Daily Resource Highlight - 10/18/2021

Posted by on October 18, 2021 at 1:04 PM

Below are the highlights and featured resources of this past week’s Daily* Resource.

October 12, 2021 - Raising the Debt Ceiling -- Everybody Agrees, And Yet….

We Americans seem to have a special knack for manufacturing crises in our country. Almost everybody agrees that the United States should avoid defaulting on its debts, and yet voting to raise / suspend the debt ceiling has become another “opportunity” for political gamesmanship, as shown by The FlipSide’s latest article on the subject.

As far as I can tell, nobody would benefit from a default. It would wreak havoc on the economy and severely undermine our government’s ability to function (*insert joke about government dysfunction*). Nevertheless, both parties now see it as an opportunity to throw their weight around when they are in the legislative minority. It almost feels like a Congressional Cold War, where the debt ceiling is the nuke and both parties are casually waving their fingers over the launch button.

You can read more about the topic on Civil Squared, where Jennifer Thompson provides five links about the debt ceiling and various opinions about it (including a crazy but plausible “solution” to it). And on a separate but related note, the Project on Government Oversight is hosting a town hall this Thursday @ 2:30 PM ET on “Corruption and Public Trust.”

To be clear, I am not accusing anyone in Congress of corruption. Rather, I am saying that (1) Americans don’t trust Congress for a variety of reasons and (2) playing chicken with the debt ceiling doesn’t help. Is there corruption at play here? Maybe. But personally I’m less concerned about casting blame and more concerned with ending this game of chicken before we accidentally pull a Rebel Without A Cause.

October 14, 2021 - We Can’t Expect the News to be Unbiased

Back in high school, I applied to be a salesman at a major electronics retailer. During the interview, I was asked if I had prejudices. A normal person in that situation would have said “Of course not!” I’m not normal. Instead, I answered “Yes. Doesn’t everybody have prejudices?” Apparently I was the first person the interviewer had seen get that question right (and yes, I got the job).

Mainstream media is the same way. There is no such thing as an unbiased reporter. It’s impossible, and pretending otherwise can only worsen the crisis of faith in the media (Civil Squared podcast). Our job as readers is to recognize that bias, as well as our own, and keep them in mind when we read/watch the news. 

That’s why resources like AllSides’ Media Bias Ratings and The Factual’s Reliability Ratings are so valuable. They give us tools to help us stay up-to-date on current events while being clear-eyed about the values and beliefs that motivate major media outlets. Perhaps more importantly, AllSides and The Factual make it clear that being biased is OK. For instance, Forbes scores poorly with The Factual, but that has more to do with poor sourcing and underuse of experts than any left/right bias. And the very first sentence on AllSides’s Bias Ratings page is “Everyone is biased — and that's okay.”

Finally, it’s important to recognize that organizations like The Factual and AllSides are also biased. In fact, AllSides recently posted an article showing where its staffers fall on the ideological spectrum in terms of both social and economic issues. This type of self-awareness should be applauded and it gives AllSides more credibility as an arbiter of bias. Because again, we are all prejudiced, and pretending otherwise doesn’t help us get closer to the truth.