Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Young Pundits In Love

Look out, K-Lo. Mitt Romney has a new stalker, one allowed to be out after 10:00 at night.

What Tax Dollars Can’t Buy By Master ROSS DOUTHAT

OVER the last 30 years, the U.S. economy has generated more large fortunes and more stress for the middle class. While the rich have grown extraordinarily rich, median wages have barely increased, the costs of health care and higher education have jumped, and socioeconomic mobility has lagged behind that of other developed nations. Americans have never begrudged the wealthy their success, as long as they had a chance to rise higher than their parents, and perhaps get rich themselves. But our era of diminished expectations is putting that in doubt.

My God, that Ross Douthat is a reasonable, knowledgeable man! He acknowledges our problems and disappointment in a balanced, middle of the road way.

From the drum circles of Zuccotti Park to the hustings of Barack Obama’s re-election push, a suddenly invigorated liberalism thinks that it has the answer to this angst: a renewed demand for higher taxes on America’s richest 1 percent. And if all you care about is reducing measured income inequality, then the Occupy Wall Streeters and their Democratic admirers have it right. Tax millionaires sufficiently and you’ll end up with a more equal society. The tallest poppies will be trimmed, and some of their income will find its way to someone’s else pocket.

Sure, if all you care about is a society in which an obscenely wealthy few lord over the teeming masses, on whom they are inflicting ever more poverty and control. But would it be fair to pick the pockets of the rich? Yes, they use more resources while pushing more and more of their operating expenses on the taxpayer, but let's face it, if you want to tax their money you'll have to take it out of their cold, dead hands. All that money buys a lot of mercenaries.

But true social mobility and broadly shared prosperity are not so easily achieved. Remember that those tax dollars, once collected, would not be disbursed with perfect effectiveness to the most deserving members of the American middle class. Instead, they would be used to buy a little more time for our failing public institutions — postponing a reckoning with unsustainable pension commitments, delaying necessary reforms in our entitlement system and propping up an educational sector whose results don’t match the costs.

And if you were to tax the rich, Mr. and Mrs. Middle Class, it's not like you'd get the money anyway! It would all go to the undeserving old fogies and little "urban" kids. Not you.

More spending in these areas won’t necessarily buy us more mobility. The public-sector workplace has become a kind of artificial Eden, whose fortunate inhabitants enjoy solid pay and 1950s-style job security and retirement benefits, all of it paid for by their less-fortunate private-sector peers. Some on the left have convinced themselves that this “success” can lay the foundation for a broader middle-class revival. But if a bloated public sector were the blueprint for a thriving middle-class society, then the whole world would be beating a path to Greece’s door.

So the best thing to do is to let the rich evade paying taxes. Just like Greece.

Our entitlement system, meanwhile, is designed to redistribute wealth. But this redistribution doesn’t go from the idle rich to the working poor; it goes from young to old, working-age savings to retiree consumption, middle-class parents to empty-nest seniors. The Congressional Budget Office’s new report on income inequality points out that growing Medicare costs are part of the reason upper-income retirees receive a larger share of federal spending than they did 30 years ago, while working-age households with children receive “a much smaller and declining share of transfers.” Absent reforms, this mismatch will only grow more pronounced: by the 2030s, Medicare recipients will receive $3 in benefits for every dollar they paid in.
If the rich pay taxes they'll just go to pay the old people's hospital bills.  What do you care?--you're not old.

Then there’s the public education system, theoretically the nation’s most important socioeconomic equalizer. Yet even though government spending on K-to-12 education has more than doubled since the 1970s, test scores have flatlined and the United States has fallen behind its developed-world rivals. Meanwhile, federal spending on higher education has been undercut by steadily inflating tuitions, in what increasingly looks like an academic answer to the housing bubble. (If the Occupy Wall Street dream of student loan forgiveness were fulfilled, this cycle would probably just continue.)

And don't even get me started on the kids, the losers.

The story of the last three decades, in other words, is not the story of a benevolent government starved of funds by selfish rich people and fanatical Republicans. It’s a story of a public sector that has consistently done less with more, and a liberalism that has often defended the interests of narrow constituencies — public-employee unions, affluent seniors, the education bureaucracy — rather than the broader middle class.

What does the middle class get when we tax the rich? Nothing! Those selfish, greedy unions and old folks and schoolteachers grab it all!

The alternative to this liberalism should not, however, be the kind of reverse class warfare currently being championed by the not-Romney candidates in the Republican field, whose flat-tax fantasies would ask working Americans to bear more of the burden for public institutions that have been failing them for years.

Ummmmm, Romney. Sigh.

Rather, it should be a kind of small-government egalitarianism, which would seek to reform the government before we pour more money into it, along lines that encourage upward mobility and benefit the middle class. This would mean seeking a carefully means-tested welfare state, a less special interest-friendly tax code, and a public sector that worked for taxpayers and parents rather than the other way around.

He'd get rid of government and thrash those liberal special interest groups and lift good freedom-loving Parent-Americans up from the clutches of the teeming masses.

This was the potential message that had some of us excited about the prospects of either a Mitch Daniels or a Chris Christie candidacy. Given his background and his bank account, Mitt Romney is an unlikely champion for a more egalitarian conservatism. But it wouldn’t be the first time that an American patrician has emerged as a champion of the common man.

Oh Mitt, how patrician is your nose and how noble is your brow! Lift your mighty swift flaming sword and pierce your enemies with it! Love us, protect us, tell us we're special!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Subsidy Is The Best Policy

Megan McArdle was forced to switch from a debit to a credit card when new regulations led to the elimination of her frequent flyer perks. Some commenters, both predisposed and well-trained by the little missy to exhibit public demonstrations of callousness towards others, excoriate her for expecting them to subsidize her airline upgrades. Other commenters do a thorough job of dismantling McArdle's extended whine and marvel at the hypocrisy of her expectations. A good time is had by all but McArdle, so let's pull up a chair and watch the show. Sometimes the best thing to do is just get out of the way and let the funny speak for itself.

Gepap 2 days ago
What a whinner you are McArdle. Durban turned a hidden fee into a transparent fee at worse, and you complain? Jesus.

McMegan 15 hours ago in reply to Gepap
No, that's not right. He slapped a price control on interchange fees, with the result that the fee was charged somewhere else.

