Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Me no can handle Megan today. M. n Clem, do your thing. Or don't. Sometimes we all need breaks.

However, looking at what Meg's been up to since I last checked in yesterday afternoon makes it impossible for me not to respond to a ton of stuff. Probably will be a long shorterized post from me tonight, if my head finishes clearing out.

Update 2:
I'll catch up tomorrow, for both of you waiting.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Daily Doses of Dumb

First, we get a post titled, wonderfully, Huh?. Ahh, if only all her work were so intellectually honest. Here Megan is confused by the fact that many Britons travel to the US for health care. You see, either we think our health care system is irredeemably flawed in every possible way and want a socialist revolution, or we like it how it is. Yes, Megan, if you can afford it you can still get the best health care in the world here. If.... you.... can..... afford..... it. Britons have a much healthier economy than ours, and a very helpful, to them, exchange rate. The relative cost is lower for them, and they're more capable of bearing that cost to boot. It's not terribly confusing, unless you're the world's tallest econoblogger.
Then, in a follow-up post, Megan conflates Britain with all of Europe.
If this were actually true, the number of Europeans seeking health care abroad, other than cosmetic procedures, should be zero. If the health care is really every bit as good as what's available on the private market, they shouldn't turn to the private market. Americans seeking lower-cost health care abroad does not invalidate the market model; seeking lower cost alternatives through trade is a venerable free-market tradition. On the other hand, Europeans paying their own hard-earned cash in order to exit a system which allegedly provides exactly the same thing, for free, poses a problem for national health care advocates.
So, you see, if a European has surgery here, Megan wins, and Hillary can't take her money. Except, of course, that none of Europe's medical systems guarantee you equal access to the top doctors in any particular field. France, for example, has a system where you can pay in to get better care. Everyone is guaranteed treatment, but the rich still get better care because they can afford it. When you're rich, the fact is you don't think about the cost, but the quality, and sometimes the best doctors in a particular field are based in a different country. I realize all this is probably elementary to anyone reading this besides Megan, but there's reasonable circumstantial evidence she reads FMM (and c'mon, isn't she too obviously self-absorbed not to read a blog all about her?).

Also, Megan followed up her monstrously stupid post on vouchers with further idiocy.
How many educated people who:

a) Oppose vouchers
b) Have children who do not attend inner city public schools

would still oppose vouchers if they were the only way to get their child out of an inner city public school? How many of them would accept that their child had to be left in that school because the systemic effects of allowing their child to exit that repulsive school would be dreadful?
Yeah! If school vouchers were the only way to prevent their child from being boiled alive in a pool of acid, I bet these straw people Megan invented to seize the moral high ground from would stop opposing vouchers. Meanwhile, in reality, some inner city school systems are actually successful. As an NYC native Megan might have heard about, say, them magnet schools the city has in places like the Bronx that seem to prepare their students pretty damn well. That's not to gloss over the major flaws too many other schools in the city have, but.... well, how many times can Megan say inner city schools before she mistypes and writes "black kids"? That broken for 50 years crack in her last post really lingers in my mind here. If there isn't a racial component to Megan's views on vouchers then she's sure not afraid of letting the racial biases of others help her out.
But hey, blacks are lazy, right Megan? Vouchers wouldn't also be a way around desegregation of schools, would they?

Schadenfreude Reloaded

I have only recently come to terms with the fact that for the rest of my life, no matter how I dress or how long I wear my hair, someone will call me "Sir" at least once a week.

Ridiculous. There isn't a man alive who resembles...whoa. Hang on. (Swallows red pill.)

World's tallest econoblogger, Megan McArdle.

"Matrix" auteur Larry Wachowski.

Turgid writing? Check.
Adolescent individualism? Check.
Attraction to firearms? Check.

Suddenly, everything makes sense.

Because I say so!

Megan wrote a long post about vouchers, and, as you'd imagine, it's a doozy. To begin, she's still fond of the "picture of own ass as works cited" method of citation. The piece is just shy of 1800 words long, and does not contain a single citation. There's a link to a private voucher "charity" she supports, but not a single pointer towards any further information on the topic, unless you count what you can find out at the thread on another site she's posting in response to. Megan vaguely mentions "studies" here and there, but, well, we gotta take her word for both their existence and results, because she doesn't even name them, let alone link to 'em.
So then, let's go over her versions of the arguments against vouchers.
1) Vouchers don't work This is the best argument against school vouchers.
... Yah think? Good argument, sure, but unsupported by studies Megan tells us exist, and evidence of a subtle class bias. What? Yep...
Vouchers are no panacea, and they may not work at all. But we know that what we're doing now isn't working, and moreover, hasn't worked for going on fifty years. Unless you've got compelling evidence that your plan will overcome all the barriers that have doomed urban school reform for decades, and actually succeed in educating more children (rather than enriching the lives of teachers, administrators, and curriculum salesmen, who certainly have been helped by the many failed educational overhauls), why not let a thousand points of light bloom?
Hasn't worked for going on 50 years? Ummmm, since Brown v. Board of Education? Is that a subtle shout-out to your racist readers, Megan, or just you being fucking stupid? Oh, wait, you claim teachers are profiting off keeping students dumb. You're just fucking stupid, in ways that leave openings for the support of other idiots who happen to also be racist. Megan isn't racist herself, she just knows her readers.
Moving on, we have
2) Voucher advocates are total hypocrites too, because why don't they start private vouchers, huh? Bet you never thought of that! Actually, we did, my love, and thanks for giving me an opening to plug the Children's Scholarship Fund, my charity of choice. If you support vouchers, you should be supporting their amazing work.
Here's more info on this amazing charity. How can a charity with Trent Lott AND a member of the Wal*Mart ownin Walton family in its leadership be bad? Note, also, that the word "vouchers" does not appear on the front page, at least, of the website. (Now you know why I reinserted the link.) Oh, and, according to the mediamouse page, "In many cities, the scholarships are too small for poor children to participate." Way to support the kids, Megan.
What any of this has to do with the efficacy, or lack thereof, of vouchers is left for you to figure out, cuz I'm stumped.
3) The community doesn't want vouchers. Awesome. Then the community won't take vouchers, and you'll win by default. If what you mean is that some people claiming to speak for the community, want other people who are members of that community not to be able to have vouchers, then I'm less than interested in your argument.
I'd respond to this, but first I'd have to be able to find something resembling coherence in it.
4) Vouchers are a subsidy to rich people. Then means test them, by all means. Anyone who makes more than $100K a year can't have them.
....says the woman pimping a charity which poor people can't afford. The underlying argument, that vouchers would likely end up becoming an easily abused system that mostly serves to subsidize private school for the already affluent, is never taken up by Megan. Shocking, innit, that Megan formulates these arguments in ways she (thinks she) can easily dismiss?
5) Vouchers destroy the public school system So? Having a public school system seems like a dumb goal to me, but even assuming that the very existence of such a system is somehow a worthy thing to aim for, surely it's achievement should be a second-order priority.
I.... she.... the kids.... jebus. Talk about straw men. Yes, Megan, your opponents in this debate are in favor of a public school system first, education second. Dismantling the public school system in favor of a wholly new, and thus only, at best, partially regulated, private charter school system wouldn't have any negative effects for the kids. Because every public school in the entire country is as bad as the horror stories coming out of DC.
After some glibertarian crap about the magical powers of the market, Megan comes up with this,
But honestly, there's no reason that vouchers will destroy the public school system provided that the public school system is doing a decent job of educating our kids. This argument sounds to me like an implicit confession that public schools can't compete with private ones.
Or that defunding them might have a negative effect on their ability to provide services. One of the two.
6) There aren't enough private schools Right. Do you realize that in 1995, not a single iPod had been manufactured? That must mean that the iPod I am currently holding in my hand doesn't actually exist! I'm living a lie . . .
I'm getting a headache. Fifth graders could find the flaw in this argument. Apparently, Megan thinks start-up charter schools, run by people interested in making a profit off a new, private, company, will be better than public schools. Because.... well, because. It's just cynical to think otherwise, and Megan believes in people. Don't you?
7) Public education is vital to creating a common identity as American citizens
Megan snarks that poor kids will thus feel a sense of community with the rich people they grow up to work for, because she's an asshole snob. I'd talk about how Megan is totally missing the point, that a good public school experience can help prevent kids from growing up to be selfish pieces of shit like her by showing them the good that can come from using the government to help people, but I'm getting a headache and there's 4 more "arguments" to plow through.
8) Vouchers don't make things any better; they just give the appearance of working by pulling the successful away from the unsuccessful, in the process dooming the latter to failure As I said before, you can't have it both ways. Either the school environment matters--in which case, this argument is false--or they don't matter, in which case it can't harm the unsuccessful kids to lose the successful ones.
Again, I'm lost in Megan's "logic". If anyone can make sense of this, I'll post it in an update. I can't make heads or tails of this "argument". But Megan really thinks she's onto something here, even resuming her pretense of caring about the poor kids (who can't afford to participate in her fav charity for them).
And morally, as I said in my earlier post, unless you have chosen to live in the inner city and allow your kids to bring up the tone of the place, you have no [expletive deleted] right to say that someone else's kids should be left in a failing school for the benefit of a third set of kids.
If you're against vouchers, you're pro-pedophilia. It's just that simple. The free market has a long and storied history of helping children, and, again, only a cynic would mistrust its ability to provide better bang for our our bucks. (Also, you have to love Megan's psychic defenses here. She's trying to claim the moral high ground in an argument that, in all likelihood, is based on her belief that vouchers will lower her school taxes.)
9) I don't want my tax dollars used to pay for religious education Waaaaaaah.
Who ever heard of a libertarian sticking up for separation of church and state? Sheesh.
10) Vouchers wouldn't pay the tuition at a top-notch private school Okay, I went to the school that is now vying with Matt Yglesias' alma mater for the title of "Most expensive private school in New York City". It gave me a terrific education, better than that received by any of the kids from expensive suburban public schools with whom I went to college. But talk about making the perfect the enemy of the good! A private school doesn't need to be Groton in order to make it worthwhile sending needy kids there; it just needs to be better than the hell-hole they currently attend. And frankly, that's a really, really low bar. There are a lot of kids for whom a trip to Chuck E. Cheese would be safer and more educational than a day at their district school. I could just as easily turn around and use this argument to prove that we oughtn't to have public schools unless every last one can be Dallas's Talented and Gifted magnet school.
Let them eat cake. And remember, every public school in the entire country is an urban public school plagued by poor funding, a culture that doesn't place great value on education, unfunded No Child Left Behind mandates, staffing shortages due to low pay and horrible work conditions, and so on. Plus, there's a huge supply of highly qualified teachers out there, just waiting for the private sector to give them the same low pay and crappy work conditions without a union or any kind of job security, meaning they can be scapegoated for every F they have no choice but to give out.
Megan went to private school, so obviously they're superior. Her own intellectual failings and lack of ability to look past her own situation and biases do not, in the least, speak to the primary weakness of private schools; their production of entitled assholes who lack a realistic sense of their place in the world and how they got there. I, having gone to public school until sophomore year of high school, then to a very expensive, and, yes, good, private boarding school, have no ability to speak to this, either.
And, finally,
11) There's no way to assure the quality of private schools Ha. Ha. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Seriously? The problem with private schools is that they can't match the same level of quality we've come to expect from our urban public school system? And what else have you learned in your visit to our planet?
Cuz every school everywhere sucks, unless it makes a profit.
I wish I could get Jillian from S.N! to guest post here on all the ways Megan is incredibly wrong here, but I like her too much to ask her to read Megan's work on this. It was painful enough for me to do.
I'd like to end this on an amusing and snarky note, but I'm still feeling overwhelmed by the dumb. This woman is paid by what was once one of the most highly respected imprints in the world, not just the country. This... should not be.

