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.


M. Bouffant said...

Why is it that the only time the concepts of "morality" & "virtue" escape from these people's keyboards it's in reference to money?
Where's the morality & virtue in enriching yourself from another's labor, Ms. McArdle?
I guess some of the species "feels good about itself" on the basis of how much it can amass w/o any actual labor on its part. Sounds "morally virtuous" to me.

Anonymous said...

"But those dollars are exchanged for services. Services such as the creation and maintenance of pretty much the entire world Megan lives in."... hits the nail directly on the head, and it is a point that must be hammered home relentlessly lest our country collapse under the weight of unfettered greed. MM's half-baked libertarianism reflects, as much as anything else, our failure as a nation to provide citizens a basic grasp of American history and the duties of citizenship. It beggars the imagination to think that we have reached such a sorry point in our social development that MM can use the platform of the Atlantic to argue for the dismantling of the social contract that has ensured peace and prosperity in the United States. She is a harbringer of a normalized fascism where the always needy and unworthy poor become the dark "other" that stand in the way of national greatness. The "other" is genetically inferior (IQ), unreasoning (unable to plan for insurance), and parasitical (taking money from the noble elite). This is not to Godwin FMM; as laughable as she is, there are many who earnestly believe everything she writes and, more importantly, everything she implies.

Anonymous said...

Hey retards, when you steal money from someone, you are taking the end result of the value they receive from their labor. It is morally equivalent to forcing them to work for you. That you do it because you think it's for the good of society DOES NOT CHANGE THE MORAL STATUS of that theft. Got it? Your emotional appeal to some Utopian end-state doesn't change reality. The hilarious bit is that you dumbshits are all so eager to take each other's wealth, you could easily start voluntary organizations/insurance groups that could perform the same "society enhancing" welfare you advocate. But that's not really what you want; you need to know that everyone gets fucked by your noble goals, and freedom and choice are tossed aside.
How many Stalins does the world have to produce before you mouth-breathers get it?

brad said...

I'd invite you back, anon, but your comment has so many straw men in it it's a fire hazard.
We libs have to THINK OF THE CHILDREN.