Price controls are not "more transparent"; they shift the fee into some other form. Price controls on bread are not "more transparent" because we now really notice that we have to spend seven hours waiting in line for a loaf, whereas before the "excess" cost was "hidden" in the price of the goods we bought.

gyshrestha 10 hours ago in reply to McMegan
So why do you think retailers should subsidize your airline perks, seriously

McMegan 10 hours ago in reply to gyshrestha
Why do you think people with low-balance bank accounts should pay higher fees so that Wal-Mart doesn't have to? Seriously.

gyshrestha 10 hours ago in reply to McMegan
because, it is not your inalienable right to have a debit card. Use cash if you don't want to pay for debit card service.

gyshrestha 10 hours ago in reply to McMegan
basically, you want a subsidized debit card service on retailers money

McMegan 10 hours ago in reply to gyshrestha
Or, alternatively, they want a subsidized payment system on my money. It costs them money to handle cash and checks.

gyshrestha 10 hours ago in reply to McMegan
well, now do not beat around the bush, miss. If it costs retailers money to handle cash, so be it. it still costs them money to process charges. you are implying that retailers are getting the payment system for free, no they pay for it. only that it was more predatory before. now if the banks want to pass the costs to customers they should be able to, you are using the service, if you don't want to use it, do not, use cash like old days, why should retailers subsidize the populace

gyshrestha 10 hours ago in reply to gyshrestha
doesn't that make sense in your black and white world

gyshrestha 10 hours ago in reply to gyshrestha
i will give you a good analogy, imagine you lived back in 1800's, you, Megan is a hardworking entrepreneur, you own a salon in Still Water, OK. The payment mode of the day is, say its Lima. Now, everything is well and good. the world is flat and bankers are rich and making money, then all of a sudden Master Cardos open a bank in your town, then he introduces his own currency, lets say, Nola. Then, he sends a messenger to every residents in the town and inform them, if they bring their Lima and use Nola in the town, he will give all of them cash back of 2%. Now, all the residents would obviously do as Master Cardos want because we are all self interested individuals, but Master Cardos charge all the merchants in the town 3 % to convert the Nola into Lima, the same Lima which they have to use to buy brewski from next town or pay their employees who live in the next town where they do not use Nola. Now, merchants in the town was not happy with change at first but they took the idea anyways, slowly the rates started creeping up and closed around five percent. then, it came to be known that another town in the south has same system but the rate over there is less than one percent, there are no significant cost differences, so the merchants rebelled against the banker, Master Cardos and called a senator and have him revised the rate to 2.5 percent, this is what happened, crazy

gyshrestha 10 hours ago in reply to McMegan
because, it is not your inalienable right to own a debit card, use cash, you freeloader

Remember that McArdle said she was using the Doug Ramsey system, in which one uses cash for daily expenses, not debit cards. No doubt she figures she is saving money by using the card to subsidize her airline upgrades.

gyshrestha 10 hours ago in reply to McMegan
It is not similar to price control at all, you have two big entities colluding and you worry about price control, it is not like setting price for a gallon of milk or a loaf of bread in traditional sense, do not set everything in black and white term, it's like putting checks and balances to predatory pricing by firms who control majority of the market and the product they sell is indispensable to modern form of commerce

McMegan 10 hours ago in reply to gyshrestha
It is not only similar to a price control, it is in fact, a price control. They have capped the fee at a set price, which is the definition of a price control. Are you unfamiliar with the legislation, or with the concept of price controls?

gyshrestha 9 hours ago in reply to McMegan
i know about the legislation because i am a small retailer myself, now, it is a price control, i do not deny it, but all price controls are not created equal, you are just crying wolf because the government took an action and it irked your libertarian skin, and you set it in black and white terms, if you were to be truthful, you will also inform your readers about who controls the market, how they set the price, and who pays for the service.

gyshrestha 8 hours ago in reply to McMegan
you compared soviet price control on bread to government fixing predatory pricing in highly unregulated service category where there is no competition at all, Genius!

Wilson263 2 days ago
But even less do I like cramming my extra long legs and my back problems into cattle class for long-haul flights, a problem I currently solve by using my accumulated miles to upgrade to first class.

Surely this is a problem that can be solved by accepting more Koch money!?!?!?!

vkg123 2 days ago in reply to Wilson263
her elitism is really beginning to show. Too lazy to even look for a "maybe lost" card even. DC must be bad for her.

Alsadius 2 days ago in reply to vkg123
Didn't look or didn't find? Or should I say, didn't read or didn't think?

realcynic 2 days ago in reply to Alsadius
Well, gee, if her card was cancelled by the issuer and no replacement was offered, what does it matter whether she has the card in her possession or not?

AAdvantage decides to shaft her by taking away all the miles from her debit card, refusing to transfer it to her new AAdvantage credit card - but it is Dick Durbin's fault?

How does that make sense even in McMeganWorld?

McMegan 15 hours ago in reply to realcynic
Who said my miles didn't transfer? They're in my frequent flyer account; they transferred just fine. I'm just annoyed about having to use a credit card, when I was perfectly satisfied with my debit product.

TimSims 11 hours ago in reply to McMegan
Will your viewpoint change if, in the fullness of time, the cost of using debit of cash for most transactions is lower than the cost of using credit, as the case used to be back in the 80s, before CC companies started strong arming merchants?

Might you be able to save enough money flying coach on short flights to simply afford the upgrade to first class out of your own pocket? Or is this an issue where your employer was reimbursing you for your tickets, but letting you keep the miles? If so, it sounds like you were siphoning corporate funds (legally) and now you're just upset that you need to go to an extra bit of trouble to do so.

If I'm mis representing your viewpoint, please let me know.

McMegan 11 hours ago in reply to TimSims
It has long been perfectly legal for merchants to offer a cash discount. In fact, some gas stations do. You might ask why most merchants don't, and whether this tells us something about the likelihood that they will rebate more of their interchange fees gains to us than our banks did.

TimSims 11 hours ago in reply to McMegan
Actually a lot of retail CC agreements expressly forbid offering cash discount, just as many forbid retailers from refusing a CC even for trivial purchases of a dollar or less. These types of clauses are now forbidden, which gives retailers a lot more leeway to offer discounts (as well as refuse to let you use your CC to buy a pack of gum).

I haven't seen a gas station in Illinois offer a cash discount since the 80s, even though at one time, they ALL had a separate price for cash. I don't think I've seen any retailer offer a cash discount for anything in the past 20 years.

McMegan 11 hours ago in reply to TimSims
Those clauses are not legal, and haven't been for a long time:

gyshrestha 8 hours ago in reply to McMegan
here is a link for you Megan,the statue only cover credit cards, not the debit cards,

There is a lot more; more ignorance, more snark, and more information on debit and credit cards--from commenters, of course. Who could have known that complaints about not getting free upgrades to first class would have irritated so many people during these hard times?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Danke Schoen: An Ode To The Rich

Danke Schoen: An Ode To The Rich by Miss Megan McArdle
(also posted in the comments at Alicublog, whose commenters are always a source of inspiration--thanks, guys!)

Danke Schoen, 1%, Danke Schoen.
Thank you for all the loot I gain.
The Aspen Institute was the place we'd meet,
First class seat, Atlantic's treat, sure is sweet.

Danke Schoen, Ubermensch, Danke Schoen.
Pay for lies, no need to explain.
I recall, the economy's fall.
How I fluffed your cause, without a pause, ignoring laws.
That's not all.