Dept. of Schadenfreude

If you can't laugh at this, then you are Megan.

I have only recently come to terms with the fact that for the rest of my life, no matter how I dress or how long I wear my hair, someone will call me "Sir" at least once a week.
No one ever accused us of not being petty.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Were I an Editor

Or, if Megan could keep it simple.

I trust I won't be courting controversy with anyone when I assert that the government of North Korea is the closest thing we currently have to a purely evil state. Why, then, is the New York Philharmonic actually considering playing there? Given that pretty much [E]veryone agrees that the North Korean state is obsessed with seeking legitimacy outside its self-inflicted purgatorio; I find it hard to understand why that august musical institution [The Phil] would seek to grant it. Newlywed[From] Terry Teachout (congratulations to you & your adorable bride) has the scoop.[@ the OpinionJournal.]
Wasn't difficult, was it? Try it sometime. No qualifications, no weasel words, just clear statements.

The East is red, & Kim Jong-il is the sun.
The point of Ms. McA.'s cop from Mr. Teachout (Is that name so we won't confuse him w/ a "teach-in?"): Any course of action w/ N. Korea short of a naval blockade provides legitimacy & is perceived as "weak." Further discussion is available from Megatron's commentariat (it's no Little Green Footballs, but you'll often find a beaut among the typers) including one from this obsessional critic.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Just One More Add-On

A short item, followed by one mighty long item, about the perils of moving about the country, & a clarification thereof (her commentariat must be dullards/economists, or overly-sensitive upstate New Yorkers tired of condescension from the downstaters) & then we come to Megan using those big ol' economist words ("Cost benefit") & again demonstrating why we just don't think she deserves to be at The Atlantic:

There is actually an interesting underlying point to yesterday's
Great Gobs of Goo, stop being coy, just come right out & admit that you're not much of a writer. That's the first step, you must acknowledge that you are powerless & not very competent. That your previously expressed desire to "write fiction" was more from a desire to lead a romantic-sounding life than any specific ability or talent. That what you post now is not, in many cases, verifiable, & that the conclusions you draw are dependent on statistical interpretation. That the very methods of gathering the statistics are the subject of debate. Enough. We can't give away all the 12 Steps for Fictional Economists. No one will show up at the meetings if we tell everything.
There's always a tradeoff [sic] between cost and service, and what you want is something that maximizes the return on your customer base. So companies periodically have an incentive to push the envelope, to see how badly they can treat you before you'll walk.

I know, I know, I'm a libertarian, I love the market?
[sic] Why don't I love this? Well, I don't unlove it, exactly, because it's certainly not unique behavior to corporations. Spouses test how far they can push their spouses, friends do it to friends, employees to bosses, and so forth. No one knows the limits of the human heart; the only way we can find out [sic] what they are is to grope blindly for them.
Yikes. Rather cynical view of the species (and of corporations, which are not members of the species, no matter their current legal status). Let's note two things here: Spouses & friends are (it is to be hoped) more or less on an equal basis. Employees & bosses (by definition) are not on an equal basis. Yet Ms McA. phrases it as if employees are always treating their bosses badly, pushing the bosses to see how far they can go before the bosses walk. Huh? Really, what Bizzaro™ world does she live in? The employee's the one who'll end up walking, or being escorted out by security. (Although it could be said that her typing may be pushing her Atlantic overlords a little.)
The second thing of note:
No one knows the limits of the human heart; the only way we can find out [...] what they are is to grope blindly for them.
So awful it bore repeating. Aren't we talking about "maximizing efficiency" or "utility" or some such jargon here? Just where does the "human heart" enter into this? We know what the "limits" of the human heart are; they are limits. We have to find where they are, not "find out what they are." At least she didn't split the infinitive, though that wouldn't make any difference to the Hallmark Co., where such a sentence (& sentiment) should have been submitted.

Compare & contrast:
The reason I wrote that post--other than a fair amount of righteous anger that I needed to use up somewhere--is that I shouldn't be the only one who has that redress.
I have no taste for revenge at all; past wrongs just don't interest me. But I do think that the cost of doing things like this should be a lot higher.
Another glimpse into the mind of McArdle. Perhaps she should use that "righteous anger" by revenging herself on its cause, rather than "using it up somewhere." But she has "no taste for revenge at all." Four items on the horrible experience? (Well, two of them explaining herself.) Past wrongs just don't interest her. History is bunk. Especially if said wrongs happened to someone else, or a different group entirely. Get over that slavery/Jim Crow thing, that's the past, it's all ponies & rainbows now, except of course you have to work very, very hard & make the right choices every single time, & if you make a choice she or her commenters disagree w/, well, too bad.

And the mention of commenters brings me to the actual interesting, underlying point to this item, her commentariat, who, as anonymous indicated in the comment on the previous item, react to her posed questions, & go off on a tangent from there. In this one, a story is told about someone who had a long wait in the drive-through line at a Mickey D's. The instant assumption, by all those who commented, is that it's the fault of those less efficient or "second tier" (whatever that means, possibly second shift employees, who must by definition be second tier because they're not working 9-5) workers, and some mumbling about "motivation."

Not once is it considered that there may have been equipment problems, late deliveries, poor scheduling by (gasp!) management, customers not fitting into the expected customer flow, maybe even a customer who keeps sending his order back. No, it's always inefficient, un-motivated employees:Like me. You have a problem w/ that?

