Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Dennis Ryerson Just Doesn't Get It

I'm still trying to figure out what school of journalism Star executive editor Dennis Ryerson attended as he continues to offer the Star's readers further reason for dropping their subscriptions to the newspaper. Ryerson's latest editorial tells the newspaper's readers there is nothing wrong with Mayor Greg Ballard's latest proposal to finance yet another private development on the backs of the taxpayers, notwithstanding the City's inability to appropriately fund other basic services. It's part of your civic duty, you see, to tend to the financial needs of wealthy real estate developers. In an editorial entitled, "Weighing the price for progress," Ryerson writes:

 . . . The Democratic minority leader on the City-County Council, Joanne Sanders, argues that the city shouldn't subsidize the development at the same time IndyGo and the library system have trimmed services because of budget cuts. Such sophistry might score a few political points, but it's a distraction that is, at best, fiscally na├»ve . . .

Ideally, the city would never get involved in underwriting private projects. But the state of the economy is far from ideal. The price for progress under current conditions involves the city being willing to accept reasonable exposure. Of course, not every deal is worth pursuing. But this one is attractive because of the players -- Buckingham, Lilly, the YMCA -- involved and because of the development's prime location . . .

After reading the editorial, I couldn't help but think Dan Carpenter was reaching for his bottle of Tylenol to nurse his latest sore head from butting it against the news room's wall in total frustration with Ryerson's pandering to the downtown elites. It looks like Carpenter got a chance to release some of that frustration in a column he penned today, entitled Higher uses for your lucre," alongside Ryerson's nonsensical editorial:

You gotta love these proud conservatives, these fierce and faithful stewards of the people's treasure.

Take the Ballard administration, if you please.

Having established a record ranging from lip service to outright hostility toward public libraries, public transportation and bona fide public schools, city hall has shown the love to a wealthy private entity by way of a loan guarantee that's half again the IndyGo annual budget.

The proposed $86 million assist to Buckingham Companies, which will meet with some (Democratic) resistance from the City-County Council, is the latest exercise of the trickle-down theory of Downtown development on which taxpayers have been gambling for three decades.

Like the Colts' subsidies, like the Pacers' old and new deals, like the outsourcing of waterworks and parking meters, this offer of public assets to private enterprise is understood to be more productive for all of us than spending tax dollars directly on us and letting them take their chances with the market.

Echoing their fellow Republicans on the state and national circuits, Mayor Greg Ballard and his allies justify their largess by pointing out that the banks aren't doing what capital does . . .

Hundreds of millions for billionaires, austerity lectures to libraries and schools. Insurrection against Medicaid, inside tracks for contractors. And they're promising to keep the other guys out of my pocket.
Other than the (R) behind his name, I'm neither convinced Ballard is a Republican nor a conservative. I'll certainly never make the mistake of voting for him again. "Lucre", by the way, is another word for money, in case you were wondering.


Sean Shepard said...

Perhaps it isn't a question of someone's school of journalism, but more one of either their lack of understanding of economics or their continued faith in the failed Keynesian model?

Cato said...

Gary, may I respectfully suggest that you don't get it?

You seem to think the purpose of the Star is to sell papers and raise hell.

What if the purpose of the Star, and all of Gannett, is to manufacture public opinion and be paid for their part in getting deals passed and politicians elected?

You seem to think the press is the fourth estate, watching vigilantly over the activities of powerful men. What if the Star is also the powerful men and eats at the same table as them?

I'm not sure what the way out is, or if Hoosiers even want a way out. Hoosiers seem to like a strong hand on the tiller and are willing to tolerate much, as long as the leader strong and their lot in life is not reduced.

After all, they called Stalin "Papa Joe."

Gary R. Welsh said...

I read the online Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune almost daily. They regularly take a skeptical view of such matters, put investigative reporters on the trail to find a smoking gun and report on all of the sleazy underpinnings of the deal. In a typical knee-jerk fashion, Ryerson immediately praises such deals and challenges the motives of anyone who questions them. I don't know why two much larger newspapers in a much larger city would have a motive to question the powerful, except maybe they're competing for subscribers or they truly see a calling to keep a watchful eye out for the public good. Take your pick, either one is better than

Blog Admin said...

I spent a week or so in Chicago a few years back on a family vacation. And even though I've never lived in Chicago, I was amazed at the quality of written journalism in the Tribune. I enjoyed reading it each day, and even though my vacation is long over, I like to try to pick it up at news stands every now and then to read something different than the Star and USA Today.

I think Ryerson doesn't get it because when was the last time he's actually used a public parking spot?