Danke Schoen, Masters, Danke Schoen.
Thank you for pensions down the drain.
I can see middle class poverty.
Futures inter-twined, for all time, yours and mine, that is fine

Danke Schoen, Elite, Danke Schoen.
Thank you for economic gain.
Imported cars and exclusive bars
My expensive home, stove and fridge in chrome, Danke Schoen.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Zombie Lies

Anyone can succeed in America!

Megan McArdle is most concerned.

I doubt Occupy Wall Street will be assuaged by learning that the top 0.1% now only receive 8% of the income earned in the US, even if that number is the lowest it's been since 2003.

But I think it does matter. If we think there's a real problem, we need the best possible data so that we can understand its contours. Income inequality has been rising for so long that people have started to assume that it has just kept rising, even when the data show otherwise. We don't want to spend years focused on income inequality, only to learn that the financial crisis fixed it for us.

McArdle has taken to declaring that the Occupy Wall Street crowd is just a bunch of angry kids who can't get a job out of college but she gives herself away with this post on income inequality. She realizes that the protesters are concerned with the increasing concentration of wealth (and therefore power) into fewer and fewer hands and so she attempts to minimize inequality. America is no longer the land of opportunity and while some zombie lies never seem to die, the lie of upward mobility is finally beginning to sustain some damage. By ignoring wealth inequality and downplaying income inequality, McArdle does her very best to reanimate that zombie.

Income inequality:

Wealth inequality:

Now that McArdle has diverted attention from growing inequality, she shifts the focus to a plausible-sounding explanation for public unrest.

(If income inequality is declining, what's all that happening on Wall Street? Well, for one thing, the data I've seen seem to show that whatever has been happening to incomes, unemployment inequality remains very much with us.)

In McArdle's mind it has now been definitively established that the Occupy Wall Streeters are a bunch of bored, out of work kids who are protesting until they they find a decent job. Her prescription for dealing with lasting joblessness is a modest amount of unemployment benefits doled out to the masses. Otherwise, we should simply let the banks continue to make record profits while the middle class sinks further into poverty.

McArdle benefits from inequality; the very rich provide an inexhaustible supply of funds to keep the propaganda flowing. Incentives matter, as McArdle often tells us, and she has all the incentive in the world to downplay wealth inequality.

Why has income inequality been rising since the 1980s?

Maybe that's why.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Deleted Post

I deleted a post because it's not clear who is right and who is wrong. It's too bad because McArdle made up a grossly wrong chart, which I found very amusing, and indulged in a choice bit of reality massaging. But despite the considerable wrongness, she might have been right about one aspect (not mathematical or economic, of course), so I decided to pull the post.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Free Market

A Galtian CEO of a private hospital, Cleveland Clinic, decided to cut costs by giving his employees monetary incentives to become more healthy. Ordinarily Megan McArdle would be first in line to support the rights of a CEO to make more money without interference, but this time there's a slight hitch to her libertarian giddy-up.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I'm pretty skeptical. Let's start by asking what the selection bias was. Cleveland fired two high-profile doctors who wouldn't quit smoking. One imagines that employees who do not want their employer nannying them about their gym time and alcohol consumption probably decline to work at the Clinic.

Since the point was to get rid of expensive employees, it's strange that McArdle would bring up selection bias as a negative, since it is very much a positive in this situation. Argument fail.

Selection bias will produce good results for the selecting organization, but you cannot replicate its results on a nationwide scale; fat, smoky people have to work somewhere (or go on welfare). If this became common, you'd see legislative pushback in the form of discrimination lawsuits and legislation. I'm betting there are more obese workers/voters than there are people who hit the gym five days a week.

Why should Cleveland Clinic care if others can't copy their methods due to a shortage of doctors? Not that McArdle has proven a shortage would happen. Let's look at some--now what do they call them again? Oh, yeah, facts.

In the past month Drs Derek Smith and Peter Leggat published a comprehensive international review of tobacco smoking in the medical profession from 1974-2004. The study showed that in countries like the United States, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, smoking rates have dropped dramatically among doctors, from 15-20% in the 1970’s to around 5% at the end of the 20th century. However, such low smoking rates are not uniform among doctors across the world.

So it seems that it might be quite easy to find doctors who don't smoke. Since the hospital's employees are losing weight and becoming more healthy, it doesn't seem that exercise is a deal breaker either. The doctors who refuse to quit smoking or eating excessively can just go to work for themselves or another company. In a free market economy there are always jobs available, ensuring that any corporation that makes up onerous rules will be punished when people refuse to work for them.

There's also the question of lifetime cost profile. Cleveland mostly isn't covering people in that expensive last year of life; that honor tends to go to Medicare and Medicaid. Cleveland saves money if its workers have fewer smoking-related problems, but if that keeps them alive long enough to get Alzheimer's, their lifetime health cost may go up.

Again, irrelevant. The hospital is concerned about its health care costs and bottom line, not the government's.

Now, you can certainly argue that it's still a net gain--people live longer, healthier lives. And I agree that longer and healthier lives are a worthy goal. But from a cost perspective, I suspect that there's less to the Cleveland model than meets the eye.
The journalist did not bring up one fact and used two irrelevant arguments to bolster her claim, and her gut feeling is not an adequate replacement for facts and reason. It certainly is easy to be the business editor for The Atlantic.

The only question is why McArdle would take up arms against one of the holy CEOs. Perhaps she is worried that The Atlantic will copy the Clevland Clinic and force her to quit smoking, drink less and exercise more. If it does, McArdle can just teach it a good free market lesson by quitting and getting another one of those plentiful journalist jobs that pays six figures a year.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


We want to wish Megan McArdle the best of luck tonight as she emcees the Koch Family Picnic, also known as the Institute For Humane Studies 50th Anniversary Dinner. The chairman, Charles G. Koch, will make a speech and new Institute initiatives will be discussed. No doubt a good time will be had by all, as they plan a happy, regulation-free future.

A little background:


The Institute for Humane Studies was founded in 1961 by Dr. F. A. "Baldy" Harper, a former economics professor at Cornell University. Part of a generation that had lived through two devastating world wars and seen the rise of numerous totalitarian dictatorships, Harper set up an institute devoted to research and education in the conviction that greater understanding of human affairs and freedom would foster peace, prosperity, and social harmony.

History demonstrated the great capacity of humans to solve their problems through "the practice and potentials of freedom," and Harper envisioned this as the primary focus of the Institute for Humane Studies. "Not in government or force, not in slavery or war, but in the creative, and thereby spiritual, power of freedom, shall our inspiration be found," he wrote in an early proposal for the Institute.

Based for many years in Menlo Park, California, IHS moved in 1985 to Fairfax, Virginia, and associated with George Mason University. At George Mason, IHS has been able to pursue its mission more effectively in cooperation with other organizations affiliated with the university. 50 years later, IHS continues the work begun by Baldy Harper, cultivating a growing network of more than 10,000 students, scholars, and other intellectuals who to serve in the battle of ideas.