Friday, October 26, 2007

I've Something to Add

From the (thoughtful) commentary to the McMegan post linked to by brad immediately below:

I do wish, though, that Megan would have added some more thoughtful commentary related to this story. For example, the Indian inn operators who are taking over more and more of the lodging establishments in the United States don't have the business ethics that native born white Americans have. (Don't ask me to provide a study to back this up; which politically correct university is going to sponsor a study like this?). In Megan's view, letting people whose culture disrupts the fabric of our society into the United States is acceptable because the disruption is only temporary. Does this mean that in her view a night like this is a price worth paying for Indian immigration? More importantly, why does she believe that other Americans will view this as a price worth paying?
If there are any Indians on this webboard, I would love to hear their input as well.
Posted by Jeff Goldman
October 26, 2007 6:11 PM
Let's see: "Thoughtful" means inject some racism? Come for the econ., stay for the hate?

Of course, it's common knowledge that "native born white Americans" are the gold standard of business ethics, or it would be if Bob Jones ("No dating the coloreds") University or Oral Roberts ("It's my, I mean my daddy's money, not the University's") U. would just do a non-p. c. study on it.

A night like this is the sum total of Indian immigration to This Great (White) Nation of Ours™, obviously. The new (Republican) governor of Louisiana? Eh, not so much.

Not to mention the assumption on Mr. Goldman's part of Indian-ness in the first place. Ms. McArdle doesn't identify the initiative-taking room clerk other than by gender, makes the assumption that the Expedia™ rep she talked to was in India (probably correct) & Goldman jumps on the whole "Indian business ethics" thing from there. Mr. Goldman, if that is your legal name, might we assume you're of the Jewish persuasion? Could we trot out a few stereotypes about "those people?" At least one of them doesn't apply to Mr. Goldman. The one about Jewish people being literate.

And sticking up for Megan, where does Goldman get this idea:
More importantly, why does she believe that other Americans will view this as a price worth paying?
Where does she state anything even remotely similar?

Mr. Goldman reminds me of those people who always manage to mention the (perceived) race or ethnicity, as long as it's not white, of anyone who doesn't provide the greatest possible service to them. And of course if it's a white person who doesn't satisfy their consumer needs, is rude to them, or whatever, that never enters the conversation.

So, Megan, we await your response to Mr. G.'s "thoughtful commentary."

P. S.: Is a "webboard" like a "waterboard?"

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Not adding insult to injury

I have nothing to add to this.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Rapid fire Daily Dose(s) of Dumb

I keep thinking she can't get worse. Short of shouting "n----r, n----r, n----r" (sorry, too white to write the whole word), how much lower can she go?
Why did I ask?

Patience, children: I've been taking condescending bitch lessons from Barbara Bush. Plus, having been born in 1969, 1970, 1972, 1975, 1977, I have a wealth of experience that gives me perspective you fools lack.

That was quick: Here's what some genuine libertarians think about stuff.

Is the surge working?: While I feel a need to pretend to care about the deaths involved in this war thing, ultimately I trust the military.
"Bonus" quote:

But if the falling body count doesn't vindicate past policy, it should guide policy going forward. If Iraq is calming down, to me that probably makes the case for a unilateral immediate withdrawal less compelling.
Bigger, stronger, more ...national: Expecting the Federal government to do anything besides provide me roads to ride my bike on is socialist, and foolish, because the profit driven open market is totally better equipped to feed and clothe the poor.

Climate change or acid rain?: I know less about science than I do about my own ass, but I think my ass has a valid point here.

Improving education: Based on this one quote I think it's clear paying teachers more won't solve the educational crisis that exists solely because of our teachers being poor, unprofessional types. However, I think we can solve this crisis by paying them more through a new, massive Federal program of the kind I was dismissing as impractical two posts ago.

Mustn't say the V-word: ... This one is a doozy. Gonna take more than a few lines to properly mock.
To begin, can anyone find the actual question in this ... fragment?
The more interesting question is why should all of the parents who don't have the choice to send their kids to a private school, or move to the suburbs?
Fortunately, the rest of Megan's thinking is far more coherent, and involves getting mad that the people quoted in the article she's responding to don't see a voucher system as the cure to the illnesses of the DC schools. Megan doesn't explain how a voucher system would do this, because it's so goddamn obvious. You see, with vouchers everyone can escape bad inner city schools, except, of course, for those students the good schools don't accept because they don't have room. Fuck those kids. That a voucher system wouldn't magically create more space in good schools, and that class size is a major part of the problem, is irrelevant.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Daily Dose of Dumb, yesterday edition

Watch Megan try to seem rational about taxes.

But optimal tax theory makes that more complicated. Taxes on the wealthy have especially high deadweight loss. Warren Buffet might not stop working if you ratcheted his tax rate up to 60%, but a goodly number of highly paid consultants, lawyers, small business owners and so forth would, and though it's common to portray them as leeches on society, in fact, they make a lot of stuff run a lot more smoothly.

The wealthy also have more latitude about when and how to take their earnings, because they aren't living paycheck to paycheck. That means that they will spend a lot of time and energy avoiding taxes. Do not natter about closing the loopholes. Above the complexity level of "Me Urgh! You give Urgh all your acorns!" there is no such thing as a loophole free tax. And come to think of it, I bet Urgh didn't get all the acorns, either.
I have class soon, so I can't say much right this moment, but do I even need to? "Do not natter about closing the loopholes"?
The rates on the highest brackets were much higher in the post-war years, Megan, and not only did we experience massive growth, rich people still went to their jobs. The wealthy folk who go to great lengths to avoid paying their taxes are, in fact, leeches. They're taking value out of society and not putting their share back in.
I'd call this a philosophical difference, but that'd be giving Megan and her ilk too much credit. There's nothing philosophical about greed.

LiberalRob, we salute you

You irked Megan so much she had to make her biting retort a separate post. And her sycophants are swarming.
This began with Megan asking, in comments,

if selfishness is the *only* explanation of anti-tax agitation, how do you account for libertarian journalists and policy wonks living on salaries in the low five digits who will in all probability never break $100K? What is their selfish interest? It's not like lowering taxes would make their salaries go up; surely rich people donate more to institutions that want lower taxes when taxes are high?
LiberalRob answers
It is the belief that some day (soon!) they will join the ranks of the elite millionaire pundit class; at which time, having achieved wealth, they do not want to be obligated to give any part of it (or as small a part as possible) back to the society in which they have succeeded. Or if they do not hold out such a hope, they have been brainwashed (willingly or not) into believing in a philosophy that does not serve not only their own self-interest, but that of society as a whole. There is no other explanation than that, once you strip away all the obfuscatory language.

To use the language of gambling, you are betting on the "come." The odds are against you, yet you persist in playing the game; because maybe, just maybe, you'll be the one to win.

And of course there is the raw selfishness of simply not wanting to see your money go to taxes. But I assume you meant a principled objection.
Good answer, though I must add my own two cents, namely that folk like Megan often find employment because the wealthy folk who own journals and fund think tanks like having people come up with arguments justifying their selfishness. Maybe Megan ain't gonna get rich as all hell doing this, but stroking the right rich old men will produce the effective equivalent of tenure. There's always a market for helping greedy rich folk dodge their guilt.
But Megan is obviously not a careerist, so pfffft.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Credit for honesty, I suppose

