Thursday, November 1, 2007

It's like Burning Man for shitty arguments (Pt 1.)

Megan's blog, that is. She was kind enough to take today off, and M. has covered some of what we've missed. I'm going to try something slightly different, and deal with a selection of her posts since I last threw my poo at Meggie in somewhat shorter form that gives me more room to rant. Call it not-quite-condensed.

Consumer Culture: Vouchers may not work, and by focusing on struggling inner city school systems I can call a vast, national system of public schools a fundamental failure, but

irrational clustering of political beliefs--there is no logical reason that one's views on abortion should be so tightly correlated with one's view on business regulation or nationalized health care--indicate that there is a very strong social component to the formation of allegedly principled beliefs.
This means I can dismiss others as essentially blinded by self-serving interests without examining myself.
Vouchers, though entirely unproven and potentially problematic in various ways, are THE ONLY HOPE of inner city children. The poor kids, who can't participate in my favorite charity for them, are being screwed and it's all because public schools exist.

The poor are not children, except for the ones who are actual children: .... No affecting Megan's voice for this one. This is one of those truly horrific posts. I can't let it pass unremarked upon, but I just don't know where to begin in charting the terrible, ugly, wrongness of it. Megan is patting herself on the back for recognizing the patronizing tone many wealthy charitable types affect, and using it as the basis of an argument for deregulating governmental aid to the poor. Instead of food stamps or debit cards with programmed controls or what have you, just cash. And that's the good part of the post. ..... Here, read this, hate me for putting it in front of you, then we'll move on.
These nannying arguments always make me think of one particularly bitter New York night, seeing a woman in a fur coat sweep past a homeless man braving the subzero weather in a sweatshirt. Figuring that no matter what he had done to himself or others, he didn't deserve to be left out on a night like this, I gave him five bucks on my way into the deli. Therein, the fur-coat lady said to me "He'll just spend it on drugs, you know."

It is one of the few times that I, whose middle name is "L'esprit d'escalier", have ever managed to muster a snappy comeback line on time. "I hope so," I responded, "because personally, if I were out there tonight, I would want some serious drugs."
... as opposed to a warm home to sleep in.

I should add...:
I think that the argument that we need to carefully shepherd the poor through life is not only kind of creepy, it's also contributing to the fact that we need to shepherd the poor through life. People dependent on the system don't get good at behaving like middle class people--paying their bills on time, etc. Instead they develop a lot of skills at dealing with government bureaucracy (or they give up). Once the gas has been turned off a few times, one generally learns to pay the bill rather than go without heat. What one learns from bureaucracy, on the other hand, is that the world is a capricious yet rule-bound place where you are either powerless against the system, or looking for a way to cheat it.
That's the entire post. Note that she begins by claiming that the poor actually are incapable of caring for themselves. Poor people are poor, broken sods who just don't know any better, but it's not their fault, it's the government's, for trying to help them. Why there were poor people before governmental aid programs is.... a good question? Another good question; is the entirety of Megan's world view based on what she saw on network tv in the late 80s?

More to come...

48 comments:

M. Bouffant said...

Missed the "fur-coat lady" item. (No patience w/ this crap when dialing up, fortunately DSL is at last restored.) Does she even realize that most homeless, poorly clothed people are mentally ill? Who possibly couldn't get adequate treatment from their insurance company if they were ever employed? Yet her charitability is so highly developed that she first thinks of "what he had done to himself or others!!!" Then slips him a fiver. Wow!!!

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