And nothing says freedom like the freedom to poison your fellow Americans and trade with its "enemies" as you get rich, rich rich! I hope that McArdle is charging them a small fortune or will get some quid pro quo for her Koch-employed husband; the Koches can afford it and no real Libertarian would ever work for free.

Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking Part 6

Dagny and Hank survey their Colorado paradise.

Chapter 7 The Exploiters And The Exploited

It's all about capitalism.

When Miss Megan "Jane" McArdle-Galt reviewed Atlas Shrugged: The Movie!, she did not hesitate to express her disappointment.

The worst part is that the movie is a bad caricature of what people think that libertarians believe. The genius of capitalism is nowhere to be found--in this movie, "business" mostly consists of shuffling papers around a desk, telling your fellow capitalists how great they are, and instantly promising to deliver metal for a railroad bridge without probing trivial matters like how much metal will be required, when and where the bridge will be built, and how much the customer might be willing to pay. This makes the capitalists who go on strike seem very little different from the "looters" in Washington who they are supposed to be fighting: they're all a bunch of pompous windbags delivering prim little lectures to each other. The only real difference is that in the middle of the movie, the capitalists get to ride a cool CGI train.

Of course, [Ayn] Rand's many critics will claim that this is all there was in the book. But that's not true. The movie left out the things that could have made it gripping: the aesthetic that deftly mixes comic books, film noir, and WPA murals; the reverance [sic] for genius and innovation; the stories that dramatize pure principle. These things are barely name checked, much less used. The best stories--like the nationalization of the San Sebastian mines, or the attempt by the 20th Century Motor Company to run its business along the lines of the communist motto "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need"--are compressed into two lines, explained ineptly.

Chapter 7, all 80 glorious pages of it, digs deep into the "genius of capitalism." As depicted by Rand, the genius of capitalism resides in its purity; it punishes failure and rewards merit without prejudice or favor, as long as the looters-n-moochers don't get their dirty hands on it. As depicted by Megan McArdle, capitalism is a magical system that automatically resides in near-perfect balance between corporations' desire to make a profit and customers' desire to buy products. All things being equal, of course; these versions of capitalism depend on the assumption that capitalism ensures a equal playing field in which one group is not able to gain a disproportionate amount of power or information over the other because of this magical state of equilibrium. After all, if customers buy a bad product they will not buy it again and the company will go broke, and what company wants to go broke? None! Therefore in a capitalist society customers will never be unaware of bad products or services, corporations cannot amass excessive amounts of power, and equilibrium will always be maintained.

As for the corporations' workers, they exist in the happy state of equilibrium as well since they can always leave and get another job if they don't like their wages or working conditions. Under capitalism they can never be underpaid or exploited, since capitalism's perfect equilibrium provides jobs for anyone who is willing to work.

In other words, for Atlas Shrugged's depiction of capitalism to be realistic, one must divorce it from all context and utterly ignore any reality that manages to sneak in under the dark of night. Rand is respected for having lived through the Russian Revolution and having seen the wholesale theft of property by the state. However, it doesn't do you much good to endure hardship if you don't learn anything from it. The only thing Rand learned was that it was better to be the elite than the poor masses. Rand's audience was the prosperous middle and upper classes of the late 1950s, raised on American exceptionalism and enjoying the advantages of a booming economy, a large manufacturing base, and an educated working class. Rand had to invent a reason for her version of America to crush the masses and she chose the one thing that she abhorred more than anything else in the entire world--more than socialism or fascism or revolution or starvation.


Rand's looters and moochers want to drag down the elite Galtian Ubermenschen because the masses are weak and stupid. The looters-n-moochers (let's call them scum for short, Rand's other favorite term for the 99%) get angry and jealous when confronted with the superiority of the Galts. The scum want to punish the Galts for being so smart and pure and good so they try to stop them from being successful. It is so unfair that some people (like little Alisa Rosenbaum) are smarter than everyone else and get good grades without even trying (like Alisa Rosenbaum) but nobody likes them and all the other girls won't even talk to them, not that they'd talk to them anyway because they can't even think their way out of a wet paper bag like she, Alisa Rosenbaum, can. Rand did not understand emotions and resented being judged on emotional terms. She could always feel superior on an intellectual level and thus did not want anything messy and unknown like emotions to interfere with that happy state.

As we return to our story, Dagny Taggart is doing her damnedest to get the Rio Norte Line to Colorado, which we are informed holds infinite natural resources when the rest of the country is depleted. Dagny is exhausted from convincing various manufacturers to take her business; she spend most of her time trying to shovel buckets of money into businessmen's pockets but alas, they all are terrified of the prospect despite everyone's declining revenues. The nation's infrastructure is literally falling apart due to the mysterious disappearance of the few competent people in the world. Without these few, these happy few, the nation is falling apart at the seams. Since there is only a tiny number of people in the world who can do anything, when they disappear the world starts to sink into a sticky morass of inaction and failure. Over in reality, where we live, we know that when a Steve Jobs dies another will eventually take his place since there are millions of intelligent, competent people in the world, many of whom are kept from achieving by circumstance and lack of opportunity and who would jump eagerly into any gap left by a Galt-going Master of the Universe. But Rand was convinced of her Great Man theory and nothing would ever change her mind. There are superior people who hold up the world and everyone else is just scum that rides the coattails of the rich and successful.

Lesser men are stupid and cannot understand complicated things like math and science. Dagny wants her entire rail line built of Reardon metal but her engineers don't want the responsibility of working with an unknown quantity, foundries don't want to revamp their factories to handle the higher melting point, and companies she depends on for parts are going bankrupt right and left. This is one of the sections that Megan McGalt must greatly enjoy, for it is filled with the failings of her enemies and the triumph of her ideological heroes. Atlas Shrugged does not, as McGalt says, probe "matters like how much metal will be required, when and where the bridge will be built, and how much the customer might be willing to pay." It is not filled with the glories of capitalism as manufacturers sell to merchants, merchants sell to customers, and customers invest in manufacturers, all in perfect balance. Capitalism is a complete and abject failure in Rand's world, because the Superior People, the people who actually count, are constantly being insulted by the scum. Their feeling are hurt--where's the love? where's the appreciation?--so they go Galt, leaving poor Dagny to rage and fight to save embattled capitalism with only Hank Reardon to turn to for help.

She looked at the spikes in the rail at her feet. They meant the night when she had heard that Summit Casting of Illinois, the only company willing to make spikes of Rearden Metal, had gone bankrupt, with half of her order undelivered. She had flown to Chicago, that night, she had got three lawyers, a judge and a state legislator out of bed, she had bribed two of them and threatened the others, she had obtained a paper that was an emergency permit of a legality no one would ever be able to untangle, she had had the padlocked doors of the Summit Casting plant unlocked, and a random, half-dressed crew working at the smelters before the windows had turned gray with daylight. The crews had remained at work, under a Taggart engineer and a Reardon metallurgist. The rebuilding of the Rio Norte Line was not held up.

