Jim Zitek, co-founder and CEO of Harbor Capital Group Inc., an independent equipment-leasing firm that specializes in equipment finance, asset management and portfolio servicing, said the media is misinforming the general public when it comes to economic recovery, regardless of which side of the political spectrum you happen to favor

Zitek, who spoke last week at the PVA convention in Houston, said Democrats get the news they want to hear from certain networks, websites, newspapers, and periodicals that tend to tell them what they want to hear, and Republicans get their information from other sources that preach to the more conservative choir.

“Most people get their economic news from the media, data that is usually misleading,” said Zitek, who knows something about mass manipulation, having spent years in the advertising business before co-founding Harbor Capital. “Job data, for example, is treated as though it’s bigger than life when 50 percent of the jobs created over the last two years are part-time jobs.”

Zitek said a lack of critical thinking by economists is one of the problems. “There are approximately 14,800 economists in the U.S., the vast majority of whom went to the same schools and studied under the same mentors. Our pretend economy is based on buying stuff, based on consumption. For that you have to have money. But if people don’t have money they can’t buy stuff, so you increase the money supply and your GDP (gross domestic product) will go up. Government printing of money is what makes inflation go up.”

Yet Zitek said the numbers show that the economy is in a growth period. “The U.S. economy is showing signs of recovery, which is no great trick when you consider that the government has been feeding trillions of dollars into the back end of it over the past few years.”

Real economic growth is based on production of wealth, said Zitek. “That’s growth based on productivity. Capitalists say the government should get out of our way. The economy needs time to heal.”

But Zitek said the way to get at the truth about the economy is to stay ahead of those who manipulate it. Use your own information gathering, don’t depend on superficial information outlets, and study. “Educate yourself,” he said. “See what they’re doing and try to get ahead of them. I've spent a whole day on one article."

Ken Hocke has been the senior editor of WorkBoat since 1999. He was the associate editor of WorkBoat from 1997 to 1999. Prior to that, he was the editor of the Daily Shipping Guide, a transportation daily in New Orleans. He has written for other publications including The Times-Picayune. He graduated from Louisiana State University with an arts and sciences degree, with a concentration in English, in 1978.