Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Monday, November 24, 2008

You're A Mean One, Megan McArdle

This post of Megan McArdle's has already been exposed as a vapid, selfish, deeply heartless excretion, but it deserves all this scorn and more.
Screw you, kids, I got mine.
This represents a nadir of sorts for McArdle. Kids don't need presents because McArdle doesn't remember any of the presents she was given. That makes her both ungrateful and unappreciative, but it doesn't mean other kids will feel the same way. Why does she find it necessary to write a post complaining about mothers who want to give their children Christmas presents? Does the thought of someone, somewhere, buying something that they can't really afford for their child really bother her so much?

I know that my parents expended a lot of precious money and time on my Christmas gifts. But with a few exceptions (a certain Raggedy Ann and Andy Pen and Pencil Set comes to mind, along with my very own Beach Boys "Endless Summer" casette"), what I remember about Christmases is not what I was given, but the non-material traditions: the food, the family, the snow angels and crackling fires. This is true of basically everyone I know. So why do we continue to think that the gifts are the most important part?

Because they're children. Unbelievably, McArdle brags about the expensive and thoughtful gifts she received while saying that other children do not deserve the same. Once again, the rules are different for Miss Megan.

Let's not forget that hypocrisy. McArdle has a sidebar item called "Gadget of the Week." (Of course she doesn't update it because that would take effort, but never mind.) The gadget for the last few months is a $500 TIVO.
Is it worth spending over $500 on a Tivo? I'm sorry to report that it is. The Series Three has all the functionality that made its older products the best DVRs around: an intuitive user interface, transparent menus, simple and fast recording. Now it's added HD capability and two cable cards so you can record and watch at the same time (or record two shows). With the cable cards, the most annoying feature about older Tivos--the latency switching channels--has disappeared. They've also added new features that prove surprisingly useful, such as the ability to download movies on a whim from Amazon's Unbox service. I'd give up my dishwasher before I'd part with this.

Megan also recently bought an IPhone and a Mini Cooper, and we all know how important buying new clothes is to her. It's strange to see a sickness of the soul labeled a political philosophy, so that cold, calculating, greedy people can feel comfortable as they contemplate how much they own, and how much superior it makes them compared to those with less. It's a pinched, miserly attitude worthy of Scrooge himself.

And make no mistake; McArdle's post is not written out of a stringent morality or political philosophy. It is selfishness and heartlessness, callousness and fear, pure and simple. It is the refusal to feel anything at all that might touch the heart (or, with Megan, also the brain). To feel is painful, and these cowards and weaklings refuse to take that risk. They cannot cry for the children we have killed in Iraq. They cannot worry about poverty or hunger. They cannot think about the terror and desperation of men hooded and bound and kept in cages. It hurts too much, and they utterly refuse to try. Therefore they create excuses for their refusal to feel. They turn to God to justify their hatreds, to patriotism to hide their hunger to see others suffer and feel what they cannot. They turn to politics, to coat the blood and bones and burnt flesh with respectability. We can't be silent and let them do it. This world is all we have, this world and the people in it. What we do to each other is the only thing that counts.


Anonymous said...

This is one of those issues where I can half-agree with the larger point, but the self-righteousness of her tone and hyposcrisy is sickening. I think we are far too driven by consumerism, but come on. Can't Megan muster enough empathy for a second to imagine what it's like to be a kid and wake up on Christmas to nothing? Besides, no one is going to scrap their food budget for toys; some people are simply dipping into their savings to make their kids happy. Not to mention that most of the toys that kids get are also educational, so it's not just plastic and glue.

And you guys are correct to be all over her for the double standard. She can wait in line all night for an iPhone or whisk off to Florida to pick up the trendy Mini-Cooper, despite the fact that she's single and lives in a city where you can easily get around without a car. Then there's the Tivo, the Kindle...all the little gadgets and goodies she likes to brag about buying, but a parent - something she is not and has no clue about - is supposed to stuff their kid's stocking with coal.

How much could the Atlantic be paying her for her job anyway? There's no way it's enough for her to buy all this stuff without having to use credit. I guess in Meganland, that's off limits to the lesser people. What a vile, smug human being.

Susan of Texas said...

Yes, there's definitely a case to be made that Christmas is too commercial, overdone, and expensive., especially these days. It would be nice is we could all just cut back a lot and enjoy the holiday more. I wouldn't start with my kids' Christmas presents, however!

Seeing your kids' faces light up when they get something beautiful or fun is one the best part of Christmas. Most people enjoy finding books and music and clothes and toys for their kids, for heaven's sake. All year you have to be sensible and prudent and say no, but one time a year you get to satisfy a kid's (momentary) heart's desire. It's like being a fairy godmother or the Indian Gentleman in A Little Princess.

Anonymous said...

Did you notice how Megan reduced what is supposed to be the happiness of Christmas, once again, down to her personal experiences? What she remembers liking about it and recalls fondly - that's the way the rest of us should spend our holiday. Well, one of the happiest moments for me is watching my little nieces and nephews rip the paper off their presents with laughter and glee. It's not what's inside the package that matters. It's that moment. Screw her and her black, empty heart.

bulbul said...

I got nothing to add to what you both just said, I just want sign my nom de plume under cp's petition (screw her etc.).

Yes, there's definitely a case to be made that Christmas is too commercial, overdone, and expensive
Tell me about it, I got a teenage sister which - I understand - is nearly as bad as having a teenage daughter.

How much could the Atlantic be paying her for her job anyway?
That is an excellent question. How much is her bs worth to the editors?

Anonymous said...

"Did you notice how Megan reduced what is supposed to be the happiness of Christmas, once again, down to her personal experiences?"

Yep. She might as well start every blog post with the words 'Dear diary..."

Anonymous said...

How much could the Atlantic be paying her for her job anyway?

She may have Family Money to which the blogging is simply a lagniappe. She certainly tries to give us that impression.

The thing I loved about her "memories of the holidays" line is how she managed to make even THAT a species of bragging.

Does everybody have those lovely perfect memories of food and family and "crackling fires"? Would children whose parent were so strapped they had to forgo giving them Christmas presents have those same kinds of Norman Rockwell memories? What if they should happen to NOT have nice, well-behaved families and pretty wood-burning fireplaces to make up for the emptiness under the tree?

Cripes. There's no bottom to this woman.

Susan of Texas said...

The only time we would see a crackling fire at Christmas time is if our tree went up in smoke. I'm lucky if it's cool by Thaniksgiving. Megan can't invision a world even slightly different from the one she knows.

"Dear Diary, today I looked through a Land's End catalogue, and read the Washington Post while I drank my Starbucks coffe. I saw an article about newly poor people buying toys for their children at Christmas time, and it made me so angry that I dashed off a blog post. Ka-Ching!

I saw the cutest guy while window-shopping at the Apple Store. He was just my type--expensive clothes, expensive haircut, expensive watch, expensive shoes. Some women are so shallow, but I know the elite when I seen one. After all, Mummy says it's just as easy to marry for money as it is to marry for love!"

Anonymous said...

Ha! You kill me, Susan.