Remember that morality is for lesser mortals in Rand's world. Her serial killer fascination revealed that Rand's idea of achievement was not just creating someone great, it was imposing one's will on others while doing so.

Rand was broken by the Bolsheviks as a girl, and she never left their bootprint behind. She believed her philosophy was Bolshevism’s opposite, when in reality it was its twin. Both she and the Soviets insisted a small revolutionary elite in possession of absolute rationality must seize power and impose its vision on a malleable, imbecilic mass. The only difference was that Lenin thought the parasites to be stomped on were the rich, while Rand thought they were the poor.

It is irrelevant that Dagny broke the law and contributed to the culture of corruption that ostensibly disgusts her when others indulge in it; she has her railroad spikes and that is proof of her superiority. Her will is stronger than those in the government and legal system and her purpose is more pure than that of the fools who are incapable of appreciating visionaries. Dagny gets her own way because she is better than everyone else and she is better than everyone else because she always gets her own way. It's win-win for the Ubermenschen. This is one of the "stories that dramatize pure principle," in McGalt's words, as Dagny does not hesitate to use money to shift the balance of power towards herself. Principle be damned, Dagny has a railroad to build.

Fortunately Randians, like all authoritarians, do not demand adherence to principle from their leaders, who are supposed to be above rules. Just as authoritarian parents do not hold themselves to the same standards they demand for their children, authoritarian followers do not hold their ideology or ideological leaders to high standards. When Libertarians discovered Ayn Rand took government benefits when she was old and sick they all made up excuses for her behavior. A genuine Ubermensch would never suck off the public teat like any common moocher, he would rather die than lower himself to behave like the scum. But authoritarians believe that the rich are different and go by other, more tolerant rules; producers carry the rest of the world on their shoulders and one must make allowances.

Meanwhile Reardon is facing roadblocks as well. A government official in the service of the major US industrialists pressures him to sell Reardon metal to take it off the market. The official says that the metal will throw existing companies out of business but says he is "thinking in terms of the country as a whole, we are concerned with the public welfare and the terrible crises" of unemployment. Unemployment will not be improved by closing Reardon's conglomerate of businesses but Rand is not concerned with the little details of reality or consistency; a monopoly's attempt to control its market share is socialist because she says it is. Reardon threatens to kill the government lackey and refuses all offers, even those that would make him richer. Reardon metal is better than steel and excellence must and will triumph; it is the only source of joy in Rand's world and the only reason for living.

But the government declares Reardon metal unsafe and Dagny fails to convince the head of the national Science Institute to support the new discovery. He ignores her plea to support a simple fact, the excellence of Reardon metal. She is incredulous that a scientist could ignore the truth so he finally admits that it would embarrass the government if a private individual were the source of a brilliant new innovation. Since the government can't do anything ever, it must destroy those who can. This explains why Randians will never admit that the government has supported great and lucrative innovations; their ideology declares that it could not happen because only brilliant lone individuals could ever be successful. Governments can't do what individuals can do because only a few rare Supermen are innovative geniuses.

In desperation, Dagny convinces her brother James to give her the Rio Norte Line to finish building on her own. She assumes all responsibility for the socially unpopular line and tells James to take care of the paperwork, thereby relieving herself of anything that might mar her bright and shining purpose. Francisco refuses to help finance her project and once again Dagny is tossed into a spasm of distress at his uselessness. Battered but unbowed, Dagny vows to rename her line the John Galt line, in defiance of all the hopeless, helpless scum determined to drag her down.

In Atlas Shrugged the scum say that nobody can do anything ever and nobody can know anything ever. They believe in writing the laws to benefit a small monopoly of industrialists, eliminating competition and suppressing invention. They want to stand athwart history yelling stop, preserving their ancestors' Christian morality and preventing any changes in their world or worldview. These are the looters and moochers, which makes it odd to see Libertarians, the champions of capitalism, constantly repeat the words Ayn Rand considered beneath contempt. Libertarians do the very things that they accuse the looters and moochers of doing; they say there's nothing anyone can do about failure because it's built into the system. In fact, failure is the key to success, a phrase that would have enraged Rand.

In no time at all--really, it's on the next page--Dagny has her financing, from all the other Ubermenschen who recognize genius instantly when Dagny approaches them with her plans. Reardon tosses a check for a million dollars in the kitty, orders are pouring in from one Ubermensch to another, and Dagny is thrilled. She and Reardon are in perfect synchrony as they conduct business together, as business talk is the talk of love in Rand's world. Little does she know that under Reardon's cold exterior, he is seething with agonies of love for Our Dagny, or rather seething with urges to dominate her and force her to submit to his will, which is the same thing as love to Rand.

Do you know what it's like, to want [you].... for that degrading need, which should never touch you, I have never wanted anyone but you.... I hadn't known what it was like, to want it, until I saw you for the first time. I had thought: Not I, I couldn't be broken by it..... To bring you down to things you can't conceive--and to know that it's I who have done it. To reduce you to a body, to teach you an animal's pleasure, to see you need it, to see you asking me for it, to see your wonderful spirit dependent upon the obscenity of your need. To watch you as you are, as you face the world with your clean,proud strength--then to see you, in my bed, submitting to any infamous whim I may devise, to any act which Ill perform for the sole purpose of watching your dishonor and to which you'll submit for the sake of an unspeakable sensation.... I want you--and may I be damned for it!

Dagny is unaware of the rape fantasy unrolling in Reardon's mind, which is a great pity since her greatest wish is to be forced into submission by a cruel, ruthless, emotionless Master, so she could cower at his feet like a Frank Franzetta alien princess. But soon Reardon has more important things to worry about. The anti-competition law passes and Reardon is overcome with grief and despair. How could they drag him down so? A "screaming pain without content or limit" courses through Reardon, and he is temporarily overcome with the burden of living in a world of looters and scum who have all ganged up against him to bring about his destruction.

All of Rand's heroes are constantly persecuted by the weak and immoral, barely able to keep their heads up due to the scum's omnipresent efforts to drag down the superior men. Forty years after teenage Alisa's family lost everything to revolution, the fear, hunger, and paranoia were just as strong, even when she no longer had any reason for those emotions. All of Rand's characters are always at a fever pitch of emotion; they constantly cry and scream and shriek, rocketing from euphoria to despair and back again. Yet Rand also tells us that the only happy moments in their lives are those devoid of any emotion but triumph, that only emotionless people are able to think, create or rule the scum of the earth. Reardon and Dagny can only find happiness through eliminating anyone or anything that distracts from achieving greatness, and the little girl that dwelled in the heart of cold, self-obsessed Ayn Rand could think of nothing better than eliminating the one inescapable thing that plagued her for her entire life--those inexplicable, inconvenient, heartbreaking emotions and the inferior humans who insisted on feeling them.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Authoritarian Mothering

The Corner at National Review has a new page called The Home Front. It's the Woman's Corner of the Corner, in which working women complain about liberal women who don't marry, poor women who marry but don't stay married, and men who don't marry and therefore never become civilized. In between are complaints about reality tv, school lunches and SpongeBob Squarepants. It is a one-stop whine extravaganza. My favorite post so far, however, whines about self-esteem, something that these women do not want their children to have.

