When Megan McArdle releases forth a torrent of words to cover up one of her many, many egregious* journalistic crimes and misdemeanors we always know that there was a trigger. She so notorious for lying, so often and in so many ways, shades and depths, that the mere presence of someone correcting her is not enough; she will only respond to a criticism that affects her image of herself as a brilliant elite thinker. The fog of illness made me miss it the first time but today I noticed that McArdle linked to a Wall Street Journal article discussing Kitchengate in her response to Mr. Levenson. The WSJ is one of the most important information sources of the social set she most worships and most wished to join--the financial elite of Wall Street.
To what degree are technological progress and improvements in economic well-being slowing down? Both Tyler Cowen and Paul Krugman have pointed to the American kitchen in the course of arguing that economic change was far greater in the first half of the 20th century than since....Megan McArdle is having none of it[.]...
Who would have thought the kitchen would be such a flashpoint? Yet at this point, things were just simmering. They boiled over when Thomas Levenson, of Inverse Square, leapt in to rebut McArdle point by point, with a post featuring some excellent kitchen-related illustrations[.]
My goodness, how embarrassing. How utterly, thoroughly humiliating it must have been to know that the swell chaps you went to the Booth School with back in the day all witnessed your failure when they clicked open their WSJ bookmark while eating breakfast in their $90,000 kitchens or their corner offices. That your father saw the article, as well as his friends and co-workers. And how you felt just the tiniest frisson of fear that the life-long facade of elitism you fought so hard to attain and have worn like an exoskeleton ever since could actually crack and crumble to dust.
McArdle's entire career rests on her elite image. It is the source of her authority over the rabble and her toehold in the financial industry, which she would not otherwise have as a woman, a failure in the business world, and a non-academic. It is also the source of her self-esteem, which means she is compulsed to defend it.
During McArdle's defense motives are impugned, capitals are locked, accusations of shrillness are made, and many goalposts make a long, arduous trip so McArdle might stand before them, triumphant. The chance that she based her entire post on the illustrations in her 1950 Betty Crocker Cookbook is buried under statistics, odes to modern commerce, and boarding school invective. But McArdle's image is wounded, so her commenters gather around their queen bee, feed her ego, groom her, and protect her from invaders.
It's not about kitchens or the deficit, or even truth or lies. It's about who can get away with lying. That's worth a lot of money to a corporation and money means social status and all its trappings.
But only for as long as you can hold on to it.
*(I just love that word)