Was The Economist always this left-leaning?
Posted by Lissa on November 11, 2009
I used to read the Economist much more diligently than I do today. Back in college, it was in my mind the “right-leaning” publication I read to keep balanced. Later on, it was the business-centric publication that I read to keep an eye on foreign affairs. I let my interest lapse and I haven’t regularly read the magazine (or “newspaper” as they call it) for a few years.
Until this weekend. I was on the train to my choir dress rehearsal when I realized I’d left my Kindle at home. (AAUUGGGHHH! Nightmares!!) Peeved, but resigned, I stopped by CVS to buy an Economist for rehearsal downtime and the train ride back.
As I read, I was at first amused, then surprised, then astonished by the continuous leftward slant. The first two sections yielded gems such as:
– “What’s more, the parts of the world where populations are growing fastest are also those most vulnerable to climate change, and a rising population will exacerbate the consequences of global warming — water shortages, mass migration, declining food yields.”
– “Only Chinese-style coercion would bring [population growth] down much below [8.5 billion]; and forcing poor people to have fewer children than they want because the rich consume too many of the world’s resources would be immoral.”
– “Falling fertility may be making poor people’s lives better, but it cannot save the Earth. That lies in our own hands.”
– “One of the aims of imprisonment is to give miscreants a shove in the right direction, through job-training, Jesus or whatever does the trick. Allowing prisoners to vote will not magically reconnect them with society, but it will probably do more good than excluding them.”
– “Serving prisoners are not numerous enough to swing many elections. But once a government uses disenfranchisement as a sanction, it is tempted to take things further. Consider those American states where the suspension of prisoners’ votes has morphed into a lifelong ban; in Republican-controlled Florida, for instance, nearly a third of black men cannot vote — enough to have swung the 2000 presidential election.”
– (in envisioning a poor farmer industrializing and moving towards greater wealth/lower fertility) “Now imagine you are a bit richer. You may have moved to a town, or your village may have grown. Schools, markets and factories are within reach. And suddenly, the incentives change. [snip] Perhaps the state provides a pension and you no longer need children to look after you. And perhaps your wife is no longer willing to bear endless offspring.” (Really? The only way to have retirement wealth is to be pensioned off by the state? And the only reason you have fewer children is because your wife finally put her foot down and stopped popping them out?)
– “The bad news is that the girls who will give birth to the coming, larger generations have already been born. The good news is that they will want far fewer children than their mothers or grandmothers did.” (Thanks. Thanks so much.)
– “Japan and southern Europe have clung to older ways, discouraging women from working and frowning on single-parent families; there, fertility has stayed low, presumably because women resist what they see as unwelcome social pressure by having fewer children.” (That is quite a presumption. Me, I’d assume that having one working parent versus two working parents encourage fewer children because you’re got fewer people earning money to support them. No, they never provide any sort of reasoning or backup for their statement.)
So what gives, folks? I used to think The Economist was perfectly middle-of-the-road. Now, to my eyes, it has a conspicuously leftward slant.
I know that in England even the Right leans Left. But has this slant increased in the last few years? Or is it just that I’m looking with new eyes?