It seems Jennifer Kaczor, despite being a conservative mother, has had a few problems with her seven children. In "Trouble With A Teenage Padawon," she relates the sad tale of her teenage daughter's involvement with...a boy. It seems that her 14-year-old was sneaking around to see her boyfriend, having wisely assumed that her mother would not let her have a normal teen relationship. Kaczor relates how she had no idea of the sneaking and had to be informed of her daughter's actions by the mother of the boyfriend. To punish her daughter, Kaczor told the girl to stop seeing the boy, took away her phone, and patted herself on the back for her good parenting. Then she tells us how daughter immediately switched over to communicating with the boyfriend via computer. It's a typical tale which will no doubt end in an unfortunate early marriage or college years spent making up for lost time, but Kaczor seems to have enjoy the martyrdom she endures for her children.

However, the best was yet to come. In You Can’t Keep My Child Down, No Matter How Hard I Try!, Kaczor tells us how she ensures that none of her children will ever have any self-esteem if she has anything to say about it.

Well, it’s over. Summer vacation, that glorious time of year when parents don’t fret about their children’s I.Q, is over. The beginning of a new school year means the beginning of a new race, and though Vicki Abeles was quite right in her assessment that we are racing to nowhere, it seems most people still want to get there first. In an effort to reassure themselves, parents will soon be bragging about the academic achievements and sporting conquests of their offspring. Everyone’s self-esteem will be exceedingly high. Except mine. And my kids’. I’m not sure which came first, my distaste of high self-esteem, or my lack of anything to warrant it. Either way, in the Kaczor family, we’ve taken to bragging about our humility.
Already Kaczor has fallen into the sing-song patter of someone who has read and recited the same words a thousand times, like a church liturgy. She begins with an appeal to the tribe's vanity ("academic achievements and sporting conquests"), raises an obligatory boogeyman, ("we are racing to nowhere"), denigrates the opponent ("Everyone’s self-esteem will be exceedingly high"), claims exceptionalism ("Except mine"), and finally blows a Christian dog-whistle ("humility"). She is thorough, if nothing else.

Training starts early with the intention of developing a child who is astonished by the smallest compliment.

How horrible. Children need love and praise to feel good about themselves. They want to be good and need to be taught how to understand themselves. These Cornerites don't even think their children deserve basic politeness.

Toddlers are told to “put a sock in it.”

That teaches him that he is not respected because people don't have to be polite to him. It teaches his siblings the same lesson.

“Not everything that passes through your little mind needs to be verbalized,” I explain.

You're stupid, shut up.

Later, when the kids start school and are told by well-meaning teachers that “there are no stupid questions,” I take them aside and inform them that, in fact, most questions are stupid. “Don’t just raise your hand to raise your hand,” I warn, “any dolt can do that.” “And for God’s sake, if you don’t know the answer, don’t raise it at all.”
Kids don't volunteer when they don't know the answer; they do their best to avoid attention. All a child will get out of this advice is that dolts ask a lot of questions.

And when visiting other people’s homes, I instruct them to “make yourself scarce.” “Don’t stand around waiting to be entertained: the less the hostess sees of you, the better she’ll like you.”
People don't like you. Go away.

You might think that my kids are emotional wrecks. Ha! The truth is, it’s not easy to keep a child down. My kids are very nearly as full of themselves as their peers are.
Which is why she is about to describe the depth of her son's insecurity, to her approval.

In addition to occasionally telling them that we love them, my husband and I made the mistake of telling them how much God loves them. Once that cat was out of the bag, there was no stopping them. Had we added to that arsenal, praise for every half-witted comment or slapped-together art project, we’d have raised children who were Disney Channel parodies of themselves.
This woman is deluding herself. It might make her feel godly to say Jesus loves you this I know, but an abstract concept is no substitute for a parent. If God's love were sufficient to give everyone self-esteem, we wouldn't have so many malevolent authoritarians.

Still, it’s a battle. The other day my nine-year-old, who fancies himself a young Johnny Carson, was going through his entire repertoire of voices during the bitter end of a road trip. “George!” I screamed. “Put a sock in it!” My husband, worried that I might be stifling a lucrative career, asked me if I thought I might be doing just that. Before I could answer, George announced his intention to become a squirrel when he grows up. “No dear,” I replied, “I don’t think so.”

George is irrepressible. But my other children have taken my training more seriously. William, a tall boy of eleven who resembles Huck Finn in taste and temperament, is used to teachers and coaches’ being disappointed in him. His homework, when completed, is forgotten. His calisthenics are lazy, and his running is lackadaisical. Other than his shy smile and intermittent kindness, he’s earned no real self-esteem and, consequently, has no real self-esteem. In short, he’s my kind of kid.
In other words, he's eleven. Boys his age are often like this. But children should not have to earn self-esteem; the very least parents can do is pass on to their child a belief that he is valued and loved. Authoritarians believe the child owes the parent obedience and that showing love means enforcing obedience. Since they do not have much empathy, they discount the distress they are inflicting on their child.


We have gone too far in praising kids and giving them seriously inflated ideas of themselves. This, I guess, could be dismissed as relatively benign, except that science has shown that the higher a person’s self-esteem, the less moral they tend to be (see Dr. Baumeister’s research).

Kaczor links to a google search that does nothing to prove her claim. Baumeister says, "Psychologists everywhere were persuaded that if only we could help people to accept and love themselves more, their problems would gradually vanish and their lives would flourish. They would even treat each other better." He concluded that such programs didn't work and therefore self-esteem should be replaced with self-control. Like many conservatives, Kaczor thinks self-esteem is the same as vanity.

In other words, the more they think of themselves, the less they think of others. The second conversation happened in the same way, but this time, the daughter didn’t just enjoy dancing, she was, according to her dear mama, “a dancer.” Yes, and my 15-year-old daughter who contrives excellent excuses for not cleaning her room is not just argumentative, she’s “a lawyer.”

I have never told my children that they are “athletes.” I have told them to be good sports, to encourage their teammates, to listen to their coach, and to play hard. This summer, William began playing basketball, and I issued the usual instructions. Because of his height, I told him to get as many rebounds as possible. But William is an erratic player. For the time being, you get what you get with William. Following one game in which he did not play particularly well, he turned to me and said, “That’s it. The coach hates me. And, by the way, I’m flunking basketball.”

“Flunking basketball?” I repeated. “You can’t flunk basketball. It’s not even a class! You are not flunking basketball.” I assured him. “Wanna bet?” he countered. “The coach hates me, he thinks I’m horrible, and he’s flunking me.” Confused by this sudden outburst, I demanded to know why William was taking such a hard view of things. “I saw his clipboard, Mom, and there is an F next to my name! Explain that!” he challenged.