Megan is continuing her slow exit from the conservative closet. With every passing post that doesn't get her fired, she feels more confident, more able to be her fundamentally loathsome true self.
Megan continues to come clean in a short post titled The lives of others.
After all, we've already internalized the notion that advocating taxing other people in order to give their money to someone else is somehow morally akin to charity. [Emphasis in original]
There's a strawman in the house. The people who try to claim government public services are equivalent to charity tend to be folk who are arguing that charities do a better job of helping people, which is to say conservatives arguing against government "handouts". Megan seems to think lefties want the government to help its citizens so we can feel good about ourselves. That's shallow bullshit, a lie which Megan tells herself so as to dismiss the reality that WE THINK IT'S GOOD POLICY. Happy, healthy societies are more productive, and more enjoyable to live in. Enlightened self-interest is a form of selfishness at heart, Megan, not charity.
But this also means Megan thinks taxation is a system whereby the government takes her money and gives it to others, with no return. At the barest level, this is half true. Some of Megan's tax dollars become the income of federal, state, and local government employees, and of outside contractors and the like. But those dollars are exchanged for services. Services such as the creation and maintenance of pretty much the entire world Megan lives in. We're about to see I'm totally wrong, for some reason, but it seems as if Megan has some underlying tendencies towards those nutballs who claim the Federal income tax was never legally justified.
I'm wrong because I just plain old don't understand what Megan wrote, as she tells us,
Apparently, a number of people in the comments genuinely did not understand the point of my last post. Okay, let's go over it again.
The first sign of a great writer/journalist is the courage to blame your audience for not properly comprehending the genius of your work. When people misunderstand you, it's their fault. You are a great and talented writer, as evidenced by being published. The problem always lies with the commoners.
It is common to hear Democrats/progressives complain that Republicans/conservatives/libertarians are selfish because they want to cut taxes instead of spending that money on national health insurance or expanded welfare benefits or some other social program.
Yup, this is true. However, you're conveniently leaving out that we also question whether, say, being less wasteful in military spending could help us afford more programs without changing taxes. But still, yes, most of the funding for the programs the Democratic candidates are proposing comes from letting Bush's massive tax cuts for the top brackets expire, and maybe closing some corporate loopholes.
But this makes absolutely no sense. Democrats are not advocating spending their own money on the poor; they're advocating spending the money of a very small group of voters who lean Republican. One might argue that this very small group of voters is selfish, but they are not the majority, or even a plurality, of Republicans staunchly opposed to taxes. Or other people opposed to taxes. Of all of the libertarian bloggers out there advocating lower taxes and social spending, I'm hard pressed to think of one who wouldn't personally benefit more from the increased social spending than from the lower taxes.
This is genuinely stupid, and her final sentence shows she could have realized it. The vast majority of the people staunchly opposed to undoing Bush's tax cuts are folk who will be unaffected by the change, or actually will benefit from it. In other words, they're arguing against their own interests, largely based on either the faulty belief they will one day be mega-rich, or that they will have higher taxes. Somehow, to Megan, this is a positive thing.
The majority of people opposed to purchasing the higher-taxes/lower-social-spending combo pack may be wrong on some utilitarian basis, but whatever their sins, they are not the sin of selfishness.
No shit, sherlock. They're committing the 'sin' of ignorant stupidity. They're not just wrong on a utilitarian basis, but an empirical one, too. But I'm missing the point, again.
Yet public debate often features an underlying moralistic current in which Democrats act as if they have captured the moral high ground on matters of the public purse--as if advocating public charity were some lesser form of engaging in private charity. It isn't. It may be necessary to take money from third parties in order to give it to other third parties, but doing so at absolutely no personal cost to yourself is not an act of virtue.
So let's prevent social spending lest a lefty feel good about him or herself. Nevermind issues like executive overcompensation, tax shelters, and corporate tax dodging leading to the wealthy effectively being a drain on the resources of the state whose existence makes their wealth possible. Nevermind the historic levels of income inequality, the second Gilded Age we've entered, and the effects of these problems on the average American worker. Megan has her eye on a higher tax bracket, and fuck if she's going to get a smaller yacht just so some kid born to junkie parents has an after-school program that offers a taste of stability.
It's not about feeling good about ourselves, Megan, it's about being a fucking human being. Other people exist, and have needs. It's not a desire to feel good about myself that causes me to want to help others, but a basic sense of humanity. You lack that, Megan, and the loss makes you incapable of not just compassion, but comprehension of others.
I'm hitting angry rant mode, so I'll cut myself off here. Megan, you are a repulsive, loathsome person who will die alone and unmourned.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Personal Responsibility Taken

Ms. McA. knows she'll be getting Seasonal Affective Disorder. Thus, she must have had it before. But has she previously bothered to do anything about it? Has she consulted a physician for lighting advice?

Meanwhile, the heat and the extended daylight savings time have so far kept the SAD away, but I know it's coming as soon as my body catches up to the calendar. Do those light things work, and are they worth the expense?
No, it's a search (well, "bleg") for anecdotal information, not for evidence, as might be found at a medical website, or from a medical professional. No wonder health care is so screwed up. Americans just can't be bothered w/ taking care of themselves.

Also: Does "the heat" keep SAD away? 'Cause then you'd just need a heatlamp, right? And if "those light things" work, aren't they a priori worth the expense?

And the true glibertarian response to all this would be, "Shut up, suck it up, it's all in your head, stop whining, just be happy, don't expect any sympathy from me, you're lazy & you just want to sit around watching soap operas instead of increasing the productivity of my company & maximizing my profits, you're fired, slacker!"

Elements of Style©: Of course, we may not even be talking about Seasonal Affective Disorder. It's a good idea, when using acronyms, to use the full phrase the first time you type it, & then save keystrokes w/ the acronym after the readers know what you're typing about.

Pop Psychology: "Oh, look at me! I got a boo-boo riding my bike! (Here's a picture, see?) Poor me! I get SAD every winter! I can't find clothes in my size! I know I have a cross to bear, but does it have to be so heavy?" Who's it all about? Megan, of course. Comatose, brain damaged children getting financial help their entrepreneurial parents qualify for? Not so much. Could lead to socialism & its corollary, laziness, y'know.

Jebus loves me

Bob and David are going back to work for HBO.
Opus came back, Mr. Show is, in modified form, coming back, now I want Bill Hicks and the rule of law back.
Also, Megan McArdle should be fired.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

It Became Necessary to Destroy Our Own Economy In Order to Save It

From our comment buddy @ Sadly, No!, Smiling Mortician, commenting here 6 October:
Arguably OT, but I just got off the phone with a sales rep from the Atlantic who wanted me to subscribe (I had a subscription a couple years ago). When I said I couldn't support a magazine that actually paid McArdle for her idiocy, she said she'd been hearing that a lot lately, wished me a good day, and signed off.
Which makes this ironic
to say the least.

"Nothin', Ya Hear? Nothin'!"

A peaceful Saturday afternoon, the sights & sounds of one of my semi-alma maters, the University of Spoiled Children, delivering a beat-down (by the largest margin ever in the series) to the Sucking Catholics or Loser Leprechauns or whatever they are of Notre Dame (Take that, Touchdown Jeebus, not one point, let alone a touchdown, scored by "your" team!) on the tube, I'm all ready to settle down with one Megan McArdle's web log to start stalking & mocking, & what do I find? Nothing! Not an item since yesterday @ 1821. (Perhaps she heard I'm back & is hoping I'll go away again. Perhaps the moon is made of green cheese.) Maybe she's off to another conference, or judging a college blogger contest, or "plinking nearly empty aerosol cans with .22 rifles," or getting back on the bike to deal w/ her fears. Or maybe I'm getting "obsessional."

So let's get a grip here & delve into a previous item from the muse:

I've always wondered why someone doesn't buy cheap wood furniture and glassware by the cargo container, rent out [sic] safety outfits, and let people whack the hell out of stuff with big hammers. We're a stress laden society. And who hasn't, when some inanimate object has stubbed their toe or otherwise thwarted them, wanted to vent their rage by destroying it? I'm also a big fan of plinking nearly empty aerosol cans with .22 rifles, and those have to be pretty cheap to acquire. America needs more outlets for its destructive tendencies that don't involve wrecking other places, or our own economy.
Again, I know she's going for the funny here, but note this: "we may occasionally be attacked by marauding curbstones," & this: "[a]nd who hasn't, when some inanimate object has stubbed their toe or otherwise thwarted them, wanted to vent their rage by destroying it?" Not I, for one. When an inanimate object attacks me, I usually consider it my fault, & take the blame. Perhaps that makes me a self-loathing American, but isn't glibertarianism all about choices & responsibility? Well, at least for poor people who made the poor choice of being born poor. For Ms. McA., it always seems to be something else's fault, and the reaction is to smash & destroy. Got your 2x4 ready, Megatron?

Of course, now she doesn't want to "wreck other places," or "our own economy." Here's another clue, sister: Those who, in your humble opinion, want to "wreck our own economy" don't actually believe it's their "own" economy. And they're not talking about how every other penny they earn is taken from them by the gov't. under threat of force. They believe that people who do no actual work, merely order others about & suck up to stock analysts in order to increase the value of their stock options are the "owners" of "our" economy, & the ones who profit therefrom, as opposed to those who must live paycheck to paycheck.

Not to mention the combined wrecking of "other places" (i. e., the wholesale slaughter & destruction of a sovereign nation that posed no actual threat to us) & of our "own" economy by appropriating billions & billions of $ — apparently pulled out of someone's ass along w/the "justifications" — for said adventure. But let's get out the 2x4s and beat the crap out of anybody who's opposed to wrecking things.

Scabrous Commentary

A bad photograph of the results of a bad bicycling event is available, giving me the chance to quote a line from Richard Meltzer's lyric for the Blue Öyster Cult tune Stairway to the Stars: "I hope you heal up real quick."

Looksism Dep't.: That's a big arm, sister. Maybe a little weight work while bouncing about in your overgrown elf stylee. I know, it's a digital camera w/ a next to useless lens (possibly accounting for the apparent hugosity of the arm) & the lighting's not good, but if you insisted on having your face in it, you could've thrown a couple of watts on said mug. Was this one of those "take your own picture in a mirror for Internet dating sites" deals?

Textual analysis:

On the benefit side, we are not being mugged by auto-mechanics, or unpleasant dictatorships with thoroughly undeserved good luck in geography.
Nor by unpleasant poor people w/ thoroughly undeserved bad luck in birth geography. Oh, sorry, I forgot for a moment; that's all their fault, they made the wrong choices, leading to demands for cable tee vee & gov't. child-care via taxation/confiscation/punishment of their betters.

