Are there any fact checkers at the New York Times?
But some mistakes are worse than others.
Consider a recent column by David Stuckler of Oxford and Sanjay Basu of Stanford. Entitled “How Austerity Kills,” it argues that budget cuts are causing needless deaths.
Here’s an excerpt that caught my eye.
Countries that slashed health and social protection budgets, like Greece, Italy and Spain, have seen starkly worse health outcomes than nations like Germany, Iceland and Sweden, which maintained their social safety nets and opted for stimulus over austerity.
The reason this grabbed my attention is that it was only 10 days ago that I posted some data from Professor Gurdgiev in Ireland showing that Sweden and Germany were among the tiny group of European nations that actually had reduced the burden of government spending.
Greece, Italy, and Spain, by contrast, are among those that increased the size of the public sector. So the argument presented in the New York Times is completely wrong. Indeed, it’s 100 percent wrong because Iceland (which Professor Gurdgiev didn’t measure since it’s not in the European Union) also has smaller government today than it did in the pre-crisis period.
But that’s just part of the problem with the Stuckler-Basu column. They want us to believe that “slashed” budgets and inadequate spending have caused “worse health outcomes” in nations such as Greece, Italy, and Spain, particularly when compared to Germany, Iceland, and Spain.
But if government spending is the key to good health, how do they explain away this OECD data, which shows that government is actually bigger in the three supposed “austerity” nations than it is in the three so-called “stimulus” countries.
Once again, Stuckler and Basu got caught with their pants down, making an argument that is contrary to easily retrievable facts.
But I guess this is business-as-usual at the New York Times. After all, this is the newspaper that’s been caught over and over again engaging in sloppy and/or inaccurate journalism.
- Asserting that government schools are “starved of funding” when taxpayer subsidies actually have skyrocketed.
- Accidentally confirming that tax competition is needed to control the greed of the political class.
- Writing that the sequester will mean “deep automatic spending cuts” when the budget actually will climb by $2.4 trillion.
- Claiming that Italy is more prosperous than the United States and that there is less poverty.
- Urging a tax-increase budget agreement based on a chart showing that the only successful budget deal was the one that cut taxes.
Oh, and if you want to know why the Stuckler-Basu column is wrong about whether smaller government causes higher death rates, just click here.