends and capital gains, a recent report argues. “As stock ownership becomes the norm rather than the exception in the U.S. today, capital gains and dividend income will become an increasingly larger share of the retirement income for seniors,” writes Tax Foundation president Scott Hodge.


Commentary: Michael Barone of U.S. News and World Report argues that Wal-Mart succeeds where General Motors has failed: it continually adapts to the shifting demands of the marketplace and in doing so benefits its customers and employees alike.


News: Mike Ford of School Choice Wisconsin reports on unsuccessful efforts by school voucher advocates to lift a state-imposed quota on the number of children who can enroll in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program. Ford notes that Gov. Jim Doyle (D) has vetoed three bills in two years to lift the enrollment cap — which was surpassed in September 2005 — of 15 percent of Milwaukee students.


Commentary: Arguing we should “sell while the selling is good,” Cato senior fellows Jerry Taylor and Peter Van Doren write that the federal government should close the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Taylor and Van Doren call the Reserve a federal insurance policy against a fuel crisis where the “cost of the policy has been more expensive than the dangers the stockpile is meant to prevent.”

Commentary: Contrary to the popular media spin that corporate “Big Oil” runs the world oil market, Wall Street Journal columnist Holman Jenkins argues that nationalized oil industries abroad and heavy regulation of private oil ownership at home threaten steady economic growth. Jenkins writes that “The world can expect to pay a price in instability for decades to come thanks to this phenomenon.”

Government Waste

Commentary: Heritage’s Ronald Utt writes that budgetary pork for the Alaskan “Bridge to Nowhere” is still going to, well, nowhere but more wasteful spending.

Health Care

News: Tarren Bragdon of the Maine Heritage Policy Center reports in the Heartland Institute’s January 2006 newsletter how the Pine Tree State’s public health initiative, DirigoChoice, is “hemorrhaging money and faltering” while taxing Mainers an additional fee for every health insurance claim they file.

Upcoming Events

Tell us about events coming up in your area!

The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth
American Enterprise Institute

Jan. 9, 12 p.m.

Scientific Talent and U.S. Economic Leadership
American Enterprise Institute

Jan.13, 2 p.m.

Join Us in Telling 50 Million Americans Every Week About Liberal Media Bias!

Editorial Staff
Dan Gainor, Free Market Project Director
Amy Menefee, Balance Sheet Editor
Charles Simpson, Research Analyst
Ken Shepherd, Staff Writer

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