Sunday, March 2, 2008

Big ole catchup post

M. and Nutella have soldiered on admirably in my absence, but it's time for me to rejoin the battle, especially since Zooey hasn't shown up, yet, to lure me away. Fortified and inspired by George Carlin's new HBO special, here's a long shorters of Megan's work since Wed or so.

It's not theft--it's whistleblowing!: Compare and contrast.
Part 1:

Tax evasion isn't only a bad idea on moral grounds--when you get caught, you end up paying a lot more than the original taxes in interest and fines.
Part 2:
I wonder if Germany and others shouldn't be careful what they wish for. People are more mobile than ever, especially rich ones; they may only succeed in chasing them out entirely, thereby losing all of their tax revenue, rather than just part.
Sure, it's bad for rich people to do that stuff, but they're rich, they have special privileges. Accept it, or don't get tipped.

Poverty and start-up costs:
Of course, we already do have one way to give the working poor small chunks of capital: the earned income tax credit. Because most people take it out in a lump sum, rather than getting it refunded to their paycheck every week, it gives them a large chunk of cash to use for things like a decent car or a housing deposit. This is no guarantee that it will get spent that way; in American Dream, one of the best books out there on poverty and welfare reform, Jason DeParle recounts his dismay at watching one of the women he was following decide to use her EITC check for nicer furniture instead of a reliable car that could take her to higher-earning jobs in the suburbs.
And so we see why poor people should be given cash handouts. They're poor, that means they're too dumb to use any aid properly, so might as well not try so hard, eh?

Prozac nation: the search for our true, true self:
One thing I don't think I made clear enough yesterday is that I'm not arguing that people shouldn't take drugs if they're depressed or ADD or OCD or what have you, because that is their "true" self. I am all in favor of better living through chemistry, and a quick glance through accounts of early twentieth century mental institutions should be enough to convince anyone who thinks that the mentally ill should just tough it out and learn to look on the bright side of life.

Rather, I am disputing the notion that there is a true self, either au natural or chemically enhanced. Both the pre- and post-medication selves regard themselves as the "true" self, with, I think, roughly equally valid claims. For that matter, both Megan McArdle two hours ago and Megan McArdle now regard(ed) themselves as my "true" self, even though they are slightly different. People don't need to justify their decision to feel better by saying that the self that feels better is closer to some sort of platonic ideal of me-ness. It's enough simply to want to feel better. The best justification for medication is that the medicated self wants to keep being that way, while the unmedicated self wishes it were fundamentally otherwise.
As a student of philosophy, I weep. As someone who's known folk who are on meds, I wonder what the flying fuck she's talking about. I think maybe she read something about schizophrenics a long time ago, and doesn't understand the difference between that and taking prozac. Then again, I've never been on any kind of meds, either, so time to stfu.

No union for the unions:
I know that my liberal friends and readers think of me as a union basher who just can't stand the thought of workers claiming a bigger share of the pie.
Correct. Worker pay drains profits. You quite literally worship profits, in their idealized form of capital, Megan. Now go ahead with your semantic games.
I'm actually not particularly anti-union, and to the extent that I do have problems with unions, it is not because they seek higher wages and benefits for their members. Rather, it is because they introduce serious structural rigidities into the economy.
Like guaranteed wages and benefits for their members, regardless of whether the company is making a trendy profit margin that makes the Wall Street kids think it's cool. Unions, you see, worry about things like seniority, on the quaint idea that elders deserve respect and to keep the gains they, and those who came before them, worked their whole lives to achieve. Wankers.

A nation of gun nuts:
According to USA Today, "Nearly three out of four Americans — 73% — believe the Second Amendment spells out an individual right to own a firearm, according to a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll of 1,016 adults taken Feb. 8-10." Now all we need is five out of nine.
Now, I could point out that 73% of Americans are misinformed, and that it's a Supreme Court decision interpreting the Amendment that created that "right" to possess the means to murder your fellow citizen and give your kid a chance to kill himself, you, or a friend by accident, or that this number doesn't mean 73% of Americans are in favor of legal gun ownership, or to what degree. A rifle for hunting is a lot different from a semi-auto sidearm. Instead, let's return to the core issue here; Megan thinks that it's wrong for DC to ban handguns. Despite her OVERWHELMING concern for inner city public school students, she doesn't mind them getting shot, and doesn't get the fundamental fact that freedom, in this case, is a zero sum game. Gang bangers have the freedom to own hand guns, or the rest of us have the freedom to not be shot. It's math, Megan, that means you should get it, unlike the rest of us.

The end of secrecy?: Nevermind the content of this post, who the fuck at the burnt out remains of The Atlantic decided all their bloggers needed a group blog, and, more importantly, why? They all have blogs of their own. It's fecking redundant. It's like having two toilets in a single bathroom stall.

