Monday, December 15, 2008

Damned if You Do, Damned if You Don't

There has been an historic event over at The Atlantic. Our "Eloise at The Atlantic" (as Roy Edroso puts it. I've never read Eloise but apparently it's very clever.)- well, it's truly astonishing - I... I... I'm getting choked up here.... she... she... she properly capitalized a title.. There's even grammar and shit in that thing. "Preach it, Brother Sanchez"... the phrase has just become the prettiest on record. Why, our muse,after years of badgering, may have finally listened to a critic. Could such a thing have happened? If so, I think we can likely head over to, uh..., somewhere in Europe and tell them not to bother powering the LHC back up. The Standard Model has been proved. The world is in harmony. We an all sleep at night, safe and sound, comfortable in the knowledge that terrorism has been defeated and that the economy is back on the up and up. Hold your breath, people. It might just be the greatest time to be alive.

While we can rest comfortably in the knowledge that the writers of the day are taking the 5 seconds necessary to make sure their articles are properly introduced, there's still work to be done. Though our pupil's post may have finally been begun in a competent manner, that which follows still reeks of hackdom, shallowness, and bias. I give you the "I know you are but what am I argument":


Julian points out that authoritarianism isn't some exclusively Republican vice:
Failing to funnel billions to a failing business is a form of authoritarian punishment. As an alternative, we're offered the proposition that we "want affordable, safe, fuel-efficient, environmentally sound cars built by committed workers who are rewarded for undertaking this task on our behalf." I think it's a lot more revealing to contemplate the sort of mindset that insists on seeing every economic outcome as a political "reward" or "punishment."

This whole familial frame seems to amount to an inverted Gospel of Wealth: Where the 19th century claimed that financial success was a reflection of moral worth, the function of public policy in the 21st century will be to create that symmetry. The only question is whether workers in a particular industry are naughty children who need to be sent to the corner for a time-out, or well-behaved children who should get a gold sticker for effort. This is, as I hope goes without saying, a pretty authoritarian frame on either side. It also seems like a manifestly awful way to make economic policy choices. Barring some marvelous Lebnizian coincidence, the answers to questions about the moral desert of workers in particular sectors are unlikely to consistently match the answers to quesitons about what's in the long-term interest of the economy as a whole.
Julian incredulously asks how failing to give away billions is a sign of ideology. That's a fair point, if not for the fact that Republican's were busy gleefully rejoicing that the auto-bailout gave them a chance to "take their first shot against organized labor." If there's anything that screams well reasoned consideration, it's failing to back a bill intended to aid the economy during the worst blah since blah because you have a chance to stick it to those pesky blue collar workers and their whole "treat us fairly" bullshit. But, I digress.

Apparently, the fact that Congress is making sure the money is being spent on something reasonable rather than keeping a failing business alive to continue to fail is a evidence of "mindset that insists on seeing every economic outcome as a political 'reward' or 'punishment.'" (YEAH SCARE-QUOTES!) It's not like when we wrote a blank check for the financial industry they didn't just blow it on expensive spas in California or use it to buy up other companies rather than lend it to people like we wanted.

Yes sir, either you agree with ole' Jules about how, as usual, the government should stay away or you're an authoritarian. Also, if you tell Jules that blindly following the same rules in all situations is, at least, dogmatism and almost certainly authoritarianism, then he's rubber and you're glue.

2 comments:

clever pseudonym said...

Eloise at the Plaza was a little six-year-old girl who lived in the penthouse of that hotel; the books were about her adventures with her nanny while living there. So, yeah, the comparison to a rich little girl and her childish and indulgent misadventures is very funny indeed.

NutellaonToast said...

Yeah, I have the vague over-view from looking it up but it never resonates unless it was part of "your" pop-culture.

The internet has left me out again. :(