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What liberal media? (Part 32,101)

A headline in today's NYT blares

Income Off 2.3 Percent, Spending Flat

Similarly, the AP screams

Americans' personal incomes take a dive

Good God, that's a disaster, right? If we lose 2.3 of our personal income every month like we did in January, how long before we're totally screwed?!

Those patient enough to read past the first paragraph learn that the real story was not the January decline, but the December surge of %3.7 that preceded it. That sounds much better, doesn't it?

It turns out that the huge spike in December was due to an enormous Microsoft dividend that single-handedly skewed the personal income stats for the average American.

The stories then proceed to tell you what the figures for December and January would have been had the Microsoft dividend never been paid:

Excluding that one-time dividend impact and other factors, personal income rose 0.5 percent in January compared with a 0.6 percent gain in December, the department said.

So in other words, there was average monthly increase in incomes of 0.55% for the last two months of 2004. By my calculations, that rate annualizes out to nearly 7%. Not too shabby, huh? And on top of that, you have a huge-ass dividend from Microsoft.

In July of last year, my company paid me the largest bonus I'd ever earned -- essentially double what it had been in years past. I guess according to AP/NYT logic, August was my "worst month" because of the drop-off, and an indicator of a terrible year. I should have refused the bonus, I guess.

Classic, right? I don't even know why I'm surprised.


Well I can't disagree here. It certainly doesn't help when you have people who want to see bad news to begin with.

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