And finally: Maybe it was the mere six or seven hours sleep, maybe the anti-anxiety drug, no doubt it was compounded by the waiting imposed by dial-up, but while attempting to catch up on the last week's Megatronics, this critic/stalker fell sound asleep in his comfy armchair. All that dismal science in the comments made my hair hurt, & my eyes glazed over too.

Not Very Productive

What Megan pimped:
Couldn't Ms. McArdle have placed her "Friday headset blogging" item (And why doesn't she capitalize the titles of her items?) in the redundant "GADGET OF THE WEEK" "Object of the week" section of her sidebar, which has been the same "GADGET/Object" since the dawn of her time at The Atlantic? (What's it been, two months now? That should make for eight or so gadgets/objects by now, not just the one.) It all seems to be pimping for Is Amazon truly getting its money's worth from whatever deal they have w/ her? Remember, Megan, produce, consume, produce, consume, produce, consume, ad nauseum, or civilization (well, the consumer society) comes to a grinding halt.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Title Search

I'm back!! Hey, it's me, remember? Didn't notice I was gone? Whatever. Look, if you need a note from AT&T I'll get one, OK? Not even a 'phone line for over a week (& for once not for non-payment) let alone connection to the Internet Freight Lines. Which is about what I have now, haven't yet been re-connected to DSL, this dial-up crap is like the trucks that Sen. Stevens (Corrupt-Alaska) said the Internet ran w/, before he realized it was a series of tubes (DSL, I guess he meant).

And horrifying as it always is to dip one's toes in the icy appletini of Lake McArdle, imagine the agony of doing it @ 56K, waiting & waiting for the page to change, or the comments to appear.

The broadcast spectrum, owned by those mythical "people" & licensed to broadcasters as a public trust, is regulated. While my license has long since expired, & I'm not up on whatever changes may have been made to those regs, it used to be a violation to use the public airwaves for "personal communication." In other words, an "on-air personality" couldn't, say, remind someone at his or her house to take the roast out of the oven, or tell a spouse to pick up something at the store on the way home. (Not actually sure how this applies to athletes saying "Hi, mom;" it may only apply to the employees of the broadcaster.)

The Internet, being theoretically infinte, or limited only by how many servers can be piled up all over the world, has no such regulations, but you'd think that The Atlantic might not want its bandwidth used for this sort of personal communication:

Random question
15 Oct 2007 05:23 pm
Where's the most reputable place to do a title search in DC?

And now, in the grand tradition of the House of Commons, Question Time: What's so "random" about that question? Is Megatron asking on behalf of her sister, w/ whom she was house-hunting last month? Is there no one at The Atlantic who owns property & might be able to provide a suggestion? Does not Megan own a mobile, or have access to a 'phone line she could use (even if it's one of The Atlantic's lines) to call the rest of the Blogger Army & quiz them about this? Does she realize that a better phrasing of the question would be: "What's the most reputable title search company in D. C.?"

Fortunately, most of the commenters were all over her, besides the saps who were eager to offer legitimate suggestions to help the future Lady McArdle in her search for a "title." Good luck finding that earl, Your Grace.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

New poll time soon

I got nothin, having not thought about it. Any suggestions?

Megan, you're not a human being

you're a conservative who uses faux-economic arguments instead of faux-moral ones and calls herself a libertarian to pretend there's something behind your greed and ignorance.
Example 1:
It might be fair to have the rich pay half their income . . . but when you factor in other taxes, many of them do. My old colleagues moving to New York City from London were frequently heard to say "What is this rubbish we've been talking about America having low taxes? My taxes are higher here!" That's because New York State and New York City together levy an additional income tax of 10% once your income is over $100K, which pushed two-income families above Britain's 40% top tax bracket. A 50% tax rate on top incomes would result, for New Yorkers, in a 60% effective total income tax rate total, with their incomes further eroded by the city's 10% sales tax. Since pretty much the entire increase in inequality in the last few decades seems to have come from a few zip codes in the high tax zones around New York and San Francisco, this matters.
Notice the flaw in this argument? Essentially, Megan is saying adjusting the tax rate to levels still lower than in the decades following the Great Depression and WWII would have the effect of placing a greater tax burden on those folk who, in no small part thanks to Bush's tax cuts, have become the beneficiaries of the greatest income inequality our nation has known since just before the crash of '29. At a time when the nation is hurting, badly, these folk are living in a second Gilded Age. And Megan wants them protected, because the guy making half a million a year needs that extra $50k a 10% difference in the tax rate means. You try living on $200k a year vs $250k. We're talking about depriving these folk of a second Hummer for their place in the Hamptons. That's just inhuman.
But Megan doesn't even need to argue why it'd be bad to take that extra 50k and put it to public service. It's simply so obvious that everyone deserves every cent of their income that Megan doesn't have to say it.
There might still be room to compromise, tho, and find other ways to afford social spending. Surely we can agree that military spending is massively wasteful, in the sense that military contractors grossly inflate their profits with the assistance of elements of our Armed Forces and Congress. It seems obvious that with a simple focus on removing corruption and cronyism we could spend less to have more, military-wise. There's untold billions in social spending just waiting to be funded by making our military spending efficient and cost-effective.
Or not:
Well, there's one way: the US could be like Alcoa. That is, we are huge, and rich, and this makes us the low-cost provider of military services to the world. We are so cost-effective that no one else even bothers trying to enter the market to compete against us. We've achieved this position in part just by being huge and rich, but also in part through path dependence: over the last fifty years, we've gained a lot of relevant expertise at having a giant high-tech military.

If we cut our military spending in half, however, it might be worthwhile entering the market to compete against us. At 1-2% of GDP, other countries probably could field an army against us. Yes, we're isolated, but that also makes us vulnerable to things like interdiction of shipping, which is why we ended up in both World Wars last century. Plus, the invention of the intercontinental ballistic missile renders discussion of our isolation somewhat moot.
.......... "We are so cost-effective".... She actually wrote that. If we spend less, other countries will decide to develop military forces, which will somehow endanger us. China and Russia don't have military forces, currently. Megan even says the following, "Imagine Europe if the US were not a global hegemon. I imagine Russia engaging in a rapid military buildup, taking back some of its lost territories, and wielding a great deal of influence over the ones on its new borders that it did not formally control."
Because Russia is not trying to create a new sphere of influence now, taking the US's diplomatic and military failures as an opening on the world stage. Phew.
But wait, you say that projection of power isn't something libertarians are in favor of? Could Megan be caught?
[O]ur military does not perform the traditional libertarian task of protecting our borders from invasion. Instead, it protects our interests abroad--and does so well enough that Europe, for all its complaining, is happy to free ride. This suggests that we are, for all our faults, doing a fairly good job of protecting the broader interests of liberal capitalistic democracy. A world in which China and Russia and Iran were using their military might to protect their interests, while we squatted behind our borders, would be possibly a nobler one, but I find it unlikely that it would be a better one in any utilitarian sense.
Imagine a world in which Russia used troops against Chechnya, or China used military force in Tibet, or Tiananmen Square. Imagine a world where Europe isn't threatened by the danger of being invaded by a Russia which depends on the European market to profit off its natural gas and oil reserves. Imagine a world where instead of close to $500 billion being spent by the US on defense, only $300 is spent under far more stringent oversight. We'd be invaded by Canada, as it suddenly became cost effective for them to adopt a violent, warlike culture of territorial expansion.
Besides, fuck the non-rich. If we put more money into actually helping people they might get it in their heads to expect to be treated with basic respect and consideration. What would that do to profit margins? Rich people are rich because they are successful because they worked hard. It has nothing to do with being born into wealth, and all them studies and numbers whut say otherwise just don't get it. And compassion is for suckers. There simply shouldn't be social spending, beyond poor houses and orphanages.
Food, shelter, or clothing are also necessities for children. But no one suggests that the government should provide them, except in the cases of those who are too poor to provide for themselves. Why should childcare be any different?
I can't keep going. If you can't see what's wrong with Megan's work, you're not human either.
Once upon a time, The Atlantic tried to promote the best in human nature. Now, it's "get yours n fuck em all". I... am disheartened.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I'm trying to watch Megan on bloggingheads

and before I say anything real, I have to ask Yglesias, are you trying to make your voice higher than Megan's? Speak from low in your chest, m'man. It makes you more pleasant to listen to. As it stands now, oy, jeebus.
Matt and Megan are arguing in favor of gentrification. I'm not going to try and transcribe, or link to this. Don't be so masochistic as to seek this out. You don't want to see it. I'm stopping it only 10 mins in.

Now, Matt, let's talk about when we should use the military

to begin with, not against Iran.
Anyway, credit where it's due, Yglesias takes an initial, faltering step towards a larger world. Ragging on teachers isn't going to keep Matt n Ezra jumping to your defense, Megan.
(Link from Gavin.)