1% of Americans are now incarcerated: That's one in one hundred Americans, in jail. One in nine young adult black males. This is a fucking tragedy, a sign of a massive societal failure to decriminalize being a (oh so scary) black man, and a sign that we've adopted the old British solution to poverty; put the poor in prison. So what's Megan worried about? Where they get to work afterwards. She's not wrong to be concerned about it, but, well, um, how's about keeping them out of jail in the first place?
(That's why we need vouchers, she cries. That's why they don't need hand guns, I replies.)

The cult of the CEO: Too long to bother. Lots of words to say, sure, there are problems, but are they really so bad?

Incidentally: Back on the topic of free samples of, mostly, psychiatric meds, Megan is worried, deeply, about how to value those samples. This, obviously, is Very Important, because we need to quantify how generous big pharma is being.
Megan, you have no knowledge of the drug trade. Free samples are what's known as "testers", which they give out to fiends so they'll come back to that particular dealer's corner. This isn't altruism, it's a way to keep people hooked without giving up the chance to profit off it.
And no, I'm not being too hard on big pharma. They set the prices for Medicare and the rest, and they do so with a massive profit margin built in. If they accepted lower profits free samples wouldn't be needed to keep the poorer mentally ill in treatment. Free samples maintain demand without materially affecting profits. They're not altruism, they're a dodge, a distraction so we don't make too big a deal about what these pills really cost.

The National Interest:
the netroots, whose greatest asset is their fiery conviction that they are the voice of righteousness
Petty and jealous much, Megan? The netroots' greatest asset is being self-righteous? Not their reach, their numbers, their ability to organize and raise funds, their ability to spread information and debunk misinformation, their uppityness.
The jealous petty swipes continue in the comments, as well. I'd get upset, but, well, I can only laugh. These pigfuckers are going down, and their squeals along the way are sweet, sweet music to my ears.

I have to say: Every time I go on tv, I'm going to talk about it for weeks. Because it happened to MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEME.

Is it okay to go bi?: Speaking for lesbians everywhere, and I've been in love with a few (n no, I didn't scare them off men), no, Megan, you may not go bi. As for the rest, grow a soul, then we'll talk about NAFTA and free trade.

Hillary Clinton’s Even Playing Field » Outside The Beltway | OTB: (No, I cannot explain the format of that title.)
Time for unwanted insights into the psychological dynamics of Megan's relationships with her parents. Yay.
Professional women have great difficulty projecting authority without projecting aggression, or bossiness. And running for president is probably the one place where this is hardest. Recently, one of my friends said, disparagingly, "She reminds me of my mother." It's hard to imagine someone saying, in the same tone, that they wouldn't vote for McCain because he was too much like Dad.
I have no particular problems with my father, but I have no trouble seeing people not wanting to vote for McCain because he reminds them of their father. Maybe their father was an outwardly gregarious ex military man who divorced their mom, or perhaps just cheated on her and belittled her? Doesn't seem that hard to imagine. It does raise questions of whether Megan is a bit of a closet misogynist, insofar as she's ready to see her Daddy as President but not her Mom.
Somehow this projected bias against a female President leads Megan to discussion of her own treatment as a woman
To be sure, women get some compensating advantages--I probably get invited to speaking engagements and so forth that I wouldn't get if I weren't a woman. But we pay for that by enduring condescension and criticism that would never be directed towards a man. I can't say whether this ends up accruing to my net benefit or loss--but I sure wish I didn't have to think about it at all.

It's probably true that Hillary would not be in politics if she weren't married to Bill; she doesn't strike me as someone who's naturally attracted to electioneering. And her senate career is obviously a side effect of his presidency. But it's far from clear to me that in this race, the benefits of being married to Bill are outweighing the drawbacks of being punished for things that would pass unnoticed in a man. And it's pretty damn frustrating to think that you may lose a job you want because you've got twice the "normal" number of X chromosomes.
..... and she calls us misogynists. Wow. Talk about identifying with your abuser.

And we're caught up. Whoopee.


brad said...

Oops. Sorry, M. I forgot you covered the post on unions.

M. Bouffant said...

No sweat. If you must apologize, it's to the reader(s), who may have had to read both of our takes. My toes are not stepped on, & as we reacted differently, ain't no thang.

spencer said...

It's hard to imagine someone saying, in the same tone, that they wouldn't vote for McCain because he was too much like Dad.

I would never vote for anyone who reminded me too much of my father. Not because I hate him or anything, but because he is temperamentally unsuited for the job.

Kind of like McCain, actually. So there you go, Megan. Hope I was the first . . .

Anonymous said...

"And it's pretty damn frustrating to think that you may lose a job you want because you've got twice the 'normal' number of X chromosomes."

Christ, she is a shit writer. The "normal" number of of X chromosomes for a woman is two. That is a stunningly crap way to try and turn a phrase to say "because you're a woman."

spencer said...

Yeah, good point, anon. She could simply have written "because you have too many X chromosomes," and it would have been a dramatic improvement. But even that is stilted and awkward.

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