Two recent “news” stories illustrate the extent to which the media jumps on any chance to scream the sky is falling (and, of course, blame Trump). Instead of honest reporting, what we too frequently get is a sensational headline followed by a misleading story.

Example One

A couple of days ago, the media, en masse (print, television, radio, online and social) went crazy with headlines like this one: One Million Species at Risk of Extinction, Threatening Human Communities. Sounds bad, right?

Well, if you have been paying attention, you might wonder why all the fuss. According to an earlier “the sky is falling” story, we are all going to be dead in 12 years anyway! That silliness courtesy of the increasingly infamous “AOC” — she of the Green New Deal.

But I digress. The latest imminent mass extinctions headline was plucked from a United Nations press release titled: Summary for policymakers of the global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services. As far as I can tell, the final report has not yet been released. I actually read the 39-page summary, or at least most of it. The main thrust is nature is good, people are bad and you should never mess with Mother Nature. It reminded me of a term paper written by a tree-hugging and well-stoned college student. Here, verbatim, are three of the key findings:

“Nature and its vital contributions to people, which together embody biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services, are deteriorating worldwide.”

“Nature embodies different concepts for different people, including biodiversity, ecosystems, Mother Earth, systems of life and other analogous concepts.”

“Nature’s contributions to people are often distributed unequally across space and time and among different segments of society.”

Although I have little idea what the foregoing findings mean, I did notice there were no references to mass extinctions. I read on and, eventually, in the middle of page 3, found the makings of the sensational "sky is falling" headline. Again, this is verbatim from the report:

“Human actions threaten more species with global extinction now than ever before. An average of around 25 per cent of species in assessed animal and plant groups are threatened, suggesting that around 1 million species already face extinction, many within decades.”

In fact, the UN study assessed a tiny sample (less than 1%) of the eight million plant and animal species on Earth. And then, based on extrapolation of this scant data, concluded 25% of all species on Earth might become extinct at some point in the future. Later in the report, the UN study says “around 1 million” species will become extinct. I cannot explain how 25% of 8 million species equals one million species, but there are many things about this report that I cannot explain.

What nonsense! When I read crap like this my eyes roll — yours should, too. As far as I can determine, exactly ONE mammalian species has been declared extinct in my lifetime: the Black Rhinoceros. And, BTW, when (not if) Earth experiences its next ice age, there will be a lot of extinctions! Let's hope “global warming” postpones that day of reckoning for a few centuries.

Example Two

“Global Markets Rattled as US-China Trade War Escalates.” There is an old saying: It is hard to have a rivalry when one “team” is the hammer and the other is the nail. Thus it is with the economies of the United States and China. The USA can prosper without China. No so the other way around. But, you would never know that based on current reporting.

As usual, the media loves to bash Trump and his decision to implement tariffs is another opportunity to scream "the sky is falling." It is not. Here is a simplified analogy that helps explain the current “trade war,” such as it is.

Pretend for a minute you own a trading post. Your biggest trading partners are Pedro, Frenchie and Chen. Pedro lives down south and every few weeks he comes by and sells you avocados and tequila. In turn, Pedro buys your corn and soybeans.

Frenchie lives up north and he also comes by a couple of times a month with stuff to sell: maple syrup and Canadian Club are exchanged, in more or less equal measure, for your stock of cigarettes and beer. Sometimes Frenchie even buys some avocados.

Then there is Chen. He is always trying to get you to buy his cheaply made clothing but he never wants to purchase anything from you. The one time he did buy a few cans of your wife’s famous American Chop Suey, Chen demanded to know the exact recipe. This sort of one-way business limits your profits and leaves you strapped for cash.

So, one day you confront Chen. He finally admits the problem is he has very little money! Well, you need cash to operate your trading post. So, if Chen does not want to buy your stuff, he will need to pay a “trading fee” up front instead. Chen is not happy, but he pays the tariff. He has nowhere else to sell his cheaply made clothing. You are the hammer and Chen is the nail.

So just how “rattled” is Wall Street? On Monday, Trump told Chen the bad news — tariffs on many products imported from China are going from 10% to 25%. People who listened to the media scream "the sky is falling" rushed to pull their money out of the stock market. The Dow opened at 25,568 and promptly dropped 350 points. Investors who actually understood who was the hammer and who was the nail, including this writer, bought on the drop. Three days later the Dow is at 25,862, up over 300 points for the week, and I have made a nice little profit. Once again, Trump the contrarian, has it right and the media has no clue.

This month's did you know

As you may have inferred from the foregoing, the United States’ three biggest trading partners are China ($636 billion), Canada ($582 billion) and Mexico ($557 billion). Japan is a distant fourth at $204 billion.

The problem is that with China, unlike Canada and Mexico, the imports and exports are way out of balance. China sells us goods valued at $506 billion, while buying only $130 billion; a four-to-one ratio. Where did you think Walmart got all that cheap clothing?