If it's good enough for da alicublog

it's good enough for me to rip off. In honor of Roy's visit to Megan's world, here are brief recaps of Megan's work since Monday.

No relatives: China has a declining birth rate. No industrialized nation has ever faced such a situation, based on my memories of family reunions, meaning we cannot begin to guess how this will eventually affect their society.

The perils of buy local: My refusal to shop at Whole Foods shows why it's better to have a carbon tax that hurts the little guy than emissions caps and the like which large businesses oppose.

Random question: You guys, does this wristband make my nose look fat?

Department of awful statistics: Just what would happen if we made abortion legal?
While I'm always happy to misuse the ideas and words I find on feminist blogs to dismiss my critics, I'm not so sure they're right to claim that making abortion illegal and dangerous is somehow harmful to women.

Caveat emptor: Watch me scare brad.

One way to think about health care: For some reason, the rise of often lethal antibiotic resistant infections shows that we can either have medical advances, or nationalized health care, but not both.

I take it all back: I am a victim of ideological apartheid. THIS MIGHT AFFECT MY CAREER!

Should I resent having been evicted?: I'm not letting myself feel victimized by being evicted, because otherwise I might have to question the soundness of my beliefs.

What's the matter with Lomborg: I like thinking about things like health care and global warming in highly abstracted terms, else I might have to take them seriously.

Pet peeve: I AM NOT a bad person for dehumanizing an issue like health care. Bringing up the fact that the whole issue is about human lives just gets in the way of what's really important; preventing Hillary from taking my money.

School or sleep: My conscience keeps me up at night, which explains why I don't realize school hours were set back when everyone was a farmer, and are maintained as are for a variety of reasons, some of which I dismiss with no cause.

Think positive: I totally know more about health care than my doctor.

Family... who needs 'em?: Here's someone else's work.

Defining genocide down: The Democrats' failure to remove lobbyists from the system in under a year shows... something?

The budget deficit falls again: *insert confused ideas about economic processes here* (Damn you, Fishbone. This is where we need you.)

And, finally,

You jest: Not blaming teachers for the failures of our educational system is what a communist would do.

Now we're caught up.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

This is probably interesting only to me

But this scared me. You see, I lived directly across the street the first three years I lived in NYC. Despite her descriptions, it's a nice building on the higher end of apartment buildings in a well-off area. And Central Park is at the end of the block. Megan complaining about that building is simply ignorant.
Also, it means this was an even bigger load of shit than I'd initially realized. Cause unless she lived there 15 years ago, which I suppose is possible, she was paying way over a grand a month in rent. My place was a 250 square feet one bedroom, and started at 1200 a month in the summer of 99 when I moved in. It was rent stabilized, which meant the landlord could jack it up 15% per new lease, which they did. And my building wasn't as nice as Megan's, which I believe, but may be wrong, featured a doorman. I finally moved downtown, where folk like me should have been back then, after three years.
(Aside: My parents don't pay for my existence, in case you're wondering. I come from somewhere in the now-vanishing line between upper middle class and lower upper class. My grandmother invested 5 grand for me when I was born, and did so wisely. I pay my rent with the income generated by that money, and live off what I earn otherwise. I'm lucky as sin to have that. And yes, I feel guilty for it, as evidenced by taking the time out to explain.)
Point being that Megan has never "slummed it", even in her "cave-dwelling" days. When she claims not to have lived a life of uninterrupted privilege, she's full of shit, just like the rest of the time.

It seems Megan was evicted recently, meaning she was probably paying 2 grand or more a month in rent for her place. Clearly, this is something anyone can do for their first place in Manhattan if they just buckle down and find an 80 or 90k a year gig. Loafers.

Monday, October 15, 2007


It's too nice outside to rag on Meggie.
Tomorrow looks like another such occasion.
Don't worry, tho, both you readers. I have far too much writing to do not to end up here procrastinating real, real soon.

Friday, October 12, 2007

A whole new flavor of teh stupid

A happy surge in Iraq:

This self-flagellating column* by Jonathan Rauch about what he got wrong on Iraq made me go looking at the Iraq Index* from Brookings to see just how guilty I should feel this month. (Who doesn't enjoy a spot of self-flagellation?) Instead, I got a happy surprise. The security statistics (other than coalition soldier deaths, which are sharply down), are spotty, and I wouldn't know enough to interpret them even if they weren't. But they do have two objective and easy to verify economic statistics that happen to be closely tied to the security situtation: electricity and barrels of oil pumped.
Barrels of oil pumped had been drifting steadily downwards thanks to insurgent attacks, but in September it popped back to where it was in September of last year. This is, mind you, still below its pre-war level, so this isn't exactly a rousing endorsement of the invasion. But electricity, which has been the metric that generally induces in me the greatest sense of despair, soared in September. The country is now producing more electricity than it ever has before--an average of almost 5,000 megawatts in September. That's 25% more than the prewar level, and also, 6% more than the previous peak in August of 2004. This is a very, very welcome sign . . . although also a very, very tenative [sic] one, as these numbers tend to fluctuate quite a lot.

You win, Megan. I'm speechless.

*- Links not reinserted because I am lazy.

I have to stop being shocked by her

Calling blacks lazy remains her nadir, but it honestly seems as if Megan's work is getting worse, difficult as that is to believe. This is about one step from David Horowitz.

Faced with overwhelming evidence that there is a massive, massive underrepresentation of conservatives at the elite level, almost none of them even considers, in passing, that there might be some sort of structural problem. No, clearly the reason that conservatives don't make it into the academy is that . . . they're inferior.
Business schools, law schools, economics departments, and many poli sci departments are not a part of academia, it would seem. Megan's trying to be funny. Unfortunately, her jest is about the sum of it. Of course, there actually are plenty of conservatives in academia. I'm in grad school for philosophy, and there's a wide range of ideological diversity in my program. Yeah, of course there's a tendency towards liberalism, but that comes with having a mindset oriented towards an informed, accurate, expansive world view. Movement conservatives today take ignorance and a closed mind as virtues. The respective natures of higher learning and movement conservatism are currently in opposition. But I'm just being tribal.
It's not as if we're talking about a severe shortage of fly-fishers either. One would think that a committment to diversity would start with a committment to diversity of thought. But then, having thoughts that disagree with the thoughts that academics have probably means there's something wrong with you, doesn't it?
Megan, people who provide demonstrably, empirically, incorrect arguments and demand equal voice in a school shouldn't get it. Besides, you cannot pretend Economics departments are full of hippies, or that Hobbes isn't taught in Philosophy departments anymore. What Horowitz and the like do is focus on, say, Women's Studies departments and whine about how there's no one trying to defend wife beaters. But the following shows that Megan fundamentally misunderstands the teacher's mindset.
Don't get me wrong: I don't think there's any sort of conspiracy against conservatives in the academy. I think, rather, that a combination of more subtle factors erects a wall that it's harder for conservatives to climb over. Unless they are really, really brilliant, academics, like everyone else, need personal connections to help them up the academic ladder, from recommendations to mentors to advisors. Those personal connections are always much easier to make with people you agree with. Nor would I discount the possibility that, just as women's work can be subtly dismissed because we know women aren't as bright as men, academics who think that conservatives are stupid would factor that into their assessment of someone's intelligence--and then factor that assessment into their assessment of someone's work. And of course, one's ideas are to some extent socially constructed; simply by virtue of the arguments and information we hear, even if there is no social pressure to conform, being surrounded by a political culture will tend to drag our ideas in their direction.
The truth is the exact opposite. A good teacher encourages the student who disagrees with them, provided that disagreement is couched in solid reasoning. Of course there are bad teachers in the world, but Megan is talking about the "elites", not part time adjuncts to the Dance dept of Midwest State Tech. But it's still all tribal.
And the idea that academia exerts no pressures to conform is spectacularly hilarious to anyone who's ever spent any time at all around academics. Perhaps the funniest sight I have ever witnessed is the spectacle of a sociologist cruising straight past the analyses of power relationships and group norms that they apply to every single other facet of human existence, and insisting that the underrepresentation of conservatives in academic [sic] could only be explained by the fact that conservatives are a bunch of money-grubbing intellectual lightweights who can't stand rigorous examinations of their ideas, and moreover are too intolerant to fit into the academic community.
A movement conservative would be spectacularly unqualified for the field of sociology. It'd be like asking George Bush to lead a seminar on self-reflection.
The sociologist, you see, is inside academia, and so able to analyze it better than outsiders. Also, the sociologist knows that neither they, nor any of their friends, is biased, so the answer must be that there's something wrong with conservatives.

It's odd, given this lack of bias, that one repeatedly hears from untenured academics who are in the closet. "Passing" is not usually a behavior one finds in a community where there is no prejudice.