Unknown said...


This has nothing to do with Keynesian economics.

Dan Carpenter got it right. This is what Republicans do: They give huge gifts to their rich buddies while they give lip service to smaller government.

They distract attention from their raping and pillaging by going after the poor, illegal aliens or gays. People like you, Sean, lap it up and regurgitate it on cue.

Look, I don't have an issue with some City financial assistance on a redevelopment project. But everyone, including Ryerson, should have a problem with providing 84% of the funding for a private deal.

There is no excuse for Ryerson's lack of journalistic oversight other than having some interest in the deal. None.

Sean Shepard said...

Whoah there James. I think you've got me confused with somebody else.

While I may tend to chalk things up to incompetence or ignorance unless convinced that it is corruption that doesn't mean that I disagree with Carpenter.

I'm not sure how you ascribe to me any kind of regurgitation of anti-immigrant or anti-gay rhetoric. You will find I am a staunch advocate for individual rights and keeping government out of people's bedrooms and churches.

At the same time, I am also an advocate for keeping the government out of people's wallets when the intent is to essentially (a) transfer property from one group to another [e.g. the poor to the sports teams] or (b) to do via government that which should be done by the free market and private enterprise.

And, absolutely, Keynsian economic policies play into decisions by elected officials. They often use belief in that model as an excuse to continue pillaging from the future economy in order to get their empires built or misguided stimulus today.

Paul K. Ogden said...


That's nonsense. The fact that SOME Republicans abuse their authority to steal from taxpayers and give to wealthy corporations doesn't mean that's what Republicans do. If anything, what Ballard is doing is as liberal and fiscally irresponsible as one can be.

That's like taking the crazies in the pro-life movement then trying to claim that all pro-lifers are crazy. It's not a valid argument. I don't think the Ballard corporate welfare philsophy is at all popular with rank and file Republicans. It's just popular with people trying to profit as much as possible off this administration.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Gary, I was thinking the same thing about Carpenter's column. He's right on the money...except by his suggestion that corporate giveaways is what "conservatives" do. I can't imagine how Ballard has earned a Republican label, much less a conservative label.

Unknown said...

Sean, the point is that this has nothing to do with "the failed Keynesian model" - which is the typical jargon of the Right. This has everything to do with "trickle-down economics".

I'm a little tired of people who won't acknowledge that a Republican turd stinks, and when it becomes undeniable that it stinks, then they try to shift the blame.

As I've said, I'm not adamantly opposed to some government involvement. I happen to agree that some of the reluctance for banks to lend is irrational and that it's not improper for the City to assume some risk right now.

That said, assuming 84% of the risk has a term: Majority Owner.
Anything else is flagrant crony capitalism and corporate welfare.

Cato said...

Paul, see the comment I just left on your blog. There might be good Republicans, but we haven't seen them in a good long while.

The Republican that actually exists is pretty unappealing.

Citizen Kane said...

James and John - there is no such thing as "trickle down economics" - that is just the pejorative used by Keynesians on the left and the right to discredit supply-side economics, which is focused on the impact of marginal tax rates on productive investment instead of on the demand side.

Proper economic development is the result of savings and investment; it is not the result of debt financing. Debt financing enslaves the debtor - and that is us folks - every time our public servants open up the taxpayer piggy bank that they believe is their money to give away with impunity. This project and every other circus act of the Ballard administration is focused on debt financing to transfer wealth from the current and future taxpayers to the already wealthy (or soon to be) friends of the mayor. The Mafia wishes they were this good at stealing - in broad daylight - and getting kudos all around!

Sean Shepard said...

@/RE:John. The "failed Keynesian model" cannot be jargon of the right since they so frequently still subscribe to such lunacy.

And, absolutely it is part of this dialog as governments consistently borrow from the future economy either via debt or (at the Federal level) inflation in order to pay for their various programs, projects, boondoggles and whatever else in the present or neat term.

In this case, the city backing a project that couldn't otherwise get funding, the government is now acting as a co-signer to a high risk borrower in order to get what they hope will be some kind of economic stimulus. This is not that dissimilar than when a government becomes co-signer to bad mortgages or bails out struggling companies with taxpayer dollars.

Journalists may promote some of these things as great or brilliant uses of government power but, again, that just shows that their expertise is in journalism not in free market economics or Austrian business cycle theory.

Marycatherine Barton said...

Some say that there is now a four different organizations that represent the major advertisers, that actually choose the editor of all major newspapers. If he/she does not tow their line, he/she does not get chosen. So, maybe Dennis Ryerson DOES get it.