In case you aren’t a big basketball fan, I’ll explain it to you as I explained it to William. “The ‘F,’ you nut, stands for “‘Forward.’” It took a second to register, and then William looked at me with his shy smile. “That makes sense,” he concluded, “because Gordie has a ‘G’ next to his name and he’s not just good, he’s really good.” “And Alex has a ‘C,’” William continued, “and he definitely deserves an A.” I put my arm around William’s waist and pulled him toward my chest. “And you, my little friend, don’t deserve an F.” I insisted. William just shrugged and smiled. If he keeps this up, I’ll soon be as insufferable as the other mothers; bragging about my son, “the martyr.”
Two things:

First, even eleven year olds know that they don't get a grade for after school activities and also know that G is not a grade. It's hard to believe that Kaczor made up this charming anecdote but it is hard to believe she didn't.

Second, why would she brag about her son acting like a martyr, especially after she has just bragged about his self-esteem?

Dennis Prager agrees that self-esteem is bad.

We think too highly of ourselves.

Self-esteem frequently runs counter to goodness. Raising children with self-esteem sounds great, but when unearned — which it usually is — it leads to bad results. In fact, it is people who do not have particularly high self-esteem, people who feel that they constantly have to prove their worth, who are more likely to act good. And it is violent criminals who have the highest self-esteem — “I am better than others and can therefore do whatever I want.”

Sadly, no. People with low self-esteem will do terrible things to feel better about themselves, including crimes and cruelties such as emotionally abusing their children.


It's not "We are the 1%" but it's close.

McArdle might want to rethink that whole twitter thing. It's much harder to maintain a facade of civility when speaking extemporaneously.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

There She Goes Again

(click to view--if you dare)

Authoritarianism has an infinite capacity for self delusion.

Monday, October 3, 2011

More Memories

The crimes of Koch Industries are finally making some news. Since we are revisiting the past today, let's take a look at Megan McArdle's defense of The Brothers Grimm against accusations of supporting supposed grass-roots tea parties behind the scenes.

The question is whether, as [Yasha Levine and Mark Ames] basically asserted, Charles Koch masterminded a vast attempt to create the impression of popular support for a project in order to apply political pressure, while hiding his involvement through front groups that manufactured wholly imaginary popular support.

As far as I can tell, FreedomWorks a) isn't funded by Charles Koch and b) hasn't hidden its involvement. Their central thesis does not jibe with the facts available to me. Indeed, it seems deeply weird, because getting tea and a hundred or so people together in front of a government building isn't exactly an expensive endeavor. Last I heard, the DC operation was borrowing the megaphone they used, and getting the tea for free from some tea company.

This doesn't mean I endorse what FreedomWorks does--I frankly don't know enough about the organization to have an opinion on its operations. It merely seemed to me that their specific charges about the tea parties were insufficiently backed up with specific facts. Playboy has published some great journalism in its time. The ratio of speculation-to-evidence in the Levine and Ames piece was thus disappointing, especially since it was rapidly taken up as gospel truth by substantial sections of the lefty blogosphere.

Perhaps Yasha Levine and Mark Ames have some hard facts--or hell, even an untrustworthy anonymous source--who can substantiate some of these claims. If so, I wish they would provide them. Or at the very least, stop hurling unsubstantiated accusations at anyone who dares to point out the weaknesses in their case.

Of course McArdle was wrong, which is especially embarrassing since her husband is a former Koch rat-fucker and evidently lied to her by omission regarding the Koches' fake grass-roots activity.

Full disclosure: It's pretty much an open secret in DC, but given the content of the article I'm discussing, I think I ought to mention that I live with Peter Suderman, who once worked for Freedomworks. Other than giving me the name of the right employee to email to make inquiries (no word back yet), I haven't asked him about his former employer, and he hasn't told me anything. I debated whether to write about this, but since I'm not actually defending Freedomworks, I think it's kosher.

McArdle wrote five posts denying Ames and Levine's Koch articles and her live-in boyfriend, her "soul mate" and the love of her life, said nothing, evidently preferring to let her look like a fool rather than admit the Koches paid for fake grass-roots campaigns.


Earlier this year Megan McArdle wrote an article about Iraq's economy, claiming that "freedom is bad for business."

Apparently, freedom and democracy themselves may actually be creating many of the most severe problems in the economy—our virtues, and not our sins, may be what’s hurting Iraqis.

It seems that bombing a country back into the stone age is not the source of Iraq's economic problems; it's the fault of Iraqi incompetence, Iraqi corruption and Iraqi rules and regulations. I helpfully mentioned one more possible source of Iraq's economic problems: the ignorant, ideological, barely post-pubescent Heritage Foundation legacy pledges that screwed up everything they touched.

HugeEuge 7 months ago
Amazing level of bureaucracy -- some considerable organized effort to write a lot of laws and regulations, if not much effort to coordinate them or make them practicable. Were these laws laws and regs on the books in Saddam era or only post invasion? And I wonder how they compare to say Jordan or Syria, or whether there has sprung up a large informal economy outside the regulations, as can happen in countries where the formal organizations of the state are strong and developed enough to write lots of (insane) laws but not strong enough to enforce them.

Very interesting article (and also the blog post), too bad it's not really practical for MM to go there for a month or two to do some on-the-ground reporting on the issue. Outside the daily news stories, most of what I see about Iraq is written with a view to settle scores or revise history about who was right blah blah blah. I apologize, I don't mean to sound patronizing, but it really is refeshing to read a feature about Iraq that isn't all about the government/civil unrest or trying to score political points by putting a gloss of one color or another on the situation etc.

susanoftexas 7 months ago in reply to HugeEuge
I too think Ms. McArdle should go to Iraq to see for herself. She could get behind the official lies and talk to Iraqis and get the real story.

You're also right about those ideological lenses--some people might have mentioned how Bush hired new college graduates from the Heritage Institute to run the economy, which didn't work out at all, no doubt because governments can't really do anything right. Ms. McArdle totally left that out, which proves that she is fair.

McMegan 7 months ago in reply to susanoftexas
My columns are of limited length; I left more words on the cutting room floor than made it into the piece. The purpose of the column was not to rehash old political complaints; it was to describe the situation in Iraq as it exists today. I understand that you probably think that fixing blame on the Bush administration is much more interesting and important than wasting words describing cement factory privatization, transparency, or the oil infrastructure. I can only plead that my editors disagreed.

susanoftexas 7 months ago in reply to McMegan
Ms. McArdle, are you saying that your editors cut out your bit on the CPA?

