If you were driving into or out of Princeton from Route 1 this past Monday morning, March 16, you know that traffic was a nightmare. It was caused by a traffic accident at Alexander and Faculty roads that shut down Alexander from 6 a.m. until 4 p.m. while a utility pole was reinstalled.

We first found out about it at 8 a.m. and by 9 a.m. had the warning posted on our website, www.princetoninfo.com. That’s all part of our ongoing effort to bring you news of disruptions that affect rush hour traffic as soon as we receive them. We will also use the website to post last-minute changes in the events calendar.

So, if we knew about the tie-up at 8 a.m. why did we not post it online until an hour later? Our website editor, naturally, was caught up in the traffic jam like everyone else. We see a smart phone looming on the U.S. 1 horizon.

To the Editor: Reporters Needed, Not Cheerleaders

Richard K. Rein posed an intriguing question in his commentary in the March 11 issue of U.S. 1: “How much of the current recession is fueled by lack of consumer confidence caused by the incessant reporting of the recession?”

If anything, the reporting may be too optimistic. The Federal Reserve quantified the depth of the downturn the following day, when it reported that households in the U.S. lost $5.1 trillion of their wealth — 9 percent — in the last quarter of 2008, the biggest loss in a single quarter since the Fed began keeping records nearly 60 years ago.

Another question to ponder: How much of the economic boom was fueled by unwarranted consumer confidence caused by the incessant — and unsupported — reporting of positive economic news?

In short, does reporting that the glass is half empty or half full matter? The dire report from the Fed suggests that the glass is broken, and it seems that at least some of the culpability lies with financial commentators (see Jon Stewart’s recent confrontation with CNBC’s Jim “Mad Money” Cramer on the Web) who relentlessly, perhaps criminally, served as uncritical cheerleaders for investment firms and mortgage companies, despite plenty of evidence that the economy was a house of cards headed for a fall.

For the past decade, financial “experts” exhorted millions of trusting, naive, and yes, sometimes just plain greedy folks to sign up for mortgages with indecipherable terms, and encouraged them to hand over their 401k contributions to some dubious Wall Street investment schemes. Surely, the stream of incessant happy talk led many to believe that stock portfolios and housing prices would only go up. At least, until they didn’t.

To end with a bit of good news, and address a concern Mr. Rein expressed in the second paragraph of his commentary: rest assured that the sun has an excellent track record of rising in the morning — although past performance is not a guarantee of future results.

George Point


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