Now, I think that affirmative action for conservatives would be an even worse idea than regular affirmative action; conservative intellectual life doesn't need to get any flabbier than it already is. But the Larry Summers speech should certainly give one pause. That it seems to have made so little impression on liberal academics should make the rest of us very worried indeed.
I honestly feel like I'm stealing this post from Sadly, No! The bullshit and strawmen are so thick this could be a Peggy Noonan column. What's odd to me, Megan, is that there's no tenured profs that "we", in the unsourced, unfounded, anecdotal sense, are "hearing from" on an anti-conservative bias. As you probably like to whine about tenure, Megan, being the closet conservative you more and more clearly are, and how hard it is to fire someone who's earned it, you'd expect some of those who "passed" to come out of the closet once they made it.
The ironic thing about this post of Megan's is it provides a wonderful example of why movement conservatives don't do well in academia. She whines about how unfair something is, but her entire argument rests on anecdote, which does not correspond to the reality experienced by trained professionals. Therefore, the entire field of trained professionals is wrong, and she is right. This, Megan, is very poor logic.
And, of course, Megan's next post is titled Blogging will be light
I'm on deadline, and also have to give a speech to some MBA students. Go interact with that "real" world I keep hearing so much about.
Good thing you're a glibertarian and not a conservative, Megan, else you'd just have anecdotally disproved your own thesis.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

It's called the primary process, Megan

This reminds me so much of Jon Stewart putting Tucker Carlson temporarily out of work on Crossfire, only I'm no Jon Stewart, and I don't get to say this on national tv, and Megan won't be fired.

What's weird is, in their quest to nominate a candidate who can win, it seems like Democrats are going to pick the one with the greatest chance of losing. After the disaster of the Bush administration, it seems hard to imagine any Republican pulling a victory out of this next election. But Hillary seems like the Democratic candidate most likely to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Unlike the other Democrats, she has absolutely enormous negative baggage, and it's all going to come out during the general election. The only reason it hasn't already (or so I mote) is that the other Democratic candidates are trying to avoid doing anything to tarnish the nostalgic glow that currently surrounds the last Democratic presidency. The GOP candidate will have no such restraint. Moreover, I think Democrats are underestimating just how suspicious Americans will be of a presidential roster that goes Bush . . . Clinton . . . Bush . . . Clinton.
Megan, you think Hillary wants to steal your money. Stop pretending you have legitimate or intelligent issues with her candidacy. It's simple, and obvious.
But besides that, let's do a comparison of negatives between the two leading candidates. Hillary- hated by the 25-30% hardcore backwash Bush supporters (along with everyone else on the entire planet. Those folk do little else in life besides hate, and help Bush destroy the country), seen, inaccurately, as very liberal. That's about it. You may hate her for her failed health care efforts in the past, Megan, but in today's environment that's as much a positive as negative, I'd think. People who aren't selfish, racist, pieces of shit like you, Megan, should be gladdened by the prospect of a president who recognizes the gravity of the situation, and even has experience fighting against this particular machine. Basically, Hillary's massive negatives are that people who would never vote for a Democrat really loathe her.
Now, how about Rudy? As even Megan accepts, he's batshit insane, in a genuinely terrifying way. Plus, he's a pro-choice pro-gun control hardcore conservative, meaning a huge portion of his base is in opposition to him on what are, to them, two crucial issues. And then there are the serial philanderer, married his cousin, tried to move his lover into the Mayor's Gracie Mansion while still married debacles. A public adulterer versus the most famously cheated-on woman in modern history, if not ever. Oh, and her husband was a very popular and successful president who demonstrated an ability to beat the very Republicans our nation is coming to realize are effectively suicidal madmen who don't care who they take down with them.
You're officially a Beltway insider now, Megan, for spewing that crap.

U go girl

Megan takes a stand.

Alex Massie ponders the question. Myself, I don't care what they say or do--"they" are a bunch of troglodyte enemies of freedom whose outsized envy of a success motivates them, not to try to surpass our achievement, but only to tear down ours. I will never denounce, much less renounce, the proud franchise I was born to. Nor will I permit others to do so in my presence. And no matter what Alex may argue, I will never, ever bring myself to believe that a rank political opportunist like Hillary Clinton could possibly get us out of the mess we are in.
Hell yeah. USA USA USA!!!!! The only thing separating this from a Pam Atlas or Debbie Schlussel rant was a reminder than anyone who disagrees is anti-semitic.
Sticking your fingers in your ears and shouting "LALALALALALALALA" is neither patriotic not intelligent, Megan. Then again, this post makes me wonder if that's all you've been doing for the last 6 years.
It's not a monolithic "they", Megan. And I'm going to say no more, because the stream of expletives is proving hard to choke back. Ye gods you are an idiot, Megan.

Anon in comments warns me this was meant to be a joke about the "fall" of the Yankees. I feel a little foolish, but let's remember not to blame the audience when Megan's material falls flat. Also, there's that old 2x4 crack, which was very much in my mind while reading this.
Additionally, Yankee fans know why the rest of you hate us. It's called jealousy. Some of us have, by birthright, the chance to enjoy the efforts of the most successful sports franchise in history. Yeah, yeah, Steinbrenner is a dick, but unlike, say, Jeffery Loria, he cares about his team's success and takes a substantially smaller profit to try and contribute to it.
And just remember this, folks. If the Yanks didn't spend that money on payroll, it'd be going into Steinbrenner's pockets.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The differences between Megan and Jonah Goldberg are dwindling by the day

This post is sure to bring out the cranks in Megan's audience.

And yes, she is citing Wikipedia as the basis for her arguments on whether or not participation in Social Security is voluntary.

I know

This is just screaming for mockery. But Megan beat me to it by writing it in the first place.

Megan, just admit it

You read this blog.

However, I am also not prepared to get all huffy and indignant because conservatives dared to question whether Graeme Frost needed S-Chip. Obviously, nut jobs harassing the Frosts, or calling employers, or performing all of the other nutty invasions of privacy that I have read about, are vile creatures who have gone far, far beyond the bounds of human decency, with less reason than is generally offered by the perpatrator of the latest road rage indignity. But a number of people seem to believe that the very act of questioning whether Graeme Frost really needed the state to pay for his health care is somehow tantamount to accusing him of mopery while simultaneously suggesting that he be chopped up into small pieces and served flambeed to a party of laughing Republicans along with their Bébé Irakien en Croute.
Maybe, Megan, it's possible to make a case against S-CHIP without going after crippled kids? Oh, but the Dems are the truly bad ones, cause they started it by giving the kid a platform to speak out.
The reason that Democrats put him up on the radio in the first place is that they thought Graeme Frost's need was a better argument for S-Chip than any boring old policy discussion. Well, if you make Graeme Frost's needs the measure of the program's success, then you can expect the program's opponents to question Graeme Frost's needs.

Democrats put him on the radio, of course, precisely because they expected him to be some sort of trump card whose need could not successfully be challenged. And in fact, I think they succeeded. But children should not be played like trump cards.
Yeah, how dare the Dems put a human face on an issue affecting actual humans? This isn't Reagan's non-existent welfare queen or Bush's snowflake babies. Graeme Frost wasn't being manipulative, he was being honest. The Dems were minorly manipulative, but they were not dishonest. That's why the lies are now flying from the right, because his case is real, the facts are true, and there's no response available except attacking the messenger. That you don't find this tact distasteful to its core does not speak well of you, Megan.

Oh, and yeah, Radiohead are a great band. Amazing scoop, Mizz Woodward.


In response to Instaputz, Megan sez
It's a fair point; I suppose, in the end, it's a judgement call. I think that making this a loud debate frames Republicans as people who want to deny health care to children. On the other hand, I think that if Republicans had let S-Chip go through, that would rob the Democrats of many of their poster children for a broader national system next year. I'm sympathetic to the arguments about creeping socialism, etc; but ultimately I think that this political battle is lost, so it's best to cede quickly.

On the other hand, as I've stated, I'm broadly sympathetic to the goal of providing health care and other goods to children, so perhaps your mileage will vary.
Which seems to amount to "I'm in publicly in favor of helping kids, but providing health care to people is still 'creeping socialism'. If only the Dems hadn't been so smart as to put a human face on the issue... I mean, the Dems are dishonest and want to give my money to someone who is not me."

I may be a wage slave, but at least my liberty remains uncorroded

Continuing from brad's able dissection of Megan's latest buffoonery, I'm struck by what seems to be hiding underneath all those oh-so-rational objections to expanding SCHIP (and to a hypothetical universal health care system, for that matter). It is, if the commentariat at McArdle's place is at all representative, a desire to punish people for having the gall to be poor, or to eschew wage slavery and near-indentured servitude and actually pursue a career that makes them happy.