McMegan 7 months ago in reply to susanoftexas
I'm saying my editors were not interested in a 2500 word column on why we shouldn't have invaded Iraq and how George Bush sucks; they were interested in 2500 word column on what's happening now. The former topic has been covered exhaustively; the latter has not. I didn't write about the CPA, the invasion, the violence that followed, or any of the other reasons that the invasion was a bad idea, because the column was not about the invasion; it was about the economy.

susanoftexas 7 months ago in reply to McMegan
You avoided my question. If you can go back as far as Ninevah surely you can mention the time in which the US was supposed to establish a working economy after we invaded and overthrew the government. It is obviously and overwhelmingly pertinent to the present state of Iraq's economy.

McMegan 7 months ago in reply to susanoftexas
It wouldn't have changed anything in the story; it wouldn't have even helped fix blame on the Bush administration, since I make it clear that he invasion he spearheaded caused the chaos. The subject of the piece was not exactly how bad was George Bush. To me, the most important questions about Iraq are not whether events there decrease the relative status of George Bush, the GOP, or the people who supported the war. As a result, I cut material on the invasion that didn't actually change the conclusion of the story. Or are you arguing that a Democrat-led invasion would have resulted in a safe, prosperous Iraq?

susanoftexas 7 months ago in reply to McMegan
So you left out or cut out any CPA information because you didn't want to discuss Bush's failure to install an economic infrastructure.

Yet you did discuss the lack of economic infrastructure.

'Gunter argues that the U.S. invasion, by taking out the centralized apparatus of Saddam’s regime, unleashed what he calls “entrepreneurial corruption.”'


"If all you do is remove the totalitarian state, without building the institutions that support markets, the result can be corruption even more pervasive, and corrosive, than the regime you replaced."

So the only thing you left out was why those institutions were not built--because the CPA didn't build them. You emphasize government regulation and the corruption and rent-seeking" of Iraqis instead. That is changing the conclusion of the story.

You surely remember that the CPA "lost" $12 billion dollars, which would have gone far in building new organizations. You stated "Instead, the major problem is creating political and social institutions that support a vibrant, entrepreneurial business culture." yet you ignored why that culture wasn't built--the CPA, filled with Heritage Foundation members.

JamestheWanderer 7 months ago in reply to susanoftexas
OK, Susanoftexas, we get it already; you hate George Bush, he is the Devil's favorite son, and until he is hanged-and-drawn-and-quartered-with-his-bowels-burned-alive-bef0re-his-face he will not have been sufficiently punished (and maybe not even then).
Can we move on now, to other subjects?

susanoftexas 7 months ago in reply to JamestheWanderer
Ms. McArdle is trying to convince her audience that we must practice austerity instead of stimulus spending and that we must eliminate Social Security and Medicare. Her reasoning is flawed, just as it was for the bank bailout, which she supported, the war, which she supported, and the shadow banking industry that brought down the economy, which she supported.

Ms. McArdle's support for everything is based on her ideology, which tells her that governments are incompetent, the markets always equalize, and regulation strangles business. If any of these ideas are ever proven wrong, McArdle makes up excuses and arguments that attempt to cover up that fact and convince her audience that the world is mistaken and her ideas are correct. Such as, corruption and government regulations impeded Iraq's economy, not the economic conservatives at the Heritage Foundation.

It's a matter of reason, fact and results, not emotion. We cannot afford to continue to listen to flawed reasoning and people who disregard facts.

JamestheWanderer 7 months ago in reply to susanoftexas
"Ms. McArdle is trying to convince her audience that we must practice austerity instead of stimulus spending and that we must eliminate Social Security and Medicare."

So the cure for sky-high debt is MORE debt? We must maintain unsustainable programs created by long-dead ignorant politicians until we die?

"Ms. McArdle's support for everything is based on her ideology, which tells her that governments are incompetent, the markets always equalize, and regulation strangles business."

But-but-but - governments ARE incompetent; mine has wasted every dollar I sent them for my retirement on waste, fraud, pork projects and rewarding their cronies. The markets may or may not equalize; they can also collapse, which this one will once QE-to-infinity is shown not to work. Regulations do strangle business, which is why no one is getting hired these days and high unemployment continues. Why can't we STOP doing what doesn't work, and find something else that does?

"It's a matter of reason, fact and results, not emotion. We cannot afford to continue to listen to flawed reasoning and people who disregard facts. " Your emotional defense of Social Security and Medicare despite their unsustainable design is noted; your flawed reasoning in regard to curing debt with more debt I have pointed out. Shall I stop listening to you?

susanoftexas 7 months ago in reply to JamestheWanderer
I am unable to evaluate your contribution to the conversation due to your substitution of repetition for argument.

JamestheWanderer 7 months ago in reply to susanoftexas
I accept your concessions that you do not understand economics, the concept of "unsustainability" or the proper role of government in society. Don't feel bad, probably more than half of the population doesn't understand any better than you do.

susanoftexas 7 months ago in reply to JamestheWanderer
Do you have an proof whatsoever of your statements, or will you simply keep repeating them? You say the government is incompetent while using the services it provides for you while being protected by its military. You live under the constitution written by politicians long-dead. "Free market" means more than quantitative easing. The recession is the reason hiring is so poor; regulation greatly rose under Bush.

I have not defended SS etc, I have noted flaws in McArdle's reasoning. Your answers are based on the emotion you accuse me of, you don't back up anything you say with facts, and you inject irrelevant considerations into the conversation. You prove nothing, add nothing and have poor manners, and this conversation is at an end.

JamestheWanderer 7 months ago in reply to susanoftexas
"You say the government is incompetent while using the services it provides for you while being protected by its military." The Mafia provides "services", and has really effective "protection" and "military" branches; how is our current government all that different?

"You live under the constitution written by politicians long-dead. " Which you obviously do not understand or value, since you are advocating "stimulus" which is NOT a Constitutional duty of the government (and for that matter, neither is SS, Medicare or any of a number of other current activities).

""Free market" means more than quantitative easing." Free markets are the OPPOSITE of quantitative easing; have you ever studied economics?
"The recession is the reason hiring is so poor; regulation greatly rose under Bush. " This recession is a consequence of government interference in the economy; Austrian economists understand this, although Keynesians do not. And as for the expansion of regulation, do you recall hearing about several 2000+ page bills passed by Congress in the last two years? The ones we had to "pass to find out what was in them" as one politician put it?
YOU BROUGHT UP "eliminate Social Security and Medicare" in your post; THAT is an implicit defense of SS, or you wouldn't have used it as a criticism of McArdle. I have noted your errors, and your emotional responses so far. I have proven your lack of understanding, and I gratefully concede the one thing you have correct:

" this conversation is at an end." because I can't converse with someone who can't listen and understand.

So as we watch Megan McArdle write seven-count-'em-seven posts (here, here, here, here, here, here, and here) attempting to light a fire under the Solyndra story and gin up a scandal to create a blaze of controversy and pain for liberals, let us remember that the disappearance of TWELVE BILLION DOLLARS entirely sliipped Miss Megan's mind, leaving not even a ripple as it disappeared into the murky depths of her misbegotten soul.

ADDED: Make that nine posts on Solyndra.