Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Half the news is about America, and half of that is wrong

Megan McArdle of Asymmetrical Information takes a well-deserved swipe at Sky News, and the general level of laughably superficial and biased analysis common in much of the European media:
Watching Sky News is weird, because half the news is about America, and half of that is wrong. I mean, not factually wrong, but with a take on things that seems very strange to an American. For example, there was a very long piece on the "rising backlash" against George Bush on global warming. I care about global warming about as much as any quasi-libertarian, ever, I try to live a green(ish) lifestyle, and I follow the issue pretty closely. I had not noticed any rising backlash against anything except the rising gas prices preventing some Americans from taking long trips in their SUVs. Source of this "backlash"? Cities (and California) passing their own global warming ordinances.
This makes perfect sense from a British perspective, where about the only thing local councils are allowed to control is grotty public housing. But overlaying that worldview onto America has very strange results. Local governments can pass ordinances against global warming whenever they want; they can outlaw coveting your neighbour's wife, too, for all the good it will do. But in doing so, they don't strike a blow against the federal government; they are just making themselves part of the grand (classical) liberal experiment that is supposed to flower under federalism.
There was also a lot of talk about how all the extra American troops killed in Iraq will probably make Americans determined to bring the troops home. This is, indeed, what happens in Britain every time one of their soldiers is killed, but personally I hear a lot more complaints about the expense of the war, or the dead Iraqi civilians, than I do about dead American troops. Americans expected to lose soldiers in the war. What they didn't expect was to spend hundreds of billions of dollars igniting a low level (or, if you believe the Lancet, fast-and-furious) civil war.
Wait a minute, I thought Europeans were terribly smart and sophisticated and it was the Americans who were simplistic boors...

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