Many in McArdle's gallery of glibertarians (and elsewhere on the intertubes) are expressing envy that Graeme Frost's father gets to work with wood all day, instead of spending 40 hours a week in a soul-deadening routine of writing code or selling burial plots over the phone or writing the next great toothpaste ad (all jobs I've done myself, so I can sympathize with wanting more out of a career). I've seen several comments that follow the same basic template: they say "I'd love to be able to play with wood all day, but I chose to get a job that has health care benefits for my family," but they won't quite come out and say that the Frosts and people like them should suffer for that choice - even though it's clearly the point they want to make.

Here's a perfect example. Someone at Megan's place wrote this comment: "I don't get to work in the woodworking arena (something I'd dearly love to do). I'm a wage slave in large part because I've always felt it necessary to have a job that provided health insurance for my family." This guy made his choice - he sacrificed a career doing something he loves for the security of health insurance. And that's fine. I've made cautious decisions like that myself. But instead of looking at the Frosts and thinking, hey, if I could get me some of that insurance, it might mean I could quit this shitty job and go spend my limited time on Earth doing something I actually enjoy doing, he seems to be arguing that since he had to choose between a fulfilling career and getting health insurance, everyone else should also have to make that choice. I may not have a career I like, these people think, but at least I have health insurance - and out of sheer envy decide that because Mr. Frost does in fact have the former, he doesn't deserve the latter. If I can't have both, why should he?

This, of course, is idiotic. Something along the lines of a universal health care system would mean that people aren't tethered to dead-end or psychically numbing jobs simply because they know that a single health care emergency has the potential to bankrupt their families. So why wouldn't people like this guy from Megan's comment section want it? Universal health care would allow this guy to follow his dreams. But he'd rather remain a wage slave because under universal health care, he'd experience a Corrosion of Liberty or something?

Does that make any sense to you?

Update: Or, to put it in a way that the self-styled World's Tallest Female Econoblogger and her minions might understand . . . for this guy, the utility of him simultaneously having the career he wants and health insurance is actually lower than the utility of having to choose between one or the other. He would rather have less, which is hardly the behavior of the eminently rational Homo Economicus. Determining whether this is due to government involvement (and thus the pernicious Corrosion of Liberty threat that apparently goes along with that) or to his own bitterness about wasting his life working a job he hates is an exercise left to the reader.

In Rainbows is out

check yer emails, one or two other people who'll see this tonight.

And holy fucking jebus, is it good.
Best since Kid A.

But videotape was substantially better in the live, full band form it once had.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Megan weighs in on Graeme Frost

And misses the forest for the trees.
Apparently Megan didn't talk to Matt and Ezra today, because even they managed to get this (easy) one right. First, the facts of the matter. Megan, as we'll see, is aware, for once, of the reality of the case, and thus had a chance to behave like a human. Instead, she's being her own shithead self.

I'm on deadline, so I haven't been following the ephemera of S-Chip as closely as I might. Apparently the Democrats paraded some kid name Graeme Frost in front of a camera in support of S-Chip. Now conservatives are claiming that the kid is actually affluent, and therefore shouldn't be getting gummint money for health insurance. My thoughts:
On something you "haven't been following", mostly based on conservatives' claims. As always, your thoughts amount to telling us what flavors you've found by shoving your head up your ass, Megan.
1) I told y'all this was going to happen. Maybe next time you'll listen, hmmm?
... Fuck you.
2) Anecdotes, no matter how photogenic, are terrible ways to make policy. It doesn't matter how crappy your public policy is; I guarantee I can find one very telegenic person who is better of under your godawful boondoggle of a system than under almost any other potential system. But argument by anecdote is what we seem to be stuck with, particularly in the realm of social policy affecting children. Isn't democracy marvelous?
Yeah, cause the tale of a kid whose life was, if not saved, made livable thanks to help from the government has no bearing on whether we should support such programs. Putting human faces on issues just makes it seem like folk like Megan are evil for treating health insurance like so much bean-counting. Megan isn't evil, just selfish, lazy, unintelligent, and racist. Oh, wait.
3) If Think Progress's account of the case is basically accurate--the family owns its own business, has a lowerish-middle class income, but lives in a basically nice neighbourhood--this actually raises important issues about benefits that no one is asking. To wit: should we expect families to sell assets in order to qualify for benefits? On the one hand, Medicaid's ludicrous rules keep disabled people in crippling poverty. On the other hand many people, including me, don't want to pay for the health care of someone so that they can stay in their Park Avenue mansion. At some point, it is reasonable to expect people to liquidate assets in order to pay for expenses, rather than expecting society to pick up the tab. But I'm not sure what point is reasonable.
Hmmmm, if only there were rules and regulations about such programs designed to determine whether a family qualifies. Instead, free money. Hell, I got $50k from the state of Maryland to help my kid the other day, and I neither live in Maryland nor have a kid. Thanks, taxpayers! But wait,
I don't think this is particularly interesting as it applies to S-Chip; frankly, I doubt there are enough low-income families with children and sizeable assets to make it even worth debating the issue.
She's "on deadline", and it took her 276 words to reach this point. Oy. After several random tangents, we get the first hint that Megan might be human I think I've ever seen.
Moreover, in the case of children, I'm perfectly content to bias the system towards including too many undeserving children, rather than take the chance of missing too many deserving ones.
Credit where it's due, even though she calls this a problem, she's not going to try to do anything about it. Who says she has no sense of charity.
But wait, for those of you who've followed me this far, we finally come to the point, or rather the missing of it.
5) Reading the comments on this, I have to ask conservatives and libertarians: is this really the hill you think we should die on? I do understand your objections to the program, but an informal survey of swing voters, in their current incarnation as my mother, indicates that this is killing you with the moderates. Save it for national health care next year, is what I'm saying. This debate is framing the issue in a way that is going to make things harder, not easier, when Hilarycare is on the table again.
Notice "libertarians and conservatives" goes from "we" to "you" rather quickly. A small but telling moment. More importantly, instead of telling conservatives to shut the fuck up and stop lying about a crippled kid, and stalking his family, just because he's an active supporter of a program that helped him immensely and is underfunded nationwide, Megan is asking whether it's tactically smart. Conspicuously absent from this post is any sense of outrage or horror. All she cares about is whether this will help Hillary take her money to help sick people. Going after crippled kids, therefore, is ok in Megan's book. I wish I could pretend I'm being uncharitable to her, but the implication is clear. It's ok, just be tactically smart about it.
Megan, on behalf of humanity, thank you for not reproducing. Both because you'd effectively abuse any child you had, and because the rest of us would have to deal with someone raised by you.

George Saunders on the Colbert Report

makes up for about 75% of the crap I went through today. Two of my favorite people in the world, together. Dvr a rerun tomorrow, if you missed it.
And, because it can never be ruined by repetition, go read Manifesto, A press release from PRKA, again, or for the first time, and feel a bit more human.
I know this is off-topic as hell, but I can't always be a jackass.

Megan's Online Personality Test, Part I

"Are the best journalists kind of, well, sociopaths?" (October 5th, 2007)

Megan, I'm pretty sure that Sy Hersh didn't spend his formative years wetting the bed, torturing cats and setting fires. That was Michael Gordon's thing.

I find it hard to say even the obvious things about people I've interviewed who are clearly odious media whores, self-destructive louts, or merely deeply silly.

Whereas saying odious, destructive and silly things about black folk comes naturally as breathing. Wasn't "Merely, Deeply, Silly" that movie with Alan Rickman as a dead bloke?

And the closer you get to people, the harder it gets . . .

...when they die in tragic accidents at the shooting range. No, uh, Megan, just how often do you get close to the people you've interviewed?

...which is why most journalists lean farther left the closer they get to on the ground reporting.

Whoops, must have inadvertently switched off my inertial damper, because my brain just flattened against the inside of my skull. Okay, let's walk this one through:

1: Journalists must remain objective and emotionally neutral when confronted with disagreeable human subjects.
2: Objectivity becomes diffficult to maintain when journalists become emotionally involved with their subjects.
3: Hippies.

This does not make them right, mind you; there is a tendency to ignore any costs to their policy prescriptions that are not personified right in front of them, which often means advocating policies that would make society in aggregate worse off. But it's certainly understandable.

Folks, raise your hands if you believe that it is a journalist's professional responsibility to offer policy prescriptions. Dammit, okay, anyone besides Michael Gordon?

I'd say another emerging problem in journalism is that journalists and the people they cover are becoming more and more concentrated in a few cities. And that means that they're all each other's friends. Which means that it's harder to say mean things about each other.

Megan, you're right, it's an intractable problem, and sociopathy the only reasonable response. You're probably despairing, "If only there were an online test capable of screening for useful personality disorders." Good news! There is such a test, and I'm taking it for you: